Generally, a Bill of Lading (B/L) has 3 basic functions or roles, as follows:
1) Evidence of Contract of Carriage
The B/L is the EVIDENCE of the contract of carriage entered into between the “Carrier” and the “Shipper or Cargo Owner” in order to carry out the transportation of the cargo (not to be confused with the sales contract between the buyer and the seller).
2) Receipt of Goods
A B/L is issued by the carrier or their agent to the shipper or their agent as proof of RECEIPT of the cargo.
The issuance of the B/L is proof that the carrier has received the goods from the shipper or their agent in apparent good order and condition, as handed over by the shipper..
3) Document of Title to the goods
This role of the bill of lading decides who is the owner of the title to the goods based on which cargo is released.