What is a bill of lading form?
A bill of lading (BOL) is a legal agreement that covers the shipping of goods and products. This document is used by the shipper of the goods (consignor), the receiver of the goods (consignee), and the shipping carrier that transports the goods. Like a bill of sale, it includes details about the goods and the recipient’s information, but it also contains the delivery destination.
Since bill of lading forms are legally required to successfully transport goods from one location to the next, manufacturers, sellers, and trucking and freight companies regularly use them. Many large organizations work with logistics companies to generate, track, and manage their bill of lading forms.
Why a bill of lading is necessary.
A bill of lading is actually two documents that contain the same information. These copies are signed by both parties when the shipment is delivered, and the driver signs on the carrier’s behalf. If you use paper forms, you’ll have two physical copies of the document. If you use an electronic document, you’ll only need to sign once.
A bill of lading can serve several purposes.
Receipt and title
A bill of lading serves as a receipt for the goods being shipped. It also represents the contract of carriage between the carrier and shipper. Plus, it serves as a document of title (DOT) for the goods in transit. In short, it legally protects everyone involved in the shipping process and helps keep track of goods in transit.
Bill of lading forms can also outline the freight charges, fee terms, and invoicing for a shipment. Some shippers are prepaid for their goods, while others accept a down payment on goods, and then outline a Collect on Delivery amount (COD amount). If that’s the case, the bill of lading can outline those charges and direct the carrier in accepting payment on behalf of the shipper.
Bill of lading forms can protect everyone involved in the shipping process. If the goods are delivered in good order and proper condition, a bill of lading simply serves as a receipt. But if goods are lost or damaged in transit, bills of lading, along with liability waivers, can help resolve issues and disputes and outline who’s responsible for the shipment.
Keep in mind, the kind of bill of lading form you use will impact the liability of each party. For example, a straight bill of lading (short form) is a non-negotiable bill of lading, often used for delivering prepaid shipments.