The previous installment of Parcel Counsel, which appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Parcel Magazine, featured a Bill of Lading Pop Quiz. Here are the answers AND how to calculate your score:


1. Who issues the Bill of Lading (or Airbill)?

 A. The Shipper
 B. The Carrier
 C. The Broker/Intermediary
 D. None of the above

Many people think that it is the shipper that issues the bill of lading. I believe this is because it is the shipper that typically prepares and prints the bill of lading which often will bear their company logo. 

Nevertheless, it is the carrier who issues the bill of lading by having their driver sign it at the time the carrier receives the cargo for transportation. In the current environment, the bill of lading may or may not be the contract for carriage (depending on whether or not there is an individually negotiated contract), but it is always a receipt for the goods.

One way to help remember which party it is that issues the bill of lading is to keep in mind that in modern parlance the term “bill of lading” translates to “list of the cargo”. And, since it is the carrier who is receiving the cargo from the shipper/consignor, it is only logical that it is the carrier who would issue the receipt for the cargo described on the bill of lading, not the person giving the cargo to the carrier. 

2. The Uniform Bill of Lading is still uniformly used.

 True
 False

At one time virtually every carrier incorporated the Bill of Lading published by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association. Under the Filed Rate Doctrine in effect prior to the demise of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1996, no matter what the actual wording was on the piece of paper the driver signed, by operation of law the form of the bill of lading contained in the carrier’s tariff was “incorporated by reference”.

There are now approximately 160,000 carriers, however there are only approximately 200 carriers still participating in the NMFC --- albeit they are the largest carriers. Thus, while the Uniform Bill of Lading is still very important, it is far from being uniformly or universally used. 

3. Why is this portion of the Uniform Bill of Lading nicknamed “the section 7 box”?


If this shipment is to be delivered to the consignee, without recourse on the consignor, the consignor shall sign the following statement:

The carrier may decline to make delivery of this shipment without payment of freight and all other lawful charges.
(Signature of Consignor)

It is called “the section 7 box” because it relates to section seven of the nine sections of the terms and conditions of the Uniform Bill of Lading. This provision reads, in part, as follows:

Sec. 7. (a) The consignor or consignee shall be liable for the freight and other lawful charges accruing on the shipment, as billed or corrected, except that collect shipments may move without recourse to the consignor when the consignor so stipulates by signature or endorsement in the space provided on the face of the bill of lading… 

This is often referred to as “the non-recourse provision”.

Calculating your score:

If you had:

No correct answers: Time to brush up!
One correct answer: Transportation Manager!!
Two correct answers: Logistics Director!!!
Three correct answers: Director of Global Logistics!!!!

Let me know how you did at

Brent Wm. Primus, J.D., is the CEO of Primus Law Office, P.A. and the Senior Editor of transportlawtexts, inc. Previous columns, including those of William J. Augello, may be found in the “Content Library” on the Parcel website ( Your questions are welcome