Shipping Terms Glossary2019-09-10T09:31:22+00:00
40 Footer2019-08-24T15:12:15+00:00

A container which is 40 feet in length.

Air Waybill2019-08-16T10:16:10+00:00

The Air Way bill is a non-negotiable Bill of Lading, and is used as a receipt for cargo and a contract for transportation between shipper and air carrier. Unlike an ocean carrier with a “to order” Ocean Bill of Lading, the air carrier must deliver the shipment to the consignee named on the non-negotiable Air Waybill. International air waybills or “airline air waybills,” are used by the air carriers; “House air waybills, ” are used as receipts by Freight Forwarders who then consolidate them with the air carriers international air waybills.

Aircargo Agent2019-08-16T10:15:24+00:00

An agent appointed by an airline to solicit and process international airfreight shipments.

Airport Code2019-08-16T10:15:09+00:00

A three-letter code assigned to all airport locations worldwide.

Arrival notice2019-08-16T10:15:02+00:00

A notice from the ocean carrier to the “notify party” indicating the vessel’s estimated arrival date; identifying shipment details such as the number of packages, weight, and container number, and indicating when free time expires. Often includes a freight invoice.


Bunker Adjustment Factor.

Barge To Ship2019-08-16T10:18:07+00:00

When cargo is loaded directly from the barge to the ocean carrier, therefore avoiding delivery to the wharf

Bonded Warehouse2019-08-22T10:45:00+00:00

Goods that must be held until duties are paid are normally put in a bonded warehouse. Warehouses must be approved by the relevant Customs Department and must be under bond or guarantee of compliance with revenue laws.

Break bulk2019-08-16T10:20:54+00:00

The movement by ocean of packaged goods that are not containerized.


Bunker Surcharge


Currency Adjustment Factor


Customs document, issued under the terms of a convention, that permits the holder to carry or send merchandise temporarily into foreign countries (for display, demonstration, or similar purpose) without paying duty or posting bond. Examples are ATA (Admission Temporaire) and TIR (Transport International Routier). Violation of any of the privileges of CARNET will result in an assessment of duty and charges for damage.

Carrier Certificate and Release Order2019-08-16T10:37:26+00:00

Used to advise Customs of the shipment’s details. By means of this document, the carrier certifies that the firm or individual named in the certificate is the owner or consignee of the cargo.


Cubic Meter (35.314 cubic Feet = 1 CBM).

Certificate of Origin2019-08-22T10:46:16+00:00

The document certifies that goods were manufactured in a specific country. It is signed by the shipper and may also be a certified by a local Chamber of Commerce, notarized, and even visaed by a resident foreign consul. A Certificate of Origin may be required by a foreign government for control purposes, or by the foreign importer to ensure that he receives actual goods.


Container Freight Station


Container Freight Station to Container Freight Station. A type of steamship line service in which cargo is transported between container freight stations, where containers may be stuffed, stripped, or consolidated. Usually used for less-than-container load shipments.


Cubic Feet

Chargeable Weight2019-08-16T12:52:11+00:00

The shipment weight used in determining air freight charges. The chargeable weight may be the dimensional weight or for container shipments, the gross weight of the shipment less the tare weight of the container.


A Charterparty is a contract signed between a ship owner and a charter who hires the vessel for a period of time (Time Charter) or for a particular voyage (Voyage Charter). There are many types of Charterparties, most codified by various shipping associations.

Clean On-Board B/L2019-08-16T12:53:42+00:00

A Bill of Lading issued without exceptions


Collect on Delivery: cost of goods and freight.


Container on Flat Car


Collect Charges

Collect Freight2019-08-16T12:56:47+00:00

Freight payable to the carrier at the port of discharge or ultimate destination. The consignee need not pay if the cargo does not arrive at destination.

Collection Letter2019-08-16T12:57:28+00:00

A collection is the procedure whereby the exporter entrusts the movement of his commercial documents to a remitting bank for further processing through a collection bank for settlement from the buyer. A Collection Letter is the document used by the remitting bank to relay complete and precise instructions to the collecting bank.

