Advanced Solutions provides several solutions for managing truck shipments, that include Bill of ladings and proof of delivery. A common question is what is the difference, when is one appropriate over the other etc. In today’s post I’ll describe them and how they are used and give you a couple of examples.

First let me describe both documents.

Bill of Lading

Bill of Lading

Fig.1 Bill of Lading

A bill of lading is a legal document issued by a carrier to a shipper acknowledging receipt of goods for transport and listing the terms of delivery. (Simplified definition).

Proof Of Delivery

Proof Of Delivery

Fig. 2 Proof Of Delivery

A proof of delivery is a form of verification, typically a signature and captured name of the recipient to confirm that goods have been delivered and received. Most people are familiar with proof of delivery from having to sign for a Fedex or UPS package at home, if you access the shipment afterwards its possible to see date and time delivered and a facsimile of the signature provided by the recipient at time of delivery. What’s confusing about Proof of deliveries is that though they are typically described separately they are not separate processes so let’s see what we mean.

Examples of usage

When shipping product using a third party agent you will need to produce documentation that provides the carrier the information necessary to deliver your goods to the recipient (Consignee), this contract of carriage has different names depending on the method you are shipping but typically they are

  • Bill of Lading – Trucking, Ocean Carrier
  • Air wayBill – Parcel and Air Cargo

Note: these days you rarely actually see the airway bill because much of the process of creating it is performed on parcel companies portals that produce a barcode label that is affixed to the package being shipped, but in the background you are creating a electronic Air Waybill.

in some cases for intrastate shipments, local carriers may use a ticket/delivery order/receipt etc. for the freight, in lieu of a bill of lading but it is more common that a standardized bill of lading is used. A driver is legally responsible for the load they are transporting so they will insist on some documentation to be able to prove that they are legally moving the goods and also details of the goods and destination etc.

Upon delivery and inspection of your shipment the consignee is requested to sign the bill of lading confirming the receipt of goods,. The bill of lading can also include any notations of damage or missing freight if any, thus providing a complete paper trail of the shipment. In the case of Airway bills typically parcel carriers require you to sign for the shipment on a mobile device, this is serving the same purpose as signing the bill of lading. The signature on a Bill of Lading turns it into a Proof Of Delivery.

Proof of delivery can also be used as an independent process. A good example is a company that provides their own local deliveries, (where a third party agent is not used for delivery) may utilize a proof of delivery process that involves a print out or electronic record of deliveries to be made. When goods are delivered to the consignee they sign a delivery receipt, paper or electronic. (Note this process is not possible for interstate deliveries as they are subject to FMCSA regulations requiring Bill of Ladings for all interstate shipments). The signed receipt serves as proof that the delivery has been made and provides a audit trail to the shipper and customer.

Electronic proof of deliveries have been in use for many years, starting with parcel carriers but are increasingly more common in all delivery processes to reduce friction and also can be used to provide customers a self service showing them who signed for a shipment and when it was received providing increasing capability for further workflow automation.

Feel free to leave any questions or comments below, or contact us directly if we can help, we’ll be happy to hear from you.

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