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Your Definitive Guide to Bill of Lading for Car Transport

What's in this article?
  1. What Is A Bill Of Lading?
  2. 6 Types Of Information That Your Bill Of Lading Must Have
  3. Details About The Driver And Shipping Company 
  4. Information About The Pickup And Delivery 
  5. General Information
  6. The Condition Of Vehicle
  7. Terms And Conditions
  8. Signature
  9. A Sneak Peek Into The Types Of Bill Of Lading
  10. Straight Bill Of Lading
  11. Order Bill Of Lading
  12. Through The Bill Of Lading
  13. Bearer Bill Of Lading
  14. Clean Bill Of Lading
  15. On-Board Bill Of Lading
  16. Received-For-Shipment Bol
  17. Multimodal Bill Of Lading
  18. Dirty Bill Of Lading
  19. Bill Of Lading Purposes Include
  20. What Is An (Ebl) Electronic Bill Of Lading?
  21. 4 Benefits Of The Electronic Bill Of Lading 
  22. Bill Of Lading And Some Other Most Common Bills Used In The Auto Transport Industry [Differences]
  23. Negotiable Bill Vs Non-Negotiable Bill 
  24. Bill Of Lading Vs Freight Bill
  25. Bill Of Lading Vs Bill Of Entry
Your Definitive Guide to Bill of Lading for Car Transport

When you transport your car, you need to know what a bill of lading is and how to obtain one. It's a key document in the car transport industry. You've probably heard of it before, but do you know what it is or why it's so important?

Before shipping your vehicle, you should understand the terms and conditions of transporting it.                                                                 

Before the car is transported, there will be a document known as a bill of lading. It is an important document that you should keep for your vehicle's records.

The bill of lading is a receipt for the goods (your vehicle) being shipped. It also has a description of the goods, including condition at the time of delivery, name, address of the customer, name, address of the shipper, and others.

To help you understand better, we have gathered all the essential information about the bill of lading below. Read on!

What Is a Bill of Lading?

A bill of lading, or a BOL, is a legal document that the shipping company uses to indicate that it has the right to transport the goods. The BOL is also a receipt, or proof, that the goods were delivered to the predetermined location.

This document must be included with all shipped products, regardless of the transportation method. A person with the authorization from the shipper, carrier, and the receiver is bound to sign BOL.

When we hear about the bill of lading in car transport, it means a bill of lading is a document that states the terms and conditions between you and the transport company you use for vehicle transport. It is a legal contract. The law requires that the auto transport company prepare it before shipping. The shipper and driver must also receive a copy of it.

The bill of lading is a document used to keep track of things and prove that you have received something. For example, in shipping, a bill of lading is a document signed by the recipient of a shipment (or the recipient's agent) stating that goods have been received. If anything happens to the car, then the insurance company will want to see the bill of lading. So we can say that it is a handy thing.


6 Types of Information that Your Bill of Lading Must Have

There are six essential pieces of information that you must include on every bill of lading for car transport. This information is necessary for the shipper, the transporter, and the insurance company. It will also be helpful if the transporter encounters a weigh station inspector or police officer during the shipment. 

Six things that you need to include in the bill of lading are discussed below:

Details About the Driver and Shipping Company 

Header information is essential in every document related to auto transport. 

BOL should include at least the company's name, business address, the carrier's ID number, a valid contact number, and the driver's details. 

Suppose you use other motor carriers during the transport. In that case, it is wise to list their names, telephone numbers, and addresses so that your carrier can contact them if an emergency arises. 

For example:

If your car is transferred to a different transporter, then, in that case, it must include the information about the other transporters as well.

Information About The Pickup and Delivery 

Your Bill of Lading should list the pickup and delivery locations and the exact pickup and delivery time. 

Please include your contact information, such as a phone number, to make things more transparent for the receiver. It is important to note that if either section is left blank, it could delay or cancel the transport. So make sure to check all the details correctly.

General Information

This section should list all pertinent information about the car being shipped. It includes make, model, year, VIN, and weight. 

