Bill of Lading: Definition, Purpose, Types, Importance and Content!

Bill of Lading: Definition, Purpose, Types, Importance and Content!

Are you a newbie looking for a primer on bills of lading? Or do you stand at the opposite continuum—an expert exploring an inch more. Either way, this piece of writing is for you!

With firm belief, this blog will explain, in simple terms, the definition, purpose, types, importance, and content of the ‘bill of lading’ form.


A ‘bill of lading’ is one of the most key documents that directly has several valuable activities in logistics. Generally, it is a contract between the shipper and the carrier with the details of the substance, from where the shipment is coming and where it is to be delivered.

Before moving ahead, let us be clear with the terms like shipper and carrier:

  • The shipper – This might be an individual or a group responsible for packing and preparing the shipment for transportation. This might be a supplier, warehouse, or manufacturer.
  • The carrier – It is a third party. This might be an individual or a group who moves the cargo. The carrier chooses the mode of transportation.


A ‘bill of lading’ usually has three prime purposes. It is a document that acts as a transport ticket as proof for the goods to be transported. Hence, a bill of lading serves the following legal purposes in the realm of shipping and logistics. A bill of lading

  • is a piece of evidence that acts as terms and conditions under which the goods transportation will happen.
  • exhibits as a receipt for the shipped and received goods.
  • is a document of title to the goods.


As far as a bill of lading is concerned, there are many types, depending on where the shipment is moved to and what goods you are transporting. Although you won’t require all the types that exist, it is good to be aware of the common types. They are a Negotiable Bill of Lading and a Non-negotiable Bill of Lading.

  • Negotiable Bill of Lading: This is the original bill of the goods shipped. The one who possesses the bill owns the shipped goods. Whether you are an agent or the actual receiver, you need to produce the original copy of the bill to release your freight. Otherwise, acquiring the freight will be impossible.
  • Non-negotiable Bill of Lading: In this type, you or your agent can release the freight by presenting any government id. Unlike negotiable bills, you need not produce the original bill of lading here. However, a photocopy of your bill will make the process safer, thus avoiding troubles in the future.


Sometimes, the most complicated things are easy if observed or understood correctly. Yeah, a bill of lading is one of that kind, and it’s vital to any shipping. If you have the bill, you own the freight or cargo. A bill of lading

  • acts as the legal document of title to claim ownership of the freight.
  • serves as solid evidence of the received cargo.
  • helps to divide the duties and steps of shipping, thus making the process faster and easier.



Typically, a bill of lading embraces detailed information about the freight, shipper, and carrier. They will have

  1. Bill of Lading number
  2. Name and address of the shipper and the receiver
  3. Details of the shipping line
  4. Details of the freight forwarder
  5. Shipment date, quantity, exact weight, and value
  6. Freight classification
  7. Nature of the goods transported.
  8. Types of packaging and materials used for the same
  9. If the cargo transported is fragile, it should be tagged as such and have the necessary certification to allow such transport.
  10. Other specific instructions



A bill of lading is an essential document in the shipping industry. Whether a local or an international shipment, a bill of lading is the must-acquire document to safely and soundly transport any goods. Freight moved without this bill is like a refugee chased out of any country. They are owned by none. Moreover, it is a bill that helps you to move or receive any freight on time with proper condition and updates.

Hence, we hope you are clear about the importance of having a bill of lading before undertaking any shipment.

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