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Electronic Bills of Lading: Pros, Cons, and Effects on Shipping

What's in this article?
  1. Contents Of Electronic Bills Of Lading
  2. The Importance Of Bills Of Lading
  3. Purpose
  4. Bill Of Lading Tracking
  5. Electronic Bills Of Lading
  6. Types Of Electronic Bills Of Lading
  7. Advantages Of Electronic Bill Of Lading
  8. Problems With The Electronic Bill Of Lading
  9. Effects On Shipping Industry
  10. Conclusion
Electronic Bills of Lading: Pros, Cons, and Effects on Shipping

The logistics industry is constantly evolving, particularly regarding shipping. It's never the same from one decade to the next.

Shipping has been revolutionized repeatedly, with new technologies, services, and methods coming into play almost daily.

If you work in the shipping industry or plan to do so soon, you may be aware of electronic bills of lading (eBills). This piece explains what eBills is, its benefits for businesses that use it, and potential challenges related to its adoption and its effects on the shipping industry.

Contents of Electronic Bills of Lading

The contents of an eBills will vary slightly depending on the businesses using it.

However, all eBills share a few characteristics. These include details about the shipped goods, the names of the parties involved, the issued date of the information, signatures from the parties involved, and more.

The eBills will also include information about the method of shipment, information about the carrier, and whether the goods are delivered on time as expected.

If the eBills system is implemented, businesses can track where their goods are at all times. They will also be able to determine the expected delivery date for the products.

The Importance of Bills of Lading

Bills of lading are the contracts that determine the terms of shipping.

They indicate:

  • Who is shipping the goods
  • Where they are being sent to
  • The quantity of the goods being shipped
  • The mode of transport
  • The type of vessel and the port of exportation/importation

The bills of lading are crucial for importers and exporters simultaneously. The exporter needs the bill of lading to get paid, and the importer needs it to pay the exporter.

For example, the importer of a shipment of soybeans needs to pay the exporter for that soybean shipment. The importer can do so by purchasing the soybeans and issuing their own lading bill to the exporters. In this instance, the soybeans act as collateral for the bill of lading.


The bill of lading tracking system is designed to provide information about the current location of the cargo being shipped. This system is mainly used by the shippers, consignees, and insurers of the shipment.

The bill of lading tracking system is integrated into the existing information system of the government, shipping companies, and insurers.

The system allows the participants in the shipping process to follow cargo from the port of departure to the final destination.

The two main methods for tracking bills of lading are by accessing the shipping company's website or by calling a toll-free number provided by the shipping company.

Bill of Lading Tracking

Bills of lading record shipments containing the shipper, recipient, origin, destination, date, shipping type, and item description.

It is essential to know the source and belongings of a shipment, and that's what the bill of lading provides.

Shipping also requires a bill of lading by law; if not, fines or penalties may be applied.

Online bill of lading tracking tools let you monitor and manage shipments. They can trace orders from placement to delivery and offer delay and cancellation alerts.

There are several ways to track the package. For example, ShipStation and ShipHero provide free tracking tools online, as well as Shipment Tracker and Ship Tracking.

Electronic Bills of Lading

The traditional paper bills of lading used to ship goods worldwide are getting a significant makeover. While some companies already use electronic bills of lading, it isn't widely adopted yet. However, the new technology offers several advantages over the old way of tracking shipments.

Before we jump into what makes eBills different from paper bills of lading, let's look at how the process works today.

A bill of lading lists everything about the shipment, including the name of the shipper, the consignee, the contents of the package, and where it's headed.

Then you send the bill of lading to the transportation company, which keeps track of the shipment while it travels across borders.

Once the item arrives at its destination, the recipient fills out another form, called a waybill to show that he received the shipment.

If something goes wrong during transit, the carrier will accept claims from both partners.


Types of Electronic Bills of Lading

There are three types of bills:

  1. Electronic Bills of Lading (eBills): These are typically generated by carriers and delivery services. They include detailed information about the shipper and carrier engaged in the transaction. eBills are usually caused by scanning a paper copy of the bill of lading into a computer.
  2. Global Trade Exchange (GTX) Bills of Lading: GTX bills of lading are used globally and are standardized across borders. They are frequently employed in international business dealings.

Customs Bills of Lading: Customs bills of lading are generated by customs authorities and are used primarily within the United States. They offer data on the entry of commodities into the United States.

Advantages of Electronic Bill of Lading

Unlike paper-based bills of lading, eBills are easier to create, track and use. With eBills, all parties involved in a shipment can access the information related to the load in real-time. This ensures that everyone involved in the shipment has the most up-to-date information.

In general, eBills have virtually eliminated paper-based transactions within the shipping industry. This, in turn, has led to significant reductions in shipping costs.

Moreover, eBills are more accessible to track than paper-based bills of lading. They are also more reliable than paper bills of lading and can be used in court to prove that a shipment was misdelivered or stolen. Moreover, eBills are easier to prove as authentic than paper-based bills of lading.

Problems with the Electronic Bill of Lading

An electronic bill of lading (eBill) transfers goods and property electronically. A bill of lading certifies the receipt of goods and property.

Electronic invoices are digitized and kept on digital systems, unlike traditional paper bills, which increases process security and efficiency. However, the downside of e-bills includes hacking and fraud.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) defines an eBill as "a digital record of a transaction." eBills must include the shipper, receiver, consignee, terms of carriage, and delivery date.

But this system has serious flaws:

  1. Common carriers don't always keep accurate records. According to the International Aviation Transport Association, around fifty percent of air freight shipments are lost.
  2. The paperwork required to move items internationally is tedious and error-prone.
  3. It takes a bit longer to complete the entire process.
  4. Because most people don't know much about shipping, they often pay too much for international freight.

Effects on Shipping Industry

The advent of electronic bills of lading has changed the shipping industry in many ways:

  1. It has reduced the shipping industry's carbon footprint. Since eBills are digital and do not require paper, the shipping industry has reduced its carbon footprint by a large margin.
  2. eBills have improved the transparency of the shipping industry. They have eliminated the need for paper-based transactions between the shipping parties and enabled real-time shipment tracking.
  3. eBills have simplified the shipping industry.

They have reduced the time and cost of paper-based transactions. eBills have also made it easier to investigate the delivery or theft of the shipments.



Electronic bills of lading have revolutionized the shipping industry by making it cleaner, simpler, and more transparent. They are also easier to create, track and use compared to paper-based bills of lading.

Yet, there is no denying that paper-based bills of lading have served the shipping industry for decades and will continue to do so for a long time.

Therefore, if you're searching for an appropriate shipping method, you should get one that includes electronic bills of lading.

In addition, you might have a unique variety of bills that fulfill various requirements and contain sufficient information to guarantee the transported cargo.

A1 Auto Transport is always available to assist customers in shipping their goods securely.

If you have questions about our range of products, shipping prices, or information about bills of lading our customer service team will be delighted to help. Feel free to get in touch with us at any time, and we'll immediately respond.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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NO. 018191NF
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Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
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Boca Raton, FL 33431
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FMC 22206
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Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
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1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
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6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
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