What is a Bill of Lading?

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A bill of lading is a contract between the owner of the goods and the carrier. For vessels, there are two types: a straight bill of lading, which is non-negotiable, and a negotiable or shipper’s order bill of lading. The latter can be bought, sold, or traded while the goods are in transit. The customer usually needs an original as proof of ownership to take possession of the goods.