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Original Bill of Lading (OBL)

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What is an original bill of lading (OBL)?

An original bill of lading (OBL) is a shipping document or a contract of carriage which serves as the title of the cargo and a shipment receipt. This document confirms the carrier’s receipt of the cargo. When an original bill of lading is issued, two other identical original bills of lading are printed and issued together as one single contract of carriage.

In order for the consignee or the receiver to gain the release of the shipment upon reaching the destination, at least one of the original bills must be signed by the importer or their agent. This document must be surrendered to the carrier. As long as the shipper retains the original bills, they may receive payment prior to the release of the originals to the consignee or buyer. In these cases, most importers either prepay or fix credit terms with their suppliers, which allows them to enable shipments to be released on “express bills.”

When your cargo is released, the original bills of lading must also be provided before the delivery of cargo to its final destination. There are two ways in which cargo can be released with an original bill of lading:

1. With an endorsed original bill of lading

2. With a telex release- a paperless system of communication

Need help? Reach out to one of our experts to make sure you don’t miss any important documents in the import process.


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