Shipping Invoice: The Ultimate Guide for Creating a Bill of Lading

Guide for Creating a Bill of Lading

An invoice is an accounting document that records every detail related to a particular business transaction. But do you know this invoice varies with business types? Yes, you heard that right!

Invoice in shipping companies is known as a bill of lading which is a legal document that the company sends at the time of freight shipment of goods. This is an accounting document that is used while shipping goods across international borders. Moreover, it outlines a detailed description of the product in every shipment.

Let’s discuss more on this!

What is Bill of Lading?

The term bill of lading refers to international shipments, where the word lading means the process of loading a ship with cargo. Bill of Lading is a legal document that mentions every detail about the freight shipment which includes the quantity, goods description, destination, total cost, and many others. This document binds the freight carrier and shipper legally.

Purpose of Bill of Lading :

Bill of lading is a vital accounting document for shipping companies. This legal document acts as evidence of the contract of carriage of goods. This document is used for the following purposes:

  • This is a carriage contract that distinctly mentions the terms and conditions under which the goods will be transported.
  • This is a receipt and a legal document that marks the ownership of the goods being carried and received in good condition at the receiver’s end.
  • The Bill of Lading acts as a title to the goods after it reaches the final destination. It mentions the list of items and permits the financial credit of the sold goods.
  • This document helps the shipper to hold the goods until the payment is done.

Who uses this?

For the transportation companies, the bill of lading can be used by the freight forwarder, third-party logistics, steamship lines, owner-drivers, and others. This applies to domestic and international deliveries through any means.

Importance of Bill of Lading:

It is an essential and most vital document and is required by the exporter until the payment is done. A bill of lading is important to make the process move further and to make the shipment of the cargo from one point to another. This is a contract between the carrier and the shipper and on the other hand, this is also a receipt issued by a carrier to the shipper. When shipments happen between various maritime countries proper invoicing is vital. Hence, the bill of lading is important for the entire process to take place without any legal issues.

What is included in a Bill of Lading?

Bill of lading involves specific information regarding the shipment of the specified goods. Hence, this vital accounting document needs to have specific information. Let’s discuss what all information is included in a bill of lading that is required for a small business owner to know.

Shipper’s and receiver’s contact information

It is a must that the bill of lading should have the detailed contact information of the shipper as well as the consignee. The contact details of the shipper include the business owner’s name, business address, contact details like contact number, mailing address, etc.

In the same way, the bill of lading should also have the receiver’s contact information mentioned in detail. This includes the consignee’s name, address, mail address, contact numbers, etc.


The bill of lading should have a space for special instruction regarding specific shipments.

Purchase order and reference number

Purchase order numbers or any kind of reference numbers should be mentioned in the bill of lading. This is essential as this number helps to refer to the transaction for future needs. Moreover, this is also needed to release the shipment for delivery or pickup.

Pick-up date

Besides all the other details about the shipment, the bill of lading should also have a pick-up date. The pick-up date helps to track the cargo and is also useful when reconciling shipping invoices.

Packaging type and freight class

The shipment company or the business owner needs to mention the packaging type used of the shipped material and the freight class. The packaging types include cartons, crates, pallets, or drums. Whereas, the freight class details that are mentioned in the bill of lading depend upon certain parameters. These are the weight of the goods, dimension, ease of handling, liability and value, etc. There are 18 different types of freight classes of shipment and the goods to be shipped should always be labeled with the freight class.

Description of goods

Like any other commercial invoice, the bill of lading also highlights the description of the goods. This includes every detail about the goods that are to be shipped like the weight, quantity, dimension, etc.

Any special designation

Shipping special goods should have a special designation. This way you can specify the regulation that is to be followed or maintained while shipping the particular goods. The special designation should be mentioned without fail when the shipment of any hazardous goods takes place.

Difference between shipping invoice and commercial invoice

The shipping invoice outlines the shipping details as already discussed earlier in this article. Shipping invoice is also known as freight invoice or trucking invoice. It ensures the ownership of the supplier on the goods until delivered.

On the other hand, a commercial invoice is more of a legal record between the supplier and the buyer. It outlines every detail about the business transaction, like the amount and quantity of goods, tax details, discounts, due date, total amount, etc. Moreover, it is a customs document which is a highly essential piece required in determining custom duties.

The main difference between commercial and shipping invoices is the pricing, which is the amount mentioned in a commercial invoice along with the address where the payment should be directed.

A shipping or transportation business can earn you a good amount of profit. But missing out on certain vital information can lead to serious damage to your business. Bill of lading is one such vital accounting document that needs to be created accurately to avoid legal issues. You can take the help of various online invoicing software to get your job done quickly. Billbooks get your invoices and other accounting tasks done easily without any hassle. Get the Billbook software now!

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