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Freight from the USA

Ocean Freight Bill of Lading

Ocean freight Bill of Lading (B/L or BOL) is the mandatory document for international cargo transportation from the USA by sea. International ocean freight carriers issue ocean freight bills of ladings. An issued bill of lading means that specified goods have been received on board as cargo for conveyance to a named place for delivery to the consignee.

Besides other points, the international ocean freight bill of lading serves the following purposes:

  1. It is evidence of a contract of carriage between an ocean freight carrier and shipper;

  2. It is a receipt for goods shipping from the USA;

  3. It is a title document on imported goods.

There are different types of ocean freight bills of ladings used in international cargo transportation for exporting goods from the U.S. Here are two of the most used types of NON-NEGOTIABLE international ocean freight bills of ladings:

  • Express release ocean freight bill of lading = Telex release = Surrender and;

  • Release endorsed upon a set of original ocean freight bills of ladings. 

NON-NEGOTIABLE international ocean freight bill of lading: The document does NOT give the title to the goods. The consignee (cargo recipient) named in the ocean freight bill of lading must identify himself to claim the goods. Vs. NEGOTIABLE ocean freight bill of lading issued "to the order of" is the title of the goods. I.e., a NEGOTIABLE bill of lading can be bought, sold, or traded while goods are in transit.

International EXPRESS RELEASE ocean freight bill of lading means you do not have to provide originals of the bill of lading to claim your goods at the destination. Shipment on express release should be released at the destination upon surrendering a copy of the international ocean freight bill of lading. Express release ocean freight bill of lading should state: "ZERO (0) – NO ORIGINALS REQUIRED FOR RELEASE".

The statement "SET OF ORIGINAL REQUIRED" in an international ocean freight bill of lading means that goods CAN NOT be released to the consignee unless the consignee has surrendered a set of original bills of ladings.

American miltimodal international deliveries

In our practice, without prior agreement, all ocean freight carriers' Bill of Ladings are NON-NEGOTIABLE and ON EXPRESS RELEASES. We provide copies of the international express release ocean freight bill of lading in PDF files via email.  

Unless a set of originals is requested in advance, upon payments toward our invoices, we email carriers' bills of ladings to the parties paid for international shipping on or within a few days after the Estimated Date of Departure (ETD) of cargo from the USA. Sometimes, we invoice our customers upon rated proofs of carriers' bills of lading. Refer to this step-by-step guide — step 5.

Upon receipt of a copy of the non-negotiable express release bill of lading, print it and keep it on record. Use it when you recover your shipping from the USA goods at the destination.

Please note that several countries worldwide, particularly Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, and certain African countries, DO NOT accept express release ocean freight bills of ladings. Ocean freight carriers should specify it when issuing the bill of ladings. It should appear on a bill of lading like this: "ORIGINALS RELEASED AT DESTINATION." In such cases, the original bills of lading will be generated at destinations. I.e., issuing an original bill of ladings during international transportation is unnecessary. If generating originals at designations is impossible, we will mail you a set of originals. USPS First Class Mail within the USA is free. Expedited or international mail must be prepaid.

If a customer requires a set of original international ocean freight bills of lading for shipments to a country that does accept express release, then a $50 fee will be added on top of the cost of the carrier's fee. Postage must be prepaid. Issuing sets of original bills of ladings to countries that accept express releases does not mean that the originals are required to obtain released goods.

Letter of Indemnity

If, in your international shipping from the U.S., an original sea freight bill of lading is required, but it needs to be amended or lost, an international ocean freight carrier may request a LETTER OF INDEMNITY. Here is the link with a sample of LETTER OF INDEMNITY in international cargo transportation from the USA.

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