The general information for your car consists of the following:

  • Type of vehicle
  • Color of vehicle
  • Its year of manufacturing
  • Your license plate number
  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)

The Condition of Vehicle

Before loading your car onto the truck, you and the driver should inspect it and document its condition. Write down the physical damage ( if your vehicle has any) before shipping. 

Using this method will protect you and the carrier from any false claims made and will help prevent any possible damage to the vehicle while being transported.

Terms and Conditions

BOLs need to include information about payment, including what type of payment is required and when it is due. You'll also want to know what other terms and conditions are involved in the transport. 

It includes what the third party is responsible for, the carrier, and where must send the money. 

Make sure you read and understand these clauses to know what is covered and what is not. A better understanding will help you know your responsibilities as the owner and what to expect from everyone else involved in the transport.


The final and most crucial step is to have both the driver and the shipper sign off on the BOL. These signatures make the document official. Without both signatures, insurance companies, legal authorities, or law enforcement authorities can question the document's authenticity if something goes wrong.

Did you know? You can use a BOL to ensure your car is delivered well. 

A Sneak Peek Into the Types of Bill of Lading

There are many types of bills of lading available. We have listed them below:

  1. Straight Bill of Lading
  2. Order Bill of Lading
  3. Through the Bill of Lading
  4. Bearer Bill of Lading
  5. Clean Bill of Lading
  6. On-board Bill of Lading
  7. Received-for-shipment Bill of Lading
  8. Combined transport or multimodal Bill of Lading
  9. Dirty Bill of Lading

Now, let's discuss each of the BOL types one by one below:

Straight Bill of Lading

It is a document that specifies which party is handling the delivery. Only the responsible party can deliver the BOL. Taking delivery means only taking possession of the shipment; they aren’t allowed to sell it by making a transfer of the BOL to anybody else.

Order Bill Of Lading

An Order Bill of Lading is a common type of BOL, which is mandatory for ocean related shipments. It is either issued to a consignee’s order or their name. Alternatively, they can ask for the BOL to be handed over to someone else by endorsing it.

Order BOLs are documents that sometimes are transferred to others. If transferred to others, the title of the document will be for that person. 


Through the Bill of Lading

This document is a legal agreement that will allow the cargo to be directly delivered from one place to another. Also, the paper will make it easier for the cargo to pass through international and domestic borders as it shows that both the carrier and the receiver have agreed to accept responsibility for the cargo.

Bearer Bill of Lading

A bearer bill of lading indicates that the person who has it is the cargo owner. A bearer BOL is the least used document due to the safety concerns of the cargo. The title of the bearer BOL can also be transferred as it is also a negotiable document.

Clean Bill of Lading

A clean bill implies the cargo's condition is good, so it is not permitted to point out that the cargo or its contents are defective.

On-board Bill of Lading

A Shipped BOL confirms cargo is on board and makes the shipowner responsible for the carrier.

Received-for-Shipment BOL

An agent or middleman sends the received-for-shipment BOL to the carrier. It verifies that the shipments have been received, but they need to be loaded on the ship.

Multimodal Bill of Lading

In a multimodal or combined transport bill of lading, the cargo can be transported in multiple ways, including land, air, or sea. This BOL is helpful for the shipper because it gives them more options for getting their cargo from point A to point B.

Dirty Bill of Lading

The dirty bill of lading is a document that states that the cargo has been damaged somehow. It allows the shipowner to indicate whether the cargo is dirty, broken, incorrectly weighed, or if the packaging is significantly impaired.

Bill Of Lading Purposes Include

  1. The primary purpose of the standard straight bill of lading is to document the agreement between the shipper and the carrier.
  2. The bill of lading will usually mention the contract between the consignor and the carrier.
  3. The BOL confirms whether the ordered goods match the description of what was received. Usually, the carrier signs the BOL to indicate that they have received the goods in good condition.
  4. The customs broker will use it to match the commercial clearance paperwork when it is finished. In addition, it will help ensure that all of the goods on the truck are declared.

What is an (eBL) Electronic Bill of Lading?

An electronic bill of lading is a newer way to handle bills of lading. 

