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Bill of lading is a receipt issued by a shipping company to the agents of exporter or importer stating that either goods have been shipped or being shipped. Mainly, it serves as a transport document in international commerce. Besides this purpose it also used for following 3 purposes: –

  1. Contract of affreightment (transport) between the shipping company and the shipper (exporter or importer)
  2. Receipt given by the shipping company for cargo received by it.
  3. Document of Title



Contract of affreightment means that when goods are to be carried by any carrier, then it shall contain terms and conditions of carriage. In other words, it shall contain the responsibility of the carrier in providing space, receiving, loading, carrying and unloading the cargo. Thus if there is any loss or damage to the cargo then it shall contain the circumstances in which carrier can be held liable for loss or damage. Also, in case if it is liable for loss or damage then it shall also contain the amount of claim which the carrier shall require to pay.


Bill of lading is a receipt issued by the shipping company on its agents. Bill of lading is the only evidence to file a claim against the shipping company in the event of non-delivery, defective delivery or short delivery of the cargo at the destination. As a result, this document indicates that the contracted goods have been either given into the charge of the shipping company or shipped by the exporter by the named ship on the date specified in the bill of lading. If the shipment is as per terms then exporter gets right to demand of sale amount from importer and importer gets entitled to the delivery of goods at the destination.

As a receipt, Bill of lading can be of various types: –

  1. Received for shipment bill of lading
  2. On board shipped Bill of lading
  3. Clean Bill of lading
  4. Claused or dirty Bill of lading
  5. Combined Bill of lading
  6. Through Bill of lading
  7. Trans-shipment Bill of lading
  8. Charter Party bill of lading


Bill of lading is a document of title that will enable the lawful holder of any of the original Bill of lading to take delivery of goods at the stipulated port of destination. Thus a claimant of title to goods is required to surrender an original bill of lading for claiming goods from the shipping company or its agents.




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