Proof of Delivery: Meaning and Importance of POD in Shipping

Posted On 10th August 2022

Proof of DeliveryShipping goods can be a complicated process, and there are many factors to consider when sending items from one place to another. One important document in the shipping process is known as the Proof of Delivery (POD).

What is a Proof of Delivery?

Proof of delivery (POD) is the document that indicates that a shipment has been delivered to the intended recipient. The POD typically includes the date and time of delivery, the name of the person who received the shipment, and a list of the items or some abbreviated description from the original BOL (bill of Lading) that were delivered.

PODs are either the shipper’s original Bill of Lading that has been “wet signed” by the Receiver of the freight (of course also contains the shipper’s signature) or, in the case of common carriers for their LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) shipments, they transfer the original BOLs from the shipper into an electronic waybill/Delivery Receipt, which officially becomes the Proof of Delivery or POD once the freight is delivered and signed as such by the Receiver.

To retrieve a POD from a common carrier you can usually call them, and they will fax it, or it can be downloaded from their website. Certain online-only 3PLs, such as Freight Run, make the POD’s available automatically online. Certain shippers and receivers require PODs in their payment process, as a standard operating requirement, though certain types of businesses may require them for other legal/compliance reasons.

PODs are often used in situations where it is important to confirm the delivery of goods or materials. For example, a business might require a POD when shipping high-value items or items that need to be delivered by a certain date. PODs can also be in cases where there is a dispute about whether or not a shipment was delivered, or more often in cases where the Receiver simply cannot figure out where they put the freight and wants to confirm that indeed the freight was definitely delivered and who at their facility signed for it so that hopefully they can then locate the freight inside their warehouse where they misplaced it.

PODs can be downloaded automatically by shipping software or apps, or they can be mailed physically on paper to the freight payor along with the shipping invoice. If you are shipping a parcel with UPS or a similar parcel only, you will typically need to “sign for the POD” electronically, often signing the Delivery person’s handheld electronic device. If you are dealing with an LTL shipment by a common carrier usually, they will have you sign a paper POD but more and more you are also signing an electronic Delivery Receipt on the driver’s handheld electronic device or pad or tablet.

If you are signing an original or copy of a paper Bill of Lading that is delivered by a Full Truckload Carrier and/or contract carrier, the Receiver can insist on making a physical copy of it right there for your own records or getting an extra signed copy from the Driver or taking a picture of it with their own cell phone.

Once the POD has been signed and you have received a copy either a physical paper copy or an electronic one, it should be kept in a safe place for future reference. One advantage of using a strictly online 3pl/freight broker or freight app such as is that the POD is automatically uploaded and stored for you as well as backed up to a safe and isolated server.

What information is included in a proof of delivery?

A proof of delivery typically includes the date and time of delivery, as well as the name and address of the recipient. In some cases, it may also include the name of the person who signed for the delivery. If you're tracking a package online, you may also be able to see additional details such as the contents of the shipment and its current location.

Why is POD Important?

Proof of delivery (PoD) is an important part of the shipment process, as it provides evidence that a package has been delivered to its intended recipient. This information is crucial for both the sender and the recipient, as it can help to resolve any disputes that may arise.

In some cases, PoD may also be used to verify that a package has been delivered to the correct address. In other cases, the Receiver and/or Trucker or Driver may make notes on the Delivery Receipt, Bill of Lading, and/or POD that the freight delivered was delivered damaged or missing some items or number of items and both Driver and Receiver are supposed to note all such missing or damaged freight on the Proof of Delivery somewhere.

In fact, the Proof of Delivery MUST NOTE ALL DAMAGE OR SHORTAGE or if incorrect freight is being delivered or if the Receiver rejected the freight entirely either because:

  1. It is too damaged to take it or
  2. It is missing too much of the freight or
  3. Packaging is severely damaged or
  4. The receiver no longer wants the freight for some reasons
  5. The freight does not match what the Receiver ordered.

All such reasons must be noted IN DETAIL on the Proof of Delivery and signed by both Receiver and Driver if possible and will serve as the basis of the Insurance Claim which will most likely follow.

