A document that sets the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company under which the cargo is to be moved between specified points for a detailed charge. Usually prepared by the exporter (or shipper) on forms issued by the carrier, it serves as a document of title, a contract of carriage, and a receipt for merchandise.

A bill of lading is a document assigned by a carrier to acknowledge receipt of cargo for shipment. Even though the term historically linked just to carriage by sea, a bill of lading may now be utilized for any kind of product transportation.

A bill of lading also functions as a shipment receipt, when the carrier delivers the goods at a planned destination. This document must go with the sent products, no matter the kind of transportation, and has to be signed by an approved representative from the carrier, shipper, and receiver.