What is a Dock Receipt?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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A dock receipt is a legal document verifying that a carrier has received a shipment at a dock. This transfers liability and responsibility for the shipment from the shipper to the carrier, whether the load is at its end destination or working its way through a series of locations to reach its final recipient. Along with other records pertaining to the shipment, the dock receipt is kept to provide documentation as the load is moved, and there are usually multiple copies sent to interested parties so they can track the shipment successfully.

On the dock receipt, an authorized representative notes the arrival of the shipment and provides information about what was received at the dock. The condition of the shipment is also documented for liability purposes. Any broken seals, damage to shipping crates, and other issues are noted and discussed. Suits for damages in the case of lost, missing, stolen, and damaged merchandise will require people to sift through the receipts, bills of lading, and other documentation to see when the problem developed and who was responsible for the shipment while the incident occurred.


Many shippers provide electronic dock receipts. The receipt is filled out and submitted using a computer system, providing an instant update to anyone with access to the system. The electronic dock receipt can also be printed out for records and is signed with an electronic authentication key to indicate an official signature by an authorized representative. Since many people want to be able to track shipments in real time, electronic systems are heavily utilized in the shipping industry.

Once a dock receipt is signed, the carrier is liable for what happens to the shipment while it is stored at the dock and before it is transferred to another location. If the load requires special treatment such as climate controlled storage, this is noted and arrangements are made to keep it safe and secure. Guards are usually stationed at a dock to monitor comings and goings, with the goal of preventing theft and other losses. If something does happen to the shipment while at the docks, the carrier can be liable for the cost of replacement or repairs.

Standardized dock receipt forms are available from a number of companies involved in the shipping industry and people may also generate their own. When examining such documents, it is important to note who signed it and to read over the details in the document to confirm it is accurate and complete. Questions or concerns should be addressed immediately.


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