Terms & Glossaries of Shipping and Trading

CBL (Carrier Bill of Lading)

Carrier Bill of Lading (CBL) is a document serving as a receipt for goods shipped, a document of title, and a contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier. The CBL provides essential details about the shipment, outlining the terms and conditions under which the carrier agrees to transport the goods.

Detailed Overview of Carrier Bill of Lading (CBL)

What is Carrier Bill of Lading (CBL)?

A Carrier Bill of Lading (CBL) is a formal document issued by a carrier to acknowledge the receipt of cargo for shipment. It includes detailed information about the goods, the shipper, the consignee, and the transportation terms. The CBL serves three primary functions:

1. Receipt for Goods: Confirms that the carrier has received the goods for transport.
2. Document of Title: Acts as a title to the goods, allowing the holder to claim possession.
3. Contract of Carriage: Establishes the terms and conditions of the transportation agreement between the shipper and the carrier.

Key Components of a Carrier Bill of Lading (CBL)

1. Carrier Information:

Name, address, and contact details of the carrier responsible for transporting the goods.

2. Shipper Information:

Name, address, and contact details of the shipper or consignor sending the goods.

3. Consignee Information:

Name, address, and contact details of the consignee or recipient of the goods.

4. Description of Goods:

Detailed description of the cargo, including type, quantity, weight, dimensions, and any special handling instructions.

5. Origin and Destination:

Points of origin and destination, indicating where the goods are being shipped from and where they are being delivered.

6. Shipment Date:

The date on which the goods were shipped or loaded onto the carrier's vehicle.

7. Bill of Lading Number:

Unique identification number assigned to the CBL for tracking and reference purposes.

8. Freight Charges and Payment Terms:

Details of the freight charges, payment terms, and who is responsible for paying the shipping costs (e.g., prepaid, collect).

9. Terms and Conditions:

Legal terms and conditions governing the transportation, including liability limits, claims procedures, and delivery terms.

10. Signature and Date:

Signatures of the shipper and carrier, along with the date of issuance, validating the contract of carriage.

Importance of Carrier Bill of Lading (CBL)

1. Legal Document:

The CBL is a legally binding document that outlines the responsibilities and liabilities of both the carrier and the shipper.

2. Evidence of Contract:

Serves as proof of the transportation agreement, detailing the terms under which the goods are being shipped.

3. Title Document:

Acts as a document of title, allowing the holder to claim possession of the goods upon arrival.

4. Customs Clearance:

Facilitates customs clearance by providing necessary documentation and details about the shipment.

5. Claims Handling:

Provides a basis for handling claims in case of loss, damage, or disputes related to the shipment.

6. Tracking and Accountability:

Enables tracking of the shipment and holds the carrier accountable for the safe and timely delivery of the goods.

Types of Carrier Bills of Lading

1. Straight Bill of Lading:

Non-negotiable document used when the goods are consigned to a specific consignee and cannot be transferred to another party.

2. Order Bill of Lading:

Negotiable document that allows the consignee or holder to endorse the bill and transfer ownership of the goods to another party.

3. Clean Bill of Lading:

Indicates that the goods were received in good condition, without any visible damage or irregularities.

4. Claused (or Foul) Bill of Lading:

Indicates that the goods were received with certain issues or discrepancies, such as damage or shortfall.

Process of Issuing a Carrier Bill of Lading (CBL)

1. Preparation:

The shipper prepares the CBL with detailed information about the shipment, including description, quantity, weight, and destination.

2. Verification:

The carrier verifies the information provided by the shipper to ensure accuracy and completeness.

3. Issuance:

The carrier issues the CBL, signing and dating the document to formalize the contract of carriage.

4. Distribution:

Copies of the CBL are distributed to the shipper, consignee, and any other relevant parties involved in the shipment.

5. Shipment Tracking:

The CBL number is used to track the shipment throughout the transportation process, ensuring accountability and transparency.

Challenges and Considerations

1. Accuracy:

Ensuring the accuracy of the information on the CBL is crucial to avoid disputes, delays, or legal issues.

2. Compliance:

Adhering to international and local regulations and standards for issuing and handling bills of lading.

3. Security:

Protecting the CBL from fraud or unauthorized alterations to maintain the integrity of the document.

4. Timeliness:

Issuing and distributing the CBL in a timely manner to ensure smooth shipping operations and customs clearance.


The Carrier Bill of Lading (CBL) is a fundamental document in the shipping and logistics industry, serving as a receipt for goods, a document of title, and a contract of carriage. It provides essential details about the shipment, facilitates customs clearance, and ensures the legal transfer of goods. Understanding the key components, importance, and process of issuing a CBL can help businesses enhance the efficiency, reliability, and legal compliance of their shipping operations.