• Parts of a Bill of Lading

    The different parts a Bill of Lading (abbreviated to B/L), one of the MOST important documents in the whole shipping and freight chain, that needs to be filled up..

    Please bear in mind that this “generic” information and does not refer to any line in particular as each line have their own format and setup..

    In this article we will discuss the address and reference details..

    Shipper – is the name and address details of the shipper who is shipping the cargo.. This may or may not be the actual owner or manufacturer of the cargo, but could also be a trader or freight forwarder depending on the type of bill of lading that is issued.. This could also be different from the exporter of the cargo..

    Consignee – is a key entity in the shipping chain and this field reflects the name and address details of the person or company that is legally allowed to receive the cargo covered in the bill of lading..

    This may or may not be the actual owner or recipient of the cargo as it could be a bank or trader or forwarder depending on the type of bill of lading that is issued..

    Being named as the consignee on the bill of lading also comes with the risk and responsibility of being held accountable for many issues such as non-clearance of cargoes, late clearance, claims etc..

    Notify – is the name and address details of the person who should be notified of the arrival of the cargo.. Depending on the bill of lading that is issued this could be the actual buyer or receiver of the goods, clearing and forwarding agent or the trader.. Generally the notice of cargo arrival is to be sent to this notify party..

    Bill of Lading Number – is the unique number provided to the shipment covered under a specific bill of lading.. This is allocated by the shipping line and must be quoted by the client for any queries, sailing info, arrival info, claims etc..

    Reference Numbers – this space can be used to update any reference numbers specific to the client or the freight forwarder which they will use to trace their shipments..

    Carriers Agents – here the details of the agents at discharge port is usually recorded by the shipping line so that the destination agent of the client/forwarder can contact the shipping lines agents to query the status of the shipment or go for release etc..

    Pre-Carriage by : Assume that there is an inland point which is connected to the mainland port by means of a feeder (connecting) vessel, the name of that feeder vessel is shown here.. Example – Maputo to Durban by feeder vessel Border..

    Place of Receipt : This is the place where the cargo is handed over by the shipper or his agent to the carrier (shipping line) or its agent ..

    This is very important in terms of the contract of carriage between the shipper and the shipping line.. If this area is filled, it is assumed that the carrier has done the movement from here to the Port of Loading and if there any incidents, damages etc to the container or cargo between the Place of Receipt and Port of Loading, the liability will be that of the carrier..

    So the shipping line must be careful not to show anything in the Place of Receipt if they are not actually doing the movement..

    Image of mascot holding bill of lading

    Port of Loading : This is the place from which the container or cargo is loaded by the carrier onto the nominated Ocean Vessel..

    Ocean Vessel/Voyage : This is the name of the vessel and the voyage number that carries the container or cargo from the (mainland) Port of Loading (example Durban) to the Port of Discharge (example Mumbai).. Remember that the combination of vessel and voyage will be unique and never repeated (well almost never)..

    Port of Discharge : This is the place at which the container or cargo is discharged by the carrier from the nominated Ocean Vessel..

    Place of Delivery : This is the final destination of the container or cargo.. If this area is filled (example : ICD Bengaluru), it means that the carrier has undertaken to move the container or cargo from the Port of Discharge to the Place of Delivery..

    Again as in the case of Place of Receipt, the shipping line must be careful when showing anything in this field as then, it will be liable to deliver the container or cargo in good order and condition to this place of delivery..

    If there is a Place of Delivery shown in the B/L, generally the carrier does not allow the client (merchant) to take delivery of the container or cargo at the Port of Discharge and move it to the Place of Delivery, reason being that if anything happens to the container or cargo enroute to the Place of Delivery, the carrier may still be held liable..

    In most bills of lading for containerised shipments, you will see the notation PARTICULARS FURNISHED BY SHIPPER – CARRIER NOT RESPONSIBLE..

    Marks & Numbers – Marks & Numbers are important information in a shipment.. The shipper marks his packages with some information identifying the shipment so that the consignee can know what the shipment is.. The marks and numbers can have any of below :

    • the consignees name and address
    • the purchase order number
    • the number of the package – 1 of 32 etc for easy identification

    or of course have any logos etc of the shipper..

    Marks & Numbers play a much more important role in a breakbulk shipment or an LCL/Groupage shipment rather than a full container shipment.. In these cases it is prudent for the shipper to mark the packages in such a way so that identification of the same is easy, as in a breakbulk or groupage shipment there are many packages belonging to many shippers..

    In the case of shipping lines that carry only containers, they normally show this field as Marks & Numbers/Container Nos. so that the container numbers and seal numbers are recorded here with or without marks and numbers..

    No. and kind of Packages : Here the number of packages that are packed in the container or loaded on the ship as breakbulk are recorded.. Example : 16 crates & 23 pallets or 16 cartons in 2 pallets etc..

    Description of Packages & Goods : This area is used to describe exactly what cargo is being loaded in the container or onboard the ship.. In the case of containerised cargo, it is usually reflected as :

    “22 packages STC (or) Said To Contain 15000 tubes of Toothpaste and 500 cartons of Cigarettes”

    Below the description, generally other information like Nett Weight, Import Licence Number, L/C Number, Freight conditions etc are also mentioned..

    For containerised cargo, it is VERY IMPORTANT that the shipping line shows the SAID TO CONTAIN clause on the bill of lading.. The reason for this is that the shipping line does not get involved in the packaging of the container and as such does not know what and how many are packed in the container by the shipper.. The shipping line goes by what is declared by the shipper and the bill of lading is issued as such.. In a lot of cases, this is further covered by a stamp SHIPPERS, LOAD, STOW AND COUNT that is endorsed by the shipping line on the bill of lading..

    Gross Weight : This is the weight of the cargo that is packed in the container or loaded on board.. This is generally only the weight of the cargo + the weight of the packaging and does not include the tare weight of the container..

    Measurement : This is the volumetric calculation of the cargo that is packed in the container.. The total volume of the cargo in the container is shown here..

    Barring a few countries like Brazil, most of the other countries do not insist on the freight charges being shown on the bill of lading..

    The only field that is generally filled in this area is the Freight Payable at which could either be the Port of Load (Prepaid) or Port of Discharge or Final Destination (Collect) or any other port (Elsewhere).. In the case of Freight paid at a destination different from either the Port of Load or Port of Discharge or Final Destination (ex : Shipment from Durban to Shanghai but freight paid in London), the port of discharge agents must check and receive confirmation from the other port that the freight amounts have been paid in full prior to releasing the cargo to the receiver..

    The other important fields in this area are

    • Place of Issue – is the place where the original bill of lading is signed and released (issued) to the shipper or his agent
    • Date of Issue – is the date on which the original bill of lading is signed and released to the shipper or his agent.. This date in general would be on or after the containers or cargo is actually on board of the ship and should be the same date or later than the shipped on board date..
    • Number of originals – is the number of original bills of lading that the client requires the line to release for that particular shipment.. Standard is 3 originals.. If one of the three originals are duly discharged then the other two are deemed null and void..

    Then there is also the attachment sheet to the bill of lading.. This is used when the details shown in the description is too large to fit within the space provided on the original bill of lading stationery.. This attached sheet forms part of the bill of lading and should carry all the stamps and endorsements on the original bill of lading and should clearly show the bill of lading number and vessel and voyage information..

    All information covered in the articles related to the parts of the bill of lading are general information and each shipping line have their own specifications and peculiarities with regards to their bill of lading stationery and the information required.

    ———
    Original Sources: https://shippingandfreightresource.com/parts-of-a-bill-of-lading-part-1/
    Re-posted by Aryaputra PandeBIC

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