VICS Standard Bill of Lading
Neither the form nor the usage of the Bill of Lading (BOL) is standardized at present. As various inconsistent documents pass through several channels and companies, pinpointing the data items required at each stop becomes challenging. The BOL has taken on even greater importance recently because it can be used for the scheduling and recording of shipments as well as input to carrier EDI transactions. Many shippers can modify the form to fit the requirements of the carrier and the consignee for the scheduling and unloading of the shipment.
However, a lack of consistency decreases the accuracy and productivity of recording shipment data on the forms, as well as making the extraction of data for billing and freight settlement purposes laborious. The Standard Bill of Lading document and guidelines address these problems and aim to reduce processing time and increase data accuracy. As shippers and carriers become familiar with a standardized form, extracting information from it will be quick and seamless.
Please note: The update from June 2002 mandated the 17-digit BOL Number by July 1, 2003.
Download: VICS Standard Bill of Lading (Word doc, 2.02 Mb)
For an automatic check digit calculator for your BOL Number, please visit the GS1 US website.
VICS BOL Web Cast Presentation - Nov. 7, 2007
We will post the Q&A as soon as we can complile all of them.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can the legal statements after the Carrier Information Section be changed or modified by the Shipper?
Yes. The Shipper has the right to modify the legal terminology based on legal council. The key is the VICS BOL placement of the terminology must be strictly adhered to. In addition, the space provided for the modified legal terminology must not displace or eliminate other data sections and/or fields.
2.Can I use the landscape version of the VICS BOL format without the bar code area?
No. The landscape version is specifically provided for those BOL's that have the data content encoded in a 2-Demensional Bar Code for carrier data entry scanning purposes.
3. Can I add negotiable or non-negotiable terminology to the form heading?
Yes. You can add the above terminology within the heading as long as it does not interfere with the layout of the form.
4. Can a shipper or retailer add either specific company data columns or data sections to the VICS BOL?
No. Maintaining the VICS BOL format requires that format remain intact within the rules of use (Section IV. Rules of Use for the Standard Bill Of Lading). Data tags are allowed to identify company specific data within certain sections (e.g., Special Instructions, Customer Order Information-Additional Shipper Info. column). Examples of data tags are; Dept. 123, Deliver By 10/23/02, CHEP Pallets 40.
5. My company needs to modify the space provided in the standard VICS BOL format. Can I do this?
Yes. Section IV. Rules of Use for the Standard Bill Of Lading outlines the acceptable modifications that can be done to the VICS BOL. The key is that all mandatory data sections and fields must be present and the geographic location of the sections and fields must be maintained. In addition, any conditional data sections and fields that apply to the shipment must be present as well. Please refer to Section VIII. Mandatory vs. Conditional Fields and Section IX. Data Field Descriptions for further guidance. In addition, Appendix A - examples 3 and 4 depict common format variations.
6. Can I include item specific detail (style #, description, case pack, UCC-128 numbers) within the Customer Order Information or Carrier Information sections?
No. Except for Hazardous Material shipments, item specific detail is prohibited. If item details are required for carrier rating or consignee processing, the information is to placed on an attached Shipment Packing List.
7. Do I have to convert to the new 17-digit VICS BOL number?
Yes. In 2003, the 17-digit VICS BOL number becomes a mandatory part of the VICS BOL guideline.
8. What do I do if my company has more than one UCC manufacturer's prefix number? Do I have to create separate BOL's for each one?
No. A company that has multiple UCC company prefixes can determine which prefixes will be used to create the BOL number and which ones will not be used. The key is the creation of unique BOL numbers within the market place. This is really an internal company data management decision.
9. Do I have to bar code the Bill of Lading number?
No. The bar coding of the BOL number and/or SCAC-PRO# is optional. The bar coding of the above information should be done based on your primary carriers ability to use the bar code for auto data capturing. Please see Section III, page 11 of the guideline for specific instructions and warnings.
