Bill of Lading Types

A Bill of Lading (BOL) is a document that evidences the contract of carriage between a shipper and a charter. It serves not only as the primary transport document and as a key freight document for customs clearance, but also as a ‘title’ or ‘deed’ to your cargo. 

For more information on the Master BOL and House BOL, please see this entry.


These are the BOL types that you may encounter: 

  1. Onboard Bill of Lading

  2. Order Bill of Lading

  3. Received-for-Shipment Bill of Lading

  4. Sea Waybill

  5. Straight Bill of Lading


Onboard Bill of Lading

The Onboard BOL is the receipt given by the carrier when the shipment has been physically loaded onto a container ship (for ocean freight) or airplane (for air freight). If the carrier determines that the goods are not in good condition when they are received, then they will add a clause. The bill of lading is then referred to as a foul or claused bill of lading. The carrier may also note on the bill of lading that the shipment was received in good condition (Clean BOL).

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Order Bill of Lading

An Order BOL refers to the scenario where delivery is dependent on the seller being paid. This makes the bill of lading a powerful tool, that, when endorsed, acts as collateral or can be traded as a security.

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Received-for-Shipment Bill of Lading

When endorsed by the carrier as having been received for loading, the bill of lading acts as a receipt for the freight forwarder that they have delivered the goods. It is not proof that the shipment has been loaded on board.

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Sea Waybill

The Sea Waybill is a simplified version of a House BOL, except it doesn’t act as a document of title. That leads to smoother shipping and, because of that, it is gaining in popularity.

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Straight Bill of Lading

A Straight BOL refers to the scenario where the seller has already been paid and the carrier can deliver the shipment “straight” to the consignee.

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