What is a bill of lading and why is it important?

Everyone knows that moving is a long and complicated process. It involves many chores, many unslept hours – and a sea of paperwork. These documents can seem strange and foreign – especially when you have no experience with moving or dealing with professional movers NJ. Sadly, you will need to know what each of these papers means. And just like there are tasks of different priorities, so there are documents that have a different value. One of the most important documents to have on you is the bill of lading. You should keep it at all times with you, and never lose it. What is it and why is it important? In this article, we answer these questions. Keep reading to find out more.

What is a bill of lading?

First, let’s take a look at what this document actually represents – and why it is one of the most important moving documents you will receive. The official definition would be that it is a document a carrier will issue to you. On it, you will find a list of goods which you are shipping using their services. Along with that, they will need to specify the terms of their transport, too.

This document serves as a checklist for both you and your long distance movers NJ. It gives you great control over the moving process. With it, you will be able to track your items and check if anything’s missing after the move. Basically, you can consider the bill of lading a receipt for the move. The only thing that differs is the size since this document can get quite huge based on the size of your move.

a signature
Read every document carefully before you sign it.

Before signing the document, though, it’s important to know what to check on it. Never sign it unless the document has the full name and the address of your moving company. Make sure there is the contact information of any participating companies, too. There should also be an ID of the vehicle transporting your items. You also need the exact time and date of the move, how you will pay, and the final price of the moving process – including all the additional costs. Finally, it needs to include your new address too. Make sure you check all of these before signing.

The main pros of your bill of lading

As you can notice, there is a lot of importance put on signing this document. This is because it has a legal weight behind it. It is practically a contract that you can use in litigation. This is why it needs to be thoroughly accurate. Other than this, there are three main benefits of every bill of lading:

  • it is evidence of the contract of carriage,
  • also, it serves as a receipt of goods
  • and finally, it is a document of title.

Evidence of contract of carriage

One of the most important things you need to realize about the bill of lading is that this is not a contract – no matter the legal weight it carries. So, this is not a contract between your company and you. It is also not a contract you sign with the shipping company either. You will need to sign a separate contract with the residential movers NJ beforehand. The contract between you (or your logistics provider) and the shipping company also goes before the bill of lading.

people making a deal
It is evidence of a contract with you and a shipping company.

However, this document is evidence of a contract of carriage. This is the contract between the “carrier” and the “shipper” (or you, in other terms). With it, you agree to let the carrier transport your items in the way in which you agreed upon. This doesn’t mean it is a contract, though. It serves to prove that there is one between you – in simpler terms.

Receipt of goods

As we already mentioned, this document serves as one big receipt of the moving services NJ your company offers you. You will get it instead of the receipt that the company issues for the freight they will take. Get it either from your logistics company, the shipper, or the 3PL company.

You can use it as proof that the carrier has received your goods from the shipper. What’s more, it serves to show that the items were in good condition and that there was nothing missing. However, keep in mind that this is not an insurance policy. You might not be eligible for a refund if something does go missing only based on the bill of lading.

Document of title

Finally, the bill of lading means that whoever holds it has the title to the goods on the document. However, there are different ways in which you can consign it. Therefore, the title can change as well. This depends on the type of document you sign.

a person signing documents
The type of bill that you sign matters.

There are two types to think about – a straight bill and an order bill. The prior one means that the goods are consigned to a designated party, while the latter means the goods are consigned to the order of a named party. This is an important difference to note. One means that the document is negotiable, i.e. that the title to the goods can be transferred. The straight bill does not allow this.

This is why it is important that the information you have on the bill of lading is accurate. The state laws regulate all the duties and liabilities when you are shipping within the state. If you need to cover bigger distances, then the document is regulated by the federal law, embodied in the Interstate Commerce Act. If there are any irregularities in the document, and you signed it, then there are many consequences that can occur. You might lose the right to limit liability or P&I cover, as well as the right of indemnity from the charterer.

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