Spotlight on Bill of Lading

Are you a new exporter looking for a primer on bills of lading? Or maybe you’re at the opposite end of the spectrum—a seasoned professional seeking a reference or training tool.

Either way, this guide is for you! We’ll explain, in simple terms, three things you need to know about the bill of lading form.

1. What Is a Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading is a contract between you, the owner of the goods, and the carrier stating what goods you’re shipping, where the shipment is coming from, and where it’s headed. It also serves as a receipt issued by the carrier once your shipment is picked up.

A bill of lading (or a waybill) can also serve as a document of title, which allows the person holding it to claim possession of your shipment. There are several specific bills of lading, which we’ll discuss in detail below.

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Difference between Multimodal and Intermodal Shipping

First, let’s start off with a few definitions:
Multimodal: Multimodal transport (also known as combined transport) is the transportation of goods under a single contract, but performed with at least two different means of transport; the carrier is liable (in a legal sense) for the entire carriage, even though it is performed by several different modes of transport (by rail, sea and road, for example). The carrier does not have to possess all the means of transport and in practice usually does not; the carriage is often performed by sub-carriers (referred to in legal language as “actual carriers”). The carrier responsible for the entire carriage is referred to as a multimodal transport operator, or MTO.
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