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HomeBill of LadingParts of a bill of lading - Part 1

Parts of a bill of lading – Part 1

Parts of a Bill of Lading


Welcome to the 1st of a 4 part series about the different parts a Bill of Lading  (abbreviated to B/L), one of the MOST important documents in the whole shipping and freight chain, that needs to be filled up..

Please bear in mind that this “generic” information and does not refer to any line in particular as each line have their own format and setup..

In this article we will discuss the address and reference details..

Shipper – is the name and address details of the shipper who is shipping the cargo.. This may or may not be the actual owner or manufacturer of the cargo, but could also be a trader or freight forwarder depending on the type of bill of lading that is issued.. This could also be different from the exporter of the cargo..

Image of mascot holding bill of ladingConsignee – is a key entity in the shipping chain and this field reflects the name and address details of the person or company that is legally allowed to receive the cargo covered in the bill of lading..

This may or may not be the actual owner or recipient of the cargo as it could be a bank or trader or forwarder depending on the type of bill of lading that is issued..

Being named as the consignee on the bill of lading also comes with the risk and responsibility of being held accountable for many issues such as non-clearance of cargoes, late clearance, claims etc..

Notify – is the name and address details of the person who should be notified of the arrival of the cargo.. Depending on the bill of lading that is issued this could be the actual buyer or receiver of the goods, clearing and forwarding agent or the trader.. Generally the notice of cargo arrival is to be sent to this notify party..

Bill of Lading Number – is the unique number provided to the shipment covered under a specific bill of lading.. This is allocated by the shipping line and must be quoted by the client for any queries, sailing info, arrival info, claims etc..

Reference Numbers – this space can be used to update any reference numbers specific to the client or the freight forwarder which they will use to trace their shipments..

Carriers Agents – here the details of the agents at discharge port is usually recorded by the shipping line so that the destination agent of the client/forwarder can contact the shipping lines agents to query the status of the shipment or go for release etc..

Balance in the next article.. Stay tuned..

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
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..


  1. Hi Hariesh,

    In any cases, if the gross weight on the bill of lading does not tally with the packing list and agent at destination have already did their manifest, will consignee able to collect the cargo? and will there be demurrage charges if there is no chances of amending the bill of lading to the correct gross weight? The bill of lading type is surrender bl.

    Please advise what step should i take ?

    Thank you.

  2. Hello Manaadiar

    Chartrs request to re-issue the 2 sets of BLs in order to comply with customs documentary instructions at disport
    On part of the owner need protective procedure to re-issue BLs?

    they want two parcels to take internal transference / ITT ( what is this ?)

    Both BL came from different origin , I guess they want to consolidate ? or may be concealing the buyer the origin of liquid cargo.

    Need enlightening opinion on the above situation.

  3. Hi
    I am a broker.
    I want one of my client to open a transferable LC where I am the first beneficiary and the supplier of the goods is the second beneficiary. incoter should be CIF

    Point here is that I dont want the supplier to know the ID of the client. BUT I dont really care if client knows the ID of supplier.

    do you have a solution to avoid the supplier puts the ID of the final client on the BL?

    also there is an insurance issue here as the goods must be insured 110% of their final value.
    As my invoice to final client includes my margin then, if I want to cover the 110% value, I must ask the supplier to open an insurance coverage like 125%. as a consequence he can retrocalculate my margin which is uncomfortable.

    Do you see any solution on that point?

  4. Hi, Manaadiar,
    Please, could you help to explain what is the processing of bill of lading stated CY/Door?
    Recently I have a FCL shipment arranged out from Surabaya, Indonesia to Bremenhaven, Germany and the Bill of Lading stated port of discharged Hamburg, Germany, place of delivery Bremenhaven.
    According to our consignee forwarder agent at Germany, they have the problem with CY/Door BL (instead of CY/CY), they have to arrange customs clearance at Hamburg to Bremenhaver… is that true??
    Our term with our consignee CFR, and the freight was paid from load port Indonesia to end port Bremenhaven, the processing should arrange by the shipping line, am I correct?…I was so confused because our consignee insist to change the term to CY/CY but in shipping line term, CY/Door is their standard procedure shipment to Bremenhaver
    Thanks you

  5. Dear Hariesh,
    Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge with this blog. I have tried finding an answer to my question, but since I wasn’t lucky, let my try it this way:

    Under CFR incoterm
    · When is the vessel owner obliged to provide the bill of lading – post loading completion or post freight payment by the charterer? I believe both conditions must be met, right? Is there a way out?
    · How does this trend vary by LC terms/geography?

    Thanks in advance for any help!

