A First-Timer's Guide to Car Shipping: Understanding the Bill of Lading

Are you a first-timer diving into the world of car shipping? Our blog is here to guide you through the process, with a particular focus on a key document – the Bill of Lading.

1/31/20243 min read

A crucial aspect of the vehicle transport process is the Bill of Lading (BOL), an essential document for shipping cars, trucks, SUVs, classics, exotics, motorcycles, RVs, and boats. For those new to the process, understanding the intricacies of a BOL is vital. Let's delve into the specifics of what a BOL is, its functions, necessary information, and why it's imperative for both the shipper and the transport company.

A Bill of Lading, often referred to as BOL or B.O.L., serves as a legal contract between the shipper and the auto transport company. Before initiating shipping, the transport company is required by law to prepare a BOL, providing a copy to both the shipper and the driver responsible for hauling the shipment.

The BOL serves multiple purposes—it acts as a record-keeping document, a receipt for the shipper, and crucial evidence for insurance companies in case of unforeseen issues. During on-the-road inspections, the BOL is compared to the actual contents of open and closed carriers, ensuring accuracy in the transport process.

Now, let's break down the essential information that must be included in a BOL:

1. Shipping Company and Driver Details:

At the top of the BOL, a header should contain comprehensive information about the auto transport company, including the company name, business address, valid contact number, motor carrier ID number, and details of the driver. Emergency contact information is also recommended for inclusion.

2. Pickup and Delivery Information:

Clearly stating pickup and delivery locations, exact pickup time, and approximate delivery time, the BOL should also include contact information for the receiver. Accuracy in these details is crucial to avoid delays.

3. General Vehicle Information:

Essential identifiers of the vehicle, including type (car, truck, SUV), make, model, year, license plate number, color, and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

4. Vehicle Condition:

Before loading the vehicle onto the hauler, a joint inspection between the shipper and the transport driver is conducted. Any pre-existing physical damage must be documented to protect both parties.

5. Terms and Conditions:

BOLs should outline payment details, including the mode of payment, advance payments, and other terms and conditions of the transport. Understanding these clauses is crucial for both the owner and the carrier, especially in cases involving third-party brokers.

6. Signature:

The final and most critical piece, both the shipper and the driver must sign the BOL, turning it into a binding document.

Who holds onto the Bill of Lading? Both parties! Every BOL comes with a copy for the car owner, while the transport company retains another. It's advisable for the car owner to keep their copy on hand, facilitating the vehicle's receipt at the endpoint and serving as a reference for inspection notes.

To facilitate a clearer understanding of the Bill of Lading (BOL) and provide a tangible example, we have attached a sample BOL to this email. This document mirrors the key elements discussed in our guide, offering you a visual reference for the kind of information typically included in a BOL. We encourage you to review this attached sample thoroughly, gaining familiarity with the layout and details presented.

Moreover, for your convenience, if you have access to a printer, consider taking a moment to print out a copy of the attached BOL for your records. This practice can prove advantageous, especially in unforeseen circumstances where the driver may not have a BOL during the pickup or delivery process. By having your own copy readily available, you can swiftly provide the necessary documentation in case of an emergency, contributing to a smoother shipping experience. While maintaining a copy is not your responsibility, we believe in comprehensive preparedness at every step to safeguard your move with us. In our 11 years in business, we have seen everything. Never let the driver pick up your car or deliver your car without this important peice of information. If you have any questions or require further clarification, our dedicated team is always here to assist. Trust in our commitment to transparency and reliability at every stage of your auto shipping journey. If you have someone arranging to meet the carrier at pick up or delivery please feel free to share this email with them. Call us with any questions at 239-273-4649