Moving Paperwork: Understanding The Bill Of Lading

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The bill of lading is one of the key documents that you really must understand while conducting your move. Essentially, this is your contract and it outlines the main terms between you and your moving company. There is also a lot of legal jargon written on this form, so it can be helpful to really have a handle on some of the key terms and phrases, conveniently explained below.

What is the Bill of Lading?

The bill of lading is a document critical to the moving business. It basically gives the details on a shipment of merchandise and then grants title of that merchandise to a specified party. The interesting thing is that this document was originally designed to be used by shipping companies, cargo carriers and used for international trade. It has since been adapted to the moving industry.

Here are some helpful bill of lading terms to understand:

  • Shipper:
    This term doesn’t refer to the company (moving or otherwise) who is actually shipping or sending the items. Rather, it is the customer who is sending out their shipment. In other words, you.
  • Carrier:
    This is pretty self-explanatory. The carrier is the moving company that has been hired to transport the shipment.
  • Delivering Carrier:
    In some cases, the first moving company ends up hiring or handing off the shipment to another company. In this case, the company or contractor used to handle the final leg of the journey which includes delivery, is called the delivering carrier.
  • Consignor and Consignee:
    The consignor is the person who sends the shipment from the point of origin to the customer, while the consignee is the person receiving the shipment at its ultimate destination. They can actually even be the same person.
  • Shipment Declared Value:
    The value of your shipment, normally determined by its weight.
  • Without Recourse:
    An interesting term that means there are some special situations where the customer can be freed from the liability of paying the carrier charges.
  • Freight:
    This refers to the type of vehicle used to transport your shipment. So it might be a truck, car, train, airplane, or even a ship.
  • Class or Rate:
    The class of rate of your shipment will be determined according to the classification system developed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This is used to help determine the transportability of particular items, based roughly on factors such as its density, liability, and ability to be handled and stowed safely.
  • Tariff:
    This is basically the rate or fee schedule of your moving company. It includes their rates, classifications, and rules, in order to ensure your move is both safe and regulated.
Joe Webster

Written by Joe Webster

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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