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Check List signing Bill of Lading

Prior and during loading operation: 

1. Inspect the cargo’s apparent order and condition to ensure that the bill of 
lading is accurate in its description of these items.

2. Inspect the cargo’s marks (to identify the goods), and number, quantity or 
weight as the case may be, to ensure that the bill of lading is accurate in its 
description of these items.

3. If during inspection, it is found that the goods are damaged or that packing is 
inadequate/insufficient, or that marks are unclear or will not likely remain 
legible for the entire carriage, take steps to prevent such cargo from being 
loaded and immediately inform the shipper and confirm in writing, that the bills 
of lading will be appropriately claused unless replacement goods are provided 
or the damage is made good.

4. If the charterparty requires clean bills of lading to be issued, any cargo to be 
shipped which is not in apparent good order and condition must be rejected. 
If the shipper refuses to accept claused bills of lading, is unwilling to provide 
replacement good or make good the damage, the Master should protest in 
writing stating that the ship is at liberty to reject the goods. 
Rejection should not formally be given without the Owner’s approval. 

5. A mate’s receipt should be prepared and all findings of the cargo inspection 
must be inserted. 

The following checks should be made prior to signing the bill of lading: 

1. Does the bill of lading state the correct name of carrying vessel, description of 
voyage and name of shipper. 

2. Does the bill of lading state the correct carrier and address. 

3. Correct place and date of shipment. The bill of lading must not be ante- or 

4. The number of original bills of lading stated to exist is correct and Master to 
ensure that each is identical. 

5. Accurate description of the goods as shipped – marks, apparent order and 
condition, including packing condition and adequacy, and number, quantity or 

6. When clausing the bill the clausing should be as accurate as possible 
including the reason for the damage, if known. Words such as “some”, “many”, 
“a number of” and “several” should be avoided. 

7. If the Master has been unable to determine by reasonable inspection either 
the number, quantity or weight, the Master should request the shipper to 
omit/delete the respective figures in the bill of lading. If the figures cannot be 
omitted/deleted the bill of lading should be claused “number unknown”, 
quantity unknown” or “weight unknown”. 

8. If the Master has been able to determine the number, quantity or weight but 
the bill of lading presented contains the shipper’s figure exceeding the ship’s 
figure, the Master should request the shipper to omit/delete their respective 
figure. If the figure cannot be omitted/deleted the Master should clause the bill 
of lading with ship’s figure or some other suitable wording, e.g. “ship’s figure 
as determined by draft survey … mt” or “… packages in dispute”. 

9. If the ship’s figure exceeds the shipper’s figure presented in the bill of lading, 
the bill should be claused “number, quantitiy and weight unknown”. 

10. Clausing of bill of lading must be in strict conformity with the mate’s receipt. 

11. Charterparty incorporation clause must be inserted. 

12. Claused “shipped on deck at shippers’/receivers’ risk and expense without 
liability for loss and / or damage howsoever caused” if cargo so carried. 

13. Any freight statements appearing in the bill of lading should be clarified with 
the Carrier if the Master is in any doubt.

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