  6. hello sir
    actually we are indian based construction company exporting raw material to US .our raw material comes from nigeria .we want supply it directly to US so can u pls tell me what is the shipper and consinee name and other information regarding bill of lading ??

  7. How will be B/L made if Buyer places order with U.K. party
    and U.K. Party arranges goods from Holland and asks Holland party to
    ship the cargo direct to Buyer ( say in India ).
    In such case Indian party to make payment to UK party
    and UK party to Holland supplier
    In B/L what name would be given to UK party
    Indian party is – consignee
    Holland party is – consignor
    and what will be UK party ?

  8. Hi Manaadiar,

    I have come across one situation, the clearing agent is holding a Bill of lading showing the consignee as a company which is in different loaction and the actual consignee is mentioned in the notifiy party. When the actual consignee approached us with one bill of lading without endorsement of consignee and we have requested them to take the endorsement of the consignee for issuing delivery order but the client instead of taking endorsement they have given us three original bill of lading and request us for the delivery order.

    Please confirm whether we can issue the delivery order or not without actual consignee endorsement.

    • Hi Munuswamy, this depends on what type of bill of lading was issued, who was shown as the consignee in the bill of lading.. If a Straight Bill of Lading has been issued, you can issue a delivery order to the party surrendering all three original bills to you.. If a To Order bill or Negotiable bill of lading has been issued, then you would need to ensure that the bill of lading is properly endorsed to the person that you are issuing the release to.. If you require any further info on this, pls scan a copy of the bill of lading and send it to

  9. Interesting comments. We ship cars from the UK to South Africa every week and always issue express release B/L’s (unless a client specifically asks for originals) to avoid this kind of situation.

    If original B/L’s do have to be sent to South Africa (or any other country for that matter) we would always advise they are sent by courier – e.g. Fedex, DHL, UPS and not via Royal Mail.


  10. It was two Original Copies– which I scanned and then sent both of them through the post. However there is all the prrof that the consignee, my sister is the owner. She has paid for customs (SARS) and other charges using these scanned copies. She has spent a fortune paying clearing agents and customs. Now she is daily being punished for the delay of the originals in the post. I have tried to reason with these guys but they cant bulge. They want the originals. I wonder if they stand to gain anything for keeping the car longer or they just cant exercise any discretion despite all evidence that she is the actual consignee.

  11. Thanks for your advice. Its the first time my sister was shipping anything. Everything was done electronically. The shipping agent never told her that an original Bill will be needed, never posted it to her address in South Africa, but to me here in the UK. I scanned it and then mailed it using Royal Mail. South African Post Office cannot get hold of it-using the reference number given to them from Royal Mail. We are in a bit of a situation, with charges growing up by the day. Some of the shipping rules are so inflexible for a once off user, and I feel that the guys who are in charge of the Cargo cannot excercise any discretion at all. Its “the computer says no” kind of a situation.

    • Zak, how many original bills did you receive from the shipping line..?? Normally there would be about 3 if it is original bills.. How many did you send by post..?? If you sent all by post, then you are in a fix.. If you have at least 1 with you, then you can try to surrender that 1 or 2 originals at UK to the shipping line and ask them to consider the one in the post as NULL & VOID and do a telex release based on the surrender.. Normally they should oblige.. At destination, your sister should provide relevant proof that she is the actual consignee of the cargo and take release.. Try that..

  12. My sister shipped car to South Africa from England and moved to South Africa before she could receive an Original Bill of Lading. The shipper in England sent the Bill to an address in England, instead of South Africa. Now the car is sitting at the port, despite her having gotten someone to scan and send the original Bill of Lading electronically and by posts. The scanned copy looks as good as the original, but the ship cannot release the car…until the Original Posted Bill of Lading has arrived. NOw everything throughout the initiation of shipping the car has been done electronically. It is only the Bill of Lading that was posted and is not wanted in an electronic format, but by post. What can be done to get the car released. The charges are so big at the harbour, about R750.00 a day, until the posted B/L arrives.

    • Hi Zak, unfortunately there is no other option under this circumstance.. When releasing an original bill of lading, it is expected that this be surrendered at the discharge port in order to secure release.. If this bill was NOT already in the post, then you could have at least surrendered all three originals back to the shipping line at UK and secured a telex release..

      But you say now the bills are already on its way and in this case the only thing that can be done is to wait or the receiver in South Africa can give a bank guarantee to the shipping line (if they will accept it) and clear the cargo based on that and when the original bill of lading is received then the guarantee can be cancelled..

    • does the shipper sign the bill of lading during the transport contract with the transporter
      please i need a good explanation how this contract document thanks for comprehention


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