Bill of Lading:

It is a formal receipt given by the ship-owners or their authorized agents stating that the goods mentioned therein are shipped through a specified date, vessel & are deliverable to the person mentioned therein or to his order after payment of all dues of the shipping company.

There are 3 main functions of BL

  1. It is an evidence of contract of freight
  2. It is a receipt of goods
  3. It is a document of title to the goods

1) It is a legal document between the shipper or consignor (it is the person or company who is usually the supplier or owner of the goods shipped) of particular goods & the carrier detailing the details related to the port, quantity, no. of packages, gross weight, description of goods, POL/POD, shipper name, consignee name etc.

2) Only after receiving of goods by the ship owner or the agent, receipt of the goods is issued.

3) BL mention the name of the buyer to whom the consignment is supposed to deliver.

There are various categories of B/L:

1). Received For Shipment B/L:

It only acknowledges that the goods have been received by the ship owner or their agent.

2) On Board B/L:

It acknowledges that goods have been put on board for shipment. Majorly, on board BL is in practice in international trade.

3) Short Form B/L:

This BL is one where the terms & conditions of carriage (it is the actual movement of the cargo on the sea from the port of loading to discharge) are NOT mentioned. And even if stated, it may be by reference to other documents or source. It merely mentions the name of the shipper, ship, date of shipment etc.

4) Clean B/L:

It declares that the goods have been received in an appropriate condition without the presence of defects. By issuing the clean B/L the carrier (it is a person or company that transports goods or people from one port to other) has to deliver the goods in the same order & condition.

5) Clause B/L:

It shows a shortfall or damage in the delivery goods. Typically, if the shipped products deviate from the delivery specification or expected quality, the receiver may declare a Clause B/L. In this case, the ship owner can disclaim their liability to deliver the goods in good order & conditions.

6) Through B/L:

It is issued for entire voyage covering several modes of transport & / or transshipment is called a through b/l. This is used generally when the goods have to take more than one mode of transport. Here, there is no guarantee of the carriers for the safe carriage of goods.

7) Straight B/L:

A B/L which is issued directly in the name of the consignee (a person to whom the shipment is to be delivered)  is called a straight B/L. This is non-negotiable B/L. It can not be transferred to any other party. From bankers point of view, this type of B/L is not safe.

8) Charter B/L:

It is used under the sea mode of transport. If one shipper or a group of shippers arranges to charter their goods to final destination, a vessel is chartered. This chartered vessel is meant to move the goods exclusively for such shipper or shippers. In such cases as a proof of receipt of goods, the charterer who charter the ship issues a document of title is called Charter Party B/L.

9) Lash B/L (Lighter Aboard Ship):

It is a B/L issued by operator stating that goods are received & put on board a barge (Canal boat) to be carried & put on a parent vessel. Thus, a B/L issued by a LASH operator is same as a Received for shipment B/L until it bears a clause stating that the barge is put on board the parent vessel.