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Bill of lading

Updated: Oct 26, 2019

At times, it is referred to as B/L or BoL. It is a document showing the agreement between individuals, groups companies and corporations. It contains details such as:

Owner of goods

Freight forwarder of the items

Receiver of the goods



Why is it important?

The bill of lading is one of the most important document for an importer or exporter. Transactions between freight forwarder, shipping lines, importer and exporter would be impossible without it.

It is one of the two critical items, the other being letter of credit, of the shipping documentation. It details the following:

SellerReceiverNotify partyShipping termsGeneral consignment

It also includes containers and general merchandise information such as packages, weights, cubic meters or feets. It dictates where the cargo is to be shipped to and from, which in some cases can be quite technical, such as destinations with two main ports like Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

How are bills of lading issued and processed?

Bills of ladings can be issued as an original and courier from the seller to the buyer as a receipt of release. It can then be processed as Telex or Express release once the seller receives payment. The seller surrenders the original back to the origin forwarder who then allows release without the original.

It can also be issued as Waybills, which are generally used for sellers who give credit terms to buyer, or for products that have been paid prior to arranging the consignment.

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