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The bill of lading is an official contract between the customer and the mover. Every shipment transported by movers must have a bill of lading, it is the law. The driver or foreman representing moving company must present customer with a copy of the bill of lading before beginning of loading household goods.

It is customer's responsibility to read the bill of lading before signing it. If customer doesn't understand or disagrees with anything on the bill of lading, customer should not sign it until he/she is fully understands it and the contract satisfies customers wishes.

The bill of lading just like the order for service form must describe all services mover is hired to perform and the mover must provide all of the services requested. And the customer must pay for the services he requested in the bill of lading.

Bill of Lading is one of the most important documents that customer will receive from the mover, it should be kept safe until the move is completed and all possible claims, pertaining to the move are fully settled.

The bill of lading consists of 14 distinctive elements, in the order shown below:

  1. The mover's name and address;
  2. The names and addresses of any other carriers that will participate in handling your shipment;
  3. The name, the address and the phone numbers of the mover that customer should call regarding transportation of the shipment;
  4. The form of payment that mover will accept at delivery;
  5. The customer's name, the address, and the phone numbers, where the mover can notify you of charges due at delivery;
  6. The agreed upon dates and times or periods of pickup and delivery of the shipment (for non-guaranteed services). These dates or periods of time must conform with dates and periods of time indicated on other documents provided by mover and agreed upon by customer;
  7. The agreed upon dates of pickup and delivery and penalties for being late due to customer (for guaranteed service).
  8. The actual date of mover's pickup of customer's shipment;
  9. The identification number of vehicle(s) in which customer's shipment to be loaded and transported;
  10. The terms and conditions of payments, mover's tariff, including any minimum and maximum charges;
  11. The options and the charges for different valuation options provided by movers and customer must select on those options prior to mover starting the job.
  12. Indication of any cargo insurance policy purchased by customer from an independent insurance company to protect his/her shipment in transit and in storage-in-transit;

Three attachments to the bill of lading must be added by mover to customer with bill of lading:

  • The non-binding or the binding estimates;
  • The order for service form;
  • The inventory forms.

Bill of Lading must accompany the shipment while it is in transit. It's copy must be kept by the driver responsible for the shipment.

The mover must retain a copy of bill of lading for at least one year since that contract has been created.


(as shown below from a real long distance bill of lading)

  • Long Distance Move: 360 mile distance
  • From: Los Angeles. To: Redwood City.
  • Tariff: $0.30/lb.
  • 4,000 lbs. minimum
  • Gross Weight: 20,700 lbs.
  • Tare Weight: 13,140 lbs.
  • Net Weight: 7,560 lbs.
  • Calculations: 7,560 x 0.30 = $2,268.00
  • Fuel Surcharge: $250.00
  • Materials: $54.00
  • Long Walk charge: $100.00
  • Grand Total Cost: $2,672.00


(the top of bill of lading is intentionally cut out to protect customer's privacy)

Bill of_Lading

Bill of_Lading_2

Bill of_Lading_3

Bill of_Lading_4

Bill of_Lading_5

Bill of_Lading_6


-  Date when customer placed the order, and name of representative at the office that took it.

-  The dates of pickup and delivery or the period of time for pickup and deliveries must be specified and written in bill of lading. Do Not agree to have your shipment to be picked up or delivered "as soon as possible".

Once those dates are indicated in the bill of lading, your mover becomes contractually bound to the chosen guidelines. The only time a mover can be excused from providing services on the dates called for is the defense of force majeure. "Force Majeure" is a legal terms, which means that the circumstances were changed due to an unforeseen, and outside of mover's control. In this case the mover is not responsible for the damages resulting from its non-performance of written obligation.

-  The actual weight of customer's shipment must be determined (for binding and non-binding estimated moves) in order to calculate a lawful tariff charge.

First Weighing - the truck must be weighed (light) prior to getting customers shipment loaded, also known as Tare Weight of shipment. The truck's tanks must be full of fuel and it must contain all of the equipment it will use and carry with it in transit.

Second Weighing - the truck will be weighed (heavy) after the customers shipment has been loaded on it, also known as the Gross Weight of the shipment.

The difference between the light and the heavy weight is called payload, or the actual weight, or the Net Weight of the shipment. The tariff is then applied to it to determine the cost.

In case the binding estimate was provided and the actual weight is higher than the binding estimate, the customer is only responsible for the estimated weight, or lesser amount.

Most movers have a minimum weight requirements. If actual weight comes in lighter than the minimum weight, the customer is responsible to pay the minimum amount stated on the bill of lading.

Your mover must retain all true copies of both weight tickets from certified scales. The customer can be present at both weighing. If customer was not present at the weighings and disagrees with the weight, he has the right to request a reweigh (before the shipment was offloaded) at no additional cost to customer. If after reweigh there is a difference in Net Weight, the mover must adjust the price according to the tariff.