Whether the world of shipping freight is relatively new to you, or you regularly spend more time with pallets than people, you know that the freight shipping journey can be a complicated process. One common complication revolves around shipping documentation.
Freight shipping relies heavily on many forms, documents, and reports in order for the shipping process to run smoothly, and for even a veteran shipper there can be a lot to remember. So, let’s take a look at some of the key documents that you’ll need to know about before you send your pallets on their way.
What is a Bill of Lading?
The bill of lading, often referred to simply as the BOL, is arguably the most important document you will need for your shipment. In short, the bill of lading acts as a contract between the shipper (you), and the freight carrier. Upon closer examination, however, one can see that the role of the BOL is much broader.
Your BOL also acts not only as a receipt for the freight service being provided, but also as a receipt for the goods that you are shipping. In the event that a shipment is lost or damaged, a copy of the BOL signed by the carrier is required as proof of carrier liability.
An accurate BOL requires plenty of information, including: the weight, value, and description of every item in the shipment. Further, the BOL must include the location where the freight will be collected, where it will be transported to, and any special handling instructions that the freight requires.
You can find an example of Freightcom’s Bill of Lading here!
What is a Freight Bill?
At a glance, a freight bill or freight invoice is similar to a bill of lading in many respects. While much of the same information is recorded on both documents, they serve distinct purposes in the shipping journey.
The key difference between the two is, unlike a bill of lading, a freight bill is not used as evidence in a dispute. Rather, the purpose of the freight bill is to outline the total shipping charges, and to clarify any information that may be on the BOL.
As such, a freight bill may include additional information for accessorials like limited access, liftgate, or threshold delivery, or handling requirements like refrigeration or protect from cold. They will also outline the costs of these services, and the total fees for the shipment.
In a sense, one could view freight bills in the same way one views invoices for any professional service. So, while they seem to play a less important role in the shipping process, freight bills serve as a valuable tool for the accounting side of the shipping process, and so it is recommended that you retain them long-term.
For an example of Freightcom’s freight bill, check right here!Download Sample Freight Bill
What is a Customs Invoice?
This document is particularly important for international and cross-border shippers. A Customs Invoice is a mandatory document used to declare the value of goods on a shipment in order for it to clear customs.
Beyond serving as a customs clearance document, a customs invoice can also serve as a bill of sale on large-volume shipments. As a customs invoice is not a final request for payment, it can be used as an estimate of the cost of goods sent in advance of a shipment, with a commercial invoice issued once the shipment has been delivered and the final cost agreed upon.
Much like the documents discussed earlier, a customs invoice must include the weight, value, and description of your shipment. In addition, it must list the applicable duties and taxes, country of origin, and harmonized tax code.
An example of Freightcom’s customs invoice can be found here!Download Sample Customs Invoice
What is a Proof-of-Delivery?
A proof of delivery, or POD, is exactly what the name suggests; it is a document signed by the consignee upon receipt of a shipment.
It should be noted that while the POD is a specific piece of documentation, it is not always necessarily its own document. For instance, while some carriers will use their own delivery receipt (DR), often they will ask the consignee to sign the BOL, or even a copy of the freight bill as confirmation of delivery.
Regardless of what form the POD takes, it still plays an important role in the shipping journey. Aside from providing proof that the delivery was successful, it can also serve as further evidence in the event of a claim, as it is recommended that when signing it the consignee takes note of any visible loss or damage to the shipment.
As such, you as the shipper have a right to ask for the POD at any time.
What is a Freight Claims Form?
To start, a freight claim is a demand made from the shipper or consignee to the carrier for monetary reimbursement in the event of damaged or lost goods. A freight claims form is the primary document necessary for processing a claim.
Ideally, this is the form you want to encounter the least as a shipper.
Once all required documentation has been filled out, it can take upwards of 90 days for a claim to be settled. Because the process goes through many levels of confirmation and approval, it is recommended that you file a claim as early as possible.
Freightcom Helps You Keep Your Shipping in Order
Keeping your shipping documents in order may be an important part of running your business, but with Freightcom you can make sure it doesn’t take away from all the other important parts.
Our easy-to-use platform helps keep all of your shipping, and all of your shipping documents, organized and easy to maintain, so you can focus on running your business better. Contact one of our shipping experts today at 1-877-335-8740 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and see how Freightcom can help you ship smarter today!
Written by Brandon Draga
Brandon Draga is a full-time content writer at Freightcom, the leading shipping solution for businesses in Canada. When Brandon is not writing content to help businesses with their shipping needs, he can be found at local skate parks or writing fantasy novels.