Commercial Invoice2019-08-22T10:49:53+00:00

A commercial invoice is the basic statement of the seller to the buyer for payment of the goods shipped. It must conform to any Letter of Credit requirements, foreign government requirements, an export control requirements regarding destination statements. It is used as one of the primary documents in the collection process, and is the main document used by foreign Customs for control, valuation of the goods, pricing, terms of sale, payment and delivery, credit numbers, import license numbers, shipper and consignee names, and shipping marks and numbers. Commercial invoices are usually signed by the exporter.

Commercial Value2019-08-16T13:00:28+00:00

Assessment of monetary value of manufactured goods including production costs, packaging, shipping, overhead and profit margin; used to determine duty.


Any article or goods of commerce.

Conference Rates2019-08-16T13:03:09+00:00

Published rates which are applied equally by all the lines belonging to that particular conference for a specific commodity.


The receiver of the shipment.

Consular Invoice2019-08-16T13:04:30+00:00

Prepared from the information on the commercial invoice by the buyer’s consulate or embassy in the shipper’s country, these documents are usually stamped with an official seal. They may be specific forms required by the destination country’s government or simply copies of the Commercial Invoice. Consular Invoices are required for control of certain commodities and to ensure valuation control.


A document certified by the Consular of some foreign countries verifying the value, quantity and nature of a shipment.

Country of Transhipment2019-08-16T13:05:48+00:00

The country through which a shipment must pass and be re-sorted to reach its ultimate destination.

Country of Ultimate Destination2019-08-16T13:06:32+00:00

Final country, as known by an exporter, where goods are scheduled to arrive.


A term used to connote fast, expedited, personalized package and document handling.


Container Service Charge

Customs Broker2019-08-16T13:08:27+00:00

A firm that represents importers in dealings with Customs. Normally responsible for obtaining and submitting all documents for clearing merchandise through Customs, arranging inland transport, and paying all charges related to these functions.

Customs Clearance2019-08-16T13:09:04+00:00

International procedure of declaring goods at the Customs Office to gain authorized entry of those goods into a country.

Customs Invoice2019-08-22T10:51:11+00:00

Certain countries require special invoices containing specific information for the Customs clearance and valuation of imported shipments. These documents contain most of the elements of the Commercial Invoice, and are usually in the language of the importing country

Customs Value2019-08-16T13:10:41+00:00

The value of a shipment as declared by the shipper or appraised by Customs to enable determination of accurate import duties.


Container Yard to Container Yard. A type of steamship line service in which freight is transported from origin container yard to destination container yard.

Dangerous Goods2019-08-22T10:53:28+00:00

Articles or substances which are capable of posing a significant risk to health, safety or property when transported. This includes cargo labeled as flammable, corrosive, radioactive, etc.


Destination Delivery Charge.

Declared Value2019-08-19T15:08:02+00:00

The value of a shipment as declared by the shipper, used to determine the value for duty and carrier liability.

Delivery Order2019-08-20T17:04:23+00:00

Document issued by the Customs broker to the ocean carrier as authority to release the cargo to the inland carrier.

Delivery Service2019-08-20T17:09:59+00:00

Bringing goods to a destination on behalf of a shipper for a fee.


A charge for storage of incoming merchandise beyond the free time allotted by the shipping company. Also applies to carrier owned or leased equipment, such as containers and chassis.


The location to which a shipment is being delivered.


Dangerous Goods.

Dimensional Weight2019-08-20T17:42:21+00:00

The weight calculated by measuring the length x width x height of a package: used when calculating the rate of oversized pieces.

Dock Receipt2019-08-20T17:43:34+00:00

The Dock Receipt provides the exporter with a receipt indicating that the ocean terminal operator has taken custody of the shipment on behalf of the ocean carrier. It is basically a proof of delivery of the goods from the exporter to the pier.


Sometimes called a Bank Drafter Bill of Exchange, the Draft is a negotiable instrument which contains an order to pay. It must be signed by the drawer (seller) and be payable at sight or by a certain time. The Draft must contain an unconditional order to pay a certain sum of money to the drawee (buyer). Drafts are used in both collection and Letter of Credit methods of payment.


