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

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

These are 4 terms that some people are not clear about, with regards to the various types of endorsements on the bill of lading.. 

  • Received for Shipment
  • Shipped on Board
  • Clean on Board
  • Clean Shipped on Board

Bill of lading endorsed with Received for shipment  : confirms that the carrier has “received” the containers at the port facility for loading onto a specific ship or voyage.. This DOES NOT mean that the container(s) has been shipped on board..

Bill of lading endorsed with Shipped on board : confirms that the carrier has received and loaded the containers physically on board the specified ship or voyage.. This is DEFINITE proof that the container(s) have been loaded..

Bill of lading endorsed with Clean on board : is a bill of lading that is predominantly used for non-containerised cargoes that are loaded on the break-bulk or multi-purpose vessels.. This confirms that the cargo has been received by the carrier in GOOD ORDER AND CONDITION..

By certifying this however, the shipowner, carrier and/or master can 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 containerised 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..

Bill of lading endorsed with Clean Shipped on board : (or Shipped Clean on Board) is basically the same as a Clean on board bill of lading, just a fancier term shown on an L/C..

Maybe some of the readers who have had some interesting experiences or issues with these 3 clauses can share their experiences..


  1. 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? “

  2. … 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.

  3. 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..

  4. 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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