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.
Michael starting working in car shipping over 20 years ago, in 2002; back in the days when fax machines ruled the roost, being the first name listed in the yellow pages was King and google wasn’t yet a verb. Sometimes he foolishly thinks he’s seen every situation imaginable when it comes to shipping a car, but about once a year he’s proven wrong.
Frequently Asked Questions
Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions
Yes, we always ask for your specific pickup and delivery addresses, if the carrier can get right to the addresses you provide, they will. If the addresses that you give us are not safely accessible for a Multi-car carrier, however, you will need to make arrangements with the driver to meet at a nearby location where the carrier can safely get in and out.
People do it all the time (rarely for free) but the official answer is no.
Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but that is the honest answer.
We are not licensed to broker the shipment of household goods and, likewise, no car carrier that operates in the USA is licensed to transport them from state to state either. Despite what you might be being told by other car shipping companies you may speak with.
Remember, at the end of the day we're all salespeople, and the true answer to this question is not a great selling point.
You will hear a lot of companies tell you that you can put up to 100 pounds of items in the trunk, but that is not entirely true. That fact is that items of that amount are fairly common and the department of transportation is probably not going to split hairs and fine the trucker over items of that amount, provided they are not over their weight limit. They could fine them, however, if they see a vehicle stuffed full of personal items so the car carrier will most likely try to negotiate something with you to cover themselves against any costs they could incur. It's not something we can build into your contract though.
We have a short and helpful video on this topic in our user videos.
Only in rare cases and car carriers will usually charge a premium to make it happen.
All dates given by car carriers are typically estimates and projections.
For this reason (and to keep your cost down) we ask that you build in some flexibility and give us the earliest possible date you would be WILLING to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.
We'll put you in direct contact with your car carrier and the driver will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick up and delivery (they won't just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it). However, car carriers are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can and do throw them off of their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.
If the projected dates we give you come and you are unable to make contact with your carrier, please call our office immediately so that we may help resolve the situation.
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will average 7 to 10 days. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.
Even better, we do not even ask for payment until we have you confirmed for pickup by a safe, reliable, fully insured, direct car carrier. If for any reason you do not ship your car with the carrier that we arrange for you, there is no fee.
The fees paid directly to the carrier however, (in most cases, their fees are not paid until your vehicle is delivered) are not directly controlled by us, so any requests for a refund of the carrier's portion would need to be addressed with the carrier directly.
Of course! And you are always backed by our Damage Free Guarantee policy.
Part of what you pay us for is to verify that the car carrier that we put you on is covered by the proper amount of insurance and that everything is up to date.
There is never any additional cost to you for this coverage, and their insurance is always primary.