bill of lading
(shipping) A document issued by a carrier to a shipper, signed by the captain, agent, or owner of a vessel, furnishing written evidence of receipt of the goods (cargo), the conditions on which transportation is made (contract of carriage), and the engagement to deliver goods at the prescribed port of destination to the lawful holder of the bill of lading.
A bill of lading is, therefore, both a receipt for merchandise and a contract to deliver it as freight. There are a number of different types of bills of lading.
(a) A straight bill of lading indicates that the shipper will deliver the goods to the consignee. The document itself does not give title to the goods (nonnegotiable). The consignee need only identify himself to claim the goods. A straight bill of lading is often used when payment for the goods has been made in advance.
(b) A shipper’s order bill of lading is a title document to the goods, issued “to the order of” a party, usually the shipper, whose endorsement is required to effect its negotiation. Because it is negotiable, a shipper’s order bill of lading can be bought, sold, or traded while goods are in transit and is commonly used for letter-of-credit transactions. The buyer usually needs the original or a copy as proof of ownership to take possession of the goods.
(c) An air waybill is a form of bill of lading used for the air transport of goods and is not negotiable. See air waybill for a fuller explanation.
(d) A clean bill of lading is a bill of lading where the carrier has noted that the merchandise has been received in apparent good condition (no apparent damage, loss, etc.) and which does not bear such notations as “Shipper’s Load and Count,” etc.
(e) A claused bill of lading is a bill of lading which contains notations which specify deficient condition(s) of the goods and/or packaging.