Questions about Original Bill of Lading

Image of Switch Bill of LadingHere’s another basic question from a new entrant to shipping : 

  1. Does the shipping company provides the OB/L number or does the freight forwarder provide it
  2. Is OB/L number given for a shipment or is it given per container

Before answering the question, let me jog your memory about what an Original Bill of Lading is and what it does..

An Original Bill of Lading is a Negotiable document which serves as an

  1. Evidence of Contract of Carriage
  2. Receipt of Goods and
  3. Document of Title

Now for the answers :

Answer to Question 1 : Bill of Lading Number – is a unique number allocated by the shipping line and is the main number used for the tracking of the status of the shipment..

The bill of lading number is generated and issued by the entity that is issuing the bill of lading – whether it is a shipping line or a freight forwarder..

For the same shipment, there can be two back to back bills of lading issued by the shipping line and by the freight forwarder or NVOCC..

The bill of lading issued by the shipping line is known as the Master Bill of Lading and the bill of lading issued by a registered freight forwarder or NVOCC is known as the House Bill of Lading..

You can read more about the difference between a Master Bill of Lading and House Bill of Lading here..

Answer to Question 2 : Depending upon the requirement of the client (exporter or shipper or forwarder), a bill of lading can be issued per shipment or per container..

There maybe cases where there is 1 container – 3 bills of lading (Part Bill of Lading) or 3 containers – 1 bill of lading..

The number of bill of lading for the shipment or container can be dictated by the contract, purchase order or letter of credit alongwith the type of bill of lading and the number of originals/copies to be issued..

Subbu – hope the above answer is clear to you..


*** End of Article ***

34 thoughts on “Questions about Original Bill of Lading”

  1. Sir my question is in order for me to open a line for example I decide today to open xxx line do I have to own a vessel or have ships ? Or can I open my own line then lease containers from Leseco or get space from example Maersk. Also my other question is Incase I open my line can I also create my own BL? Or is it only issued by the Shipoing line ?

  2. Sir I am import sum material my trims & condition is of payments is 50% t/t and 50% orignal bill of landing all document of shipment
    How I am payment give me detail
    I send 50% t/t after he send me orgin copy &now demand 50% peyment wen I am payment suggest

  3. Hi,

    When you have a CIF delivery. Who is responsible for negotiating the amount of free days in the port. The importer or the exporter?

    • Hi Ramona, in CIF, the seller take care of the contract of carriage till the named port of destination or any point at that port as per agreement.. The rule states “The contract of carriage must be made on usual terms at the seller’s expense…………..”.. Since it mentions “usual”, it may be interpreted that there could be no special arrangement required unless requested for by the buyer, in advance to the seller.. Seller then may choose to negotiate with the shipping lines for any additional free time over the “usual” free time..

  4. Hello. I am new to import/export world. Please bear with me. Customers keep asking for past performance documents in order to start negotiation. I thought these documents belong to buyers and it cannot be shared with other companies. They asked me to redact previous customer information but I still feel is not right to share with them. Plus my suppliers said they don’t share it. Do other companies share past performances docs? Is there another way to satisfy buyers who wants to make sure suplier has had successful transaction? Appreciate all your comments around this issue I am having? Thank you.

  5. i have a shipment which has 10 boxes booked and I want to short ship the first 7 boxes and the 3 boxes to ship later . how can I split the booking when submitting shipping instruction.

  6. Hello,
    Please solve my query.
    Bill of Lading was made for 11 containers. But 1 container got damaged & 10 containers were shipped. But all documents have been made for 11 containers. Kindly guide on the same what is to be done ? Is there any extra document needed for that 1 container which has not been shipped ?

  7. Hi Harish,

    First of all Congratulations for starting such a is not only help to the beginners but also to the experienced guys as well. Best of Luck….

    My question is … i have a supplier in Spain and customer in Qatar.

    1. Exporting goods from Spain to Qatar.
    2. Do not have our own company in Spain
    3. Can we export goods under our name to the customer in Qatar?
    4. High Sea Sell is the only option?
    5. However in the HSS, can i change the supplier/consignor?

