What is a Straight Bill of Lading?

10/09/15 by EE Team


What’s the difference between Straight Bill of Lading and Bill of Lading?

A Bill of Lading in general is negotiable. It can have pricing information and lots of other information on the document. It is what the carrier fills out and uses to ship your freight but also bill freight and so on. A Straight Bill of Lading is what is used on the trade show floor and that is non-negotiable. All it is the transfer of title of your property from the general contractor to a shipping agent that you designate on a bill of lading.

What does a straight bill of lading contain?

I want to go over what a straight bill of lading is and what it contains. It always will have the below (click here to see form example)

  • Shipment origin
  • Shipment destination
  • Carrier’s name that you will need to put in.
  • A block to prepay or for collect shipment – prepay means “bill to” meaning the carrier will bill you after the shipment is delivered.
  • Address block to take care of all those arrangements – this is not pricing but just tells the carrier that the general contractor is not liable for the cost of the shipment.
  • Number of pieces
  • Description of the Shipment – it is very important to get as much detailed as you can in this section.
  • The general contractor will also have a re-assignment block – one that will say something like: ‘send back to warehouse’ and the other ship via the general contractor’s carrier. We recommend putting “deliver back to warehouse” because you can hold the transportation company accountable if they do not show up. They just go to the warehouse and pay the small fee/surcharge of around $15 per 100wt for the general contractor to take it off the floor and take it to the local warehouse. This is just a strategy that you can use but you do have to check one of the boxes.

Deciding on your method of freight

The method of freight is an area that people tend to not check a lot when filling out a straight bill of lading but is something very important. Method of freight typically includes transportation means like motor freight, air freight, van line, or other – especially if it is a POV (privately owned vehicle). You will have to specify the carrier method and most importantly the date you need it delivered. If you are doing 2-day air or vanline freight and you want to make sure that it gets to you by a certain date so you must put that date on the section. You may be thinking that my carrier knows the date but if the freight is forced off the floor, then the general contractor must be able to tell his carrier that the freight needs to get back by a certain date.

What is forced freight?

The general contractor has to get the freight off the show floor if the carrier does not show. An important point to bring up is to be very general when it comes to listing your carrier’s name. For example, if you work with a specific carrier like United Vanline Agency, don’t list the agency’s name that you work with but, just list United Vanlines. Previous businesses like United Van lines and Mayflower merged together. So if you list United Van lines and a Mayflower truck shows up, the general contractor may get picky about it. So learn a little more about the names of carriers and how to be more general in your terms.

Another thing to consider – The National Motor Freight Classification of Freight. Exhibit classes usually have class125. Class 92 which are computers and monitors, class 110 which makes more sense than 125 is cabinets but also if you have literature or books or something similar shipping on a nice pallet, that should be like class 65 or 50. Lower the number cheaper the rate. So when you are negotiating pricing with a carrier, think about the different national motor freight classifications. Otherwise, they will just lump it all in class 125 or class 100 for your freight. It can easily become confusing, look up NMFC and it will explain 18 different classes that they put motor freight in to adjust pricing or price things accordingly. It also helps in forced freight as you can ask – How did you classify my freight?

Shipping labels

If you put on a shipping label on every piece, it is so easier to work with. All that you are saying is that this is the total # of pieces of my shipment and this is #2 of the total number. It helps the people on the show floor when they are taking or locating your freight.


Exhibit Edge can help you with various trade show services to help you and your team with your exhibit. You can contact our team of experts to learn more about a straight bill of lading, concept designs, warehouse/fullfillment services and storage.

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