Bill of Lading Law and Legal Definition

A bill of lading is a receipt given by a shipper of goods from the carrier, such as a trucking company, railroad, ship or air freighter, for shipment to a particular buyer. It is a contract protecting the shipper by guaranteeing payment and ensures the carrier that the recipient has proof of the right to the goods. The bill of lading is then sent to the buyer by the shipper upon payment for the goods, and constitutes proof that the recipient is entitled to the goods when received.

A bill of lading, or BOL therefore serves as the following:

  • A contract between a carrier and a shipper for the transportation of goods.
  • A receipt issued by a carrier to a shipper for goods received for transportation.
  • Evidence of title to the goods in case of a dispute.

A notation "shipped on board" indicates that the goods have been received and loaded onto the vessel or vehicle, rather than just received for shipment.