What is a Bill of Lading?

The Bill of Lading is a key document for all international transactions carried out by sea. Also called B/L, the Bill of Lading is a document issued by the shipping company that is in charge of the transportation of the goods.

This document is important for the importer and the exporter because it specifies that the goods have been loaded by the carrier and that the carrier takes legal responsibility for the goods. In addition to being a transport document, it is a title deed for the goods from the port of shipment to the port of arrival.

What does the Bill of Lading contain?

The Bill of Lading contains a lot of information about the transport but also about the goods. Here are the details of the Bill of Lading container:

The players involved :

  • The exporter: the company selling or sending the goods.
  • The importer: the company buying or receiving the goods.
  • The carrier: the logistics company in charge of transporting the goods.

Transportation information:

  • Name of the vessel carrying the goods
  • The unique number of the Bill of Lading.
  • Port of departure and port of destination.
  • Unique voyage number.

The elements concerning the transport:

  • All information about the goods: type, quantity, weight and volume of the goods.
  • The type of container used to transport the goods and the type of packaging.
  • The product class of the goods: class of dangerous products.

What is a Bill of Lading for ?

It designates the receipt of the goods by the carrier. For the importer, it is a proof that the goods have been sent by the exporter.

It is a title deed during the transport that answers legal and responsibility issues on the ownership of the goods.

Who can issue a Bill of Lading?

The company in charge of the transport of the goods is the only company that can issue a Bill of Lading. The carrier is the Carrier (Ex: CGA CGM, Maersk, etc.), it is the company owning the vessel. A forwarder cannot issue a Bill of Lading.

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