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Bill of Lading (B/L)

A document that establishes the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company that moves freight between specified ports for a specified charge. This is usually prepared by the shipper on forms issued by the carrier, serving as a document of title, a contract of carriage and a receipt for goods.

There are many different types of B/Ls:

Amended B/L: Requires updates that do not change financial status (slightly different from corrected B/L).

Cancelled B/L: Used to cancel a processed B/L usually per shipper's request. (different from a voided B/L).

Clean B/L: No recorded irregularities in packing or general condition of all or any part of the shipment.

Combined B/L: Covers cargo moving over various modes of transport.

Consolidated B/L: Combined or consolidated from two or more B/Ls.

Corrected B/L: One that requires an update which results in money or other financially-related changes.

Domestic B/L: Non-negotiable primarily containing routing details; used by truckers and freight forwarders.

Express B/L: Non-negotiable where there are no printed copies of original B/L.

Freight B/L: A contract of carriage between a shipper and forwarder (usually an NVOCC - Non-vessel owning common carrier); a non-negotiable document.

Hitchment B/L: Covering parts of a shipment which are loaded at more than one location. Usually consists of two parts: hitchment and hitchment memo. The hitchment portion usually covers the majority of a divided shipment and carries the entire revenue.

House B/L: Issued by a freight forwarder or consolidation covering a single shipment, containing the names, addresses and specific description of the goods shipped.

Intermodal/Multimodal/Combined Transport B/L: Covering cargo moving by various modes of transportation.

Long Form B/L: One with the complete Terms & Conditions on the back of the document.

Memo B/L: Unfreighted with no charges listed.

Negotiable B/L (To Order B/L): B/L names are legal and by endorsement, the shipper can transfer the title of the goods to the bank representing the buyer or directly to the buyer of the goods.

Non-Negotiable/Straight Consignment B/L: File copy. Used when goods are consigned directly to a named consignee and not negotiable.

On-Board B/L: Validated at the time of loading to transport. Common types: on-board air, boxcar, container, rail, truck or vessel.

Optional Discharge B/L: Covering cargo with more than one discharge point option possibility.

Order B/L: Issued to the order of a party, usually the shipper, whose endorsement is required to effect its negotiation.

Order Notify B/L: Issued usually to the order of the shipper with the additional clause that the consignee is to be notified upon arrival of the merchandise. Such mention of the consignee does not give the consignee title to the merchandise.

Original B/L (OBL): Part of the B/L that has value, especially when negotiable; remaining parts are informational file copies.

Received-for-Shipment B/L: Validated at the time cargo is received by ocean carrier to commence movement but before being validated as 'on-board'.

Reconciled B/L: Set which has completed a prescribed number of edits between the shipper's instructions and the actual shipment received. This produces a very accurate B/L.

Short Term/Short Form B/L: One that does not have written terms & conditions on the back of the document.

Split B/L: One of two or more B/Ls which have been split from a single B/L.

Stale B/L: A late B/L. In banking, one that has passed the time deadline of the L/C and is void.

Through B/L: Blanket documentation when multiple carriers of various transport modes are involved.

Voided B/L: Those absorbed in the combined process. Different from Cancelled B/L.

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