Bill of Lading, Through

A bill of lading to cover goods from point of origin to final destination when interchange or transfer from one carrier to another is necessary to complete the journey.

A bill of lading to cover goods from point of origin to final destination when interchange or transfer from one carrier to another is necessary to complete the journey.

A through bill of lading is a transport document issued by one carrier (consignor) for goods being transported by another carrier (consignee). It is a document required for goods being shipped from one place to another.

For example, if a shipper in Chicago sends a load of furniture to Los Angeles using a trucking company, the Chicago company will issue the consignor with a bill of lading because it owns the goods until they are delivered to the consignee, who is the second carrier. In this case, the first carrier is called an “odd-lot” carrier and does not have authority to transport across state lines, but only within Illinois.

In this instance, rather than delivering directly to its final destination (Los Angeles), an odd-lot carrier takes possession of the load and delivers it to another trucking company that has more authority to transport the load. In this case, the trucking company that has more authority is called a “through carrier.”

The through carrier then delivers to its final destination. The odd-lot carrier issues a bill of lading to the through carrier which covers their liability up until they deliver it to the other carrier and includes all of the terms and conditions for transporting goods via motor vehicle in Illinois.

Once the through carrier receives possession of the goods, they issue their own bill of lading equivalent to what was issued by the odd-lot carrier indicating delivery to themselves as well as an additional notation saying that they were responsible for delivering to Los Angeles.

This document is where carriers distinguish themselves from each other. For example, if there is a claims situation, the judgment will be based on which BOL is in play. If both carriers are sued for some reason (wrongful death, etc.) an attorney could demand to see both BOLs and then determine who held what throughout the entire process.

The carrier that physically possessed the goods at the time of incident would remain liable.

Through bills of lading are very common with international shipping because multiple modes of transportation can be involved depending on how far apart two places are.

For example, if somebody wants to send a shipment from Hong Kong to Montreal, Canada via air freight, they use a bill of lading issued by their supplier or customer to entrust possession of the goods to multiple trucking companies along the way until it reaches its final destination.

Instead of calling the first carrier an odd-lot company, they could also be called a consolidator or breakbulk carrier because their job is to consolidate smaller lots into one large shipment that fits within the size limitations of the mode of transportation they are willing to use.

For example, if there are five containers coming from different parts of Asia that need to come together in Montreal before being shipped by ocean freight, then all five would arrive at port and be consolidated onto one vessel before proceeding on its long journey overseas.

The bill of lading issued for this voyage would indicate the name of the consolidate (ocean transport provider), not necessarily the consignee or even shipper.

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