Trade Bill Of Lading Document, Most Vital Document In Shipping!


Trade Bill of lading document

The trade bill of lading document known as BOL or B/L, is the most sensitive document in the trade industry and is deployed vastly per trade logistics. However, as promised in my first post on this section, we’re finally here to discuss the bill of lading document. So, to shape this, let’s dive straight while stating clearly the meaning and how important this document is in this sphere.

The subject document (the bill of lading), is a document issued by a carrier or its agent to the shipper as a contract of carriage of goods. This is also a receipt for goods accepted for transportation and must be presented at the destination to take delivery. It also serves as proof of ownership (title) of the goods, because the bearer of the original bill of lading or the consignee’s name it was ordered stands as the owner, which equally, could be issued as negotiable (original) or non-negotiable (express release) form. Meanwhile, for shipping purposes, a detailed analysis of the various forms of this document will be discussed.

A completed bill of lading indicates that the carrier has received the freight as described and is obligated to deliver the freight to the consignee in good condition. Noting its significance, the subject document is primarily required in all claims for compensation of any damage, loss, or delay and for the resolution of disputes regarding cargo ownership. However, the responsibilities, rights, and liabilities of the shipper and the carrier under a bill of lading are often stipulated behind this document, which is governed generally either by the older Hague rules or the recent Hague-Visby rules.

NOTE: The negotiable type is vastly deployed in the letter of credit transactions, which may be bought, sold, or traded, or used as security (collateral) for borrowing.

It’s also important to dive deep into the forms by which the bill of lading could be issued in this sphere. These forms are what you should know as a professional, focusing properly on the shipment of cargo and the parameters or instructions on each bill of lading.

Master Bill of Lading MBL


This is a trade bill of lading document issued only by a shipping line, which is the carrier. The shipping line practically owns and provides the transportation service of goods, from the port of loading to the port of unloading. Meanwhile, the master bill of lading is either issued to a consignee or company as evidence of a contract of carriage of goods by sea (sea-borne trade).

The House B/L


This is a type of bill of lading predominantly issued by a shipping company or the shipper of goods, and not by a liner this time. This bill of lading is issued for goods related to less container load (LCL) and general cargo respectively. The consignee or the clearing agent of such shipment is expected to contact the agent (shipping company) at the destination for cargo delivery. This document equally comes in the form of negotiable or non-negotiable.


The draft form of this document is solely used for shipping and logistics purposes, only transmitted or sent by the principal to its correspondent (agent at the port of destination) as part of a shipment soft copy (locally known as a pre-alert/ notification document), used for documentation purposes before the arrival of the vessel. On this document lies instructions of the bill of lading that goods are to be delivered to the actual consignee including other detailed information with regards to a vessel’s voyage or shipment (LCL) from the principal.

That is it, for now, our analysis on this continues in our next post.

  • I trust you found this article, helpful!