The eBL performs the same functions as a regular bill of lading, but it does it faster, more securely, and accurately.

Bills of lading are important documents that provide information about the shipment of goods. This information can be transferred electronically using an eBL. It allows faster communication between all parties involved in the supply chain.


4 Benefits of the Electronic Bill of Lading 

Here are some of the benefits of electronic bills of lading that support their use or more frequent use:

  • It Can Remove the Document Transportation Cost.

Digital documents eliminate the need to transport documents in the supply chain. 

Using the cloud to transfer digital documents is becoming more common. It is because blockchain technology allows users to share documents. Moreover, since the parties do not need to pay for the transportation of documents, this method turns out to be relatively cost-efficient. It can also save time because the transfer will only take minutes instead of weeks.

  • Increase Reliability and Improve Cash Flow 

Sometimes paper bills of lading do not arrive in time, which can cause costly delays. 

However, the digital equivalents can be transferred much faster, so even if there are short time or periods, the cargo can still be released on time without a letter of indemnity. Therefore, it results in a faster payment cycle, efficient cash flow management, etc.

  • It Enables Rapid Documentation Transfers and Ensures Business Continuity

If your paper bill of lading is damaged, it can have terrible consequences. If it gets damaged, you might need to get a new one quickly. This situation can cause significant delays and problems for businesses.

You can store eBLs in digital formats. Either in the cloud or on a blockchain network. It makes them constantly accessible and easy to trade. The best about electronic bill of lading is that this makes them faster and, therefore, more secure.

  • It Reduces Vulnerability to Loss, Forgery, or Fraud and Improves Security

You can store an electronic bill of lading in digital formats. So, they are digitally signed and encrypted. It means that there is no chance of the document getting forged or stolen.

Transactors can benefit from enhanced security and privacy when using eBL over the paper. They also make it easier to track and manage all eBL events. Such as:

  • Notifications
  • Title transfer
  • Amendment
  • Surrender 
  • Switch to paper. 

Electronic documents are harder to alter or counterfeit than paper documents.

Bill of Lading And Some Other Most Common Bills Used in the Auto Transport Industry [Differences]

Bill of Lading (BOL) forms have been used to ship cars for several decades. But in today's digital age, many kinds of modes have taken over the transportation industry and replaced these papers. 

However, below we are throwing light on different bill forms used in the auto transport industry. Please scroll down to understand the differences between each of them.


Negotiable Bill vs. Non-Negotiable Bill 

A negotiable bill of lading tells the carrier that they can deliver the goods to any person who has the original endorsed document. 

A non-negotiable bill of lading tells the carrier that they must deliver the goods to a specific person or consignee named on the document. Because it does not reflect who owns the goods on its own, it must be accompanied by further documents.

Bill of Lading vs. Freight Bill

Bill of lading and freight bill are two important but different documents related to shipping. 

The bill of lading summarizes the agreement between the shipper and the receiver. A freight bill describes the financial part of the agreement in more detail.

Bill of Lading vs. Bill of Entry

The bill of entry is created based on the importer's declaration or the customs broker's declaration for importing goods. The BOL (Bill of Lading) is a document created by a shipping company for shipping products.

Bill of Lading vs. Delivery Order

A bill of lading is a title document, a contract for the receipt of goods, and a negotiable instrument all rolled into one. 

On the other hand, the delivery order only simplifies cargo release by notifying the carrier that all responsibilities have been met and that the nominated agent or consignee can now secure the cargo.


So, we conclude our discussion about the bill of lading. It is an essential document, and it has so many benefits. Furthermore, a bill of lading serves several purposes. In modern days, digital technology is all around the globe, so now you can also take advantage of an electronic bill of lading which is far more secure and better than a standard bill of lading. 

We hope that this article was helpful for you, and after reading this, you can find all the answers to all your BOL-related queries!

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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.

And my choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.

When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.

The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.

They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?

So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to A1 Auto Transport. From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.

I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!

The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!

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Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them.

After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.

Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.

By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

David Osallo
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We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!

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Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
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Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
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15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
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Boca Raton, FL 33431
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NO. 021869F
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