Through Bill of Lading – Meaning, Benefits and More

Exporting goods overseas involves a lot of documents, and one such important document is the Bill of Lading or BOL. Understanding and knowing about the Bill of Lading is very important because it is very useful in case of claims. A Bill of Lading is not just one document; rather, there are several types of Bill of Lading. Knowing and understanding each Bill of Lading is extremely important. Here, we will talk about the Through Bill of Lading in the following paras.

Through Bill of Lading – Meaning

Usually, most type of bill of lading covers just one part of the transportation, i.e. from shipper to one carrier. The Through BOL, however, covers the entire shipment, i.e. from start to end, irrespective of the number of carriers in between. Or, we can say that this document covers the shipment of cargo in the domestic territory and in international borders as well.

It means that the Through BOL covers the shipment end to end, ie., from the exporter to importer. This includes transporting through any inland move if there is a need.

A Through BOL includes all the details of the shipment, like the type of goods, origin, destination, method of transportation, and more. Moreover, it also contains other needed BOL.

A Through BOL must have an Inland BOL. An Inland BOL is needed for transporting the goods within the domestic territory. And, if the shipment involves sending goods through the ocean, then the Through BOL should have an Ocean BOL as well.

As to who can issue this bill of lading, it is usually the freight forwarder, who is responsible for the shipment. However, different countries have different rules regarding who can issue it. For instance, in the U.S., an ocean carrier can also issue this type of bill of landing. Some countries don’t allow the ocean carrier to issue this BOL as they treat inlands distinct from the ocean, even though it could be for the same shipment.

Benefits of Through Bill of Lading

Such a BOL is needed not just to export goods, but also serves as a legal certificate. The legal certificate authorizes the party of the possession, as well as for the transportation of the shipment. This is because the Through BOL enables the carrier to pass the shipment through different transportation modes and distribution centers, as well as different countries.

A Through BOL is beneficial not just for the consignee, but for the buyer as well. A Through BOL means the buyer would have to deal with one carrier or company. This means the buyer has one point of contact for all their queries. Or one carrier or shipper is responsible for the entire transportation arrangement. And that arrangement could be of his own for all the legs or he may contact another carrier acting as an agent for the exporter for one leg. Moreover, it also results in cost savings for the seller and the buyer.  

There is a drawback of this BOL as well. The buyer doesn’t get much control over the movement of goods. And, this sometimes may result in an information delay. If the Through BOL comes from the ocean carrier, then are more chances of delay in information.

Despite such issues with this BOL, it is very popular in international trade because of its convenience and cost effectiveness.

Through BOL

Through vs Multimodal or Combined Bill of Lading

Both Through and Multimodal BOL are very similar to each other. Multimodal BOL also covers more than one mode of transportation. However, there is one key difference between the two.

The Through BOL comes into play when a shipment has one mode of transportation (usually water), but the legs are distinct, such as inland and ocean. In the multimodal bill of lading, there are at least two or more of different modes of shipment, such as sea and land.

Final Words

In simple words, we can say that a Through BOL is a collection of the individual bills of lading. The word “through” in this BOL likely means that it links all the legs of shipment in an efficient way to authorize the carrier to complete the shipment.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a through bill of lading?

The Through Bill of Lading covers the entire shipment, i.e. from start to end, irrespective of the number of carriers and legs in between.

What other types of bill of ladings are required with through bill of lading?

A Through BOL must have an Inland BOL for transporting the goods within the domestic territory. And, if the shipment involves sending goods through the ocean, then it should have an Ocean BOL as well.

What is the difference between multimodal and through BOL?

In the multimodal bill of lading, there are at least two different modes of shipment, such as sea and land. While in the through BOL, a shipment has one mode of transportation (usually water), but the legs are distinct, such as inland and ocean.

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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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