What is a bill of lading (BOL)?
Also known as a BOL or BL, bill of lading is a legally binding document that provides the driver and the carrier with all the details they need to process the freight shipment and invoice it correctly. The use of this document is required in order to move a freight shipment from one place to another, as it serves as a receipt of freight services, which is a contrast between a freight carrier and shipper, and a document of title.
When is a bill of lading created?
The bill of lading can be created during the quoting and booking process and should be provided to the carrier during pickup, it should also be attached to the packaged freight.
What is included in the bill of lading?
The bill of lading (BOL) should provide the following information:
Names & addresses: The full names and addresses of the shipper and the consignee (receiver of cargo) should be provided on the bill of lading. They need to be easy to locate and read on the invoice.
Purchase orders or special reference numbers: These numbers are essential to the shipper and the consignee/receiver, as they may be needed in order for the freight to be released for pick up, or accepted at delivery.
Special instructions: In this field, the shipper provides notes for extra care or handling information and instructions. However, this is not where you specify extra service requests like delivery notification or a lift-gate. (Example: Perishable)
Date: In this field, the parties must provide a pickup day. This is an important thing to note, as either party may need to refer to this date while trying to track the freight or when trying to reconcile shipping invoices.
Description of items being shipped: In this field, the shipper typically notes the number of shipping units, the weight and other dimensions of the freight, along with information on what material is used in the freight and its makeup.
Packaging type: In this field, the shipper notes whether they are using cartons, crates, pallets, drums or other forms of packaging to ship their products.
National motor freight classification (NMFC) freight class: This field plays a big role in deciding the cost of trucking your shipment. According to NMFC protocol, freight shipments are broken down into 18 different classes, based on weight, dimension, density, storage capability, ease of handling, value, and liability.
Department of Transportation (DOT) hazardous material designation: In this field, the shipper must provide information in regards to the presence of hazardous materials in the shipment. The shipper must clearly note if the freight contains any hazardous materials. In such a case, special rules and requirements will apply when shipping.