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, checks packaging quality, the quantity of goods and other deviations in quality before issuing a clean 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 non-acceptance of goods with an unclean bill of lading.

Non-Acceptance of Goods Without Clean Bill of Lading

The importers of good refuse to accept the goods that do not have a clean bill of lading. To put in another way, the importers do not accept goods with clause bill of lading. This is because the quality of the goods with clause bill of lading is lower than the formal agreement that is signed between both 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 there is a clause or notation written on the bill of lading which 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 which is desired by the importers, 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, whereas, 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 it was received by the carrier. On the other hand, clause bill of lading clearly shows that the goods are not in the expected condition.


A clean bill of lading is an indication that the goods are defect free and as per the terms of the agreement. This bill gives an assurance to the importer regarding the quality of goods. Since the importer is unable to check the goods that are being sent to him, clean bill of lading is the best means to know about the quality of goods. It also gives an assurance to 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.1–4

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Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of eFinanceManagement. He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".

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