A freight bill, which also is referred to as a bill of lading, is a legal contract between the shipper and the carrier. The freight bill includes the necessary details of the transaction and typically is signed by the shipper and the carrier. It is used by accounting personnel as support documentation to justify billing the shipper or the receiver, depending on the terms of the contract, for the successful delivery of goods.
While the information included on a freight bill varies among companies, certain details are usually included. The details include the name and contact information for the shipper and the receiver as well as a description of the goods shipped. The description of the goods shipped includes the quantity and type of goods. The carrier needs to know what is being transported, and federal, state and local laws govern what can be shipped and how it can be shipped.
Because a freight bill is a contract, the shipper may sign the document to confirm his agreement to the information on the freight bill. The carrier will double-check that the goods loaded on her truck agree with the freight bill and sign it as confirmation that she is responsible for the safe delivery of the noted quantities. The receiver will sign the freight bill as confirmation that he received the correct amount and type of content. If later one of the parties disagrees about what was shipped, the freight bill can be used as proof to substantiate billing.
The freight bill also may specify when and where products were picked up and a due date and time for delivery. If the goods are time-sensitive, such as fresh produce, then the time element can mean the difference between a carrier receiving payment or writing off the travel expenses as a failed delivery. A carrier is careful to have the receiver note on the freight bill the date and time the delivery is received. That kind of notation acts as a proof of delivery documentation.
The freight bill usually is a set that includes an original bill and several copies. Each party included in the transaction should have a copy of the freight bill. The shipper typically initiates a freight bill and keeps for his files a copy that includes the carrier’s signature of receipt. The carrier takes copies with her and delivers the freight bill to the receiver along with the goods transported. When the receiver signs off on receipt of the goods, the carrier retains a copy of the signed freight bill and leaves a copy with the receiver.
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