In addition to its usefulness in the event of a dispute, POD’s proof of deliveries can also be used to provide valuable information about the shipment process itself, since the pickup date and delivery date are noted clearly. This data can be used to improve shipping methods and reduce delivery times.

When is Proof of Delivery Used?

There are several situations when you might need proof of delivery. For example, if you're sending merchandise to a customer, you'll likely need to provide proof of delivery in order to process the transaction.

If you're expecting a shipment of goods, you may also request proof of delivery from the sender in order to ensure that the items were shipped as expected.

Finally, if there's been a problem with a shipment - such as if items are missing or damaged - you may need proof of delivery in order to file a claim.

Proof of Delivery vs. Bill of Lading: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to shipping and logistics, there are a lot of terms and documents that can be confusing. Two common documents that are often confused are the proof of delivery (POD) and the bill of lading (BOL). While they both play important roles in the shipping process, they are actually quite different.

The proof of delivery is a document that confirms that a shipment has been delivered to the specified recipient. This document usually includes the date and time of delivery, as well as the signature of the person who received the shipment. The POD is typically used for smaller shipments that ship common carrier and are Less-Than-Truckload and don’t require the original BOL at both pickup and delivery.

A bill of lading, as contrasted to the POD, is a legal document that outlines the terms of a shipment in a more comprehensive fashion than a Carrier’s Waybill or Delivery Receipt will typically do and also is a document that asserts certain shipper’s rights and terms which typically aim to protect the shipper’s legal and financial interests rather than the carriers.

The BOL also includes important information such as the origin and destination of the shipment, the type of goods being shipped, and the value of the shipment. The BOL is typically used for larger shipments, not parcels and is required by most freight carriers.

How to Request a Proof of Delivery Document?

If you need to request a proof of delivery (POD) document for your package, you can do so by contacting the shipping company that delivered your package. Each shipping company has its own process for requesting a POD, so you'll need to contact the company directly to find out how to request one. Or, if you booked the freight via an online freight app or online freight service such as Freight Run, you can automatically see the POD or email them if you do not find it easily.

Once you have requested a POD from the shipping company, it may take a few days for them to generate and send the document to you if the driver hasn’t yet returned to the terminal or office. Once you have received the POD, be sure to keep it in a safe place as it will serve as proof that your package was delivered successfully.

Types of Proof of Delivery

There are various types of proof of delivery, which can be broadly divided into two categories: digital and physical.

Digital proof of delivery typically takes the form of an electronic document, such as an email or PDF, that confirms that goods have been delivered. This type of proof of delivery is often used when shipping smaller items such as parcels, as it is quick and easy to generate and send.

Physical proof of delivery, on the other hand, typically takes the form of a signed paper document that includes details such as the date and time of delivery, the recipient's signature, and a list of the delivered items. This type of proof of delivery is often used for larger shipments, as it provides a more reliable way to confirm that goods have been received.

Advantages of Proof of Delivery

There are many advantages of using proof of delivery for businesses. Perhaps the most obvious advantage is that it can help to ensure that goods are delivered to the correct destination. This is especially important for businesses that rely on just-in-time inventory systems, as any delays in delivery can have a significant impact on production efficiency.

Another advantage of proof of delivery is that it can provide evidence in the event of a dispute. If there is ever a question about whether or not goods were delivered as promised, businesses can refer to their proof of delivery records to resolve the issue. This helps to protect businesses from fraudulent claims and can save them a lot of time and money in the long run.

Lastly, many businesses use proof of delivery systems as a way to track their inventory as upon arrival the Receiver uses the information on the POD to create his own internal Warehouse Receipt. The Warehouse Receipt will likely include most of the information from the POD and/or Delivery Receipt (really they are synonymous) in addition to confirming the weight of the shipment, the piece count, possibly the outside measurements of each packaging unit, and also the location in the warehouse where they put the freight.

This information can be very valuable for planning purposes, as it can help businesses to identify patterns and trends in customer behavior as well as to make sure they have enough room in their warehouse for further deliveries. By understanding how and when goods are being delivered, businesses can make adjustments to their operations to improve efficiency and better meet customer needs and or their flow of raw materials into their production process.

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