What is a Bill of Lading

A Bill of Lading is a contract between shippers and transportation companies as an agreement for transportation of goods. It is issued by the transportation company to the shipper. The goods while in transit must be accompanied by their corresponding BoL in order to be signed for at the destination by a valid representative of the goods' receiver where it then serves as the shipment receipt. Bills of Lading can be issued for land, ocean and air freight.

Bills of Lading have a lot of information about the shipper, receiver, shipment, transportation company and method of shipment. This guide explains all the terms that can appear in Bills of Lading.

Glossary of Terms

Acquisition

The country where the goods were shipped from

Arrival Date

The date the shipment arrives within the Customs territory of the
country

Attributes

Code used at customs to separate goods in products, brands, and
descriptions

Bill of Lading Number

The unique number assigned to this particular shipment by the ocean
carrier or freight forwarder

Brand

The name used to identify and differentiate between goods created by
different companies

Brand FOB

The cost of each unit for the exact product & brand listed

Brand ID

The number used when there are multiple goods of the same product
ID to differentiate between Brands

Brand Quantity

The number of units shipped of the exact product & brand listed

Carrier Address

The address of the company in charge of moving the freight

Carrier Code

The four digit Standard Carrier Alpha Code of the ocean carrier or
freight forwarder managing the transit of the shipment

Carrier Name

The name of the company in charge of moving the freight from the
Shipper to Consignee

Chapter Code

The first two numbers of the HS Code defining the category of goods
in which the shipment fits

Chapter Description

Any defining attributes used to classify a specific chapter

CIF

Cost, Insurance, Freight: The combined cost of the Freight on Board,
Transportation, and Insurance.

Consignee

The company importing the shipment into the destination country\

Consignee Address

The address of the company importing the shipment into the
destination country

Consignee Email

The email address listed on the shipment for the importer

Consignee Fax

The fax number listed on the shipment for the importer

Consignee Phone

The phone number listed on the shipment for the importer

Container Number

The unique number assigned to the ocean shipping container carrying
the shipment in question

Country of Origin

The country of the last foreign port the shipment passes through
before arriving in the destination country

Customs

The Customs Agency responsible for clearing the shipment

Declaration

A statement of taxable goods or dutiable properties

Declaration Number

Number of the customs declaration

Description 1-3

Any further descriptors of the goods

Destination Country

The country the shipment is ultimately being sent to

Distribution Port

In some cases, imported shipments are not cleared through Customs at
the port of arrival. Instead, the importer may choose to clear them at a
different port, known as the Distribution Port. Whenever this happens,
you'll see that the In-Bond Entry Type is listed as a Transportation Entry
instead of a Consumption Entry because the goods are allowed into
the physical territory of the country for transportation purposes, not
consumption (aka sale).

Embarkation

Where the shipment has been loaded and sent from

Export Date

The date the shipment leaves the country

FOB Freight on Board

The cost of the goods on the shipment

Foreign Port

The last port the shipment passes through before arriving in the
destination country

Freight

The cost of moving the shipment

Gross Weight

The gross weight of the shipment, excluding the weight of the actual
container

House B/L A

Code used to report individual portions of a consolidated shipment

House vs Master

The field to differentiate between the House bills of lading and Master
bills of lading

HS Code

The Harmonized System Code is a number designed to classify and
describe goods

HS Code Description

A description of the goods defined by the HS Code

Incoterms

A series of three-letter trade terms related to the tasks, costs, and risks
associated with the transportation of the goods

Insurance

The cost of insuring the commodities involved

Load Type

Any special characteristics of a shipment

Marks & Numbers

Any text or numbers appearing on the individual cartons inside the
ocean containers

Master B/L

A 4-character issuer code plus the issuer-assigned sequence number,
which identifies the shipment

Merchandise State

The status/quality of the goods

Net Weight

The weight of the shipment, not including the container or packaging

No. of Containers

The number of containers used for the shipment

Notify Party

The party authorized to receive a copy of the bill of lading notification

Number of Packages

The quantity of packages involved in the shipment

Number of Units

The quantity of boxes Customs would find if they were to open the
shipment for inspection

Operation Type

The type of shipment

Origin Freight

Original Currency used for Freight

Origin Insurance

Original Currency used for Insurance

Package Type

The type of unit being shipped

Pay Type

The method of payment

Physical Quantity

The numbers of units found within a shipment

Place of Receipt

The city where responsibility of the goods is transferred from the
shipper to the logistics company

Port

The last port the shipment passes through before arriving in the
destination country

Product Description

The exporter's description of the shipment as it appears on the bill of
lading or shipping manifest

Product ID

The number used when multiple goods are sent on the same shipment
to help sort and differentiate between HS Codes

Quantity

The number of units found within the shipment

Remarks

Where customs puts additional information for the products imported

Ship Registered In

The country where the ship is officially registered

Shipper

The overseas company exporting the shipment

Shipper Address

The address of the overseas company exporting the shipment

Shipper Phone

The phone number listed on the shipment for the exporter

Tax (%)

The percentage of taxation on a shipment

Total Invoice

Total value of the invoice

Transportation Company

The company responsible for delivery of the goods

Transportation Type

The method of transport used for the shipping of the goods

U.S. Port

The U.S. Port where the shipment enters the Country.

U.S.Unit

The measurement used to describe the Quantity

Variety

Any further description of the goods on board

Vessel Name

The name of the ship transporting the shipment

Volume

The volume of the shipment, generally defined in cubic meters or container base measurements (CBM)

Voyage Number

A unique code assigned to that particular sailing of the ship between
two ports

Zip Code

A group or 5 or 9 numbers used to assist in sorting of mail for delivery