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HomeBill of LadingWhat happens to the original bill of lading after a shipment has...

What happens to the original bill of lading after a shipment has been completed..??

This is a question one of the regular readers of the blog posed to me the other day..

As you might have read in my previous post https://www.shippingandfreightresource.com/2008/10/13/article-2-the-documents/ there are many types of bills of lading one would encounter.. While each of the bills have a different ending point, the general ending point would be as explained below..

Generally, when an Original Bill of Lading is issued to the shipper they take 3 Originals.. One might be used for the bank, one might be used to send to the consignee, one might be kept with the shipper.. Whichever way it happens, once ONE of the Originals are surrendered to the shipping line/agent at destination for the release of the cargo, the other two Originals are deemed null and void and are rendered worthless..

It is the responsibility of the shipping line/agent at destination to ensure that the Original bill of lading received is duly discharged.. (please see https://www.shippingandfreightresource.com/2008/11/17/duly-discharged-bills-of-lading-the-great-debate/)..

What happens to the one duly discharged Original (or could be all 3) that is collected by the shipping line/agent..?? Those Original(s) are generally cancelled by drawing red lines across the area where it has been signed and the words CANCELLED or DISCHARGED is written so that there will be no further misuse or claims of these bills.. The bill is now deemed to be duly discharged..

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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..


  1. We have an Member’s vessel scheduled to arrive/discharge grain cargo over the coming weekend. Freight and loadport demurrage were to be paid within three days. Freight was paid (albeit late) but the loadport demurrage has not been paid and charterers suggesting it will be paid sometime next week (after the vessel arrives at the discharge port).

    Can you please advise

    1. Whether holding onto the Bills of Lading assists in asserting rights there; İf we do not release original bl it will keep us strong position against to receivers’ / charterers’ further action or not?

  2. Good day, thank you for this article.

    Can a Bill of Lading be recalled even after shipment has begun in order to protect the interests of the consignor?

    I sent some goods to another country, however, I included the details of the consignee whereas I’m yet to receive payment.

    I have a feeling the consignee might abscond with the goods and not pay, hence why I’m asking if the bill of lading can be recalled.

    Thank you.

  3. I am an importer, I got about 72 shipments by Alibaba trade assurance from china
    Last shipment from old supplier since 2018 to now, we place order 0ctber 29-2020 with 30% deposit, with the balance paid against telex release bill of lading. supplier agreement after receiving deposit 20 days to ship goods.with CIF TORONTO CANADA
    the supplier sent less quantity, but invoice full quantity, when he responded April 16-2021, an adjusted invoice with actual quantity shipped, final payment full we paid to the supplier on April 2021, he told us he will release bill of lading asap, because of he is our old supplier after he didn’t send telex bill of lading, shipping company not releasing goods without original bill of lading surrender by a supplier, I saw shipping company full payment, but they say supplier didn’t pay CIF fright to the shipping company, so they holding my containers almost 2 months now shipping company release containers, but asking me to pay CN storage and pick up mounting about $ 30,000 USD

    I paid on time, this is not my fault, this is a CIF shipment so anything happed I should be covered

    please reply to me asap

    1 647 990 6370 _IQBAL SHAIKH mobile/wechat/telegram



  4. Please how long does it take for the shippers/carriers to hand the bill of laden to the agent. I am the consignee and my agent keeps telling me he has shipped the car but waiting for the BL to send to me but I don’t know when that will be. Can you help

    • Hi Eric, generally a bill of lading can be issued within 2 working days of vsl sailing.. It depends on when the agent is submitting all the required documents to the shipping line and making freight payments if any etc..

  5. Hi Sir,
    I lost the Original BL. Still I have the scanned copies of all the shipping documents including BL. Can I get them endorsed to clear the cargo?

  6. A question:
    the consignor sent to us (the consignee) a bill of lading by Courier, but it was lost by the courier. Then the consignor started the process of declaring BL lost, signing letter of indemnity, publising the lost in newspaper, etc.. But suddenly the original bill of lading was found by Courier and delivered to us. The question is: can we use this original bill of lading to claim the cargo? even if the lost BL process is almost complete?
    thanks for your help

    • Hi Enrique, the process of lost OBL will not be complete until there is a bank guarantee and another set of bill is issued based on this guarantee and indemnity etc.. So if the OBL has been found and the 2nd set has not been issued, then yes the first set can be used..

  7. hello hariesh sir please give answer of this question, in case when goods delivered on one original bill of lading what will be the validity of the other two bill of lading?

