There are different criteria on which bill of ladings can be defined and differentiated.
Few of these criteria being the “place from where carriers takes the responsibility of the cargo” (Port to port, Multimodal and through bill of ladings) or if the owner of the cargo can sell the cargo before it reaches by transferring the title of the bill of lading (Negotiable and non-negotiable bill of lading)
Different types of bill of ladings based upon Negotiable and non Negotiable documents
The main difference between the two types is the title (ownership) of the bill of lading.
While one can be transferred to another party, the other is consigned to a named party and hence he/she has to be the final recipient of the cargo as the title of this type of bill of ladings cannot be transferred.
Readers should not confuse the negotiable and non-negotiable types of bill of ladings with the “negotiable” and “non-negotiable” copies of the signed bill of ladings.
1. Straight bill of lading:
The straight bill of lading is specified to the particular party and the specified party cannot re-assign it to anyone else. The party only has to take the delivery of the cargo and the cargo cannot be sold by transferring the bill of lading to another party’s name.
Q: Can you think of an example when the straight bill of lading can be and will be used?
2. Order bill of lading
This is the bill of lading that one would mostly come across onboard. The bill of lading is to the consignee or to his order. That is the named consignee will be the owner of the cargo or he can order the shipment to be delivered to another party by endorsing the bill of lading to that party.
As the title (ownership) of the bill of lading can be transferred, the Order bill of lading is the negotiable document.
3. Bearer bill of lading
The bearer bill of lading is the one in which the bearer of the bill of lading is the owner of the cargo and there is no consignee named in the bill of lading.
This kind of bill of lading is very seldom found as there are huge risks involved in the misuse of this kind of bill of ladings.
Again as the title (ownership) of the bill of lading can be transferred, the Order bill of lading is a negotiable document.
4. Switch bill of lading
This can said to be the duplicate bill of lading for a cargo of which the bill of lading was already issued.
Switch bill of lading is generally requested by the consignee from the owner of the vessel when the consignee does not wish to reveal to the new buyer the identity of the shipper of the cargo.
Types of Bill of ladings based upon carriers responsibility
1. Port to port bill of lading (also called Ocean bill of lading)
In this kind of bill of ladings, Carrier’s responsibility starts at the port of loading and ends at the port of discharge
2. Multimodal or Combined bill of lading
This kind of bill of lading covers more than one mode of transfers (for example, Ocean and rail or Ocean and road) and covers all the modes of transfers.
Carrier has the responsibility from a place of receipt to place of delivery of the cargo.
Carrier can hire/subcontract to carry the cargo in one or more modes of transfers.
3. Through bill of ladings
The main difference between multimodal and through bill of lading is that in through bill of lading there is only one mode of cargo movement but has different legs, like sea and inland waterways.
Whereas in the multimodal bill of lading there have to be at least two modes of cargo movement (like sea and land).
With respect to carrier’s responsibility, in through bill of lading, the carrier is responsible only for their leg of sea transport.
Many believe there is no difference between the Multimodal and through bill of ladings which is not correct.
* If you think there is another important bill of lading that has been missed out here, please share in the comment section and I would be happy to include that in this blog.
About Capt Rajeev Jassal
Capt. Rajeev Jassal has sailed for over 24 years mainly on crude oil, product and chemical tankers. He holds MBA in shipping & Logistics degree from London. He has done extensive research on quantitatively measuring Safety culture onboard and safety climate ashore which he believes is the most important element for safer shipping.
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