Clean Bill of Lading

Meaning of Clean Bill of Lading

A clean bill of lading is a type of ocean bill of lading. It is a transport document that indicates that the goods received in the vessel are in good condition and free from any defect. The carrier examines the goods thoroughly and checks packaging quality, the quantity of goods, and other deviations in quality before issuing this bill of lading.

The buyers or importers often do not accept the goods with clause/dirty/unclean bill of lading. Let us understand the meaning of the same and the reason for the non-acceptance of goods with an unclean bill of lading.

Non-Acceptance of Goods Without Clean Bill of Lading

The importers of goods refuse to accept the goods that do not have this bill of lading. In other words, the importers do not accept goods with a clause bill of lading. This is because the quality of the goods with the clause bill of lading is lower than the formal agreement signed between the importer and the exporter.

Moreover, the importer pays the exporter for quality goods, and receiving goods with inferior quality or unusable quality can lead to losses for the importer. The clause bill of lading indicates that goods are not perfect. Hence, the importer denies its acceptance.

Clean Bill of Lading

What Makes a Bill of Lading Unclean?

A clean bill of lading can turn into an unclean bill of lading if a clause or notation is written on the bill of lading that indicates that the goods are of defective condition or the packaging is defective.

Some of the examples are:

  • Leakage in the containers during loading
  • Visibility of atmospheric rust stains
  • Material is wet at the time of or before loading
  • Packaging is not up to the mark for the sea transit

What Is The Difference Between Clean Bill of Lading and Clause Bill of Lading?

  • A clean bill of lading is a sea transport document that the importers desire. Whereas a clause bill of lading is not acceptable to the importers and the banks.
  • A clean bill of lading is a standard document marked with standard shipped on board notation. At the same time, a clause bill of lading contains an additional clause along with the standard shipped on board notation. This additional clause expressly declares that the packaging or the goods are in defective conditions.
  • In terms of quality of goods, a clean bill of lading shows that the outer packaging of the goods was in good condition when the carrier received it. On the other hand, the clause bill of lading clearly indicates that the goods are not in the expected condition.


A clean bill of lading indicates that the goods are defect-free and as per the terms of the agreement. This bill gives assurance to the importer regarding the quality of goods. Since the importer is unable to check the goods that are being sent to him, a clean bill of lading is the best means to know about the quality of goods. It also assures the importer that the exporter would not deceive him with worthless goods. To conclude, a clean bill of lading gives a positive affirmation to the buyer regarding the usability and quality of the goods.

Visit Bill of Lading and its Types for more details.

Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

MBA-Finance, CMA, CS, Insolvency Professional, B'Com

Sanjay Borad, Founder of eFinanceManagement, is a Management Consultant with 7 years of MNC experience and 11 years in Consultancy. He caters to clients with turnovers from 200 Million to 12,000 Million, including listed entities, and has vast industry experience in over 20 sectors. Additionally, he serves as a visiting faculty for Finance and Costing in MBA Colleges and CA, CMA Coaching Classes.

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