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Received for Shipment, Shipped on Board, Clean on Board & Clean Shipped on Board

As everyone may know by now, a Bill of Lading, the most important transport document in the process of global shipping has 3 basic purposes or roles..

  1. Evidence of Contract of Carriage – emphasis on the term “Evidence
  2. Receipt of Goods – emphasis on the term “Receipt“ and
  3. Document of Title to the goods – emphasis on the term “Title

We also know that a bill of lading is issued in 3 different ways

  1. As a Straight Bill of Lading
  2. As a Sea Waybill
  3. As a Negotiable Bill of Lading

While a bill of lading has several clauses, we look at one of the common clauses that all of the above bills of lading have and that is

  1. Received for Shipment
  2. Shipped on Board
  3. Clean on Board
  4. Clean Shipped on Board

Many people are not clear about the implications and requirements for these clauses on the bill of lading and often leads to confusion and disputes especially at destination and for buyers who are not clear on the status..

Let’s see below what these terms mean..

A Bill of lading endorsed with Received for shipment : merely confirms that the carrier has “received” the containers under their control at the port or terminal for loading onto a specific ship or voyage.. This DOES NOT mean that the container(s) has been shipped on board and neither does it mean that the container(s) will be shipped on the subject ship or voyage..

When is it used..?? This may be used in shipments where the seller’s responsibility ends when the goods are handed over to the carrier like an FCA Incoterms® rule and they need the transport document to be finalized..

But this would also depend on the terms of shipment and documentation agreed between the buyer and seller especially if a Letter of Credit is involved..

A Bill of lading endorsed with Shipped on board : confirms that the carrier has received and loaded the goods physically on board the specified ship or voyage.. When this clause is shown on the bill of lading, it is DEFINITE proof that the goods have been loaded.. But, it may or may not mean that the said ship/voyage has sailed from the port of loading..

When is it used..?? This may be used in shipments where there is a definite requirement to confirm that the goods have been loaded on the ship and it needs to be verified..

Again this would depend on the terms of shipment and documentation agreed between the buyer and seller especially if a Letter of Credit is involved..

A Bill of lading endorsed with Clean on board : confirms that the goods have been received by the carrier in good order and condition and loaded on the ship without any damages..

While this clause is predominantly used for goods that are loaded on break bulk, or multi-purpose vessels, there are several cases where this clause is requested for containerized shipments.. This has led to several disputes and delays..

By showing this clause in the bill of lading, the shipowner, carrier, and/or master may be liable for any damages that the consignee might notice to the cargo upon discharge, and as such is a dangerous clause as far as a carrier is concerned..

In containerized shipping, this clause is not accepted or granted by any shipping line UNLESS UNDER VERY RARE circumstances as in the case of FCL containers, the carrier is NOT aware of what has been packed in the container and in what condition..

It is important that the Implications of issuing a Clean on Board bill of lading are fully understood..

When is it used..?? This may be used in shipments where there is a definite requirement to confirm that the goods have been loaded on the ship and it needs to be verified that the goods are in good condition and free from damage..

Again this would depend on the terms of shipment and documentation agreed between the buyer and seller especially if a Letter of Credit is involved..

A bill of lading endorsed with Clean Shipped on board : (or Shipped Clean on Board) is essentially the same as a Clean on board bill of lading, just a fancier term used by some buyers especially in a letter of credit as they may feel it covers them for any conditions..


Article republished after critical updates

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiarhttps://www.shippingandfreightresource.com
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..

40 COMMENTS

  1. With your permission, my friend Manaadir, I would like to make a small contribution to this excellent article of yours.
    If we are going to discuss terms such as Clean On Board, Shipped On Board, Actually loaded On board, Laden On board, and similar ones, then of course, we must first talk about the clean bill of lading or dirty (fauled, claused, stamped) bill of lading and inevitably refer to the ICC’s UCP 600 and ISBP 821 publications. As we all know, these publications are related to letters of credit. For instance, Article 27 of the ICC UCP 600 directly addresses the clean transport document. It explicitly states that transportation documents without any indication of apparent defects in the goods or their packaging shall be deemed clean, and even if a letter of credit requires a clean transport document, it is not necessary to include the word “clean”.
    After looking into the ICC ISBP 821 publication following UCP 600, it becomes even clearer that the matter is addressed. In ISBP 821, in articles E21, D25, F19, and G19, it is stated that even if the term “CLEAN” is a requirement in the letter of credit, it is not necessary for the issued transport document (BILL OF LADING or SEA WAYBILL) to include the word “CLEAN”. Moreover, if the word “CLEAN” is written and then crossed out or erased, it does not render the transport document as unclean. On the other hand, it explains to us why the notation “SHIPPED ON BOARD” is often included in bills of lading. These provisions are reiterated in articles D11, E7, and F6 of ICC ISBP 821, stating that terms such as “Shipped in apparent good order”, “laden on board”, “clean on board”, or other phrases that incorporate “shipped” or “on board” have the same effect as the words “shipped on board”. This is also repeated for charter party cargoes in article G6. Thus, the practice seems to revert to its historical origin. In my opinion, this is because the majority of bills of lading in my collection, which dates back to 1680 and comprises thousands of documents, typically begin with “SHIPPED by the Grace of God…” and are concluded with “AMEN”. This signifies that our business at sea has always been and continues to be entrusted to God. This is a historical reality. Recent attacks by pirates in the Red Sea also serve as evidence of this.

