If you’re looking to get your freight shipped via truck, then chances are you've heard of the bill of lading (BOL). But do you fully understand why this legal document is so important? A BOL not only serves as evidence of the contract of carriage between a shipper and their chosen carrier but also as an itemized list of all goods within your freight shipment.
Crafting a proper bill of lading will not only minimize processing time with officials and customs but also help you avoid delays, fines, and other unpleasant consequences. Ready to learn about how to prepare a freight shipping BOL like a pro? Keep reading!
Who Prepares a Bill of Lading and What It Should Include?
The shipper is responsible for creating a bill of lading, which should be prepared before the carrier arrives to pick up your shipment. You may create a BOL manually or use an online form, which can be found on Google.
When crafting your BOL, you must provide specific details related to the goods, such as weight, itemization of contents (including the number and type of pieces), value, and any special instructions. Moreover, some carriers may request additional information depending on their requirements.
The bill of lading should also include vital contact data for both parties: the shipper’s name and address, phone number, consignee’s name and address, carrier’s signature (in acknowledgment of acceptance), and a description of goods shipped as well as their origin and destination points. There's also room for a freight class and NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) number for LTL shipments. Finally, if you are shipping hazardous materials, specify this in the document.
Filling Out the Bill of Lading: A Step-By-Step Guide
Step 1. Fill Out the "Ship To" and "Ship From" Fields
This is one of the most vital steps when creating a bill of lading. To fill out the "ship to" field, provide accurate contact information for the consignee (the person who will receive and sign for your shipment). Make sure to include their name, address, phone number, and email if available.
The “ship from” field should be filled out with details about the shipper (that's you). Add your company name, address, and other contact info as requested by the carrier. There's also a field for special instructions for the delivery (if any are required for your shipment).
Step 2. Fill Out the Cargo Description and the Carrier Info
In the next step, provide a complete description of the goods being shipped. These include shipment weight (in pounds or kilograms), dimensions, freight class (if applicable), description of cargo, and the package quantity (number of crates, pallets, pieces, etc). Make sure to specify this information as accurately as you can: in case the actual shipment description doesn't match the BOL, you can face additional freight charges.
Fill out the "bill of lading number" field, and make sure to include the trailer number and serial number (if any are available). Specify the terms of charge for the freight (prepaid, collect, or 3rd party). A third party should also be specified in this case.
Step 3. Specify the Shipping Class Correctly
In the freight description section, you must also provide a shipping class and NMFC number. The freight class is determined based on four factors: density of your cargo, stowability, handling, and liability. Make sure to check with the carrier which classes are available in their service before specifying one!
Step 4. Specify Additional Services (If Needed)
In this step, you should specify any additional services that you require for your freight shipment. This can include things like guaranteed delivery time, temperature-controlled transit, special accessorial charges, hazmat, fragile shipment, etc.
Step 5. Double Check the Information and Sign the BOL
Make sure that all information is filled out accurately and that no details are missing. Once everything is checked, sign it off and keep a copy for your records.
And with that, you've successfully created a bill of lading! Now you can prepare your shipment for pickup and be sure that the transaction is documented correctly.
Let Professionals Take Care of Your Paperwork!
Cowtown Express is a professional logistic operations & truck freight shipping company that can handle any kind of cargo. We provide full-service freight shipping, including all paperwork associated with your shipment. Our experienced team is familiar with all the details of creating a bill of lading, ensuring that every detail is filled out correctly and on time. Contact us today to learn more about our services! We look forward to hearing from you!