Your bill of lading is an important document. It is a contract and it acts as a receipt for goods being transported. Take the time to fill out the bill of lading completely and correctly, since this will help ensure error free delivery to your customer. A correct bill of lading will also help ensure that you are invoiced accurately for the services provided. You will be responsible to confirm the accuracy of the information on the bill of lading before you release your shipment to the trucking company.

Tip 1 Correct paperwork saves money

Even minor changes a carrier must make to shipping documents may incur charges. Avoid these by being 100% correct on your bill of lading.

How a Freight Rate is calculated: How Much Will it Cost?

Freight rates are based on many factors, including:

  • The distance the shipment is moving
  • The shipment's weight
  • The shipment's density
  • The commodity's susceptibility to damage
  • The value of the commodity
  • The commodity's ability to be loaded and handling characteristics
Tip 2 Avoid billing corrections

Contact your representative to discuss the NMFC and your product's classification.

Preparing Your Package

Proper packaging is a must. Don't ship your goods without proper protection. Many claims and damages arise from improper packaging -- and packaging errors may eliminate or reduce your carrier's liability. When possible, heavy, bulky items should be placed on pallets for improved handling. To maximize carton strength, stack cartons on the pallet vertically. You can secure cartons to a pallet with banding, shrink-wrap, stretch-wrap, or breakaway adhesive. Cartons should be stacked squarely on the skid, with no overhang. Box flaps and corrugations should face up. Make the top surface as flat as possible. Stacking strength is lost when pallets are improperly loaded.

Tip 3 Save money

If you ship many small shipments consolidate them. Try banding or stretch wrapping them onto a pallet. Your cost per hundred weight (CWT) will generally go down.

Proper Labeling

Shipping labels must be placed on every piece of your shipment. The shipper and consignee information must match the bill of lading information exactly, and your labels must be legible and complete. Ideally, you should place labels securely on both the long and short sides of each piece. DOT hazardous material labels are required when shipping DOT hazardous materials. Unless specifically provided for elsewhere in the NMFC, address markings must be located approximately as shown in the following examples. The location shown indicates the top, a side, or an end. If more than one location is shown, you may choose which one to use.

Receiving Freight: Clear Delivery

Receiving freight can be as easy as sending it if you follow a few steps: 1. Stay in contact with your supplier to find out when your shipment was shipped, what carrier it was given to, and an approximate arrival date. 2. When the shipment is delivered, inspect it immediately for obvious signs of damage. 3. Compare the number of shipping units received to the number listed on the delivery receipt. 4. Sign the delivery receipt. Be sure to make note of any and all signs of possible damage as well as the number of pieces you are receiving. The driver will help you receive your shipment and answer your questions. While the driver is there, compare the pieces of freight you are receiving to the delivery receipt. If condition and quantity of your freight is acceptable, the driver will ask you to sign the delivery receipt. The driver will give you a copy, and take the original signed copy with him/her (as proof of delivery) for his/her employer's records.

A signed delivery receipt with no exceptions

Clear deliveries mean that there were no shortages or visible damage at the time of delivery. An invoice for the shipment will be sent to the appropriate party soon after pickup or delivery has been made, depending on whether the shipment is prepaid or collect. Questions regarding the amounts shown on the bill should be directed to your sales representative. If a shipment is either short or damaged, you should still accept the delivery. It's the duty of the shipper and the consignee to mitigate or minimize the extent of the loss. After you accept the shipment, take steps to protect the shipment from further loss and file a claim for the actual shortages or damages involved promptly.

Tip 4 Eliminate extra charges

Be ready to accept the shipment when the carrier comes. Most carriers will add a "second delivery" charge if they must make another trip to your business.

Claims and Exceptions

Although carriers strive to make sure every shipment arrives intact and undamaged, problems do occur. If all or part of your shipment is lost or damaged, contact your carrier to file a claim. All claims (damage and shortage) must be filed within nine months of delivery. After nine months, the carrier cannot accept liability. If an entire shipment is lost and never delivered, the claim must be filed within nine months after the shipment should be reasonably delivered.

Tip 5 Don't delay shipments at the border with improper documentation

Shipments originating in Canada are subject to Canadian bill of lading contract terms and conditions. Contact your carrier's representative for more details.

Emergency Shipments

Emergencies happen. From time to time, you may find yourself up against a delivery date that just can't be missed. Perhaps a factory needs parts in a hurry to avoid production delays. Or maybe your customer is a just-in-time manufacturer for whom tight control of inventory movement is essential. For shipments like this, we have a solution. Contact us to find the right service that matches your time-sensitive needs.

Tip 6 Save money

If it doesn't need to be there the next day, don't ship it overnight! In other words, whether you are the shipper or the consignee, communicate with your customer or supplier to make sure you both understand the shipping requirements.

Easy Access to Critical Information

We put customer service at your fingertips! Just call us to get rate quotes, keep track of your shipments, and more. If you need more specific information or have questions about the topics covered in this guide, your designated customer service representative will be happy to help you. Call any time to talk to one of our courteous, knowledgeable transportation professionals!

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