10. How do I print a barcode?
The bar code printing process requires a specific technical knowledge of the EAN.UCC-128 symbology. Technical assistance is critical to ensure consistent quality and readability of the bar codes created. Further information on the specific technical specifications for the EAN.UCC-128 can be obtained from the Uniform Code Council (UCC) at http://www.uc-council.org/ or by calling the UCC Knowledge Center at 937-435-3870. For a step-by-step guide to implementing the GS1 standards, visit the GS1 Solutions Center Online at http://gs1.org/barcodes.
11. Am I allowed to bar code the BOL number in a symbology other than the EAN.UCC-128 for my carriers?
No. The VICS BOL guideline specifically uses the EAN.UCC Application Identifiers (AI's) System and the designated symbology to be used with this system is the EAN.UCC-128.
12. Is application identifier (AI) 402 part of the 17-digit VICS BOL number?
No. The AI 402 is part of the EAN.UCC-128 symbology to allow the scanning software programs to interpret or recognize the data is being scanned. The 402 in the bar code tells the scanning system that next 17-digits is a BOL number.
13. I plan on printing the VICS BOL on a continuous feed impact printer. Use of this print method does not allow for varying print point size, bolding, lines and shading. Do I have to change to a different print method?
No. Use of continuous feed impact printers is allowed as long as the data sections are clearly identifiable (e.g., use of asterisks) and the key data elements (BOL, Ship To Location, SCAC/PRO and Customer Order numbers are clearly identifiable by location and spacing.
14. Do I have to include the data separator lines within the Customer Order and Carrier Information sections?
No. Data separator lines are not required. Based on some printer applications, it is advantageous not to include the lines due to printer alignment issues and print quality.
15. Do I have to use the supplemental BOL if I have too many items to fit on one page? Can't I just print duplicates of the first page?
No. The printing of duplicates of the first page in not allowed within the guidelines to allow for more data in either the Customer Order or Carrier Information sections. The Supplement page was specifically developed to standardize the way to handle this situation.
16. There's no room for the carrier's signature in the Carrier Signature/Pick Up date box. Can I expand the size to allow for signatures?
Yes. It is acceptable to add more space for the signatures. The actual size of the VICS BOL form is 8.5 x 11 inches.
17. Can I expand the Carrier Information Section to the back of the BOL?
No. The back of the VICS BOL format is specifically reserved for the terms and conditions of the shipment when a separate contract is not in effect. It is important to adhere to this requirement in order to maintain a standard expectation of data presentation within the supply chain.
18. How do I handle multiple copies?
If your company currently uses multiple copies of a BOL then you are free to implement the VICS Standard Bill of Lading (BOL) in the same way. VICS has made no provision for alternate text however, so all copies would look exactly the same, unless you use various colors for the different copies. The option to use multiple copies and the number of them is the company's choice.
19. If I have 50 underlying BOL's on a Master BOL, does the carrier have to sign all 50 copies?
The requirement to have the carrier sign all 50 copies is totally up to the individual shippers based on liability considerations. The recommended process is to have the shipper and carrier sign only the Master BOL for the the following two reasons;
1. The PRO# and freight rating are done off of the Master BOL.
2. The Master BOL and underlying BOL's cross reference to each other.
20. Where can I get the VICS Standard Bill of Lading (BOL)?
The VICS Standard Bill of Lading (BOL) is available for free download on the VICS website, www.vics.org, "Guidelines" page. You may send the form to the printer who prints your other business forms, or have your Information Systems department incorporate it into your warehouse management system. Another option would be to consult a third party solution provider.
21. Do you have any software available?
No. VICS does not produce software applications of any kind. VICS is a voluntary association within which representatives from a variety of companies work together to develop best practices for the Retail Supply Chain. Once a voluntary standard is approved, it is placed in the public domain on the VICS website, http://www.vics.org, for free access and implementation. Each company that decides to implement the VICS BOL makes its own business decision as to how to produce the actual form.