The bill of lading is an important document. It acts as a receipt for goods, a contract of carriage, and may act as a document of title (if order bill of lading). Take the time to make sure the bill of lading is filled out completely and correctly, since this will help ensure error-free delivery of the freight to its final destination. A correct bill of lading also ensures an accurate invoice for you.

Receiving Freight: Clear Delivery

What about when you’re on the other end of a freight shipment? Receiving freight can be as simple as sending it if you follow a few steps:

  1. Stay in contact with your supplier/shipper to find out when your shipment was shipped, what carrier it was given to, and an approximate arrival date.


  • On arrival, inspect the shipment immediately for obvious signs of damage.
  • Compare the actual number of handling units to the number listed on the delivery receipt.
  • Sign the delivery receipt.
  • The carrier’s driver will usually help you receive/unload your shipment and answer any questions you might have. While the driver is there, compare and count the pieces of freight you are receiving to that of the carrier’s freight bill. When you’ve determined that the condition and quantity of your freight is acceptable, the driver will ask you to sign the delivery receipt. The driver will provide you with a copy and will take the signed copy with him/her (as a delivery receipt) for the carrier’s record of the delivery.

    When a carrier receives a signed delivery receipt with no exceptions or damages noted, it is called a “clear delivery.” Clear deliveries generally mean everything went smoothly: success for both the shipper and consignee of the freight.

    An invoice for the shipment will be sent to the appropriate party soon after pickup or delivery has been made, depending on whether the shipment is prepaid or collect. Questions regarding the amounts shown on the bill should be directed to your carrier or 3PL provider. If you feel you have paid too much, contact your carrier and ask to file an overcharge claim. Note that carriers do charge for incorrect weights and classification of goods. Therefore it’s very important to state the correct weight and freight class when rating and shipping via LTL(Less-than-Load) carrier in order to eliminate rate changes due to incorrect information.

    If a shipment is either short or damaged, you should still accept the delivery but make clear notes of the short or damages on the delivery receipt. Make sure you receive a copy noting the short or damages. It’s the duty of the shipper and the consignee to mitigate the loss with the LTL(Less-than-Load) carrier’s involvement. After you accept the shipment, take steps to protect the shipment from further loss and file a claim for the actual shortages or damages involved promptly.