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  • Gracie Strawser

3 Things to Remember When Handling Bill of Ladings

For every load a CDL driver hauls, there's paperwork that comes with it called a bill of lading, or BOL for short. A BOL is a legal document that provides the following:

Evidence: Represents the agreement/contract between the shipper and the carrier that spells out where the freight was collected, what is being transported, and when/where it is to be delivered. Receipt of Goods: Issuance and signing of the BOL is proof that the carrier has received the goods from the shipper and that goods are in satisfactory condition. Title of the Goods: A BOL can serve as the official document that gives control of the cargo to different parties along the route. Information: A BOL should include the following elements:

  • Name and address of shipper

  • Name and address of receiver/consignee

  • Name of bill-to

  • Date of pickup

  • Purchase orders or reference numbers

  • Description of items to be shipped

  • Weight and dimensions of the product

  • Freight class

  • Packaging type

  • Any special instructions specific to the customer and product

A standard BOL includes a lot of information, and should be handled carefully. Normally, this is the standard process for a BOL:

  • Driver goes to the loading or unloading location

  • Paperwork is given to the driver when the load is loaded

  • Driver goes to the delivery destination

  • Paperwork is handed to a receiving manager to be signed

  • Signed paperwork is given back and the driver gives the paperwork to the Accounting Department to bill the shipper or broker

But the process can easily be interrupted and become more complicated:

  • Driver goes to the loading or unloading location

  • Shipping or receiving is behind schedule and delayed by 2 hours

  • Driver hands off the BOL and loses track of the paperwork

  • Driver's routine is interfered due to the delays and problems, causing the BOLs to go unchecked for accuracy and completeness

It doesn't take much to interrupt what should be a straight-forward process. Missing a piece of paper may not seem like a big deal when delivering a load, but it can become a big deal whenever a company refuses to pay for the delivered load or claim that the load was never delivered since there's no paper trail. In the middle of all the delays and distractions, there are ways to double-check the BOLs to avoid future delays that can help keep things moving normally. Here are 3 things to remember when handling BOLs:

1. Check the Number of Given Pages

It's easy to lose a piece of paper; what's not easy is tracking it down after a driver has already arrived at the delivery destination and needs a receiving manager to sign it, and it's even harder after the driver has completely delivered the load and goes back to the truck and trailer yard. One way to avoid this is to ask how pieces of paper should be included in the BOL, and then counting the pages before leaving a stop to ensure everything is there.

2. Keep the Pages Together and In Numerical Order After ensuring all of the paperwork is there, the pages need to stay together and not scattered across a truck because scrambling to get the entire BOL can cause a delay. A good way to make sure all of the papers are in order is to paperclip or staple them together. At Ned Bard & Son, we always keep a small box of paperclips out in the driver's room specifically so it's easier for our drivers to keep their BOL together so they can get in and out of a destination as fast as possible. Staying organized and sticking to a routine will ensure consistent and accurate paperwork. 3. Make Sure All Required Signatures Are Signed and Legible Each customer does their paperwork a little bit differently than the next customer, but they all require at least one signature by the receiving manager as proof that the load was delivered. But whether only one or multiple required signatures, signatures that can be signed anywhere or in a specific spot, it's important that all required signatures are on the BOL by the end of the delivery. Drivers need to be away that they follow each customer's specific requirements, or else the payment for a load may be delayed until the BOLs are fixed to meet the requirements. It's also just as important that any and all signatures are legible. After all, if the driver personally can't read the name, how can you prove that the load went to the right customer and not someone else?


At the end of the day, a driver should feel accomplished and shouldn't need to worry about getting paid for any previous loads; they should be able to move onto the next day without a problem. Making sure that all BOLs are complete, signed, and turned in is important to ensure that a driver won't have to go back and rework the documentation of a previous load. While things can get tough, it's important to remember to get all paperwork completed and turned in so that everyone can have a fresh start the next day and keep on trucking.

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