How Does a Freight Forwarder’s Bill of Lading Work in the UK?￼
Shipping products across the sea comes with plenty of regulations and requirements
One such requirement is for the carrier to issue a bill of lading. If you never worked with this type of document before, you may be confused about what it actually means and what’s it for.
You may wonder, “Is a bill of lading required in the UK?”, “Is a bill of lading a legal document?”, or “How does a bill of lading work?” If so, we’ve got you covered. This article answers some of the most commonly asked questions about the bill of lading to help you understand the concept and realise why it’s important.
Bill of Lading (BoL) Meaning and Purpose
One of the most commonly used search phrases online when it comes to the bill of lading shipping process is “bill of lading meaning.”
Shortly put, a bill of lading (BoL) is a transport document issued by freight forwarders.
A freight forwarder’s bill of lading (FBL) is used for sea and multimodal shipments. The freight forwarder needs to issue and sign this document before shipping the goods. This bill states the terms and conditions of good carriage specified by the freight forwarder.
The BoL needs to accompany the shipped products, regardless of the transportation form.
This document features information such as:
- Carrier, shipper, or consignee name, contact, and legal information
- Loading point
- Destination Country
- Transportation method
- Terms of shipment
- Description of goods
Overall, the bill of lading has four main functions:
- It’s a document of title to the goods described in it.
- It serves as a receipt for the products featured on it.
- It features the product transportation terms and conditions.
- It shows that the carrier has passed the cargo to the shipper.
Bill of Lading Example
There are many bills of lading types:
- Inland BoL
- Through BoL
- Ocean BoL
- Negotiable BoL
- Claused BoL
- Uniform BoL
- Clean BoL
It’s crucial to choose the proper bill of landing to avoid delivery delays. Also, doing so helps locate lost goods during the transport.
A bill of lading can have two forms: master bill of lading and house bill of lading.
- The carrier issues the master BoL, and the forwarder company issues the house BoL.
- The carrier signs the master BoL, while the forwarder company signs the house BoL.
- The master BoL must always be subject to important regulations, while the house BoL doesn’t.
- The master BoL features the BoL number of the carrier. The house bill of lading states the forwarder company’s BoL.
Bill of Lading UK – How Does a Bill of Lading Work?
The freight forwarder’s bill of lading shipping agreement can be signed and issued by forwarders without indicating the signing authority (carrier or carrier’s agent). Sometimes, the forwarder companies may sign their bills of lading “as carrier” if the clients need a letter of credit-compliant FBL.
This document can (but doesn’t have to) be subject to regulations such as the Hague Rules, US COGSA (US Carriage of Goods by Sea Act), and the Hague-Visby Rules.
Bill of Lading Shipping Agreement – When Is a Bill of Lading Issued?
The freight forwarder company issues the bill of lading before the products are shipped. The bill of lading needs to be signed and shipped together with the products. Also, this document serves as a shipment receipt, which is why it must be issued before the actual shipment.
Bill of Lading UK – Is a Bill of Lading Required in the UK?
Yes, a bill of lading is required for maritime shipments in the UK. The document can be issued by different issuers, but the freight forwarders are required to be familiar with every individual procedure. They also need to know how this document relates to import and export customs clearance.
Who Is Responsible for Bill of Lading?
Legally, carriers are the only ones who can issue a BoL to the shipper. Sometimes, Vessel or Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier can issue this document too.
Bill of Lading Example
Now that you understand what this legal document is, we can provide an example to better paint the picture.
Assume that ABC Restaurant receives fresh vegetables and meat four times a week. The restaurant manager fills a purchase order (PO) with the exact amount and type of food they wish to order. The manager emails the PO to the food vendor, who gathers the products and issues a bill of lading. The vendor signs the document together with the carrier representative.
The carrier then delivers the food to the ABC Restaurant. The manager now compares the PO information with the information stated on the bill of lading. If everything is in order, the PO and the bill of lading get delivered to the restaurant owner, who then writes a check to the vendor.
As you can see, the restaurant owner doesn’t have to issue a check before reviewing the bill of lading and the purchase order. They need to make sure they pay for what they ordered and received, no more and no less.
If there was an issue with any of the documents, the manager could ask for an exception from the vendor. Also, the bill of lading could serve as a document for the court should the matter escalate further. After all, this is a legally binding document that works as undisputed shipment proof.
Bill of Lading vs. Invoice
At this point, you may wonder what the difference between a BoL and an invoice may be. Well, the BoL is a binding legal document between the shipper and the carrier that outlines the quantity, destination, type, and other information about the shipped goods. On the other hand, an invoice tracks the sale of products between a buyer and a seller.
Bill of Lading UK – Everything You Need to Know
Bill of lading is an important document that needs to be shipped together with the products in all maritime transports in the UK. The shipper is fully responsible for this document that also serves as a receipt for the carried goods.
So, if you wondered “When is a bill of lading issued?” “Is a bill of lading a legal document?” or “Who is responsible for bill of lading?” we have provided you with all the answers and bill of lading types. Hopefully, you now better understand a bill of lading meaning, what this document serves as and why it is important.
Should you need any help determining whether you need a bill of lading or organising your export overseas, freight forwarders such as GenX Freight are at your service.
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