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Checks when signing a bill of lading - bulk carrier guide



Quantity of Cargo
: a) The Master must not sign a B/L acknowledging the receipt of goods which he knows have not been loaded. Unfortunately, the measurement of bulk cargoes with precise accuracy is for all practical purposes impossible, and so the problem frequently arises of deciding at exactly what point the Master can say that the B/L figure is incorrect.



This usually depends on many factors, such as type of cargo, the size of ship and conditions in the port, but common practice is that, if the B/L figure differs from the ship’s figure by more than 0.5%, then the Master must query the accuracy of the B/L figure.

b) If the discrepancy between ship and B/L figures exceeds 0.5%, every effort must be made to establish the reason for the difference. If this is not possible, then the Master is to adopt one of the following courses :-
c) If the B/L figure is within 0.5% - of the ship’s figure, (as established by draught survey and/or volumeric calculation), then it is probably in order to sign it. However, if the B/L figure is in excess of the ship’s figure by more than 0.1%, the Master should issue a letter of protest to Charterers and Shippers, notifying Owners of what he has done.

d) The above will also apply when the vessel is employing an Early Departure Procedure.


Description & Condition of Cargo

The Master must satisfy himself that the description of the cargo contained in the B/L is accurate, and complies with the description of that given in the charterparty or voyage orders. He should also ensure that, if any part of the cargo is not in good condition, he should clause the B/L accordingly, (e.g. condition of steel product cargoes). If in doubt, the Master must advise the vessel’s Operator and where appropriate call in the local P & I Surveyor.


Date of B/L

The Master must not sign an inaccurately dated B/L.


Description of Voyage

a) The Master must not sign a B/L for a voyage or destination which is patently inconsistent with any Charter Party governing his vessel’s employment, or with his voyage instructions.

b) Unless specifically instructed by Owners to do so, the Master must not sign B/L’s for a port or destination which his ship is physically incapable of reaching in safety.

c) The Master must not sign a B/L which explicitly forbids transhipment if he knows that this is envisaged by Charterers, or that it is inevitable through physical restrictions such as draft.

d) The Master must not sign a B/L which he knows contains fraudulent information, e.g. false port of discharge.

In all the above circumstances, he should notify the office immediately.


Terms and Conditions

a) Most forms of B/L in common use for bulk cargoes incorporate such words as “This shipment is carried under and pursuant to the terms of the C/P dated ….between ….and ….and all terms, clauses, exceptions and conditions thereof apply to and govern the rights of the parties concerned in this shipment”. Whenever possible, the blanks are to be filled in. If this is resisted, then the Master is to protest in writing to both Shippers and Charterers, notifying Owners.

b) Certain forms of B/L contain no such provision. This does not matter provided the B/L does incorporate the Hague Rules or HagueVisby Rules in some form or other.


Payment of Freight

a) A B/L which contains no reference to freight having been paid in whole or in part is a receipt only for cargo, but a B/L marked “Freight Paid” or “Freight Prepaid” may constitute a receipt for both cargo and freight money.

b) Accordingly, the Master is only to sign such a B/L where:-
c) Unless one of the above conditions is satisfied, the Master must not sign the B/L without first deleting the relevant words and initialling the alteration. If this proves impossible, he is to pass it to the agent with a written instruction not to issue it without explicit instructions from the company.

IF THE MASTER HAS ANY QUERIES AT ALL RELATING TO THE SIGNING OF BILLS OF LADING, HE SHOULD NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT THE COMMERCIAL OPERATOR AND/OR MANAGEMENT OFFICE IMMEDIATELY


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Operation of sea going bulk carriers involved numerous hazards . Careful planning and exercising due caution for all critical shipboard matters are important . This site is a quick reference to international shipping community with guidance and information on the loading and discharging of modern bulk carriers so as to remain within the limitations as specified by the classification society.
It is vital to reduce the likelihood of over-stressing the ship's structure and also complying with all essential safety measures for a safe passage at sea. Our detail pages contain various bulk carrier related topics that might be useful for people working on board and those who working ashore in the terminal. For any remarks please Contact us

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