The bill of lading is a standardized international transport contract that contains the general declaration of the transported goods.
This document is an instrument used to verify the receipt and delivery of the merchandise transferred by a carrier. There, the relevant aspects of the load are specified so that there is proof of the transported material.
In this way, at the time of delivery, only the consignee of the bill of lading can claim ownership of the cargo. In this sense, it constitutes a binding document for the contracting parties.
Bill of lading functions
Some functions of the bill of lading, which make it so important in the transportation of merchandise, are the following
- Receipt of merchandise: to receive the merchandise, the consignee must present this document. In this way, the carrier transfers responsibility for the cargo to its owner. Also, he has a signed legal document that declares that he has delivered the agreed order in full.
- Ownership of the merchandise: the bill of lading serves as evidence for the consignee to show ownership of the cargo at its destination. It also allows the carrier to release the cargo to its legal owner according to the contract.
- Endorsement of the carrier’s rate: this document also serves to establish the price of the carrier’s service in a legal document. That is the price of the freight. It also establishes the calculation method, for example, if the cost is by weight, volume, or transport units.
- The information contained in a bill of lading must be duly detailed. In this sense, the objective is to avoid, as far as possible, a delay in the clearance of the cargo due to a customs inspection.
- Therefore, the standard information found on the bill of lading is as follows:
- Name, address, telephone, and email of the exporter, final recipient or consignee, and the notifier of the status of the shipment.
- Mode of transport through which the goods will be transported to the port of loading.
- The place where the shipping company takes possession of the cargo.
- The name of the ship and the identification number of the voyage in which the cargo to be delivered to the consignee at the destination is transported.
- Port in which the merchandise will be loaded at the origin.
- Port of destination where the merchandise will arrive.
- Unique reference number of the Bill of Lading.
- Complete details of the freight forwarder and license number.
- Point and country of origin of the merchandise.
- Full details of the agent at the destination that will manage the release of the cargo. The terminal where the merchandise will be loaded onto the ship.
- Shipping method.
- Visible marks and indications on the external part of the load made in order to identify the goods.
- Description of each package, including details of the type of merchandise, type of packaging, the quantity for each package, and the number of units in its smallest measure. Cargo handling instructions, if any, are also included in this field.
- Complete list of surcharges and surcharges such as ocean freight.
- Signature and stamp of the shipping company.