The bill of lading is universally the most important document for shipping any type of goods or products. A bill of lading is essentially a contract that states what the goods are, where the goods came from, where they are going, how they are getting there, and when they should be picked up and delivered. If you are a freight broker, fleet owner, or owner/operator, the bill of lading is central to both your business and your customers’ businesses because everyone uses it to document the transport process.
Multiple parties use a bill of lading to track the transportation of goods. In both international and domestic transportation, the bill of lading is critical to the shipper, the freight broker (if a broker is involved in the transaction), the motor carrier, and the recipient of the goods.
For international goods, the customs and border administration offices also rely on the information listed on the bill of lading.
The shipper (manufacturer, distributor, farm, or other business needing to send cargo over the road) creates the bill of lading. The document would include the shipper and the recipient’s names and contact information, the contents and weight of the load, and the pickup and delivery dates. The addresses for pickup and delivery would be displayed clearly along with any special instructions.
If the load requires multiple stops, the motor carrier will typically have a bill of lading for each stop so that the contents can be confirmed each stop. The bill of lading will almost always specify the number of units – packages, pieces, cases, boxes, or whatever – that will be loaded into the truck.
To be paid for delivering the load, the freight company needs the authorized, signed bill of lading as proof of delivery. Typically, the shipper, driver, and recipient must all sign or initial the bill of lading for the document to be valid for collecting payment.
Factoring companies – financial services companies that pay freight companies upfront for their deliveries – use the bill of lading to approve payment from the shipper to the freight broker or motor carrier. Some factoring companies require original bills of lading, so the driver must find a way to expedite it to them. Other factoring companies accept copies that areWhat scanned and faxed or emailed as proof of delivery.
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