A bill of lading serves as the standard document required for the transportation of a freight shipment. An ocean bill of lading is a similar standard document required exclusively for freight shipments across international waters. Both documents serve as a receipt for freight services. The document is provided to the shipper upon pickup and is then given to the receiver upon delivery. Both the shipper and carrier must sign the document upon pickup. Once goods have been successfully delivered, the receiver must also sign the document.

A typical bill of lading outlines the specific details of the shipment and includes any pertinent information needed for processing and invoicing. Information on a bill of lading typically includes the names and respective addresses of all parties involved, in addition to the total number of shipping units, type of packing used and the value of the shipment. The bill of lading serves as a legally binding document between the shipper and carrier. For example, a California-based car company shipping a truckload of cars to a car company in Massachusetts would require a bill of lading.

An Ocean Bill of Lading

An ocean bill of lading follows a similar structure to that of a normal bill of lading, outlining the details and specifics of the shipment. However, an ocean bill of lading specifically handles overseas transportation. For example, a Japan-based car manufacturer would require an ocean bill of lading for sending a freight shipment to a dealership based in the United States. It should also be noted that in addition to an ocean bill of lading, an inland bill of lading is required if a shipment must first travel on land to reach its shipper for overseas transportation.