Blind shipments can be a frustrating part of the LTL shipping process, but they don’t have to be. Like most shipping processes (such as Limited Access Shipping), complications can be avoided if you follow a simple set of rules. The
purpose of this Freight Paper is to explain blind shipments; what they are, and how to successfully execute them.
A blind shipment is an LTL shipment where the shipping address, the consignee address, or both, are altered to keep
their identity hidden from the opposite party. This means that a blind shipment could have the shipper address hidden to the consignee, the consignee address hidden to the shipper, or both addresses hidden to both shipper and
consignee. A blind shipment is an additional service (like Tradeshow Shipping), meaning the freight carrier will charge an extra fee if you want your shipment to be blind.
Depending on who is setting up the shipment, a blind shipment would be necessary to hide the identity of the shipper or consignee. It’s most often employed when a shipment is coming directly from a manufacturer or other
third party. Shippers will often ship an item directly from the manufacturer in an attempt to keep costs down, and hiding the shipping address from the consignee ensures that the consignee will not go directly to the manufacturer in an effort to cut out the third party.
Because blind shipments use multiple BOLs, things can get tricky, so it’s best to get your freight broker’s help during the process. For a typical blind shipment you will need to create two different BOLs. The first will be used by the shipper at the time of pickup. The second BOL will be used by the carrier at the time of delivery. If the shipper is the blind party, the first BOL will be known as the “blind BOL,” or the “dummy BOL,” while the second BOL will be the “real BOL.” Conversely, if the consignee is the blind party, the first BOL will be the real BOL, and the second BOL will be the dummy BOL.
Once the shipment is picked up and in transit, the carrier will switch the BOLs to ensure that the shipment is picked up and delivered to the correct addresses. Most carriers simply require notification that the shipment will be blind, however some carriers do have paperwork that will need to be filled out to confirm the process.
Yes, some carriers place restrictions on blind shipments to ensure correct billing on their end. This means that the business name, the street address, and the contact information can all be falsified, but the city and zip code must be correct. Other carriers only require the zip codes to be correct when shipping, while still other carriers allow all the address information on the false BOL to be incorrect. You’ll need to confer with your freight broker to find out specific freight carrier restrictions on blind shipments.
A double blind shipment is when both the shipper and the consignee addresses are falsified, ergo, neither the shipper nor the consignee knows the real address the shipment is being picked up at or delivered to. A double blind shipment can be used when the party paying for the shipment is neither the shipper nor the consignee, but an altogether different third party. When handling a double blind shipment, three different BOLs will be used: the BOL used at the time of pickup (a dummy BOL), the BOL used at the time of delivery (also a dummy BOL), as well as the BOL used by the freight carrier (the real BOL, where both the shipper and consignee addresses are correct). Double blind shipments are rare in the LTL shipping industry, but they do exist.
Of course! We know that this process can be dizzying. For our example, we’ll look at a blind shipment where the consignee is the blind party (this is the most common type of blind shipment).
John has a company in California that sells used computer parts. He buys these used computer parts from a wholesaler in Texas, and then resells them to his customers at a markup. John has a customer in New York who has ordered some parts from his website. Instead of having the parts shipped from Texas to California, and then from California to New York, John wants to save on shipping costs by having the computer parts shipped directly from Texas to New York. However, he still wants his customer in New York to believe that the parts are coming from him in California. He does not want his customer to know the address or company name of the wholesaler in Texas.
John will contact his freight broker to set up the blind shipment, and the freight broker will then create two BOLs to be used for the shipment. The real BOL, with all the correct address information (pickup in Texas, delivery in New York) will be given to John. John will then take this BOL and give it to his contact in Texas where the freight is being picked up. The freight broker will then contact the carrier and schedule the pickup in Texas, with a delivery in New York. The carrier will then make the pickup in Texas.
Once the shipment is picked up and in transit, the broker will contact the freight carrier and supply them with the second BOL (the dummy BOL) to be used at the time of delivery. This dummy BOL will have the shipper address as John’s California address, with the consignee address in New York. Using their contact at the freight carrier, the broker will confirm that the dummy BOL will be used by the carrier at the time of delivery. The broker will then track the shipment until it’s delivered. Once the freight is delivered to New York, the BOL used at the time of delivery will show the freight was shipped from California, when in reality it was shipped from Texas. This way, the consignee will have no reason to attempt to get their next computer supplies order directly from the wholesaler in Texas, and John doesn’t have to worry about being cut out of the process.
If you’ve made it this far, congrats! Still confused about the blind shipment process? Don’t worry. Blind shipments are inherently more complicated than a standard LTL freight shipment, where only one BOL is used at the time of pickup and delivery. Anytime multiple BOLs are introduced into a shipment, it’s very important to confirm with the carrier that they have the correct BOL to present to the consignee or shipper, as well as having the actual address information where the shipment is being picked up or delivered, not to mention confirming that the price is correct. For instance, in our above example, we don’t want John to be charged as if his freight was shipped from California rather than Texas because that could double the price for John!
These steps are why it’s important to use a freight broker when shipping blind shipments. Brokers are familiar with these additional services, and have processes in place to make sure everything goes smoothly. If you need to ship something blind, contact FreightPros and we’ll get you set up. And don’t forget to take a look at our other free Freight Papers, available at our website.