Types of Bill of Lading for sea transport

Bill of Lading (B/L) is referred to as one of the most important documents in maritime trade. B/L is a title of ownership, as well as, a certificate that appoints who owns the goods which are subject either to be shipped, or to be transported by road, by air or by rail. In general, the B/L is the evidence of the charter contract as well as a tangible proof that the cargo is actually loaded onto the vessel and that the loading is completed. In the case of maritime transport, the B/L is issued right after the departure of the vessel from the port. Since the B/L is a title of credit, the date of B/L issuance is always the same with the shipped on board date. A Bill of Lading should include below info:

  • Full shipper’s name and contact details
  • Full consignee’s name and contact details
  • Contact details of Notify party at destination
  • Shipping Line’s name
  • Port of loading / place of loading
  • Port of discharge / final delivery place
  • Name of the vessel
  • Full description of the goods, number of pallets, packages, gross weight of the cargo
  • Incoterms used for the transport (FOB, C&F, CIF etc.)
  • The number of free days that consignee may enjoy at destination (for cases where special agreement has been made)
  • LC if required by the agreement between shipper and consignee
  • Date of B/L issuance

The Bill of Lading may be issued either as ‘nominal’, which is transferred by assignment to a specific person, or as ‘to order’, which is transferred by endorsement. The goods may be picked up by the person designated on the ‘nominal bill of lading’ or by the one indicated on the endorsement of the ‘bill of lading’ respectively.

Types of Bill of Lading

Concerning the beneficiary

  • Nominative Bill of Lading: Appoints beneficiary, transferred only by assignment.
  • Straight Bill of Lading / Waybill or Express Release: Appoints beneficiary. The goods are shipped to a specific person and the document is not negotiable. The document cannot be transferred thus the beneficiary is the one named in the document.
  • ‘to ORDER’: Appoints beneficiary as well as notify party. It is transferred by endorsement and the beneficiary of the cargo is the holder of the document who has resulted from a series of endorsements.
  • Bearer Bill of Lading: No specific consignee is mentioned in the document but same is appointed to the notify party. It is transferred through its physical delivery and the holder is the owner of the Bill of Lading.

Document as evidence

  • Received for shipment Bill of Lading: Proof presented by the shipping agent that he/she has received the cargo for loading.
  • Shipped Bill of Lading: The Bill of Lading which is issued right after the completion of the loading/departure of the vessel.
  • House Bill of Lading: Issued by the shipping agent. Appoints the actual shipper/exporter and the actual consignee of the cargo.
  • Master Bill of Lading: Issued by the shipping line. Appoints as shipper the shipping agent and as consignee of the cargo the handling agent at destination.