Bill of Lading

Bill of Lading BOL

A bill of lading (BOL) is a shipping document that serves multiple purposes in the shipment and delivery process. It is a document that lists the goods being transported, the destination, the name of the shipper and consignee, and other information.

It serves as a receipt of goods, a contract between the shipper and carrier, and a document of title. The BOL is a legally binding contract between the shipper and the carrier that also provides the driver and the carrier with all the information needed to deliver the shipment and generate an invoice for services. Historically, it was used for ocean or sea transport but is now commonly used for over-the-road, less-than-truckload (LTL), truckload (TL), air, and ocean delivery modes.

BOL information may include:

  • Complete names and addresses for the shipper and the receiver, plus any third-party
  • Purchase order (PO) numbers and other reference numbers
  • Delivery instructions
  • Description of items
  • Weights
  • Packaging type
  • NMFC freight class
  • Hazardous material designation and handling rules and requirements, if applicable
  • Pickup dates

A typical BOL includes three copies: one for the shipper, consignee, broker, banker, or third party.

Document Format

BOLs exist in different formats, including the straight bill of lading, bearer bill of lading, order bill of lading, multimodal or combined bill of lading, and port-to-port BOL. For over-the-road (OTR) less-than-truckload (LTL) or truckload (TL) deliveries, a straight bill of lading is commonly used.

Depending upon your order fulfillment system platform, BOLs can also be produced, distributed, and maintained electronically for shipment execution, monitoring, tracking, and record storage purposes.

BOLs can be automatically generated by electronically gathering the necessary information from your order management system, manifesting system, or transportation management system (TMS) if it handles parcel, LTL, and TL shipments. It can be automatically generated, in a touchless processing sequence, as an integrated component of the warehouse execution and control system as orders move from picking to packing and shipment process.

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