Your bill of lading (BOL) is the most important part of your freight shipping. This applies to Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) or full truckload shipping. It applies to intermodal shipping or volume shipping quotes. It’s everything. It’s all of it. It’s really important to get it right, so let’s talk about your bill of lading.
A bill of lading is a document given by the shipper to the carrier at the time of pickup. It includes all the relevant information of the shipment, including but not limited to: pickup and delivery addresses, contact information, total weight, piece count, freight class, NMFC code, additional services, special instructions, commodity description, freight dimensions, billing party information, shipping/purchase order numbers, and much more.
See? It’s a lot of stuff. Now, let’s break it down a bit.
What MUST be on the BOL?
There are a few things that must be on the BOL. First, the delivery address. How else is the carrier going to know where to take the freight? Next, the total weight and count of the shipment. You also must include the commodity a.k.a. what exactly are you shipping?
Finally, you’ll need the billing party information a.k.a. who’s paying for this shipment once it’s delivered?
These are hardly the only things that should be on a bill of lading, but at the absolute minimum, these things must be notated on the BOL or else the freight probably won’t be picked up, and you could get charged a dry run by the carrier. If your shipment is LTL, then you’ll also need the freight class of the shipment.
Here at FreightPros, we provide our LTL customers with their own customized BOLs using our transportation management system. When moving full truckload freight it’s more common for the shipper to provide their own bill of lading, but our team can always supply one if necessary. Additionally, a truckload BOL will also require pallet counts and signatures.
Check out our Freight Paper, The Importance of Using the Correct BOL, for more information on the bill of lading, and read our Beginner’s Guide to Freight Shipping while you’re at it. It will get you set up with your shipping.