An ocean bill of lading is a document that allows goods to be transported across international waters. This document serves as the contract between the shipper and carrier and ensures that the exporter is paid and the importer receives their product.
It also serves as a title for the goods being transported and includes a description of the goods and any routing instructions. Both the shipper and carrier must sign the document upon pickup and by the receiver upon delivery.
A straight bill of lading is used when a shipment is consigned directly to the receiver named and no other party. This usually takes place in an open account or cash-in-advance transaction. The consignee must present a signed original bill of lading to the carrier to take possession of the goods at arrival.
Alternatively, there is the ocean bill of lading that is consigned “to order” or “to order of shipper.” This kind of bill of lading is negotiable once the document is endorsed on the back by the shipper (or representative of the shipper). The endorsed bill is then sent to the bank in the buyer’s country where it is held until the transaction is completed by the buyer. When the buyer has the endorsed original bill of lading and any other required documents, the bill of lading can be transferred to the buyer.
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