bill of lading (B/L)

  

Definition

A document issued by a carrier, or its agent, to the shipper as a contract of carriage of goods. It is also a receipt for cargo accepted for transportation, and must be presented for taking delivery at the destination.

Among other items of information, a bill of lading contains (1) consignor's and consignee's name, (2) names of the ports of departure and destination, (3) name of the vessel, (4) dates of departure and arrival, (5) itemized list of goods being transported with number of packages and kind of packaging, (6) marks and numbers on the packages, (7) weight and/or volume of the cargo, (8) freight rate and amount. It serves as a proof of ownership (title) of the cargo, and may be issued either in a negotiable or non-negotiable form. In negotiable form, it is commonly used in letter of credit transactions, and may be bought, sold, or traded; or used as security for borrowing money. A bill of lading is required in all claims for compensation for any damage, delay, or loss; and for the resolution of disputes regarding ownership of the cargo. The rights, responsibilities, and liabilities of the carrier and the shipper under a bill of lading (often printed on its back) are governed generally either by the older Hague rules, or by the more recent Hague-Visby rules. See also lading.


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