What is bill of lading and why do you need it?

Whether you are moving or shipping items internationally, you should find a good company. This can either be a moving company or overseas shipping companies. Since you will be using their services, you need to sign a contract or at least have an official written agreement. This where the bill of lading comes in. It is a printed statement of the services used. In addition to this, you can also see it as a shipping record. You will have proof that a shipping company received your items and they should ship it to your new desired location. There are many reasons why you need to have a bill of lading. Here are all of them listed below.  

The importance of Bill of Lading 

When you need to ship your items internationally, it might seem like a kind of a gambling game. This might be true if you find an unreliable shipping company. Then, you might not see your items ever again. However, hiring a reliable shipping company means receiving your items on time. Before handing over your items to a carrier, you have to sign a bill of lading. This acts as a legal document. Additionally, it also means that you paid for the service, handed over your items to a carrier, and now you are waiting for the shipment. You should not accept their services if they do not offer a bill of lading. One such document should include all the important information about your shipment. Lastly, you should have a copy, your carrier should have a copy, and your package should come with one copy. Therefore, three copies in total.  

a person holding papers
Make sure to receive your copy

The main purpose 

As mentioned before, a bill of lading should include the following information. 

  • Terms and conditions – just like in everything else in life, read terms and conditions carefully. 
  • Information about the items – it should describe the cargo, its condition, and the date when the carrier receives the cargo 
  • It acts as a bill – it is in the name. Therefore, it permits the sale of goods.  

In addition to this, you might have an opportunity to choose between a negotiable and non-negotiable bill of lading. If you choose negotiable, you will not be able to receive the cargo without the original copy. On the other hand, with a non-negotiable bill of lading, you can claim your cargo by only confirming your identity. However, not every shipping company has these options. Therefore, when you are moving from Japan and shipping your items, choose a reliable shipping company. 

Types of Bill of Lading 

Apart from the two mentioned above, there are more types of a bill of lading. On the basis of execution, there are the following. 

  • Straight bill of lading – it is used for military cargo, and it is classified as non-negotiable. 
  • Open B/L – you can switch a consignee. 
  • Bearer B/L – used for bulk cargo where the cargo will be delivered to the person who has the bill. 
  • Order bill of lading – this type ensures the safety of the cargo and it is widely used all around the globe. This is especially important when shipping items internationally that have to pass several foreign ports. In addition to this, the order bill has two subtypes – to order, blank endorsed, and to order, Bank.  

This all can be extremely stressful. In order to reduce stress, you should consult your shipping company.  

ships docked
You should hire a reliable shipping company

Types based on Method of Operation 

If you think there cannot be more types of bill of lading, you are wrong. 

  • Received shipment of B/L – it acts as proof that your shipper received the cargo but not if your cargo is onboard.  
  • Shipped B/L – when your cargo is put on board.  
  • A clean B/L or spoiled B/L – it describes the condition of your cargo. If your cargo is in good condition, you will receive a clean bill of lading. On the other hand, if your cargo is in bad condition, you will get a spoiled bill. 
  • Through B/L – it allows transportation from point A to point B as well as within domestic and international borders.  
  • Combined transport B/L – if your cargo is transported via containers, you will get this type.  
  • Dirty bill of lading – a shipping company notes that everything wrong with the cargo, such as bad packaging, etc. 

Electronic Bill of Lading 

You can also opt for an electronic bill of lading. Some people want to save paper while others want to save money as you have to pay additional fees when using the paper version. Therefore, there are some advantages to electronic B/L. First of all, you will save paper. Then, it is easier to send an electronic version than the paper version. If you need to modify your bill, you can do it electronically. However, here is where the biggest problem lies with the electronic version. Someone can change your bill by using your electronic signature. This means losing your items in the process. With the electronic version, someone can hack the system. In addition to this, you cannot change the possession of the bill unlike with the paper version. If you are shipping valuable items, do not choose the electronic version as it is not the safest. 

silver imac
You can also get an electronic version of B/L

To summarize why this document is important 

Once again, let’s revise all the important elements of a bill of lading. First, it should include your personal information as well as the official name and official address of the shipper. Then, it should specify when the shipper will receive the cargo. In addition to this, the bill should state the date of a pickup and delivery. Then, it should include the details of your cargo, such as weight, dimensions, condition, etc. Your shipper should also describe the packaging. Lastly, specify if you are shipping hazardous items. Then, a shipper needs to follow special rules and regulations. Make sure your bill of lading has all of these components.  

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