STALE BILL OF LADING What does it mean?

 The information provided here is part of Import Export Training course online

STALE BILL OF LADING What does it mean? 

When does a Bill of Lading become Stale?

Stale Bill of Lading

I have written a couple of articles  in this web blog in detail about the importance of Bill of Lading, it’s function and mechanism in international business.

Now, let us discuss about Stale Bill of Lading (Stale BL). What is Stale Bill of Lading? How does Stale Bill of Lading work? Is stale bill of lading acceptable by negotiating bank, discounting bank, buyer’s bank or buyer?

Before explaining about stale bill of lading,  let us have a brief idea about the time of releasing bill of lading.   When can a Bill of lading be issued?   Bill of Lading  can be issued immediately up on completion of  export customs clearance formalities of the country.  If ‘ON BOARD’ bill of lading is required, shipper can release bill of lading from carrier immediately up on the  shipment gone on board the vessel.    Once after releasing bill of lading from shipping carrier, exporter submits  the same with  his  bank along with other documents to send to his overseas buyer.

Now let us discuss about Stale BL    What is Stale BL?

A Bill of Lading can be treated as  ‘Stale’ , if  it is presented long after sailing of vessel  pertaining to a shipment  at  port of loading.   Such presentation  of Bill of Lading could be with the Supplier’s Bank, Discounting Bank, Negotiating Bank, Buyer’s Bank or buyer.  The term ‘Stale Bill of Lading’ is also used when a bill of lading is presented with a bank after expiry date of credit. 

According to international commercial practice, Bill of Lading along with other shipping documents must be presented to the bank not later than twenty one days of the date of shipment as given in the Bill of Lading. In some cases, the Importer may indicate the number of days within which the documents are to be presented from the date of shipment. Exporter has to comply with the stipulation period of time indicated. Otherwise, the Bill of Lading  becomes stale and is not accepted by the bank for payment. A stale bill is one which is tendered to the presenting bank so late a date that it is impossible for the bank to dispatch to the consignee’s place, in time,  before the goods arrive at the destination port. In other words, bank finds it impossible to see the documents reach before the ship reaches the destination. Here, Bill of Lading reaches after goods reaches at destination.   If a bill of lading presented to consignee or a bank after the last date specified in the documentary credit becomes stale.  So a  Stale Bill of Lading  can be rejected by  the bank where in such Bill of lading is presented for negotiation under documentary credit.


In this article, I have exaplained about Stale Bill of Lading in simple language to understand easily.  Have you satisfied with this  article about Stale Bill of Lading? Would  you like to add more information about Stale Bill of Lading (BL)?  Share your experience in handling Stale BL.

Discuss below your thoughts about Stale BL.

The above information is a part of Online Training Course on howtoexportimport

STALE BILL OF LADING What does it mean?   Difference between Clean On Board Bill of Lading and Shipped On Board Bill of Lading.   Can Original Bill of lading be surrendered under DP terms of payment  Can Original Bill of lading be surrendered under LC at sight   Can Bill of Lading be surrendered on LC terms   How to obtain a duplicate BL, if original bill of lading lost?  Can a Bill of Lading be consigned to a customs broker?   Can I get bill of lading before loading cargo   Can two consignments meant for one buyer be shipped together under one Bill of Lading?    Consignee To Order in Bill of Lading    How to avoid delay in receiving OBL Original Bill of Lading?   Amendment of Bill of Lading    How to amend shipper details in Bill of Lading?.   How to surrender HBL House Bill of Lading   Surrender of Bill of Lading Some facts How does Bill of Lading work in Sight LC.   How does Bill of Lading work in DP payment terms?   Can a Bill of Lading (BL) be predated for LC negotiation?   What is the earliest date can be mentioned on Bill of Lading. Can BL date and let export date be same day?   Can shipping line predate Bill of Lading,What is the earliest date can be mentioned on Bill of Lading.    What is Said to weigh in Bill of Lading   What is Shipper Load, stow and count in Bill of Lading    What is said to contain in Bill of Lading.   Can an importer take delivery of goods without original bill of lading?  What is House BL House Bill of Lading   Can Bill of Lading (BL) be before date of Certificate of origin GSP?   What is Express Release Bill of Lading?  Can Bill of Lading be surrendered at port of loading?    Transferability of Bill of Lading  What is charter party bill of lading ?   How  transshipment bill of lading works?   What is Combined Bill of Lading / Multi model Bill of Lading   Unclean Bill of Lading/Claused bill of lading/foul bill of lading/Dirty Bill of Lading   What is Clean on board Bill of Lading?  Is received for shipment Bill of Lading sufficient for LC negotiation?  Different types of Bill of Lading   3 Reasons under Importance of bill of lading in international trade   When can an exporter get bill of lading from shipping company?   

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Tadele Berhanu: what is the difference between stale documents and stale bill of lading?

SAKTHI BALAN: Dear Sir, Thanks your valuable answer,

Manjeet Roshan: I had just visited your website '' and the material I found is very useful. I have one query, I want to set up my own Freight Forwarding Company can you please guide me what process to follow, is their any license to acquire and all other verticals where it has to be registered. whether after all the setups can I issue House Bill of Lading. Apart

DEVIDAS DHUMAL: Hi Sir, I need help on Third country export transactions. What are major terms & condition in this transactions. Here I don't want to disclose the Principle supplier name & End use customer to each others. Which Inco term is suitable? What will be payment terms with end customer & Principle supplier.? How to prepare Bills of lading.? Thanks & Regards 9322985059

Kenil Maheta: Hello Sir, i am working in freight forwarding company and one of our customer exported goods with the help of L/C. under L/C it is mentioned that shipper have to represent documents to bank within 7 days of the loading. however we have failed to present docs before 7 days as we have received B/L late as well also some problem arise to issue certificate of origin. now in this case what happen if we will present docs after the 7 days of the shipment.

ADHIKARI DASHARATH JANARDAN : Does the period deciding B/L as STALE include HOLIDAYS in Shipper's country ? pl explain.


Vijay: How much longer bill of lading work?

Devansh: If the BL has become stale and is not possible to be sent to the buyers bank, 1.what is the procedure for the buyer to take delivery of his goods? 2. Who is going to bear the losses if any due to delay in receipt of goods?

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