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Shipped on Board Date – should it be stamped and signed by the shipping line..??

  • Shipped-on-board notation is a common notation on a bill of lading
  • Shipped-on-board notation is not a mandatory requirement
  • Shipping lines may or may not sign a shipped-on-board notation

I received the below question from a reader

if a credit ask for a “signed shipped on board date” and shipping line says the bill of lading has been signed so also the shipped on board has to be considered signed, no need to sign separately.

Is there in the UCP 600 an article that confirm that if a bill of lading has been signed each part has to be considered “signed” ?

This is an interesting question as usual.. Let us first see

What is a Shipped on Board Date and why is it important..??

As we know, a Bill of Lading is the most important transport document in the global shipping process and 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

A bill of lading also carries several clauses and stamps each with its own meaning and bearing on the document and liabilities..

A shipped-on-board notation or stamp is one such item that is commonly seen on a bill of lading..

Bear in mind that this is NOT a mandatory notation or stamp from the perspective of a shipping line, but it could be a mandatory requirement for the client as required by a letter of credit or financial institution or the buyer of the goods..

The purpose of a Shipped on Board (SOB) notation or stamp is to confirm that the shipping line has received and loaded the cargo physically on board the specified ship/voyage..

shipped on board stamp

There may or may not be a date stamp next to this SOB stamp as this depends on the shipping line and their policy..

Some shipping lines may still be following the practice of putting a separate stamp showing Shipped on Board (could look like the image on the right) as it could be a security requirement for them..

Other shipping lines may have a printed notation (could look like below) simply showing “Shipped On Board” with or without a date based on their policy/requirement..Shipped on Board Date – should it be stamped and signed by the shipping line..??

Is the Shipped on Board notation/date mandatory when a letter of credit is involved..??

Not as per UCP600 Article 20 – Section A – Sub-Section II which says below about SOB Date on the bill of lading :

The date of issuance of the bill of lading will be deemed to be the date of shipment unless the bill of lading contains an on board notation indicating the date of shipment, in which case the date stated in the on board notation will be deemed to be the date of shipment.

So, if a bill of lading is issued without a shipped-on-board date, the date of issuance of the bill of lading will be considered as the shipped-on-board date..

If there is a separate notation of showing Shipped on Board with date in the body of the bill of lading, the SOB date should always be on or before the Bill of Lading date..

Does a shipped-on-board notation with a date require to be signed..??

Now to answer whether a shipped-on-board date notation needs a separate signature next to it, the answer is that it is simply a question of choice..

A shipping line may or may not sign it as per their policy.. There is no rule or regulation that says the SOB DATE must be signed..

If the letter of credit requires the SOB to be dated AND signed, the client can request the same from the shipping line and they may accept it, unless they have any specific policy prohibiting it..

In this regard, also note UCP600 – Article 3 which says

A document may be signed by handwriting, facsimile signature, perforated signature, stamp, symbol or any other mechanical or electronic method of authentication.

and UCP600 – Article 17 (b) which says

A bank shall treat as an original any document bearing an apparently original signature, mark, stamp, or label of the issuer of the document, unless the document itself indicates that it is not an original.


Based on the above, whether the Shipped on Board Date is signed or not, if a bill of lading is issued as an original and has been signed in the relevant area provided, it covers ALL information including stamps and clauses of the bill of lading unless there are alterations made to the bill of lading details in which case those also must be signed..

So, the shipping line would be correct in saying that if the bill of lading has been signed the shipped-on-board notation is also considered to be signed and there is no need to sign it separately..

This article has been republished after some critical updates..

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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. Your finding on SOB as to it would be deemed to be dated as reflected on BOL or would be self-validated if it carries a date endorsed, to make it clear that the shipper has shipped on a date fair enough to support his financial negotiation.


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