Understanding the Car Bill of Lading for Auto Shipping

August 25, 2020Car Shipping Essentials
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

A car bill of lading is something that many auto shipping customers often overlook or don’t know a lot about. Usually, they are only interested in a few things when dealing with vehicle transport: “how much is this going to cost me?” and “are they going to be on time?” Both issues are understandable, but car transportation companies found a great way to answer a lot of those questions in the form of a bill of lading.

What Is a Bill of Lading Exactly

Many factors go into the business of auto shipping services, with lots of information needed to be provided both to and from you, the customer, if you’re planning to move your car to another state. Once the data is processed, the company gives a record of the transaction in paper or electronic form known as a Bill of Lading. Simply put, it’s like a big receipt for your paid service, only there are a lot more details. The purpose of a BOL is to give a detailed record of everything that goes into transporting your car. No secrets, no hidden strings, just transparency when you ship cars.

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Different Types of BOL

Car shipping companies give you a bill of lading to try and make things easy and clear to follow. However, different types of BOL can be confusing and hard to keep up with if you aren’t sure what terms and conditions to look at – ironic, isn’t it? Don’t get intimidated just yet; we’ll go through each type of BOL that companies use so that you know what to expect when you hire a car transport company:

  • Straight BOL – A non-negotiable BOL from one party to ship to another
  • Order BOL – A negotiable BOL where the pickup destination can be changed
  • Bearer BOL – A BOL where the delivery destination goes to the holder
  • Surrender BOL – Where the car recipient does not have to pay for the provided services until the final draft of the BOL upon pickup
  • Clean BOL – A BOL that states that the car was loaded and delivered in good condition to the destination.
person writing in notebook
There are five basic types of the bill of lading

Information Regarding Vehicle Transport

As you probably should’ve guessed by now, you should expect to have specific info and terms about your transaction with the car shipping company. As we mentioned before, your BOL serves as a receipt upon completion of payment. It details the customer’s personal information, destination, payment details, etc. The BOL leaves nothing up to question as it includes every bit of detail regarding shipping a car cross country.

Transport Fees and Details

Usually, the first thing included in your BOL is the price quote agreed for the service, down payments (if any), the remaining amount owed, and what has been paid. It also includes the payment method, which can either be cash-on-delivery (COD for short) or electronically. Both are standard, but cash-on-delivery is more common upon shipment. Dates are also recorded on the BOL detailing when the request was made, shipment time, and payment date. As we said before, they leave nothing up to question.

What to Do If You Have a Problem With Your BOL

On the rare occasion you run into any discrepancies, inconsistencies, or problems with your BOL or your shipment, your auto transport company should include an email address and a phone number. When you get a hold of a representative, be sure to have your BOL handy if you need it to ask questions or point out any issues. Make sure you’re specific about the problem and point out the section to the representative to help you. The representative should be able to clear up any confusion or problems regarding your shipment and even give you some car shipping advice.

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Your BOL will have all the information regarding your vehicle shipment

Typical Items on Your BOL

For a better idea of what to expect on your car BOL, we’ll take you through some of the necessary items you’ll see. That way, when you decide to hire auto transport services, you won’t get caught up with all the details or confused at any point. If you still have questions, feel free to contact your transport company’s customer service line. They can help clear anything for you quickly. Here is a quick list of what you should expect to see.

  • The complete name and address of the receiver and the shipper
  • The purchase or invoice number for the shipper and consignee to release the car upon pickup or accepted at delivery
  • The date of the pickup or delivery
  • Specific details of the car being shipped such as make model, size, etc
  • Damages Reported – It’s required by the company to report and record any damages to the car upon pickup and after delivery. This way there is a written document for insurance companies to have when claiming damages to the car.
documents and pen
Each BOL has different sections outlining the order

Choose a Reliable Auto Shipping Service Provider

Now that you have all the information you need about a BOL, you can go ahead and choose a reputable auto transportation business and prepare your car for shipping. It’ll be much easier to decide now that you know what to expect with the purchase of your chosen service.

Types of Shipping and Transport

We briefly mentioned earlier that there are different types of transport services you can choose. The two most common types of transportation you’ll see are open carrier transport and enclosed auto transport. For open carrier transport, your vehicle is placed in an open trailer, with other cars most likely to be taken to a terminal and taken directly to your doorstep if you so choose. You can also pick it up at the terminal. An enclosed carrier shipment is when your vehicle is delivered in a closed trailer. You can choose to have the car delivered to you or you can pick it up yourself.

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