House Bill of Lading | Meaning, Format and more

House Bill of Lading | Meaning, Format & more

In the shipping industry, the House Bill of Lading (HBL) is a symbol of order and trust in the complex world of international trade, as perishable goods travel across continents and oceans to reach their destinations.

Right from the execution of the cargo loading to the delivery destination, the process is quite difficult. In this scenario, the House Bill of Lading performs the functions of a contract of carriage, a receipt for the goods, and a title document. The HBL gives comprehensive details on the shipment, such as the shipper and consignee's names and addresses, as well as the kind, quantity, and final destination of the products.

What is House Bill of Lading?

A freight forwarder or non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) will typically offer a shipper a House Bill of Lading. This important document confirms that the freight shipment has been received. The freight forwarder receives the goods from the retailer, properly inspects them, and then forwards them to the consignee. This guarantees the consignee that no items have been lost or damaged and that nothing has been added to or removed from the package before it is loaded.

What is included in the House of Lading?

The House of Lading includes the following details:

  • The supplier's name and address (seller/exporter)
  • The recipient's name and address (importer/consignee)
  • Details regarding the shipping goods, such as dimensions, weight, classification, and kind of container
  • The cost of the goods that were shipped
  • Mode of transport
  • Conditions of shipping

What is the purpose of a House bill of Lading?

A house bill of lading is an official document confirming that the consignment has been received by the carrier for shipping following an inspection. It is a guarantee that the shipment is free of harm and prepared for delivery to the desired destination. Any harm sustained during transportation is the carrier's responsibility. On the other hand, the provider bears responsibility if the House Bill of Lading indicates that the shipment was damaged at the time of receiving.

The House Bill of Lading is more than just a receipt; it's an essential document that creates a binding contract for cargo transportation. If an issue arises during shipment, it should be resolved between the carrier and the supplier, not with the particular ship that was transporting the cargo.

In the event that the recipient fails to furnish the required documents at the port, the House of Lading grants authority to the carrier to take hold of the shipment. Until the consignee arrives with the necessary paperwork, the carrier may detain the shipment. The House Bill of Lading ensures that carriers should be solely responsible for transferring the goods to the legitimate recipient. The carrier faces uncertain legal consequences if they don’t adhere to this protocol. The Bill of Lading Number found on the document is used to track the House Bill of Lading.

What Does a House Bill of Lading Contains?

Here’s an overview of what a House Bill of Lading typically contains:

Shipper : The person whose cargo is being shipped is identified by name and address as the shipper. It might be an exporter or freight forwarder; it's not always the cargo's maker or owner. The shipper information may be changed by the person who is reserving the space and paying the freight charges to the shipping line.

Consignee: The person receiving the cargo is identified by name and address as the consignee. It might be the true owner or beneficiary, or it might be a freight forwarder, importer, or merchant. The consignee bears accountability for any problems that may occur at the destination, such as delayed cargo, customs clearance, and claims.

Notify Party : This is the person whose name and address will be sent out when the shipment arrives at its destination. Based on the B/L, it can differ from the consignee.

Pre-Carriage : The name of the vessel that is used to transport cargo from an inland port to a mainland port is displayed here. Most of the time, it stays empty.

Location of Receipt : The location of receipt is where the shipper or freight forwarder delivers the cargo to the carrier or shipper. Once the cargo has been moved by the carrier from this location to the loading port, it is filled. The carrier is liable for any damage sustained during this transit.

Port of Loading : Where the carrier loads the goods onto the approved ocean vessel is known as the port of loading.

Ocean Vessel/Voyage : The name of the vessel and the trip number are contained in Ocean Vessel/trip.

Port of Discharge : This is the location where the oceangoing vessel releases its cargo.

Place of Delivery : This is the address where the last delivery of the goods is supposed to take place. It is the carrier's duty to ensure that the shipment is delivered securely. The carrier cannot let the consignee accept the delivery at the port of discharge and convey it to the location of delivery if the place of delivery is specified in writing.

Marks and Numbers : The shippers label the parcels with a few distinct identifiers so that the consignee may recognize the kind of cargo.

Number and Types of Packages: This indicates how many packages are packed into an FCL or LCL, such as 15 pallets or 20 boxes.

Description of Goods or Packages : Describes the precise contents of the container being loaded.

Gross Weight : To facilitate loading, the weight of the goods is entered in this area. The weight of the container is not stated; this is just the weight of the payload after packing.

Measurement : This indicates the total amount of cargo that is loaded onto the vessel. For instance, 25 cubic meters.

Bill of Lading and Booking Numbers : A special number is assigned to every B/L to facilitate simple tracking and tracing of the container. Usually, it's at the upper right corner. It can be an eight- or ten-digit number, with the carrier's SCAC code appearing in the first four letters.

What are the benefits of a House Bill of Lading?

In the intricate world of global shipping and trade, the House Bill of Lading (HBL) has many advantages. Here are a few main benefits:

Document of Title : The HBL attests to the ownership of the transported cargo and functions as a title document. This feature offers a degree of protection and control in trade operations by making the transfer of ownership easier throughout the shipment.

Transferability: The HBL's negotiation permits it to be transferred across participants in the supply chain. This feature makes commercial transactions more flexible and makes it simpler to transfer ownership of the goods to several parties, including banks, consignees, and other middlemen.

Trade Financing : Since the HBL is a valuable asset, financial institutions are willing to use it as collateral for trade financing. This is an important financial trademark for enterprises involved in international trade that enables them to obtain operating capital depending on the value of the items in transit.

Seamless Customs Clearance : The HBL acts as a comprehensive record, providing specifics about the goods that have been transported. This makes customs clearance procedures move more smoothly, lowering the possibility of delays and guaranteeing that the shipment reaches its destination safely.

Legal Protection : The HBL provides both the shipper and the carrier legal protection by outlining the terms and circumstances of the shipping agreement. When there are conflicts or inconsistencies, the HBL serves as a crucial point of reference for quick and easy problem solving.

Tracking and Accountability: The HBL makes it possible to trace the cargo efficiently throughout its route by providing a unique Bill of Lading number. This increases accountability by providing details on the shipment's location and status at various stages of the transportation process.

Optimal Logistics Management : The HBL simplifies logistics management for shipments requiring several carriers or modes of transportation. By combining information, it becomes simpler to plan and oversee the transit of cargo through various transportation routes.

Insurance Uses : When it comes to insurance purposes, the HBL acts as a vital document. It helps in the process of obtaining appropriate insurance coverage for the cargo by giving crucial information regarding the type of products, their worth, and the terms of shipment that have been agreed upon.


To sum up, the House Bill of Lading acts like a passport to export goods from one port to another. The HBL is more than just a piece of paper; every little detail listed on it makes freight transportation easier and less complicated. Furthermore, this legal document aids in facilitating a seamless customs clearance process while ensuring that no goods are misplaced or lost.