Even though the freight world is going more and more digital every day, the basic paperwork is still an essential part of the process. The Bill of Lading (BOL) is the most important document in freight shipping and knowing why it’s so important will help you avoid excess charges and help you ship more efficiently. The BOL must be accurate with all the T’s are crossed and I’s dotted. We walk through what the BOL is, why providing inaccurate information on the BOL can cost you and how to fill it out properly. Let’s dive into how to breakdown your Bill of Lading to get you shipping like a pro.
What Is a Bill of Lading?
The Bill of Lading (BOL) is standard paperwork that provides the customer, carrier and driver with all the pertinent information related to shipping costs and transport information. This includes:
- Pickup and delivery locations.
- Consignor, consignee, and driver signatures.
- Shipment weight and measurements.
- Freight class.
- Accessorials/Add-on services.
The BOL essentially operates as a sort of contract between shippers and carriers and facilitates the moving of freight. No matter what you ship or how many times you ship, a detailed BOL will be involved.
BOL Best Practices
Many shippers make common BOL mistakes every day that cost them hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars. Knowing how to properly breakdown and handle your BOL makes the shipping process go much smoother and saves you money in the end. Use these BOL best practices to keep money in your pocket and to make incorrect paperwork headaches a thing of the past.
- Accuracy is key. When filling out the BOL, be absolutely, 100% sure that the information you are providing is correct. Carriers measure and weigh freight to a tee when fulfilling their capacity, and they use sophisticated equipment to ensure accuracy. So, no guesstimating dimensions or weight. Be precise! Double, triple, then quadruple check for spelling mistakes and accuracy. Misspellings or inaccurate shipment details will result in a very costly shipment due to billing adjustments after the shipment is completed.
- Prepare for the elements. Paperwork, from BOLs to shipping labels, are not great friends of the natural elements. It’s in the name—Paperwork! Prepare your paperwork for rain or snow conditions. Laminate shipping labels on shipments, so they can still be read. Nowadays, the BOL is often electronic. This is a safer, more efficient way to handle the BOL.
- Sort out your accessorials. We mentioned earlier, accessorials, or add-on freight services, are spelled out on the BOL. This part of the BOL is crucial. Make sure you have all the accessorials you need. Determine ahead of time which ones are required, and which ones are just luxuries. If an accessorial is needed during the shipment and it was not recorded on the BOL, you will receive a billing adjustment post-shipment. Here’s an example - if you are delivering to a residential location, even if it’s a business operating out of a home, you will need a liftgate because most likely the homeowner doesn’t have a forklift sitting around to unload freight.
Experience the FreightCenter Difference
For shippers everywhere, using the FreightCenter BOL makes it easier for shippers to clearly communicate shipment details to the carrier and all parties involved in the shipping process. Our expert shipping agents can help you get the best discounted rates in the business, explain accessorial needs and go over BOL details with you.
Don’t let freight rates, BOL details and other shipping terms confuse you and get in the way of shipping success. Let us help! Start shipping with us today getting a free online quote or call (844)212-7447.