A bill of exchange is a documentation of payment, much like a promissory note. On the other hand, a bill of lading is a receipt detailing the goods being shipped.

Bills of Lading

A bill of lading is a document from a shipper of goods that describes the goods being shipped and notes the quantity. It resembles a standard store receipt. The bill of lading serves as a receipt when the goods being shipped arrive at their destination. The destination of the goods is also noted on the bill of lading. A bill of lading is evidence of shipment, proof of receipt of the goods by the carrier from the company or individual providing the goods for shipment.

Bills of Exchange

A bill of exchange is a document used in international shipping, a negotiable instrument that is created by the seller or exporter and given to the buyer or importer. It legally binds the buyer to pay an agreed-upon sum of money to the seller on a specified date, often upon receipt of goods or on a specific day following the receipt of goods (for example, 10 days after receipt of goods).

Bills of exchange are similar to checks in that they can be drawn on banks and can be transferred through an endorsement of the bill of exchange. When a bill of exchange is issued by a bank, it is referred to as a bank draft; if issued by an individual, it is commonly referred to as a trade draft. A bill of exchange details the goods shipped to the buyer, the invoice amount for payment, the date payment is due, and bank details, since the buyer usually makes payment from his bank to the seller's bank.