Bill of lading (B/L)
A bill of lading (B/L) is used for sea shipment and is a certificate of ownership of goods. It must be produced at the port of final destination by the importer in order to claim goods.
As a document of title, the bill of lading is also a negotiable document and you may sell the goods by endorsing or handing it over to another authorized party, even while the goods are still at sea.
Although negotiable bills of lading are in common use, some countries do not allow them or make it difficult fro them to be used. You have to be sure that a negotiable B/L is accepted in your country. Otherwise, a non-negotiable B/L is issued.
The B/L is a formal, signed receipt for a specified number of packs, which is given to the export agent by the shipping line when the shipping line receives the consignment. If the cargo is apparently in good order and properly packed when received by the shipping line, the bill of lading, is deemed as “clean”. The ship owner thus accepts full liability for the cargo described in the bill.
See sample B/L below: