Bill of Lading vs. Proof of Delivery | Meaning and Importance

Want to ship something? Are you confused by the bill of lading and the proof of delivery? Learn why they matter and what they mean for your shipment's success.
Bill of Lading vs. Proof of Delivery | Meaning and Importance

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Are you confused with understanding the paperwork and terminologies in Proof of Delivery (POD) and Bill of Lading (BOL)?  Well, that’s relatable.

BOL: Bill of Lading — Definition and Content

What is a Bill of Lading?

The Bill of Lading (BOL) is the receipt for the shipping service and the legal document between the Shipper and the Freight carrier that contains details about the type, quantity and destination of the cargo.

BOL is the contract between Shippers, Receivers, and Carriers, outlining the most critical aspects of their business. It includes the necessary transportation information and protects the cargo.

Without a properly filled Bill of Lading, the goods cannot be shipped or billed smoothly because it is the receipt for the shipment.

Who issues the bill of lading?

The Carrier is the only person who can issue the BOL to the shipper and consignee of the goods. Carrier is responsible for correctly describing all major transport characteristics of the cargo.

When you use a freight forwarder to ship goods, a freight forwarder can issue bills of Lading, but not all freight forwarders are authorized to issue BOL(Only forwarders with NVOCC status can issue bills of lading). The BOL is received by a Shipper, broker or freight forwarder.

What does a Bill of Lading contain?

It contains information about you about your goods, including but not limited to:

  • Shipper and consignee addresses
  • Contact information
  • Total weight
  • Quantity of cartons
  • Freight class
  • NMFC code
  • Description of packing and goods
  • Billing party information
  • Shipping/purchase order numbers
  • Container number
  • BOL number

The role of Bill of Lading

The BOL does more than tell you that your shipment has been picked up.

It is a legal contract between the shipper and the carrier that outlines their roles. Thus, depending on the terms of carriage, BOL also acts as an insurance policy for any damage or loss during transportation.

BOL aids in keeping tabs on your consignment through its unique reference number. Sometimes, the BOL may even be used as a titled document until delivery is affected.

POD: Proof of Delivery—Definition and Content

What is Proof of Delivery(POD)?

Proof of Delivery (POD) is a document or record that confirms that the consignee has received the shipment. It serves as confirmation that the shipment was delivered in the correct quantity.

The main purpose of a POD is to provide evidence that the shipment was delivered to the intended consignee. It helps prevent disputes about whether the shipment was delivered and whether the shipment was damaged.

Proof of Delivery(POD), pod document

What does Proof of Delivery include?

 Proof of Delivery (POD) proves that delivery was successful. It includes key information such as :

  1. Delivery Information: This section shows when, where exactly, and at what time the item was delivered.
  2. Consignee Signature: The most important part! The recipient (consignee) signs the POD and returns it indicating that he has received all goods in good order and condition. This signature is tangible proof confirming delivery was made.
  3. Delivery Notes: In rare cases, POD also contains notes that explain the condition of the shipment product. Such as, it is damaged slightly, etc.

The role of Proof of Delivery

Proof of Delivery (POD) is not just a formality, it ensures legal accountability. 

In simple terms, this document is strong proof that goods have reached the right person in the meantime.  Also, in case of missing items or damage, the POD will help to identify when and where they occurred. 

Both you and the carrier have copies of this document for purposes of records hence ensuring uninterrupted invoicing and precise tracking of shipments.


The Bill of Lading and Proof of Delivery are those silent heroes you never know about until your cargo reaches its final destination.  Knowing what each does will make your business stand out from others in this industry. 

Don’t allow simple paperwork to hinder you! Our Freight Forwarding Company handles tasks ranging from writing clear BOLs to guaranteeing timely PODs on all our deliveries.

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