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A bill of lading, or BOL for short, is a document that binds every shipping transaction together. It serves as both a receipt and a comprehensive record of services rendered during a shipment. This binding contract between carrier and shipper protects both parties and ensures clarity and accountability throughout the shipping process. Not to mention, it's essential in the case of dispute resolutions or insurance claims.

Historically, completing this document has been a manual task involving lots of paper, faxing, and emailing. With uShip eBOL, users can easily document a shipment's condition at pickup and delivery through photos, notes, and customer sign-off. Having everything documented in one place where both the shipper and carrier can access helps build trust and accountability between all parties.


The bill of lading (BOL) is one of the most essential documents of any shipment. It serves as a legally binding contract between the shipper and the carrier, outlining terms and conditions of transportation and establishing responsibilities and liabilities.

Additionally, the BOL documents the goods or vehicles being shipped, ensuring proper handling, identification, and accountability. It also includes information about payment terms and serves as a reference point in the case of disputes.

Overall, the BOL ensures transparency, accountability, and smooth operations, protecting both shippers and carriers during the shipping process.


An auto transport bill of lading contains a wealth of information crucial at various stages of a shipment's journey. This includes:

  • Transport company information
  • Shipper contact information
  • Order ID number
  • Pickup and delivery details (dates, address, location type, etc.)
  • Vehicle information (year, make, and model)
  • Dollar amount owed for services
  • Payment terms
  • Shipment terms
  • Transport type/method (enclosed or open transport)

As previously stated, it is essential for both parties involved to sign the BOL or eBOL upon delivery and thorough inspection. Any vehicle damage should be documented and noted on the bill of lading. Once the process is complete, your auto transporter should provide you with a copy for your records.

Note: If your carrier used uShip eBOL, your documents will be available directly in your account. This eBOL does not expire and is always accessible through the shipment listing page.


Here are four basic types of bills of lading (BOLs) used in various shipping scenarios:

  • Inland Bill of Lading: A bill of lading used for shipments transported over land. This is the most common type of BOL used for shipments on uShip.
  • Ocean Bill of Lading: An ocean BOL is used when cargo is transported by sea. If the shipment involves transport to a port, both an inland and ocean BOL are typically required.
  • Through Bill of Lading: A through BOL is primarily employed for export transportation. It covers the entire journey from the origin to the destination, including multiple modes of transport such as land, sea, and air.
  • Air Waybill Bill of Lading: An air waybill, also known as an AWB, is used for goods transported by air. It serves as a contract between the shipper and the air carrier and includes important information about the goods being shipped.

Note: You will most likely work with an inland BOL unless shipping internationally or overseas.

carrier next to car hauler

How do you prepare a bill of lading?

In most cases, the carrier will prepare the BOL or eBOL on behalf of both parties. They will include all necessary shipment details, pickup and delivery locations, and a comprehensive description of the goods, including photos. Verify the info to avoid any mistakes or omissions that could cause issues during transportation.

Your transporter will use the BOL or eBOL to receive sign-off at both pickup and delivery. Once the bill of lading is complete, the carrier should provide a copy for your records. Alternatively, you can access your complete eBOL directly in your uShip account.

Who is the consignee on a bill of lading?

The consignee on a bill of lading is the party who is designated as the recipient or the person to whom the goods or vehicle will be delivered. They are the intended receiver of the shipment. The consignee's name and address are typically included on the document to ensure proper identification and delivery. The consignee may be the vehicle owner, the buyer or seller in a transaction, or any other party designated to receive the shipment based on the terms of the agreement or contract.

man inspecting car

Is a bill of lading public information?

A bill of lading is not public information and should always be treated as a confidential record between the shipper, carrier, and any authorized parties involved in the transportation process.

Is a bill of lading legally binding?

A bill of lading is a legally binding document that outlines the agreement between the shipper and carrier. It carries legal implications and can be used as evidence in disputes or claims arising from damage or loss.

man with phone looking at car

Who is authorized to sign a bill of lading?

Individuals authorized to sign a bill of lading (BOL) may vary depending on the specific circumstances and parties involved. Generally, the shipper or their authorized representative is responsible for signing the BOL to confirm the release and delivery of goods or vehicles. The carrier will also sign the BOL upon accepting and delivering shipments. The signatures indicate that both parties agree to the terms and conditions stated in the BOL and acknowledge the receipt of the goods or vehicles in the specified condition.

What is the difference between a freight bill and a bill of lading?

A bill of lading (BOL) and a freight bill are two distinct documents used in the shipping and transportation industry. The main difference lies in their purpose and the stage at which they are utilized.

A freight bill, or a freight invoice or carrier invoice, is a document issued by the carrier or transportation company to the shipper or consignee. It serves as a request for payment for the transportation services provided. The freight bill typically includes details such as the shipping charges, invoice number, payment terms, and other relevant financial information. It acts as a billing statement or invoice for the services rendered.

On the other hand, a Bill of Lading is a legal document that serves as a contract between the shipper and the carrier. It outlines the terms and conditions of the transportation agreement and acts as a receipt for the goods being shipped. The BOL contains information about the shipper and consignee, origin and destination addresses, description of the goods, and any special instructions. It documents the transfer of ownership of the goods from the shipper to the carrier and provides evidence of the carrier's responsibility for the safe delivery of the goods.

In summary, while a freight bill is primarily an invoice or payment request document, the bill of lading is a comprehensive contractual document that governs the transportation process and serves as a receipt for the goods being shipped.

What is the difference between a delivery order and a bill of lading?

A delivery order is a document issued by the carrier to the consignee authorizing the release of the goods to the consignee or their authorized representative. It is used when the goods are held at a storage facility or terminal until the consignee is ready to take possession. A bill of lading, on the other hand, is a document that serves as a contract of carriage and receipt of the goods, detailing the terms and conditions of the shipment.

What is the difference between a straight bill of lading and an order bill of lading?

A straight bill of lading and an order bill of lading are two types of bills of lading (BOLs) used in the shipping and transportation industry. Here are the differences between the two:

Straight Bill of Lading: A straight bill of lading is a non-negotiable document that is typically made out to a specific consignee. It states that the goods will be delivered directly to the named consignee or an authorized representative. The consignee designated on the straight BOL is the only party authorized to receive the goods. It does not allow the consignee to transfer the title or ownership of the goods to another party.

Order Bill of Lading: An order bill of lading, also known as a negotiable bill of lading, is a document that can be negotiated or transferred to another party. It allows the consignee to transfer the rights and ownership of the goods to another party by endorsing the bill of lading to them. This type of BOL enables the consignee to sell or transfer the goods while they are in transit or before taking possession of them. The endorsement on the order BOL determines who has the right to take delivery of the goods.

In summary, a straight bill of lading is made out to a specific consignee and does not allow for the transfer of ownership. In contrast, an order bill of lading can be negotiated and transferred to other parties, giving them the right to take delivery of the goods.

Is any other documentation required when you ship a car?

When shipping a car, several additional documents may be required in addition to the bill of lading (BOL). These documents ensure compliance with shipping regulations and provide necessary information for the transportation process. Commonly required documentation includes the vehicle's registration and title to establish ownership and authorization, insurance documents, customs documentation for international shipments, inspection reports to record the vehicle's condition, and power of attorney if someone else is acting on your behalf.