Ocean Bill of Lading: Definition, Example, Importance

Ashutosh Saitwal
Ashutosh Saitwal

Founder CEO - KlearStack AI

Table of Contents

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What is an Ocean Bill of Lading?

An Ocean Bill of Lading is a legal document signed between the shipper and the carrier when goods need to be transported across seas and borders.

The document serves as a receipt, outlining the agreement between the shipper and the carrier for the entire journey, detailing shipment specifics, and acknowledging receipt of the goods.

The agreement outlines key details such as:

  • Names and details of the shipper, consignee, and carrier.
  • Information about the goods – what they are, how much, and their condition.
  • Specifics about the sea-based journey, like the ship’s name, voyage number, and the ports involved.
  • Terms agreed upon by both parties, along with who is responsible for what.
  • A clear breakdown of costs, how much for freight, and any extra charges.
  • Locations for picking up and delivering goods, even if they’re in different countries.
  • Confirmation of when the carrier received the goods.

Unlike an Inland Bill of Lading, this special document is designed for global shipping, following the rules of international trade.

Ocean Bill of Lading Example

The following Ocean Bill of Lading documents the agreement for the international sea shipment, providing essential information for a smooth and accountable transportation process from Shanghai to Los Angeles.

Ocean Bill of Lading Example for a Shipment from Shanghai to Los Angeles:

[Carrier Logo]

[Carrier Name, Inc.]

[Carrier Street Address, City]

[Carrier Phone, Email, etc.]


XYZ Electronics Co. 

Shanghai, China

Phone: [Shipper Phone], Email: [Shipper Email]


ABC Retailers Inc.

Los Angeles, USA

Phone: [Consignee Phone], Email: [Consignee Email]

Description of Goods:

Product 1:Smartphones, 100 units(Including detailed specifications.)
Product 2:

Laptops, 50 units

(Including detailed specifications.)

Voyage Information:

Vessel:Pacific Voyager

Voyage Number:



Shanghai (Loading) – Los Angeles (Discharge)

Date of Shipment:

[Current Date]

Terms and Conditions:

Incoterms 2020: FOB (Free on Board)

Freight Charges

Freight:$10,000 USD
Additional Charges:

$500 USD for customs documentation

Notable or Special Instructions:

Handle electronic devices with care; delivery to ABC Retailers’ warehouse upon arrival.

Signature and Seal:

[Signature of Shipper Representative] 
[Signature of Carrier Representative] 

[Carrier Seal]


What is the Purpose of Ocean Bill of Lading?

An Ocean Bill of Lading and an Inland Bill of Lading serve as pivotal documents in goods transportation, yet they diverge in scope and application. The Ocean Bill of Lading is tailored for global trade, adhering to international standards.

In recognizing this, stakeholders can select an appropriate Bill of Lading based on the nature, destination, and mode of transportation.

They may ponder the following queries:

  1. Is the shipment destined for international trade, involving sea transport across different countries?
  2. Do the involved parties span international borders, including the shipper, carrier, and consignee?
  3. Are there specific legal or contractual obligations associated with international shipments that must be considered?

Parties Involved in an Ocean Bill of Lading

It is noteworthy that the buyer himself is not directly involved in the issuance of the Ocean Bill of Lading unless he’s the consignee

The following are the parties involved in an Ocean Bill of Lading:

  1. Shipper (Consignor): The entity or individual shipping the goods, initiating the shipment process.
  2. Carrier (Shipping Company): Responsible for physically transporting the goods and issuing the Ocean Bill of Lading.
  3. Consignee (Receiver): The party or entity to whom the goods are being shipped. The consignee is typically listed on the Ocean Bill of Lading and is entitled to claim the goods upon arrival.
  4. Notify Party: An optional party named on the bill who is to be notified of the arrival of the goods at the destination.

When to Consider Other Bills of Lading?

Given the diverse range of bills of lading available—it’s wise to assess the best fit for your trade requirements. 

Explore other options if your shipment involves trade within the borders or if you need flexibility in ownership transfer, potentially considering a Negotiable Bill of Lading. For goods with specific conditions, a Claused Bill of Lading may be appropriate. Opt for the Uniform Bill of Lading if you prefer a standardized document format.

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KlearStack is an AI-driven intelligent document processing (IDP) solution that helps you automate your ocean bill-of-lading needs.

KlearStack is a template-free solution, meaning you don’t have to train the model separately for every new Bill of Lading layout. It processes even a completely new layout with significant accuracy. The more documents you process with KlearStack, the smarter it gets because of its adaptive learning capabilities.

The automated tool lets you set up predefined rules & formats to check whether details like names, addresses, and product descriptions are accurate.

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FAQs on Ocean Bill of Lading

What is the bill of lading for the ocean?

An Ocean Bill of Lading is a crucial document for international sea shipments, detailing the agreement between the shipper and the carrier. It serves as a receipt, contract, and title for the goods during their journey across different countries.

What does the ocean bill of lading do?

The Ocean Bill of Lading acts as a receipt for shipped goods, a contract between the shipper and the carrier, and a title document, facilitating the international sea transport process and ensuring accountability.

Who issues ocean bill of lading?

The Ocean Bill of Lading is typically issued by the shipping carrier or their agent, acknowledging the receipt of goods, specifying terms, and providing crucial information for the entire sea journey.

What is the difference between the inland bill of lading and the ocean bill of lading?

The key difference lies in scope. An Inland Bill of Lading covers domestic land transport, while an Ocean Bill of Lading is used for international sea shipments, encompassing the entire journey from port to port.

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