Proof of Delivery (POD) vs. Bill of Lading (BOL)

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When using LTL shipping, the two most frequently used documents for every shipment that must be understood are the Proof of Delivery (POD) and the Bill of Lading (BOL). It is critical that each of these documents is filled out accurately and signed for every shipment you make. PODs and BOLs are used to keep track of a shipment while it is in transit and account for items when they are delivered, and protect your business from liability, whether you are the shipper, receiver, or carrier. A BOL is a receipt that confirms the transportation of a shipment by a carrier, and a POD is a receipt that confirms the delivery of a shipment and accounts for the items that have been transported. Let’s take a look at how and why these documents are used in LTL shipping and the information contained in each.


Bill of Lading (BOL)

A Bill of Lading (BOL) is a legal document created between a shipper (or a 3pl on behalf of a shipper) and a carrier that acts as a contract for the transportation of goods and provides the carrier with all the details necessary to process the freight and invoice it accurately. The completed BOL is typically provided to the carrier upon pickup, and a copy is attached to the shipment itself.


The BOL serves three primary functions:

- A receipt for freight services

- A contract between shipper and carrier

- A document of title


The BOL includes details regarding:

- Contact information: the full names and addresses of both the shipper and the consignee (receiver) should be clearly printed on the document.

- Purchase order number: these reference numbers are used to discharge freight for transportation or transfer freight after delivery.

- Freight class: assigned to shipment based on weight, density, stowability, handling, and liability.

- Description of items: the number of items and their weight, dimensions, and details necessary to safely ship the items.

- Type of packaging: crates, cartons, boxes, or pallets used in the shipment for identification purposes.

- The pickup date: the specific date and time a shipment will be picked up by the carrier.

- Hazardous materials: identifies any hazardous materials in the shipment and applicable handling instructions.

-Special instructions: any additional notes or instructions for the carrier regarding the shipment.


Proof of Delivery (POD)

A Proof of Delivery (POD) is a document that is signed by the consignee (receiver) of a shipment that confirms that a shipment has arrived with all of the items accounted for and with no visible damage. The consignee signs and dates the proof of delivery after examining the shipment. The shipper also receives a copy of the POD for their records.


The POD serves three primary functions, similar to the BOL:

- A cargo receipt showing that the shipment has arrived, as well as accounting for the number and condition of the goods.

- A title of cargo identifying the intended owner of the shipment.

- A legal contract between the carrier and the consignee showing a transfer of responsibility.


The Proof of Delivery is important to the consignee because it is where any damage to a shipment is noted and then used later for any insurance claims made against the carrier. Before signing the POD, the consignee should thoroughly examine and document the condition of the shipment, including photographs and video, if necessary. The consignee should review each item in the shipment for visible damage, including the packaging and pallet. Make note of any tears, holes, stains, or other damage. It is best to do this with the driver of the shipment present and obtain a signature or initials from the driver next to any damage noted to avoid disputes over future claims.

The Bill of Lading and Proof of Delivery are two important documents for all LTL shipments. They ensure that a shipment is designated and accounted for before and after shipping has been completed and serve as important contracts, receipts, transfers of responsibility, and insurance claim documentation to protect both shipper and carrier from liability.  

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