Many customers who are shipping a car are doing so for the first time. As they navigate the process, they are likely to come across a few terms that might not be familiar to them. One of these terms is a “bill of lading” also abbreviated as BoL. This term is used a lot in the auto transportation industry as well as other shipping and freight industries, but it’s not something that the average person knows much about. The bill of lading is one of the most important documents involved in shipping a car so let’s learn a little bit more about what it is and why it’s so important.
What is a Bill of Lading?
The bill of lading is an important legal document that specifies exactly which vehicle will be transported, where it is being transported to and from, and who is doing the transport. It also includes detailed information regarding the condition of the vehicle before it is turned over to the transportation company and then the condition of the vehicle is documented again before it is handed back over to the owner. Essentially, this document serves as a legal contract between the transport company and the owner of the vehicle. The law requires that a bill of lading be prepared by the auto transport company prior to shipment. It acts as a receipt for record-keeping and it is also required by insurance companies should a claim need to be made on a vehicle that was shipped. This document should be prepared by the auto shipping company, and both the owner of the vehicle and the driver hauling the shipment must receive a copy prior to shipment.
What Information is Included on the Bill of Lading?
There are six important pieces of information that must be included on the bill of lading and these include:
- Shipping Company and Driver Details- The bill of lading should include which transport company is handling the shipment as well as their address, contact number, the motor carrier ID number of the carrier, and details of the driver. Should the vehicle be transferred to another carrier along the way this information must also be included.
- Pickup and Delivery Information- Every BoL should also state the exact time, date, and location of pickup as well as an estimated delivery date and the delivery location.
- General Vehicle Information- The BoL should include information about the vehicle being transported including the year, make, model, color, license plate number, and VIN number.
- Vehicle Condition- Prior to shipment, the owner of the vehicle and the transport driver will perform an inspection of the vehicle and document its condition. Any physical damage such as scratches, dings, or dents should be noted on the BoL. This same inspection will be performed upon delivery of the vehicle and any damage should be reported immediately and noted on the BoL. This is required for insurance claims.
- Payment Information and Terms and Conditions- The BoL should contain information regarding the form of payment being used, as well as any deposits or advanced payments that may have been made. It should also include any specific terms and conditions that have been agreed upon.
- Signature- Finally, the vehicle owner, driver, and shipper must sign off on the BoL before the vehicle can be shipped.
The bill of lading is an extremely important legal document that protects both the owner of the vehicle and the shipping company against damage, payment fraud, or fraudulent insurance claims. It is required by law and allows a shipping company to transport one’s personal vehicle from one location to another. It acts as proof of transport and must be signed upon delivery and pickup of the vehicle.