Shipping Terminologies

Master Bill Of Lading Vs. House Bill Of Lading


A Bill of Lading is a required document for a freight shipment, but what Bill of Lading do you need for your shipping needs? In today’s blog post, ShipCarte is detailing the differences between Master Bill of Ladings and House Bill of Ladings, and we hope that reading this blog helps clarify the difference between the two. 

Shipping can be a complex process, which is why we created our shipping platform to help you with all of your shipping needs. Our integrated platform allows you to access carrier rates based on your shipping requirements, saving you money and making it easy to optimize performance. 

House Bill of Lading VS. Master Bill of Lading (Infographic)

What Is A Bill of Lading?

In order to move a freight shipment, you must have a bill of lading (BOL), which works as a receipt of the freight services, a contract between a freight carrier and shipper, and a document of title. The BOL is a legging binding document, and if you are shipping cargo, you must make sure that all the details are processed and invoiced correctly. 

What is included in a freight bill of lading?

  • The full names and addresses of both the shipper and receiver. These names should be legible and easy-to-locate.
  • The purchase orders or special reference numbers, which may be necessary reference numbers in order for the freight to be accepted when you deliver it.
  • Any special instructions for the carrier that are not extra service requests.
  • The pickup date, which is needed as a reference in order to track your freight and reconcile shipping invoices.
  • A description of the items being shipped, including the dimensions and weight.
  • Packaging type, such as cartons, crates, pallets, or drums.
  • The freight class, since freight shipments are broken down into 18 classes and shipping companies need this information to best carry the cargo.
  • Any hazardous shipments must be clearly marked and described, citing the special requirements for shipping the material.

The information included in the BOL is critical, and it directs the actions of personnel along the route of shipment, ensuring a safe delivery. Bill of Ladings are classified into two different types: the Master Bill of Lading and the House Bill of Lading. Continue reading to learn more, and if you’d like help in the shipping process, try ShipCarte’s shipping platform.

Master Bill of Lading (MBL)

The Master Bill of Lading, or MBL, is issued by the carrier. It represents the contract of carriage between the shipper and carrier. A MBL is one of the most reliable documents in maritime transportation, as it is signed and printed by the carrier.

International maritime transport is primarily carried out by large-scale carriers that carry container shipping worldwide. These carriers use their own container ships, and if an exporter wants to transport goods with one of these carriers, it communicates with the carrier company and organizes transportation. The carrier then takes responsibilities for the MBL. There are two overarching types of MBLs:

  • A Direct Master Bill of Lading, organized directly by the carrier or carrier company to the exporter.
  • A Master Bill of Lading, organized by carriers for freight forwarders along the delivery route.

House Bill of Lading (HBL)

Unlike a MBL, a House Bill of Lading is created by a freight forwarder or non-vessel operating company. This document acknowledges the receipt of goods that will then be shipped with the freight forwarder. This document also includes specific information about the freight and the parties involved with the freight, as detailed above in the overview of BOLs. The main difference between a HBL and MBL is that a HBL is issued by the freight forwarder or NVOCC, and usually lists the actual shipper and consignee. MBLs, on the other hand, are issued by the ship line company or mainline carrier.

The actual shipper of the cargo will only receive an MBL if they work directly with the mainline carrier. Otherwise, if the shipper is working with the freight forwarder, they will receive a HBL instead. In the interest of NVOCC operator, agent, or freight forwarder, it is recommended that the details on the HBL and MBL (such as vessel/voyage information, cargo description, weight, measurements, etc.) should remain the same. The only difference should be in the shipper, consignee, and notify details. 

ShipCarte - Shipping Solutions

When you use the ShipCarte shipping platform, you’ll discover how easy it can be to manage inventory and ship around the world. You not not only get access to our cloud-based system, but you also have the support of an account manager who is dedicated to your success. Our courier services have you covered, and we have all the features you need to grow your business:

  • Instant multiple quotes
  • Multiple carrier services
  • Generate and print carrier compliant shipping labels
  • Schedule pick up online
  • Track and trace your products

Contact us today to get started or sign up for a demo. You can also download our eBook, which contains more helpful information on our shipping platform and shipping solutions.