A notification by carrier of ship's arrival to the consignee, the "Notify Party," and - when applicable - the "Also Notify Party." These parties in interest are listed in blocks 3, 4 and 10, respectively, of the Bill of Lading.

- Entity to whom money is payable.
- The entity for whom a letter of credit is issued.
- The seller and the drawer of a draft.

A document that establishes the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company. It serves as a document of title, a contract of carriage and a receipt for goods.

A Bill of Lading serves three separate important functions:
1. B/L is a receipt for a consignment; the shipping company or carrier certifies that it has received the goods mentioned in the B/L for transportation to the specified destination
2. B/L is evidence of a contract between shipper and shipping company for the transportation of the goods mentioned in the B/L
3. B/L is a title deed, i.e., it is a document which proves ownership of the goods mentioned in the B/L

Why is a Bill of Lading so important?
- B/L is a negotiable document which can be used to transfer the ownership of the goods named on it to somebody else
- it is evidence of the goods being shipped
- it is evidence of the goods being in apparent good condition when shipped
- it is evidence of the contract of carriage, and a promise by the carrier to deliver the goods
- in international trade where payment by Letter of Credit is arranged, a clean B/L is required by the banks before any payments will be made

When is a Combined Transport Bill of Lading, e.g. FBL, needed?
When the document covers transport to and/or from the ports of departure and destination, using another mode of transport.

What alternatives are there to be a Bill of Lading?
If there are no Letter of Credit requirements, which make it necessary to use a B/L, then a non-negotiable document, such as a Sea Waybill or a Certificate of Transport can be used.

What must be stated in a Bill of Lading?
- The name and address of:
- the carrier (the shipping company responsible for transport)
- the shipper (the consignor/sender, or his agent)
- the consignee (the buyer or his agent)
- The name and nationality of the ship
- The port of departure and port of destination (through B/L / FBL: Places of departure and destination)
- Description of the goods
- Instructions for the payment of freight (collect or prepaid)
- Place and date issued
- The number of original B/Ls

How many Originals are normally issued?
3 originals which are all signed, and a number of copies (unsigned and non-negotiable). The face of the bill will always show how many signed originals have been issued. Each original B/L is negotiable, but when one of them has been presented to the Line as proof of title to the goods, the others become void (i.e. can no longer be used).
Can the shipper (or any person) regain possession of the consignment before the ship reaches its destination?
Yes, but only if all the Original Bills of Lading are presented.

What is a clean Bill of Lading?
A clean Bill of Lading states that the consignment is in apparent good order and condition when shipped on board, and the carrier accepts the liability of delivering the goods in this same condition to the consignee.
Banks will only accept a clean Bill of Lading. (see reference section: letter of indemnity)
If the carrier cannot accept this responsibility for some reason, he will add a clause to the B/L, explaining why not. Then the B/L is a claused or "dirty" B/L, and will not be accepted by a bank. In this case, the carrier does his job, and must be paid, but the exporter will have delivered to him in correct condition.
Examples of such clauses, which may be typed or hand-written are:
- inadequate packing
- two cases short shipped
- one drum leaking

What does in apparent good order and condition mean?
It means that the goods show no visible signs of damage, but of course the carrier cannot guarantee the condition of the goods, which he received packed and ready for shipment.

What is the meaning of the statement "Said to contain"?
In this case of containerised cargo, or of palleted consignments or large consignments of conventional cargo, the cargo cannot check the statements made by the shipper as to contents. By using the statement "said to contain" the carrier places responsibility for the correct description of contents on the shipper.

What is a "Stale" Bill of Lading?
Often the expensive result of an error or hold-up in the issuing of a B/L, or of its loss! If the consignment arrives at the final destination, but cannot be handed over to the consignee, because the B/L is not available, then the expression "state B/L" is used.
The extra charges for storing goods or for parking containers at the port until the documents are sorted out are called demurrage, and can be very expensive.

