What is a Bill of Lading?

A Bill of Lading is required when moving a freight shipment. Specifically, it is a legally-binding contract between a freight carrier and shipper, and a document of title. A Bill of Lading is an important transportation document issued by the carrier or the carrier’s agent to their clients.

Many exporters may have noticed the term “Shipped On Board” mentioned within a Bill of Lading, since these exporters are involved in global trade and frequently utilize financial documents such as a Letter of Credit (L/C.) The “Shipped On Board Date” may also be named as the “Clean On Board Date” or the “Laden On Board Date.”

What is a “Shipped On Board Date”?

The “Shipped On Board Date” is a notation added by the Bill of Lading issuer that confirms the cargo has been loaded on board. This notation should be created at origin by the carrier or the carrier’s agent, and should indicate the name of the vessel on which goods have been shipped. “Shipped On Board” Bills of Lading give greater security to importers and importers’ banks.

Many Letters of Credit require a “Shipped On Board Ocean Bill of Lading.” That requirement means that the Bill of Lading must be original and display a “Shipped On Board Date” in order for the Letter of Credit to be satisfied. This notation is usually typed within the body of the Bill of Lading, and is shown along with the “On Board Date.”

What is a “Bill of Lading Date”?

On the other hand, a “Bill of Lading Date” is the date on which the Bill of Lading was issued. The “Shipped On Board Date” and “Bill of Lading Date” are two different dates, and may not be the same. The “Bill of Lading Date” is different from the “Shipped On Board Date” as the container may have been loaded on board the ship on a different date, while the Bill of Lading was issued to the customer at a later date.

For example, if a container was shipped on board on April 2, 2018, its Bill of Lading date cannot be earlier than the “Shipped On Board Date” since a Bill of Lading can only be issued after a container has been physically shipped on board. The “Bill of Lading Date” has to be on, or after, the “Shipped On Board Date.”

If the shipping document does not display a “Shipped on Board Date,” the “Bill of Lading Date” is considered the “Shipped On Board Date.” A Bill of Lading cannot be issued without a “Shipped On Board Date.”

Today, almost all Bills of Lading are issued with an on board notation. As a result, the majority of current Bills of Lading that are issued for international sea freight transportation can be classified as “Shipped on Board Bills of Lading.”