    • Hi Shakil, there is no such thing as a “validity” on a bill of lading.. If you read above article it says “once ONE of the Originals are surrendered to the shipping line/agent at destination for the release of the cargo, the other two Originals are deemed null and void and are rendered worthless..”..

  8. Please advise me on what to do l have paid my shipper,and my container have arrived at the destination . I still have not getting the bill g of lading from the shipper ,because he have some debit with measke line so the can’t issue billing of lading until he pays of his debit .my container is at the sea port building up duemorage.

  9. Hello, maybe you can help me. We do buy products in India by container and import them in the UK. We pay our manufacturer once the cargo has been loaded on the ship in India. Our Indian manufacturer send us the BL once he has been paid and we use the BL to get the container released in the UK. This is easy, our manufacturer is the Shipper and we are Consignee. But sometimes it gets a bit more complicated. I am currently dealing with a situation where a buying agent (based in Denmark) has purchased a container from us for one of his clients in Saudi. The question now is who should be the Consignee on the original BL. Can I be Consignee with a UK company even the goods are going to Saudi ? According to some information I have received having the final Saudi buyer as Consignee might be problematic for Indian customs purposes because the invoice they receive is between the Shipper/Manufacturer and ourselves. Also I don’t necessarily want the Saudi buyer to know who is the manufacturer and I have heard of Switching BL for that purposes. Your insight would be very valuable. Thank you

  10. Hello i have a question , once the shipment has taken place , the shipping agent issue a draft bill of lading right , my question is to whom the original bill of lading should be sent first is it the consignee or to the seller in my case we are the shipper ?

    Many thanks in advance .

  11. hi Hariesh,

    Is a ship agent entitled to hand Deilvery order to Consignee, agaisnt presentation of full set of Original B/Ls ( 3/3) made out to
    “To Order” but not endorsed /stamped by Shipper

    thank you for your advice

  12. Indonesian Bank would not negotiate the LC with clause ” two original BLs for bank negotiation, and 1 original BL send directly to Consignee”. The Bank needs ” Full set of Original BLs for bank negotiation”
    thank you

  13. Thank you for this post. Could you please advise who keeps the BLs after they have been marked null and void? Does it make sense if a shipping company requires the BLs to be handed over to the company after the completion of the shipment?

    • Hi Yin, presume you mean after you submit the bill of lading details you want to check if the bill of lading is correct or not..?? You can ask the shipping line to send you a draft copy which you can check and advise the line if it is correct or if you need to make any amendments.. Once you advise everything is correct, then the shipping line will issue the final bill of lading..

  14. After the container entered the port the dock receipt was stamped,the trucker gave it to me but my shipping agent has not come for the stamped dock receipt.Upon checking the container number it says the container is on the high sea to its destination.How wil i know if my agent has paid for the container?

    • Hi Michal, when you say “How wil i know if my agent has paid for the container?” do mean if your agent has paid for the shipping line freight charges or which charges..?? Did you agent make the booking with the line or did you do it..??

  15. bill of lading shows port of loading antwerp and at the bottom of the document shows laden on board rotterdam.
    what problems should one anticipate and what’s to be done?

  16. hi again,
    on a bill of lading, port of loading is shown name a. while under laden on board, it shows name b.
    it that a discrepant document? why shipping lines put 2 different ports?

  17. thanks a lot, i read the article which is very explanatory. i hope you can help me with the following question :
    – bills of lading lost
    – a bank guarantee is issued as you say, goods are cleared etc….
    – how long the bank guarantee should be valid? because i think, there must be a way that the original bill of lading is somehow voided.
    – when a bank guarantee is issued, the bank blocs about 120% of the value. if the bank guarantee is for ever….., then this money stay with the bank for ever and ever….?
    i would appreciate your comments…

    • Hi Helen , the bank guarantee is generally valid until the bill of lading is presented, or until the shipping company releases the bank from its liability.. The shipping line normally will release the bank from its liability once all their monies have been recovered at load port and discharge port and the cargo has been released to the correct party and that correct party has cleared the goods through customs and produced proof of such clearance to the line and the line is fully satisfied.. This could vary from country to country and between shipping lines..

  18. If a person asks an agent to ship items on their behalf and the agent refuses to send a copy of the bill of laden to them after all payments are made is the shipping company by law required to send a copy of the bill of laden to the consignee if they are the legal owners of the item?

    • Hi Joe, if you are the legal owner of this cargo and you have proof of this, and this agent is holding back the bill of lading even after you have paid them, then your first recourse would be to go to the police and lodge a complaint against this agent and try to get it sorted that way.. If that doesn’t work, you can try to get a court order to cancel the original bill of lading and get the shipping line to re-issue a new set of originals based on the court order..


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