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Bill of Lading Rules

:barcode: EAN.UCC-128.
:base: VICS
:version: 19.05

NOTICE: The bar code symbology used must be the EAN.UCC-128.

The Application Identifiers (AI’s) are not part of the actual data. The AI is only used at the point of scanning to determine data type and/or size for application system processing. If you choose to implement the bar coding of the BOL number and/or SCAC and Pro# for a carrier, be sure that the carrier is aware of the above requirements.

The standard VICS BOL is intended for U.S. LTL and TL ground transport. It is particularly critical that all businesses using the form adhere to its design so that the supply chain may take advantage of these benefits. Listed below is additional detail regarding the use of the standard Bill of Lading.


  1. Adjustments to the VICS Bill of Lading can be made based on the following guidelines:

The geographical placement of data and data descriptions must be kept intact according to this standard. This is important to ensure that all parties within the supply chain will know where to locate the specific information they need.

Each section or data description area may be modified to fit the supply chain business requirements as follows:

  • Spacing

  • Column width

  • Row height

  • Removal of the data lines in the Customer and Carrier Information sections when either

the form or data is computer printed.

  • When the form is loaded into a software program, all sections shall be clearly identified

and the appropriate form lines and headings must be present.

  • To support North America cross boarder ground shipments, the section headings can be

modified to include bilingual wording.

If cube information is being provided, the cube data column should be inserted between

the Weight and Pallet/Slip column in the Customer Order Section.

  1. The following data must be 12-point Bold:

a) Bill of Lading number c) Ship to Location number

b) SCAC/Pro number d) Customer Order Number

When printing processes do not allow for variances in point size and bolding, the above data

must be displayed with adequate spacing and high quality printing to support ease of recognition

and data entry by the carriers. The CID number shall be in 10-point and bolded. All other data

input items may be in a 10-point or smaller (See Section I Page 3 & 4 on legal statements), no


2. Printing:

The standard Bill of Lading may be duplicated and printed in multiple part forms by any printing company or shipper. If the Supplement page is used, the best practice has been to print the Supplement page(s) first, then print the front Bill of Lading page with the Grand Totals last. The Bill of Lading page must then be placed in front of the Supplement page(s).

3. Pagination:

In general, each bill of lading (including any supplement pages) and attachments are

considered separate documents. For example:

a) BOL with 3 supplement pages:

BOL = page 1, Supplement = pages 2, 3 and 4

b) Master BOL with 2 underlying BOL’s; underlying BOL’s with 2 supplement pages:

Master BOL = page 1, First underlying BOL = page 1, supplement pages = 2, 3

Second underlying BOL = page 1, supplement pages =2, 3. c) BOL with an attachment (e.g., packing list and /or shipping manifest):

BOL = page 1, attachment one = pages 1, 2…​, attachment two = pages 1, 2…​.

4. Rules of Use for the Standard Bill of Lading

  1. The Bill of Lading is not to be used as a packing list; the packing list is to be on a separate document. In addition, the following items are not part of the Bill of Lading and shall not be included on the Bill of Lading. However, these documents are considered as potential attachments to the Bill of Lading.

    • Packing List line item information.

    • Shipping Manifest - The Shipping Manifest is a document generated by the shipper for a customer pertaining to store shipments that are shipped to a customer specified intermediate location (i.e., distribution center, consolidator) with the individual cartons marked for specific store locations. The manifest contains store level detail that typically includes store location numbers, store addresses, customer order numbers, number of cartons per order per store and weight/cube totals.

    • Hazardous Item List (See Section VII. Hazardous Materials Regulations for instructions)

      • See Appendix E for recommended format, detailed data content explanation and examples.
  2. The Canadian PARS sticker for customs belongs on the freight invoice, not on the Bill of Lading.

  3. The information conveyed through EDI (e.g. EDI 856, 204, 211, 214) shall be consistent with the information on the paper Bill of Lading. This in no way implies that all information conveyed through any one EDI document will map one-to- one to the paper Bill of Lading.

  4. When using the Supplement Page to list customer order number and commodity information, state “See attached Bill of Lading Supplement” in the body of the first page and begin listing the information on the supplement page. Only the grand total of the cartons and weight for the shipment will be detailed on the first page.

  5. No Bill of Lading information shall be placed on the back of the Bill of Lading page. This area is reserved for the terms and conditions of the contract on the preprinted forms.

  6. Additional printing considerations and options.

    A. Data tags can be used in the Customer Order Information Section to identify multiple data elements that may be required by the consignee

Use of Master Bill of Lading

A Master Bill of Lading is created for three shipment scenarios:

  1. Consolidation shipments

  2. Invoice per Bill of Lading per customer order

  3. Truckload shipments with multiple stops

For these scenarios, the purpose of the Master Bill of Lading is to tie the underlying Bills of Lading together into one shipment for freight rating and billing purposes. The standard Bill of Lading is used as a Master Bill of Lading by checking the “Master Bill of Lading” indicator box. The underlying Bill of Lading numbers shall be referenced in the Special Instructions field on the Master Bill of Lading. The Master Bill of Lading number shall be referenced in the Special Instructions field on the underlying Bills of Lading. The development of the Supplement Page to the Bill of Lading eliminates the use of a Master Bill of Lading for the purpose of needing more lines to fit all the information on one page (see section V)

The Master Bill of Lading shall not be used for this purpose. Often a Master Bill of Lading, with underlying Bills of Lading attached, is used in conjunction with the 856 Ship Notice Manifest and the 214 Carrier Shipment Status EDI transaction sets. In this case, the Master Bill of Lading number is the number that is transmitted on the EDI transaction sets representing that shipment. Do not transmit the underlying Bill of Lading numbers as that causes confusion as to which Bill of Lading number is the one to be used. The use of a Master Bill of Lading is a complex aspect of shipping that may be better shown by example.

Last update: June 27, 2020