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The Bearer Bill of Lading in International Shipping

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Bill of Lading refers to the basis of handling rights and obligations for parties in international shipping transport between the carrier and the shipper. Although it is not usually a contract signed by the both parties, however the major items are known well to the industry constituting the name of vessel, sailing date, route, port of call and other relevant freight items. The freight rates, terms and conditions of shipping contract are prescribed by the carrier in advance.

Therefore upon having the shipper or his agent booked the space with the carrier, the contract shall be deemed to have been entered into, and the terms and conditions of the contract are accepted by the both parties even though it drawn up by the carrier unilaterally.

What is a Bearer Bill of Lading? This is the introduction for your reference.

The Bearer B/L (Also refers to “Blank B/L or Open B/L”) normally shows no indication of CONSIGNEE or ORDER in the Consignee Column. This means the holder of the B/L has the right to take delivery of the goods. The Bearer B/L is a document that refers to the goods to be delivered to whoever is the holder of the B/L subject to 1) if the B/L clearly stated that this is a Bearer B/L; 2) the Consignee Column is blank as a Bearer; 3) it is an instructional B/L but it does not indicate to whose order it is issued, and 4) the B/L is made out to order and blank endorsed. Therefore the Bearer B/L is negotiable without endorsement.

Article 79 of China Maritime Law stipulates "Straight B/L not transferable; Order B/L can be transferred by endorsement made out ORDER or ORDER blank; Straight B/L is safe for delivery, but it is non-negotiable and inconvenient for parties involved in business. Since Straight B/L cannot be transferred by endorsement, it does not have the nature of a document of title from perspective views of the industry. Bearer B/L can be transferred without endorsement, and anyone holding the B/L can ask the carrier to release the goods. The Order B/L can be transferred by endorsement to meet the requirements of general trade, so it is widely used in practice of international trade.

Endorsement is divided into endorsement given to the Bearer or endorsement given in blank. The former refers to the endorser who writes the name of the endorsee on the back of the B/L and signs it by the endorser. The latter means that the endorser does not write the name of the endorsee on the back of B/L. In this case of endorsement made to order, the carrier shall deliver the goods to the endorsee. On the contrary, only the goods to be delivered to the holder of the B/L.