Why won’t a shipping line pre-date or back-date my bill of lading..??

Firstly, what is pre-dating or back-dating..?? It is when the shipper requests the shipping line to show the Shipped on Board date on the bill of lading as a date before the actual sailing of the vessel (example : the vessel actually sails on the 2nd of March but shipper wants the line to show the shipped on board date on the bill of lading as 28th of February)..

Why would a shipper want his bill of lading to be pre-dated..?? This request is generally made to the shipping line when :

  • There is a  Letter of Credit involved and the L/C stipulates a date by which the shipment must be effected
  • For some reason, the shipper is not able to carry out the shipment within the stipulated time, he stands to lose his order and could be subjected to further penalties etc and default
  • When the party (generally the receiver of the cargo) that opened the L/C rejects the shipper request for an extension to the letter of credit due to whatever reason

In this case, since the shipper cannot afford to miss the deadline, he requests the shipping line for the bill of lading be pre-dated.. If this pre-dating is done, then the bill of lading will show the shipped on board date in accordance with the L/C deadline as required by the shipper, although the cargo was actually loaded and the ship sailed AFTER the deadline..

This constitutes fraud and wilful misrepresentation of the facts to the consignee who is under the pretext that the shipment has been effected within the stipulated time frame.. Remember the consignee has a written confirmation (bill of lading) from the shipping line that shows the date of shipment and can verify the facts if required..

Under normal circumstances, none of the shipping lines will pre-date the bill of lading (even if based on a letter of indemnity from the shipper) as they do not want to be part of this fradulent activity.. The shipping lines have their own set of code of conduct and ethics and they will not compromise on the same..

They might give you a Received for Shipment bill of lading but that too only provided that the containers/cargo has been delivered to the possession of the shipping line on or before the date that is required to be shown on the bill of lading..

Furthermore, if any legal action is taken by the defrauded consignee on the shipper and shipping line, their respective insurance underwriters will not entertain any claim, costs or damages arising out of this fradulent activity.. It is generally accepted by the insurance underwriters that above is considered fraud and they will not cover the same..

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15 thoughts on “Why won’t a shipping line pre-date or back-date my bill of lading..??”

  1. If the shipper really needs to show the date before the actual date of sailing, should we show the date as per shipper’s request or not as NVOCC , not carrier line .

  2. Sorry to enter the frame so late. I agree with Anant Sharma. And by that count, your opening sentence is ambiguous, if not incorrect. The date for “actual sailing of the vessel” is of no concern to LC operations. What we are concerned with is the “date of shipment” as per the UCP. Secondly, “the Shipped on Board date on the bill of lading” would always be “as a date before (or ON) the actual sailing of the vessel”. The on board notation can never show a date AFTER the date when the ship sets sail – but is that fact evident anywhere on the BL? Hardly! So, there is no conflict. It is unfortunate that we often mix up the UCP definition of the “date of shipment” with the actual date on which the ship sets sail. The issue date of the BL is not necessarily the date when the ship sets sail, either.

  3. Can I requests the shipping line to show the Shipped on Board date on the bill of lading as a date After the actual sailing of the vessel ?

  4. HI Mannadiar, i think there is one more reason why the shipper wants to pre-date the B/L is because even if there is no LC involved they want to include that particular shipment in their current month sale and they request to oblige this.

  5. There are too many risks for both LINE and CLIENT – Best option get client to amend the letter of Credit. Yes there is a fee but its worth the price should anything go wrong. Nowadays everything goes wrong with the Delays of vessels due to Congestion at various ports. This is going to be more of an issue. To Avoid these unconfortable situations I would recomend that Clients who are governed by LC to make be pro-active and to book as early a possible.

  6. The practise of issuing back dated or pre dated bill of lading is fraud and need to be avoided. As the bill of lading issuer have the authority to insert the place of issue and date of issue. If wrong date put on the bill of lading will be considered as shipping line or agent either done by mistake or deliberately. This act can create serious legal problems if challenged by buyer for delayed of goods.

  7. Master lines are not involved in this activitiy but LCL forwarders can do much more like this rather than back dating.

  8. Shipped on board date means when the containers are actually loaded on board and does not necessarily mean sailing date of the vessel. The shipped on board date and Sailing Date can be different.There may be lot of revisions and upgradation required in the UCP for Shipped on board date. Some carriers take advantage of the situation and put the shipper at great risk in fulfilling their contractual obligation..

  9. This is also committing fraud i.t.o. the Customs and Excise Act in respect of the Customs value of the goods. The shipped on board date is used for the purposes of rates of exchange.


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