Bill of lading

What is multimodal (combined) transport bill of lading?


The lading is a document which acts as proof of contract between an expediter and a transporter. In the case of multimodal combined transport, this document is issued by the maritime company and covers the whole transit operation, in other words, from pre to post carriage of goods.

A lading bill is neither a title deed of goods nor a transport contract. The document represents the right to intervention regarding the goods. The transporter delivers the lading bill and by this act, thereby acknowledges that he has received the goods designated by the contract. He is thus committed to transport the goods to destination according to the conditions laid out in the document and according to the delivery instructions provided. In return, the transporter is paid for the freight. It is for this reason that the lading bill is open to negotiation. Used for the execution of the freight contract, it serves as supporting document for the transport contract.

The necessity to provide a transport document for each segment of the transit in a combined multimodal would considerably slow down the administrative procedures. The document avoids the need for multiple documents. The multimodal combined transport lading bill covers the different transport segments and lessens the burden of administrative procedures.


The specificities of the lading bill


The lading bill serves as proof in several respects:

  • It determines the terms of the transport contract;
  • It proves that the transporter has received the goods;
  • It is used to verify that the goods are in a good condition at the point of loading.


Examples and practical applications


The three types of combined transport lading bill

  • The multimodal combined transport lading bill which covers transit from pre to post carriage;
  • The direct lading bill, also called TBL or Through , sent by the sea shipping company to cover the main part of transit and post-carriage;
  • The FIATA is elaborated by the or transporter mandated by a forwarder in order to cover the entire transport operation.


Conditions for validation of the lading bill

Four copies must be made of the document and are destined for the following:

  • The holder of the lading bill;
  • The ship’s captain;
  • The shipowner;
  • The seller.


An original document must also be presented to be able collect the goods. Several indications must appear on the document:

  • Identity of the transporter;
  • Identity of the ship;
  • Identity of the recipient;
  • Identity of the person to be notified of the ship’s arrival;
  • Identity of the shipper;
  • Boarding port;
  • Landing port;
  • Destination of the goods;
  • Information about goods (namely, quantity and weight);
  • Payment mode of the freight;
  • Statement attesting to the authenticity of the document;
  • Number of original documents created;
  • Date and place of establishment of the document and boarding of goods;
  • Signature of the sea shipping company or that of his agent.


The different stages of multimodal combined transport lading


  • The shipper writes the “bill of lading for received for boarding” (in most cases);
  • It lists the goods in precise detail;
  • The goods are loaded on to the ship;
  • The document becomes the shipped ;
  • The lading is handed to the transporter;
  • The transporter signs the lading bill, and thus attests to having received the goods on his ship,
  • The transporter takes charge of the goods;
  • The transporter delivers the goods to destination and in the conditions in which they had been entrusted to him;
  • The transporter demands the lading bill for the post-carriage operations.


Combined transport in figures


In 2014, 10 billion tons of goods were shipped by ocean or sea, worldwide.

90% of volumes transported worldwide were by ocean freight.

More than 5,000 container ships sail on the oceans.

In France, 442,000 people are employed in the ocean freight sector.


Regulatory basis


Article 23 of the RUU 500

Article 3.3 of the Brussels Convention of 25 August 1924