  8. Hello
    We are going to Import HSS on ex works & freight paid by us .but we are selling to goods to our buyer as CIF term
    it is acceptable & as per customs as value addition for local invoice to our buyer

  9. hi, my question is that the supplier has shipped the material for 242MT quantity and it is going to reach india on 10th of April 2018 and now the buyer has asked to split the quantity in 88MT, 88MT, 66MT and wants the three B/L’s for the same… so is it possible for the shipping company to provide the 3 B/l’s or not

  10. Do the consigner at discharge port need to submit any indemnity or exonerating and responsibility to the carrier to deliver the cargo.

  11. If I have 2 MBL for 1 Container, can advise should I have file a single IGM Manifestation for both MBL’s or I have file IGM Manifestation seprately for both MBL’s

  12. if i want to buy second hand contianers in India , why we need to submit BL to bank for outward remmittance. As per my knowledge BL is for cargo not for container.

  13. Let me know one thing, If the bl is switch at Singapore . Shall we use any other agent in singapore to issue the Bill of lading(Leg 2). or our own singapore only issue it. Please confirm

  14. HI,
    Let me know the procedure for FMC, do you have any consultant in USA. is there any possible to register foreign company like if we have any company in india, can we get FMC registere. or we need to open SAME COMPANY IN usa.. if you have any consultant in USA , please share their contacts.

  15. Hi sir

    Can Bill of lading number can be repeated .

    Will it create issues in POD manifest.


    Issued on april : vagjeabnd0066
    Issued on june : vagjeabnd0066

  16. First, thank you for your kind reply. According to my supervisor said “One PO No. per one B/L is principal – This is shipping principle and uncontroversial. From time to time using duplicated PO in multiple B/L has been brought up in discharge port” In other words, I am not allow to have same Purchase Order Number applied on different BL because stevedores at discharging port sorting cargo based on PO first. Having same Purchase Order Number on different BL will be time-consuming and a bit confusing. I think what I’m trying to ask is –> Is One PO No. per one B/L principal and uncontroversial? Hope you don’t lost me by what I said. Haha…

    • Not necessarily.. I have seen several PO under 1 bill of lading.. It may also happen that several bill of lading under one PO but same shipper/consignee maybe because consignee wants to clear cargoes in part.. As far as I have seen there is no hard and fast rule..

    • Hi kkss, I have released and issued many bls, three , or two p.o nos are mentioned in a single bill. it is fully shipper’s or consignee’s requirement.

      Ex. consignee mail to shipper p.o no.1 in 1st feb, and p.o no : 2 in 3rd feb. But consignee need a single bl due to save freight cost in FCL. then it will be merge.
      Hope its clear now.

      Another thing p.o number must be used in single time only. it cannot be repeated in FCL JOB. But it is repeated in LCL.

  17. Hi~ I have a question my teamleader asked me : “Please make sure that Duplicate P.O. No. per B/L is NOT accepted for shipping documents, which means same P.O. No. CANNOT be shared with different Bs/L. => One PO No. per one B/L in principal.”…..I’m not sure if there is a rule like that for the shipping document ~by the way~ we will have label on the cargoes to prevent stevedore at discharging port will be confused that why different BLs will show same P.O. No.

    • Hello Frodo, if by P.O you mean Purchase Order, then it doesn’t matter in shipping as neither the shipping line, or shipping agent or stevedore or port are concerned with this.. A P.O. is between the seller and buyer and has no impact on the cargo operations..

  18. hi, hariesh . I know there is HBL (house bill of lading ) under L/C (Letter of Credit) but recently I came across an MBL issued by UASC where the cnee is a bank and notify is the importer. Is this MBL under L/c ?
    can you tell in detail ,please ?

  19. 1) The bill of lading is used as a receipt issued by the carrier once the goods have been loaded onto the vessel. This receipt can be used as proof of shipment for customs and insurance purposes, and also as commercial proof of completing a contractual obligation.

    2) OBL can be issued based on the customers requirement, it can be per shipment / per container.

  20. Hi!

    This reminds me the first time I was required to upload shipping instructions (BL Instructions) on the liner’s portal for two separate Marine BLs for the cargo sealed in one container.

    When you need separate Marine BLs you need to request “Split BL” on most of the liner portals.

    Hope the information helps, as I nearly lost half a day getting this information.

    With regards,


    • I am importing from 4 X suppliers on one container
      I have 4x invoices and 4 X packing lists.
      Ii Have 1 BOL
      Is 1 bill of lading ok

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