Car Transport Bill of Lading

There are not many documents the auto shipping process, however one of the most important documents in the auto transport industry is the Bill of Lading. It is also known as the vehicle condition report.

What is the Car Transport Bill of Lading?

The Car Transport Bill of Lading (BOL) is a document that outlines the details of a vehicle shipment. It is generally provided by the carrier. Should the carrier not bring one, you can find a blank version on our resources page.

The auto transport bill of lading is a rough combination of the Through Bill of lading and Clean Bill of Lading / Dirty Bill of Lading.

It combines both because it encompasses both a condition report depicting if there is no damage (clean) or there has been damage in transit (dirty) along with the legal contract of carriage. In this case the contract of carriage pertains to transportation of a vehicle from one location to another.

It includes information such as the name of the shipper, the consignee, condition report, the type of vehicle shipped, and contractual agreement.

What that means in basic terms is that a BOL :

  • Has the name of the carrier with contact information
  • It includes the pickup and delivery information for the vehicle shipped
  • The year, make, model and vehicle identification number
  • General vehicle information
  • What damage it has before it's loaded
  • Any damage caused by the transport driver during shipping
  • The BOL also serves as an invoice and receipt for a vehicle

What is On the Bill of Lading for Car Transport? (In Detail)

Transport Company / Carrier Details

Every auto transport bill of lading will begin with a top header that contains information on who is the auto transport carrier you're working with.

Typically what you will see on the header is the name of the company, a business address, a valid contact number, and the Motor Carrier Number (also known as an MC Number). The name of the truck driver will usually be at the signature section.

Emergency contact information pertaining to the company will also be listed.

Pickup and Delivery Locations

Any car transportation BOL should clearly identify the pickup and delivery sites, as well as the pick-up time and expected delivery times added as they occur.

It's a great idea to give addresses and phone numbers a look. A misspelling in the address or phone number might result in delays during transport and delivery of your car.

Vehicle Information

Your vehicle's most important identifiers. Include the make and model, as well as the year of manufacture, your license plate number, and the color of your car.

The VIN is an important identifier, and it should be included. This is especially important at a car dealer as there are plenty of identical vehicles there.

Vehicle Condition Report

This is one of the most important sections of the BOL. Be sure to carefully understand it. This will assist to safeguard the driver or carrier from fraudulent claims. In your case, it will protect you from any damage incurred during transportation that was not there previously. One signature occurs at pickup, the other at drop-off. Each time you sign please ask for a copy to compare them later on.

The Pick Up Inspection

Before loading your vehicle onto the hauler, the driver will perform an inspection and describe the vehicle's condition. At pickup, the carrier will go over the vehicle with you. If there is any previous damage it will be noted during the inspection so it cannot be .

You get a copy and it's signed by you and the driver. If the carrier does not give it to you, ask for it.

It's a great idea to wash the car a bit before it ships. This helps identify damages at delivery that if occurred, could be hidden under dirt and grime.

The Delivery Inspection

When the vehicle arrives at its destination the bill of lading is reviewed and signed again.

You already have your signed copy from the pickup so in the rare case of any damage occurring due to the car being on the carrier, it can easily be claimed for report.  This time the driver and customer will go over the vehicle again.

Any damage that is not noted on the bill of lading at pickup will be the claim to the cargo transportation insurance should it appear. The example image of an auto shipping BOL above will vary depending on who does your auto transport for you. But all the information being described must be in place.

Before signing off on at delivery, be sure to go over everything on it carefully. Do the inspection with the carrier at both the pickup and delivery location to make sure everything is noted properly.

Damage that you didn’t note on the Bill of Lading during the pick-up that appears during delivery will be a claim to the carrier's insurance company. 

Notes a Carrier Can Make on the Bill of lading Form

The following letters are used to quickly depict damage and remind motor carriers of what should be noted on the bill of lading.

  • A: Broken
  • B: Bent
  • C: Chipped
  • D: Dented
  • E: Defective
  • F: Scuffed
  • G: Gouged
  • H: Stained
  • J: Cut
  • K: Cracked
  • L: Loose
  • M: Missing
  • N: Painted Over
  • P: Paint defect
  • O: Hail Damage
  • R: Punctured
  • S: Scratched
  • T: Torn
  • W: Wavy
  • X: Present
  • Z: Other

For "Z: Other" or any pertinent comments can be made in a boxed section as well.

The Transport Terms and Conditions

BOL's used for auto shipping must include information about payment. Particularly with a third party is involved, you'll want to know what they're responsible for and where the money will go.

For example:

  • If there is a dry run fee.
  • What the acceptable forms of payment are, such as money order, cashier's check, Zelle Payment, etc.
  • If you advance payment (COP - Collect at Pick Up) or if you pay at delivery (COD - Collect at Delivery).
  • The name of the payee (usually the car carrier and not the auto transport broker that hired them)

You'll need to double-check that you've read and understood these conditions.

They will tell you what is or is not covered, what you are expected to do as the owner, and what the carrier, third-party, or broker expects of you.

The auto shipping terms and conditions on the BOL cannot say they are not responsible or will not allow you to place a claim with their insurance company.

Before getting the keys, read everything. Make sure all the terms there are what you agreed to.

Why The Bill Of Lading is So Important

The car shipping BOL is a legal document pertaining to your vehicle pickup and delivery. Both you and the carrier sign the Bill Of Lading and it

This is the vehicle's condition report at both the delivery point and where it was picked up. It is a record of the agreement for transport and confirmation of the addresses, phone numbers, and contacts.. It's your only claim to insurance.

This is important to know. Insurance companies don't accept any other document for the claim. Videos, photos, etc are not accepted should there be damage.

Which Are the Types of Bill of Lading Used by an Auto Transport Company?

The car transport bill of lading is unique, as it is only used by an auto transport company or car carrier.

The next most common bill of lading to ship a vehicle overseas will be the Ocean Bill of lading, which usually a version of the straight BOL.

A consignee is specified with vehicles traveling over the ocean.

Carl has a decade of experience in the car shipping industry. He has worked in nearly every aspect of the transport business since 2014, taking charge of various roles in the company such as dispatching, sales, and customer service.

During those years, Carl amassed an invaluable amount of experience which has contributed to his writing of every article and and guide on NX since taking over content in 2015.