  2. This is a very informative blog article about the different endorsements used on bills of lading. I particularly appreciate the focus on clarifying the implications and requirements for each endorsement, as this is often a source of confusion.

  3. This is a well-written and informative blog post about the different types of bill of lading endorsements and their implications. I like how you break down each term in a clear and concise way, making it easy for readers to understand the nuances of each clause.

  4. Hello Hariesh Manaadiar Sir,

    I’m Working in Freight Forwarding company in Export Documentation.

    Our one of customer want RFS BL with dated. 31/12/2023. but customer will gate-in Container on date: 01/01/2024. And vessel Sailing Date is 03/01/2024.

    So my Question is, can we release RFS BL with Dated. 31/12/2023 as per customer requirements?

    • The main meaning of Received for Shipment is that the carrier has received the FCL under their control on the date mentioned.. If you are issuing your own HBL then you become the carrier and the RFS should reflect the actual date the container is received.. If it is a case of LCL and “cargo” is received on 31st but packed into container and moved to port only on 1st, you can still issue the RFS on 31st as you as LCL operator/consolidator have received it on 31st.. In short, RFS should be issued only once cargo has been received under your control..

  5. I recently made a purchase from China, and the FedEx tracking system informed me ‘Information received’ and when I checked details, it suggested the weight of my shipment as 10 lbs, however what I ordered is 53 lbs? I contacted the vendor and he said the weight is never accurate?
    In addition, I ordered this on April 25th and it was shipped on the 30th and still I have no further updates from tracking. All it says is ‘Information received’. I am in California and the shipment suggests ‘From Las Vegas to (My City) Califorbnia? I just checked tracking again and there has been no activity. Can you help?

    • “Is it common or at least not uncommon in a multimodal freight contract (i.e. for transport with different means of transport, truck / ship freight,

      that the bill of lading (the Bill of Lading) for sea freight transport is already issued and with a” clean ob board “- A note is made as soon as the

      carrier and issuer of the Bill of Lading has received irrevocable power of disposal over the goods, before the goods have not yet been loaded

      onto the ship? “

  6. … Would like to know , can we issue RFS bills of lading on non working day.
    in brief – if unit gated in on Sunday and customer is insisting that RFS date
    should be same day i.e Sunday.. Can we ?

    • Hi Santy, RFS or SOB can be issued irrespective of any weekday as far as the conditions for these releases are met.. i.e. for RFS the container should have been handed over to the carrier and carrier should have proof of such handover and for SOB the container should have been physically shipped on board and carrier should have proof of this..

    • one quick query… one of our customer requested RFS bills of lading for their 7×20′ containers, but the problem is 6×20′ were already loaded and 1×20′ container gated in after rest of the units loaded and customer is requesting RFS bills of lading on last unit gated in date.

      will it be okay to proceed ?

    • at Santy, how did you resolved this? as I have the same situation now.

      3*40Hq loaded yesterday, 2*40hq will be loaded tomorrow, customer needs the RFS BL dated after all the loading is completed.

  7. Can we as a forwarder release RFS BL for an LCL shipment without mention of container number and seal details? Is it correct to release such BL without these details?

    • Hi Ritu, in an LCL case, this does happen sometimes based on the type of bill of lading required and the type of sale between seller and buyer.. If for example it is an FCA shipment, then this maybe normal and once the container has been packed, the customer can query the container number from the forwarder/entity that is issuing the HBL..

  8. And what happens when the master makes a statement like “package weak” without any proof but just to cover himself in case of damaged packing and spilled cargo in the voyage? Can this BL be disputed and not accepted? Can we request the shipowner/broker to amend the BL?

    • Good question Mohamed.. If the line issues a bill of lading without any of these notations then they are leaving it open to interpretation for any claims etc.. So the shipping lines don’t issue without any of the above notations..

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