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    Ocean Bill of Lading Meaning, Example & More

    Ocean Bill of Lading | Meaning, Example & More

    When legally carrying a shipment through transit, the carrier needs to possess a bill of lading (BOL). A BOL is a commonly used legal document that acts as a receipt to prove that the carrier can transport the goods that it carries. However, when it comes to transporting shipment through international waters, the Ocean Bill of Lading is required.

    What is an Ocean Bill of Lading?

    An Ocean BOL is a legal contract between the shipper and the carrier which acts as a receipt for the mentioned articles that are required to be shipped overseas. It defines the parties involved in the shipping process along with the description of the articles being shipped and the routing details. The Ocean BOL includes details like the nature of the articles, its quantity, condition, destination, location of the articles that are being shipped. Hence, it can be considered as a receipt and an invoice with a legal claim.

    Ocean Bill of Lading Terms and Conditions

    • The Ocean BOL clearly defines the terms of the carrier, merchant, subcontractor, goods, container, carriage, combined transport, port-to-port shipment, vessel, freight, and special drawing right.
    • Further, Ocean BOL elaborates on the tariff applicable to the carrier regarding the container and the vehicle demurrage. It contains information for warranties, subcontracting processes and the carrier’s responsibility. Port to port shipment, combined transport scenarios and general provisions are some of the responsibilities to be inherited by the carrier.
    • The details about package weight, limitations, a notice of loss, time bar, shipper packed containers, carrier’s containers, inspection of goods, description of goods, shipper’s or merchant’s responsibilities, freight charges, lien, optional stowage, deck cargo, are mentioned.
    • The conditions for methods and routes of transportation, the shipment of dangerous, hazardous, or noxious goods are mentioned followed by shipment scenarios and actions associated with the same in case of temperature controlled articles, delivery, blame-to-blame collision, war risks, government orders, transshipment bills of lading, variation of contract, validity, law, and jurisdiction are clearly defined for reference. It is advised to go through the terms and conditions in a good detailed manner to avoid any dispute or difficulty in shipping.

    When is the Ocean Bill of Lading Issued?

    An ocean BOL is issued when the shipping line or carrier has completed the loading of the goods on their ocean vessel, and after the supplier has completed all the customs formalities and forwards a 'Let Export order' to the shipping line.

    Types of Ocean Bill of Lading

    Straight: Straight BOL is issued only to the consignee and no other parties. The consignee can have authority over the articles shipped by producing the cashier with a copy of the signed BOL.

    Shipper’s Order: It is effective after the shipper or a representative approves it. Approved and signed document is shared with the bank close to the buyer and is preserved till the transaction is closed. Post receiving the document, the BOL is transferred to the buyer.

    Clean Bill of Lading (Clean BOL): When the articles arrive, a quality check/inspection of the shipment is carried out. Post clearing the same, the clean BOL is issued and the importer can receive the shipment.

    On Board: The vessel owner signs this BOL. On Board BOL, as the name suggests, is issued when the shipment is loaded on the vessel.

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    What is the Ocean Bill of Lading Tracking & How to Track it?

    The Ocean BOL tracking is a solution to gauge the shipping status of the cargo. The facility is provided by the carrier website. Some of them even provide real-time updates of the cargo. To know the cargo status, normally the booking number, the bill of lading number, or the container number is provided.

    There are generally two types of tracking facilities offered by the carriers. The Standard Container Tracking System will record the movements of the container as it goes through ports. The GPS Container Tracking System will show where the container is in real-time. This system includes a permanent battery pack attached to the container which shows the time, temperature, speed, scope, longitude, stun reports and battery data.

    Ocean Bill of Lading Example

    An Ocean BOL includes specifics about the nature of articles being shipped, the quantity of shipment, destination, and other information like the commercial value of the shipment, and the type of packaging used. The shipper receives the Ocean BOL when the shipment is picked after which it needs to be signed by him and the carrier. Post the completion of the shipping process and the delivery of the shipment, the Ocean BOL is shared with the receiver who then signs it.

    When the shipment from a car manufacturer reaches overseas to a dealer, it requires an ocean BOL. If the shipment needs to reach deep inside the country, it requires an inland bill of lading. The dealer will sign the Ocean BOL with the manufacturer for the shipping.

    Ocean Bill of Lading Template

    The template carries information about the exporter, the booking number, document number, export references, ultimate consignee, forwarding agent, notify party, pre-carriage, place of receipt, domestic routing, exporting carrier, the port of loading, loading pier/terminal, the port of discharge, place of receipt on the carrier, type of move, the quantity of articles, description, weight, and measurements of the articles, ship reference number, freight rates, charges, carrier information, B/L number and declaration that the goods are received by the carrier and that he/ she will have legal possession of the articles till they reach the destination and relevant procedures are completed.

    Ocean Bill of Lading

    Difference Between Ocean, Sea Waybill, and Memo Bill of Lading

    Ocean BOL: An Ocean BOL as a document is negotiable and can be considered as evidence of the contract of shipment, receipt of shipment, and document of title. The shipment can be consigned to direct the customer, the order of a customer, order of a bank, or order of a shipper. It lets the shipment be carried over to another party if the buyer wants to resell the shipment. In case of a straight BOL, the shipment can be directly delivered to the consignee nominated if the BOL is produced to the discharge port agents.

    Sea Waybill: A Sea Waybill is not negotiable because the original is not issued and is not considered as a document of title. It acts as evidence of the contract of shipment and receipt of shipment. It is more relevant in case of non-commercial shipments, intercompany sales, or where documentary credits are not involved. A properly defined consignee is not required to produce any transport document at the discharge port. A Sea Waybill is issued in the following cases:-

    • When the shipper and the consignee belong to the same group of business and no negotiations are needed.
    • When there are no banks involved and the original BOL is not needed to make the payment.
    • When the original bills are not printed and couriered by the shipper to the consignee.
    • When the freight forwarder is the shipper and he/she wants to house a BOL for the customers.

    Memo Bill of Lading: It is a non-negotiable, non-transferrable, unfreighted BOL. It can only be used as a receipt of shipment and can not be considered as a document of title.

    FAQs on Ocean Bill of Lading

    1. What is the difference between an ocean bill of lading and an original bill of lading?

    An Ocean Bill of Lading is specifically for articles that are required to be shipped overseas. An original bill of lading is for different modes of transport.

    2. What is the difference between an ocean bill of lading and a house bill of lading?

    Ocean BOL: An Ocean BOL as a document is negotiable and can be considered as evidence of the contract of shipment, receipt of shipment, and document of title. The shipment can be consigned to direct the customer, the order of a customer, order of a bank, or order of a shipper. It lets the shipment be carried over to another party if the buyer wants to resell the shipment. In case of a straight BOL, the shipment can be directly delivered to the consignee nominated if the BOL is produced to the discharge port agents.

    House Bill of Lading: House Bill of Lading is a document that is issued by the Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) or the freight forwarder to the exporter of the shipment.

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    Vanita D'souza
    Vanita D'souza
    Communications Manager at Drip Capital
    8 min read