What is a Bill of Lading or Order Form for Material Handling and why do I need it?
Shipping freight back to your place of business or to the next trade show is an important step in trade show exhibiting. Many exhibitors do not understand what the Order Form for Material Handling or Bill of Lading (BOL) is and why they need it. In this article, we will explain what this form is and how to fill it out correctly.
A Bill of Lading (BOL), also called an Order Form for Material Handling Services, is a legal document that is required for all freight not being hand-carried out of the facility through the front door. An inaccurate or incomplete form may result in significant shipping delays, additional costs, or a potential loss of shipment. If you are unsure how to complete the Order Form for Material Handling/BOL, visit the GES Exhibitor Services Desk for help.
The Order Form for Material Handling/BOL will be placed in your booth, with your preliminary invoice, typically on the last day of the show. If you would like to have the form pre-populated with your shipping information and labels pre-printed, you may access this by visiting your show’s Expresso site. Under Shipping, Drayage and Material Handling click on “Request for Pre-Printed Outbound Shipping Release Labels.” Please take note of the deadline for this service located on the form page.
It’s imperative to indicate your shipping preference in the event your carrier does not arrive by the show deadline time, and date indicated in the manual located on Expresso. If you select “Use GES Logistics or a carrier of GES’ choice,” GES will ship your freight to the location indicated on your Order Form for Material Handling/BOL and charge your credit card on file or invoice according to the GES Payment Policy. You will be responsible for all costs associated with transportation. By choosing “Return shipment to warehouse,” you are asking GES to move your freight to the GES advance warehouse, if applicable, and wait for your carrier to pick up the freight from there. This is not ideal because additional fees and time are involved. It can take multiple days to move freight to a warehouse, possibly in another city or state, and you will be responsible for fees associated with the transfer and return shipping. It also requires you to reschedule the carrier to pick up at the new location, once you have been notified it is ready for pick-up.
GES Logistics, experts in trade show shipping, can coordinate shipping your freight to and from any show. GES offers competitive rates, excellent customer service, and provides one point of contact for shipping inquiries from when your materials are picked up until they are delivered to your booth.
Follow these steps to fill out the Order Form for Material Handling/BOL correctly:
First, choose a shipping carrier and schedule shipments early to get the best rates, especially if you are shipping internationally. There are a variety of shipping companies who will be happy to ship your items but not all specialize in trade show shipping. Package items on a pallet, securely wrapped, or in a case or crate. The fewer items you have, the easier they are to move. Many logistics companies mix loads, so it’s best to use a trade show specialist that will be transporting other exhibitor freight to and from a show. GES Logistics specializes in shipping freight to and from trade shows and understands the necessity of picking up and arriving on time. They offer round-trip service, competitive rates and have pre-printed the Order Form for Material Handling/BOL for your convenience.
Once you receive your Order Form for Material Handling/BOL on the last day of the show, fill in the important shipping information. Do not forget booth number, contact names, alternate cell numbers, shipping carrier information, and the mode of transportation. Be specific and include as much information as possible such as building name, floor, suite, or building number.
It is simple to describe the types of freight you are shipping but difficult to estimate the weight of the items, especially after a show when you might be shipping fewer items. Try to package items together and combine all small items onto a pallet or in cases so they are easily moved by forklifts without being damaged. It is recommended to wrap items in shrink wrap to make sure shipping carriers are not repackaging your items.
Finally, declare an excess value for your shipment (“EDV”). GES’ liability is limited to $.50 per pound package, $100.00 per package, or $1500.00 per occurrence, whichever is less. You may choose to declare a value for your shipment that exceeds the liability amount stated. Do not forget to complete this section, outlined in the terms on the form, if you require a higher liability amount. Please note, EDV cannot be purchased for outbound shipments only. Once you have read all the terms and conditions, print, sign, and date the document in the bottom left corner. If your shipment is international, do not forget to attach a commercial invoice.
Once all your freight items are packed and ready to be moved to the loading dock, turn in the Order Form for Material Handling/BOL to the GES Exhibitor Services Desk and retain a copy. Be sure to take a photo of your freight, ready to be shipped, and your completed forms in case any issues arise.
In the U.S., a digital BOL is offered to exhibitors. Be sure to look for a link in the Move-out email or add your show site contact information on the show's ordering site to receive important text messages during the show.
If you have any questions about completing an Order Form for Material Handling/BOL or need help securing a domestic or international logistics provider, contact GES.