Preparing the Bill of Lading

Preparing the Bill of Lading

Your bill of lading is an important document. It acts as a receipt for goods, a contract of carriage, and may act as a document of title (if order bill of lading). Take the time to fill out the bill of lading completely and correctly, since this will help ensure error-free delivery to your customer.

A correct bill of lading also ensures an accurate invoice for you. If your company does not have its own bills of lading, you may purchase them from a local office supply dealer (or find an example here).    

The sample bill of lading below will help you fill yours out correctly:

  • Clearly print the shipper's and receiver's names and complete addresses where indicated (the receiver is also called the consignee). Be sure to include ZIP codes.
     
  • You may want to include special notes or markings, including:
    • Special account numbers used internally at your company.
       
    • Purchase order numbers from your customer.
       
    • Special instructions for the carrier to ensure prompt delivery. Check with your carrier to determine if your "special instructions" will result in additional charges.
       
  • You may also insert any reference number (such as a bill of lading number) you want to use for internal purposes.
     
  • Enter the date you are giving the shipment to the carrier.
     
  • Enter the number of shipping units. This is the number of individual pieces actually being shipped. (If the pieces of a shipment are secured so that the individual pieces cannot be separated from one another, you have one shipping unit, no matter how many pieces are in the shipment.)
     
  • Enter the type of packaging (typical packaging includes cartons, skids and drums).
     
  • You must place an X in the "HM" column if a commodity is a Department of Transportation hazardous material. Special rules and requirements apply to hazardous commodities. Please contact your local carrier to discuss shipping hazardous commodities.
     
  • Write a description of the articles. Include the material of manufacture and common name. Remember, DOT hazardous materials have many special requirements. Contact your carrier to determine the specifications for your product.
     
  • Include the NMFC item number. Consult the NMFC for proper item description and number. The carrier will identify the classification for you and your freight charges will be based upon that.
     
  • Enter the correct weight of the shipment. If multiple commodities are being shipped, then the weight of each commodity should be listed separately.
     
  • Enter your company's name (as the shipper).
     
  • Signature by your authorized agent.
     
  • Indicate who is responsible for the freight charges. Prepaid charges indicate that you will pay. Collect charges will be collected from the consignee.
     
  • If you want the carrier to collect a COD amount, mark the bill of lading as "COD." Carriers typically charge a handling fee for collecting COD amounts. Indicate who will be paying the fee. The Roadway bill of lading sample has a special block for COD shipments; not all bills of lading do.
     
  • Enter the COD amount to be collected.
     
  • Indicate whether a customer's company check is acceptable for the COD amount.
     
  • Indicate any declared value of the goods.
     
  • Section 7, when signed, removes the shipper from recourse by the carrier in collecting any freight charges that are billed to the consignee.