What Is a Bill of Lading (BOL)?

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Car shipping companies should give you a bill of lading every time.
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In the car transport world, there are a lot of confusing terms and acronyms that you may not know about. One of those that we get asked about a lot is the bill of lading, or BOL. Car shippers throw this term around a lot, but what does it actually mean? And what do you, as a customer, need to know about this document?

What Exactly Is a Bill of Lading?

Bills of lading are like receipts that you get from a car shipping company. When you place an order for an auto shipment, your carrier will prepare this document for you. Your BOL acts as a sort of contract between you and your shipper. It outlines the services that the company has agreed to perform for you and the price that you’ll need to pay for them.

Bills of lading are really important for the auto shipping process. If something should happen to your vehicle during the shipment, your BOL is your way of proving that the company promised to haul it in a specific way. If insurance companies or law enforcement get involved, they’ll ask about the BOL to prove what you claim. So, when your shipper gives you your bill of lading, make sure you hold onto it!

What to Look for on Your Bill of Lading

Your BOL will contain a lot of important information about your shipment that you should check to make sure is correct once you receive it. This information helps ensure that the service provided is what you, the driver, and the shipping company agreed upon. Every shipping company has a slightly different layout for their BOLs, but there are a few pieces of information that should be on there no matter what.

Your Vehicle’s Specifications and Condition

Bills of lading need your vehicle’s information to prove that your shipper recognizes that your vehicle is on their trailer. They also should note any scratches, dings, or other condition issues that your vehicle has. That way, the shipper has protection in case you try to claim that their service caused issues that your vehicle already had.

Details About Your Driver and the Services They’ll Provide

These details will include your driver’s name, their license number, and your car’s pickup and destination locations. This information ensures that everyone acknowledges what services need to be performed and by whom.


The most important part of your bill of lading is the signature section. Your driver and a representative from the shipping company need to sign the document before they give it to you. This makes your BOL legally binding.

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