Understanding Bill of Lading


The Bill of Lading (BOL) is one of the most important legal documents when transporting a vehicle. The Bill of Lading is not only your receipt for the transportation service, it is also an inspection report, a dispatch report and a terms and conditions sheet all in one.

Understanding what your Bill of Lading does and what protections it does and does not give you are incredibly vital to the success of your auto transportation experience.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Bill of Lading, this article can be a good lesson in what is and the importance of a Bill of Lading. For those of you who have shipped a vehicle before or who are familiar with a Bill of Lading, this article can be a good refresher in what each part of the Bill of Lading is. Please read the following information carefully as it will help tremendously when it comes to transporting your vehicle.

Please be aware that your Bill of Lading may be structured differently than the example provided, but the information presented in this article is required to be on the Bill of Lading, regardless of where or how it is inputted.


The header will give you the company name and information. It will also include your order number, date and the name of the driver.


Origin & Destination Information

This is where the Bill of Lading acts as a dispatch report. Your exact origin and destination addresses will be located here, as well as contact information for both destinations.


Vehicle Information

Under the vehicle information section is where all the information pertaining to the vehicle being shipped is placed. This will usually include the year, make & model of the vehicle, the color, license plate (if applicable), VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), current mileage, vehicle style (compact, sedan, SUV, minivan, pickup, cargo, oversize, etc.), and any additional information regarding the vehicle. Not all of these fields may be required by your carrier, but you should make sure it is presented anyway. This is in part to make sure that everything is accounted for with your vehicle, and that the vehicle you gave to the carrier is the one you are receiving. Theft & car-swapping is not common, buy you have to make sure all basis are covered.


Vehicle Condition

This is one of the most important parts of your Bill of Lading. This section is typically located under the vehicle information. The vehicle condition section is where any current damages will be marked during inspection at origin pickup. Any new damages will also be marked during the inspection at the time of delivery. Auto transport drivers are required to do an inspection with you per federal law at both origin and destination. This is to assure that your vehicle and its condition are properly accounted for.

When doing an inspection, you want to make note of any minor dings, dents or scratches. In addition to any major damage (if this is applicable). There are several different variations of this particular part of the Bill of Lading, but you should be able to tell of how the damage will be accounted for. Most Bill of Ladings are tailored to the specific type of vehicle. For instance, there are Bill of Ladings for pickup trucks, SUV’s, Cargo Vans, Minivans, Sedans, Coupes, Hotrods, etc. Make sure that your Bill of Lading represents your vehicle accurately.


Terms and Conditions

The carriers terms and conditions part of the Bill of Lading is a part you as the customer, should ultimately pay attention to. If you booked your shipment through a brokerage, these terms and conditions will likely be different than the carriers. You should make sure you read both companies terms so you understand exactly what you are getting into.

The terms and conditions for auto carriers will likely vary in verbiage, content & length. It is imperative that you read them! You don’t want to get into a situation that is covered by the terms and conditions, but because you didn’t read them you expected something different. These situations are quite common in the auto transport industry. Please, make sure that you are aware to all the legalities regarding your contract and company.



Signatures are required at both pickup and delivery. They are your acknowledgment that you read your Bill of Lading, understand its content and have consented.

If you do not agree with what is on your Bill of Lading, do not sign it. Don’t sign if you have questions, don’t sign if you don’t do an inspection, because once you do it is binding. You want to make sure you fully understand what the Bill of Lading is stating before signing, and realize that once you do that is your authorization for the carrier to load your vehicle and begin the transport process. Your vehicle will not be loaded onto the carrier until you sign.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding Bill of Ladings or the information contained in this article, please don’t hesitate to call (800) 790-5325 and speak with an experienced professional who can explain more throughly to you all about the transportation process and the Bill of Lading.