By Mitch Kinek

Category: Logistics, Resources

Topic: Freight

Shippers, Consignees, and Carriers: Who is Involved in a Shipment

Who is the shipper, consignee, and carrier of a freight shipment

On the Bill of Lading (BOL), there are special references to the shipper, consignee, and carrier. Who exactly are these parties and what roles do they have in the shipment? This comprehensive guide will take you through the roles and responsibilities of each party in a shipment.

The Shipper: Who is the Shipper?

The shipper is the individual or business entity with the goods that need to be transported. A shipper is responsible for packaging, preparing the freight documents, and in most cases loading the shipment. In International Freight, there may be more responsible for the shipper depending on the INCO term in the sale.

The Carrier: Who is the Carrier?

The carrier is a person or company that transports the goods. This party is the physical owner of the assets moving the freight. A non-asset based freight broker is not a motor carrier, and marking the freight broker as the carrier for the shipment is incorrect. The carrier’s responsibility is to transport the goods in a timely and safe manner to the consignee.

The Consignee: Who is the Consignee?

Consignee originates from the concept of consigning; to deliver goods into another’s control. A better way to look at is that a carrier is a consignor, who hands over the goods, and the receiver is the consignee, who receives the goods.

The consignee receives the shipment and plays a crucial role in inspecting the freight for any damage. If damage occurs, the consignee must immediately note it on the delivery receipt or bill of lading. If not done properly, the chance of mitigating a claim and placing the liability on the carrier may diminish.

The Bill of Lading: Why is it the most important shipping document?

The Bill of Lading is a legal document outlining the duties of parties and acting as a receipt of goods. The document serves for three purposes:

  • Acknowledge Receipt of Cargo by the Carrier: Essentially, the BOL serves as evidence that the carrier has assumed control of the goods from the supplier.
  • Provides Proof of the Contract of Carriage: The document is the agreement between the shipper and the carrier regarding the transportation of the freight.
  • Functions as the “Document of Title”: The document establishes the ultimate ownership of the goods.

Given the role of the Bill of Lading (BOL) in a shipment, it’s important to ensure all information is accurate prior to shipping. If any information is inaccurate, it may cause frustration during the shipment and during any issue resolution. Make sure all of the respected parties (Shipper, Carrier, and Consignee) are correct on the document as well. Special instances, such as Blind Shipments, may require the BOL to manipulate who is on the document. There should be a master BOL with the correct information and sequential BOLs to help mitigate any confusion during this instance.

Partnering with a Third-Party Provider

When shipping through a Third-Party Logistics Provider, it’s important to understand how to notate the Third-Party. The Third-Party will never be notated as the shipper, consignee, or carrier on the Bill of Lading. Under the Payment Terms section, a shipper may reference Third-Party instead of Pre-Paid or collect terms.

A benefit to utilizing a 3PL Provider like TLI is the document creation. TLI offers instant document creation to ensure accuracy of your documents. Other helpful services is digital file management through a TMS, such as ViewPoint. The shipping document, like the BOL, is important in a shipment and may need to be referenced post-delivery. Working with a 3PL helps create the document correctly up-front and can help easily retrieve the documents on the back-end.

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