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Bill of lading

A bill of lading (sometimes abbreviated as B/L or BoL) is a document issued by a carrier which details a shipment of merchandise and gives title of that shipment to a specified party. Bills of lading are one of three important documents used in international trade to help guarantee that exporters receive payment and importers receive merchandise. A straight bill of lading is used when payment has been made in advance of shipment and requires a carrier to deliver the merchandise to the appropriate party. An order bill of lading is used when shipping merchandise prior to payment, requiring a carrier to deliver the merchandise to the importer, and at the endorsement of the exporter the carrier may transfer title to the importer. Endorsed order bills of lading can be traded as a security or serve as collateral against debt obligations. 

Initially Bs/L were using only for shipmemts by sea. Today B/L is often used for multi-modal transportation.

The legal status and uses of the bill of lading:

  • As a receipt. The principal use of the bill of lading issued by the carrier once the goods have been loaded onto the vessel. This receipt can be used as proof of shipment for customs and insurance purposes, and also as commercial proof of completing a contractual obligation, especially under Incoterms such as CFR (Cost and freight) and FOB-(free on board)

  • As evidence of the contract of carriage. The bill of lading will rarely be the contract itself, since the cargo space will have been booked previously, perhaps by telephone, email or letter. The preliminary contract will be acknowledged by both the shipper and carrier to incorporate the carrier's standard terms of business. If the Hague-Visby Rules apply, then all of the Rules will be automatically annexed to the bill of lading, thus forming a statutory contract.

  • As title. The bill of lading confers prima facie title over the goods to the named consignee or lawful holder. Under the "nemo dat quod non habet" rule ("no-one may give what he ain't got"), a seller cannot not pass better title than he himself has; so if the goods are subject to an encumbrance (such as a mortgage, charge or hypotheque), or even stolen, the bill of lading will not grant full title to the holder.

  • As a negotiable document. A bill of lading may be traded in much the same way as the cargo, and even borrowed against if desired. This is a very important and common document used in export and import trade globally.

Today Express B/L or Electronic B/L are more common. INTERTRANS issues them for the clients to make the logistics simple.


The CMR Convention (full title Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road) is a United Nations convention that was signed in Geneva on 19 May 1956. It relates to various legal issues concerning transportation of cargo by road. It has been ratified by the majority of European states. As of 2013, it has been ratified by 55 states.

All the European countries are members of this Convention, and several other countries, such as Lebanon and Iran are members. Based on the CMR, the International Road Union (IRU) developed a standard CMR waybill. The CMR waybill is prepared in three languages. On the back is the text again in three languages. This aids the waybill in being accepted and recognized throughout Europe. Checked by customs and police, a transport document must be present when the shipment is transported. The document itself is not prescribed; there is a minimum of information required on the CMR. If hazardous substances are being shipped, some additional information is required, as described in ADR.

This consignment is completed by the sender. The consignment should only be completed with a ballpoint pen, typewriter or computer. The driver who uses the consignment should be familiar with the consignment, and with the waybill, able to inform the recipient about the importance of the various topics on the waybill.

The CMR consignment consists of the following parts:

  • red printing for sender

  • blue printing for receiver

  • green imprint on carrier

  • black print on second carrier (if present)

"CMR" is an abbreviation of the French title of the convention, Convention relative au contrat de transport international de marchandises par route.

Goods declaration

Goods declaration (approved by the Customs Union Commission N 257 of May 20, 2010, prior to the entry into force on 01.07.2010 of the Customs Code of the Customs Union was called the cargo customs declaration - abbreviated GTD) - the document in the prescribed form, which shall include the information required for submission to the customs authorities in accordance with Art. 180 of the Customs Code of the Customs Union. Without the provision of the goods declaration, customs do not accept the goods for customs clearance at the border. Goods declaration is an internationally accepted document. 99 countries in the world use it in foreign economic activity (FEA).


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