What Is A Shipping Invoice?

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A shipping invoice is a document used by sellers to provide the details of products and services being shipped to a purchaser. It is also known as a bill of lading; it is a legal document provided by the seller to send a shipment overseas. Similar to some other invoice types, a shipping invoice can serve as a freight invoice template for freight shipments, almost the same as a commercial invoice.


What is a Bill of Lading?

This is one of the documents that list all the shipment information, with the inclusion of the type of goods being transported by trucking companies, product name, their quantity, purchase price, and business term. The destination of the goods is also included in the bill of lading. It also serves as an agreement in a contract between the freight carrier and the shipper.

A bill of lading can serve in the place of a shipping receipt when the goods get to their final destination. The shipping invoice template is also shipped along with the goods bought by the buyer, and it has to be signed by the carrier of the goods and the purchaser or receiver of the shipment. Bill of lading is a frequent term used in international trade. Lading is the process of loading a ship with cargo.

What Should You Include in a Bill of Lading

What Should You Include in a Bill of Lading

Every bill of lading has to carry the necessary information to avoid delay and also prevent confusion with the buyer. These shipping documents must contain details of the items being shipped at their right quantity and unit price. It must also include the value of the items and where the goods will be landed. This is the breakdown of every information to be included in a bill of lading:

Contact Information of the Shipper

The first thing to appear in the bill of lading is the shipper’s information; it included the invoice number, full company name, logo, business address, and phone number or fax number.

Receiver’s Contact Information

After including the shipper’s information in the invoice, also add that of the receiver. It must include every detail of the receiver with the full company name or contact person information, logo, business address, and phone number or fax number.

Reference Number Or Purchase Order Number

The purchase order number and other useful figures for referencing the bill of lading must be added to validate the document and to keep a record. The freight shipment may also require these numbers before releasing the items.


A section on the bill of lading allows the inclusion of special notes to the carrier about the shipment taking place.

Pick-Up Date

The date of pick up should be noted on the bill of lading to affirm when the shipment was received by the carrier. This data is used for tracking a shipment and is needed during invoice reconciliation.

Description of Goods

The goods in the shipment have to be described as they are on the bill of lading or as discussed during product requirements. The description for billing purposes includes the quantity of the items, weight, value, and measurement if applicable.

Type of Packaging

A bill of lading must list the type of materials used in packaging the shipment, maybe cartons, pallets,  crates, or drums.

Freight Class

It is important to tick what class of freight your shipment is, classes of freight are up to 18. For proper identification based on factors like value and dimension, state the class of freight on the bill of lading.

Special Designations

Sometimes, the goods that are being shipped may need extra care or have to be handled with ease. Whatever the case is, you must state any special designation. For example, the shipment may be hazardous if brought near some substance.  State what has to be done to avoid danger.

Example of Shipping Invoice

A shipping invoice template entails the full description or details of the shipment including payment options. It is often more detailed than the commonly generated invoices for the customers. Shipping invoices have full details on the goods and services that the business owner is supposed to know during the ship.

What is the Difference Between Shipping invoices and Commercial Invoices?

A shipping invoice template basically describes the items shipped from a company to the purchaser along with the service charges and the list of items being shipped. Shipping invoices are sometimes also known as trucking invoices or freight invoices. But, a business owner or a company prefers to call it a shipping invoice to avoid any kind of confusion among the customers.

The commercial invoice is a legal record between a supplier and a company or the third-party buyers. To invoice a commercial document you need to clearly describe the sold products, and the amount due to the customers. The commercial invoice is one of the core documents that is used by customs officials in determining the custom duties.

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Author Bio
Jeel Patel
Jeel Patel

Jeel Patel is the founder of InvoiceOwl, a top-rated estimating and invoicing software that simplifies the invoicing and estimating processes for contractor businesses. Jeel holds a degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Toronto, which has provided him with a strong foundation in business principles and practices. With understanding of the challenges faced by contractors, he conducted extensive research and developed a tool to streamline the invoicing and estimating processes for contractors. Read More

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