A blank endorsement on a bill of lading is an indication that there is no specified recipient of the endorsed bill. A bill of lading is a receipt showing a list of a shipment of goods. The list contains details of the shipment and is compiled by the carrier of the goods and given to the person or company that consigns the goods.

Bill of Lading

When a bill of lading contains a blank endorsement, the carrier becomes the owner of the bill and can thus claim ownership of the goods listed in the shipment. For example, a merchant may agree to carry goods for a person or company. The person or company will then stamp and sign the ocean bill of lading for the goods and make it out to order, thereby endorsing the bill of lading to the merchant. The merchant now becomes responsible for the shipment of goods and must act as a representative to obtain and then release the delivery of the goods. The merchant also assumes responsibility for any ancillary, freight, or accounting costs related to the shipment.

A bill of lading acts as a contract that a shipment has arrived at its intended destination. It also acts as a transfer document and is administered in the same way as an actual shipment. A bill of lading can be negotiated and the carrier is bound to the terms of the bill, regardless of the owner of the goods. To be valid, a bill of lading must contain a description of the goods, the weight of the shipment, the name of the shipping company, the flag of the nationality of origin of the goods, the name of the shipper, freight measurements, and the notify and order party of the shipment.