Understanding a Bill of Lading

Regardless of what or where you are shipping, the most important document that you will be required to fill out is a bill of lading.  As your premier industrial shipping company specializing in packing and crating, we would like to help you understand what a bill of lading is and explain the importance and relevance of each section.

What is a Bill of Lading?

In general, a bill of lading is a shipping receipt that provides a detailed list of the freight in that shipment.

Bill of Lading Terminology


The information contained in this portion of the bill of lading provides the details of the shipper, who is shipping the cargo, including their name and address.


This portion of the bill of lading contains the consignee’s name and address.  The name attached to the consignee is the only person or business legally allowed to receive the cargo.

 Bill of Lading Number/Reference Numbers

This unique number must be provided by the client for any information about the shipment or the shipping line.  This information includes:

  • Sailing information.
  • Arrival times and other pertinent information.
  • Claims attached to the cargo.

The reference number space provides a number that will allow the client or other freight carriers to trace their shipment.

Port of Loading

The place where the cargo or freight is loaded by the carrier onto the ocean vessel for shipment.

Ocean Vessel

The name of the vessel and the voyage number that will be carrying the freight or cargo from the mainland port (port of loading) to the port of discharge.

 Port of Discharge

This is the port where the freight or cargo is discharged by the carrier from the ocean vessel.

 Place of Delivery

The destination of the freight or cargo.

 Marks and Numbers

This space identifies the number and kinds of packages as well as what each container or crate contains.

  • ‘Number and kinds of packages’ states how many packages are loaded into the container (Ex. 23 pallets and 16 crates).
  • ‘Description of goods’ describes exactly what cargo is being loaded in the crate or container (Ex. 22 packages said to contain 2200 tubes of toothpaste).

 Weight and Measurement

This space states the following:

  • Gross weight – the weight of the cargo packed in the container. Typically, this weight is the combination of the weight of the freight plus the weight of the packaging, but does not include the weight of the container.
  • Measurement – the calculation of the total volume of the freight shipment – length X width X height.

 Correctly filling out a bill of lading will ensure that your freight arrives at its destination on time and is properly passed from one carrier to another.  By understanding each part of the bill of lading, as a business owner, you will be able to gain a better understanding of how the shipping process works, allowing you to be more of an active agent and hopefully saving you time and money.

If you have any questions or would like more clarification on any part of a bill of lading, please contact us today.  We look forward to being a part of your industrial shipping network.