What happens to the original bill of lading after a shipment has been completed..??

This is a question one of the regular readers of the blog posed to me the other day..

As you might have read in my previous post https://shippingandfreightresource.com/2008/10/13/article-2-the-documents/ there are many types of bills of lading one would encounter.. While each of the bills have a different ending point, the general ending point would be as explained below..

Generally, when an Original Bill of Lading is issued to the shipper they take 3 Originals.. One might be used for the bank, one might be used to send to the consignee, one might be kept with the shipper.. Whichever way it happens, once ONE of the Originals are surrendered to the shipping line/agent at destination for the release of the cargo, the other two Originals are deemed null and void and are rendered worthless..

It is the responsibility of the shipping line/agent at destination to ensure that the Original bill of lading received is duly discharged.. (please see https://shippingandfreightresource.com/2008/11/17/duly-discharged-bills-of-lading-the-great-debate/)..

What happens to the one duly discharged Original (or could be all 3) that is collected by the shipping line/agent..?? Those Original(s) are generally cancelled by drawing red lines across the area where it has been signed and the words CANCELLED or DISCHARGED is written so that there will be no further misuse or claims of these bills.. The bill is now deemed to be duly discharged..

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29 thoughts on “What happens to the original bill of lading after a shipment has been completed..??

Be part of the discussion and share your views about the article here..

  1. hi Hariesh,

    Is a ship agent entitled to hand Deilvery order to Consignee, agaisnt presentation of full set of Original B/Ls ( 3/3) made out to
    “To Order” but not endorsed /stamped by Shipper

    thank you for your advice

  2. Indonesian Bank would not negotiate the LC with clause ” two original BLs for bank negotiation, and 1 original BL send directly to Consignee”. The Bank needs ” Full set of Original BLs for bank negotiation”
    thank you

  3. Thank you for this post. Could you please advise who keeps the BLs after they have been marked null and void? Does it make sense if a shipping company requires the BLs to be handed over to the company after the completion of the shipment?

  4. Why master issue 3 original? Could master issued 1 or 2 or 4? Is 3 original BL to be issued a tradition passed down?

    • Hi Yin, presume you mean after you submit the bill of lading details you want to check if the bill of lading is correct or not..?? You can ask the shipping line to send you a draft copy which you can check and advise the line if it is correct or if you need to make any amendments.. Once you advise everything is correct, then the shipping line will issue the final bill of lading..

  5. After the container entered the port the dock receipt was stamped,the trucker gave it to me but my shipping agent has not come for the stamped dock receipt.Upon checking the container number it says the container is on the high sea to its destination.How wil i know if my agent has paid for the container?

    • Hi Michal, when you say “How wil i know if my agent has paid for the container?” do mean if your agent has paid for the shipping line freight charges or which charges..?? Did you agent make the booking with the line or did you do it..??

  6. bill of lading shows port of loading antwerp and at the bottom of the document shows laden on board rotterdam.
    what problems should one anticipate and what’s to be done?

  7. hi again,
    on a bill of lading, port of loading is shown name a. while under laden on board, it shows name b.
    it that a discrepant document? why shipping lines put 2 different ports?

  8. thanks a lot, i read the article which is very explanatory. i hope you can help me with the following question :
    – bills of lading lost
    – a bank guarantee is issued as you say, goods are cleared etc….
    – how long the bank guarantee should be valid? because i think, there must be a way that the original bill of lading is somehow voided.
    – when a bank guarantee is issued, the bank blocs about 120% of the value. if the bank guarantee is for ever….., then this money stay with the bank for ever and ever….?
    i would appreciate your comments…

    • Hi Helen , the bank guarantee is generally valid until the bill of lading is presented, or until the shipping company releases the bank from its liability.. The shipping line normally will release the bank from its liability once all their monies have been recovered at load port and discharge port and the cargo has been released to the correct party and that correct party has cleared the goods through customs and produced proof of such clearance to the line and the line is fully satisfied.. This could vary from country to country and between shipping lines..

  9. If a person asks an agent to ship items on their behalf and the agent refuses to send a copy of the bill of laden to them after all payments are made is the shipping company by law required to send a copy of the bill of laden to the consignee if they are the legal owners of the item?

    • Hi Joe, if you are the legal owner of this cargo and you have proof of this, and this agent is holding back the bill of lading even after you have paid them, then your first recourse would be to go to the police and lodge a complaint against this agent and try to get it sorted that way.. If that doesn’t work, you can try to get a court order to cancel the original bill of lading and get the shipping line to re-issue a new set of originals based on the court order..

    • You are a saviour!!!!! thank you so much for this site, newcomers in this industry owe you for this one.