What is the meaning of “negotiable” and “non-negotiable” copies of signed bill of ladings??

Bill of lading is a document of title. This means that the person who has the bill of lading is the owner of the cargo. But the bill of lading can be transferred to another person.

So if person A transfers the bill of lading to person B, person B becomes the owner of the cargo.

Master of the ship issues these bill of ladings. When a cargo is loaded, the master is supposed to issue the bill of ladings to the shipper.

The shipper would advise the Master how many copies of the original bill of lading they would need. Usually, three originals of the bill of lading are issued for the cargo loaded.

Each of these three original would be marked as "First original", "Second original" and "Third original". All these three bills of lading would also be marked as "Negotiable".

A negotiable bill of lading means that these bill of ladings can be negotiated and transferred to any other person who will become the owner of the cargo.

Apart from the negotiable bill of lading, master also issues some copies of "non-negotiable" bill of ladings.

As the name suggest, non-negotiable bill of lading cannot be negotiated and these are not the document of title.

That means the holder of a non-negotiable bill of lading cannot be the owner of the cargo.

The non-negotiable bills of lading are issued for documentation purposes such as for customs purpose.

Before releasing the cargo at the discharge port, the master must check that original of the negotiable bill of lading is presented to him.

Abhishek Singh
Abhishek Singh
Jun 12, 2017

Thank you sir, your blog has been a huge help in understanding topic.