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How to avoid common Bill of Lading mistakes

Moving freight through borders via sea, air, and land is complex. Some freight can be dangerous, hazardous, precious, or perishable and may need special handling. Both the sender and receiver wish the shipment reaches safely and on time. But how are the responsibilities of moving cargo defined for the sender and receiver? Who pays and what are the terms?


A Bill of Lading or BL defines all of it. A BL lists details about the sender, receiver, nature of the cargo, shipment date, HS Code, quantity, exact weight, value, freight classification, and any special order tracking numbers. More than just a descriptive document, a BL also serves as a legal document.


Equivalent to a master key, the Bill of Lading, or BL, gives title and control of the freight to anyone possessing the original copy. Having a BL fall into wrong hands can be a source of worry for the consignor, consignee, and freight forwarder.


Apart from keeping your BL physically safe, it must also be error-free. Mistakes, inaccuracies, and missing information in the BL can quickly turn into delays, and legal headaches, and even impact your bottom line and reputation.


In this blog, we'll delve into the common problems associated with a bill of lading, and provide practical solutions for addressing and preventing them, allowing you to focus on growing your business and meeting customer demands.


Common problems with Bill of Lading and the solution

  • Manual data entry BL

An incorrect address or freight classification can make all efforts go in vain. You can enter BL data in two ways. One is by automated ways like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) or by manual data entry. In either method, there is a chance that the entered information may differ from the actual. A double verification from the consignor is a foolproof way to ensure accuracy. Freight software like Logi-Sys provides direct access to the consignor to approve the draft BL. With just a click, forwarders get accurate BLs.

  • Accidentally entering an inaccurate weight

For its safety, every carrier, whether air or sea, must adhere to weight declaration norms. Incorrect weight declaration compromises the safe carriage of containers at sea and cargo via air. Any discrepancies in weight declared by the consignor can delay or result in the rejection of cargo from the carriage. An assured way is to have freight management software with integrated e-VGM. This allows integration with third-party Weight Providers and Terminal Weigh Stations for the electronic VGM submission to any shipping line.

  • Incorrect or no notification sent due to incorrect details in the notify party field

Imagine your consignee or destination agent is unaware of the ETA of your vessel's arrival. Incorrect information entered into the system can be a cause of delay, fines, and strained customer relations. Popular software for freight allows setting up master data where you capture details of notify party, consignor, and consignee just once. Post the draft approval, you can configure auto notifications via email and SMS and even integrate with chat applications sent on the defined milestone completion.


FAQs about Bill of Lading


Who issues the Bill of Lading?


The carrier (shipping line) issues the BL to the shipper (consignor). The consignee must present the BL to secure the shipment release and claim ownership.


What does a BL represent?


A BL has three main functions, it:

  • is a document of title or a legal document that makes the holder of the BL the owner of the goods

  • is a receipt for the shipment

  • represents the agreed terms and conditions between the sender and receiver for the transporting of the cargo

What are the details of a BL?


A BL lists details about the names and addresses of the sender and receiver, agent, vessel details, nature of the cargo, shipment date, HS Code, Incoterms, quantity, exact weight, post and container details, freight value, freight classification, and any special order tracking numbers.


Measures to avoid general documentation problems


Documentation is an indispensable part of freight forwarding. A Bill of Lading is the most important document among the several others needed for international customs and transport. Prepare all documents for the transit, plan early, and automate as much as possible. This helps to avoid troubles with customs, and transport and save on delays, fines and maintain healthy customer relations. Logi-Sys is an all-in-one freight forwarding and logistics management software that simplifies and streamlines your documentation process. Reduced manual data cuts down errors and speeds up your shipment process. Having documents like BL, Commercial Invoice, and Package lists accessible come in handy to file a claim supporting cargo damage or loss.

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