If upon delivery, you notice damaged or missing items you should mark the delivery receipts and inventory accordingly. You must then notify the insurer's of your intent to make a claim within 45 days of delivery.
If the claim exceeds U.S.$ 2500 (or the equivalent) it may be necessary to have an insurance surveyor verify the loss and damages. If the claim is less than U.S.$2500 ( or equivalent) in value, then a survey will not be necessary. Depending on the nature of the claim, you will be asked to provide repair estimates, original invoices or estimated replacement quotes. You will also be asked to provide the original insurance certificate, signed delivery receipts, copies of Bills of Lading, the original inventory and copies of any relevant correspondence. You must make your actual claim within 90 days of the initial notice of your intent to make a claim. There is a deductible on the policy of US$50.00 per claim (motor vehicles US$250.00).

Represents a complete record of the transaction between exporter and importer with regard to the goods sold. Also reports the content of the shipment and serves as the basis for all other documents about the shipment.

A letter of credit, issued by a foreign bank, whose validity has been confirmed by a domestic bank. An exporter with a confirmed letter of credit is assured of payment even if the foreign buyer or the foreign bank defaults.

The bank that adds its confirmation to another bank's (the issuing bank's) letter of credit and promises to pay the beneficiary upon presentation of documents specified in the letter of credit.

A person or company to whom commodities are shipped.

1. A stock of merchandise advanced to a dealer and located at his place of business, but with title remaining in the source of supply.
2. A shipment of goods to a consignee.

A person or company shown on the bill of lading as the shipper.

A truck trailer body that can be detached from the chassis for loading into a vessel, a rail car or stacked in a container depot. Containers may be ventilated, insulated, refrigerated, flat rack, vehicle rack, open top, bulk liquid or equipped with interior devices. A container may be 20 feet, 40 feet, 45 feet, 48 feet or 53 feet in length, 8'0" or 8'6" in width, and 8'6" or 9'6" in height.

A bank that, in its own country, handles the business of a foreign bank.


Government agency charged with enforcing the rules passed to protect the country's import and export revenues.

A penalty charge against shippers or consignees for delaying the carrier's equipment beyond the allowed free time. The free time and demurrage charges are set forth in the charter party or freight tariff.

Through transportation of a container and its contents from consignor to consignee. Also known as House to House. Not necessarily a through rate.

An order issued by a seller against a purchaser; directs payment, usually through an intermediary bank. Typical bank drafts are negotiable instruments and are similar in many ways to checks on checking accounts in a bank.

Shipment of goods to a foreign country.

Sole use of a steamship metal container. Normally come in 20ft or 40ft lengths. Can be loaded and sealed at or near your residence. (subject to access) and after Customs clearance at destination may be delivered direct to your residence for unloading (subject to local Customs / Agricultural laws).

A person whose business is to act as an agent on behalf of the shipper. A freight forwarder frequently makes the booking reservation.


For use with smaller shipments. Freight delivers to a warehouse for consolidation with other freight moving to the same destination. The container is dispatched to the port as soon as there are enough consignments to fill the container. A very cost effective way to ship small to medium size shipments but will take longer than LCL shipments.

To receive goods from a foreign country.

A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods.

An itemized list of goods shipped to a buyer, stating quantities, prices, shipping charges, etc.

Letter of credit in which the specified payment is guaranteed by the bank if all terms and conditions are met by the drawee and which cannot be revoked without joint agreement of both the buyer and the seller.

For use with smaller shipments, boxes, crates etc. The shipment is then delivered to a forwarder's or shipping line's consolidation point to be shipped on a specific vessel.

A document, issued by a bank per instructions by a buyer of goods, authorizing the seller to draw a specified sum of money under specified terms, usually the receipt by the bank of certain documents within a given time.

Broadly, insurance covering loss or damage of goods at sea. Marine insurance typically compensates the owner of merchandise for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, etc., but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier.

An invoice provided by a supplier prior to the shipment of merchandise, informing the buyer of the kinds and quantities of goods to be sent, their value, and specifications (weight, size, etc.).

An offer to sell goods at a stated price and under stated terms.

A shortening of the term, "Roll On/Roll Off." A method of ocean cargo service using a vessel with ramps which allows wheeled vehicles to be loaded and discharged without cranes.

Ships specially designed to carry wheeled containers or trailers using interior ramps.

The person or company who is usually the supplier or owner of commodities shipped. Also called Consignor. A classification, storage or switching area.

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