Door To Door.


Door to Port


Those goods which are subject to duty as per each nation’s Customs regulation.


A tax imposed by a government on merchandise imported from another country. There are several types of duty, including: A) Ad valorem duty (“According to the value”) – an assessment based on of the actual value of an article. B) Specific duty – an assessment based on the weight or quantity of an article without reference to its monetary value or market price.

Duty Drawback2019-08-20T17:52:31+00:00

A refund of duty paid on imported merchandise when it is later exported.


The prohibition of accepting freight at origin because of a crisis at the point of destination.

Entry Summary2019-08-20T18:06:45+00:00

Issued by: Customs broker on behalf of importer. Purpose: Customs Form 7501 specifies all shipment particulars that allow U.S. Customs to assess and collect import duties. Highly standardized to allow computer processing. Includes Harmonized Code number, broker identification number, and auxiliary fees. Broker figures all assessments, then submits form with supporting documents and payment. Customs later either accepts or modifies entry and payment.


Estimated Time of Arrival.


Estimated Time of Departure.

EX DEC2019-08-20T18:12:21+00:00

Shipper’s Export Declaration.

Export Airbill2019-08-21T05:09:58+00:00

A non-negotiable document prepared by the shipper which includes pertinent information. For example, Shipper and consignee name and address, Account Number, brief description of goods, etc.

Export Broker2019-08-21T05:11:57+00:00

An individual or organization that unites buyer and broker for a fee.

Export Management Company2019-08-21T05:19:57+00:00

A private firm that serves as the export department for several manufacturers, soliciting and transacting export business on behalf of its clients in return for a commission, salary, or retainer plus commission.

Export Trading Company2019-08-21T05:16:22+00:00

A firm that buys domestic products for sale overseas. A trading company takes title to the goods; an export-management company usually does not.


The person sending goods produced in one country to another country.

Express B/L2019-08-21T05:21:02+00:00

Ocean Bill of Lading issued by the steamship line when cargo is consigned directly to the customer. Cargo is automatically released. No originals are issued.

F.O.B. (Free on Board)2019-08-21T10:43:07+00:00

The price including cost of loading the goods for transportation at a specified place.


The transmission of an exact copy of a document by wire or radio.


Fuel Adjustment Factor.


Full Container Load.

Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)2019-08-25T10:45:44+00:00

Regulatory agency responsible for rates and practices of ocean carriers shipping to and from the United States.


40 foot equivalent unit.

Flat Bed2019-08-24T15:01:15+00:00

A type of truck with no side panels on to which cargo is usually strapped, chained or otherwise attached.

Flat Rack2019-08-24T15:02:26+00:00

Usually a wheel-less piece of equipment to which a piece of cargo is attached, strapped, or otherwise secured. Standard size is 20′ or 40′ long.

Foreign Trade Zone2019-08-24T15:10:42+00:00

A site sanctioned by the U.S. Customs Service in which imported goods are exempted from duties until withdrawn for domestic sale or use. Such zones are used for commercial warehouses or assembly plants.

Forwarder’s Receipt2019-08-24T15:13:18+00:00

Receipt issued by the appointed forwarder that goods have been received without exception for export. Could be used in case of Letter of Credit shipment under Ex-Works terms of sale.


To ensure and facilitate the passage of goods from an origin to a destination.

Free Trade Zone2019-08-24T15:15:30+00:00

A port designated by the government of a country for duty-free entry of any non-prohibited goods. Merchandise may be sorted, displayed, used for manufacturing, etc., within the zone and re-exported without duties being paid. Duties are imposed on the merchandise (or items manufactured from the merchandise) only when the goods pass from the zone into an area of the country subject to the Customs authority.

Freight Forwarder2019-08-24T15:17:03+00:00

A firm that represents shippers by arranging transport and completing documentation required for international shipping. Some freight forwarders also act as cargo consolidators.

Freight Payable at Destination2019-08-24T15:17:51+00:00

When the ocean freight of a shipment is paid at the time of delivery at the foreign port.

Full Set Off B/L’s2019-08-24T15:18:57+00:00

Usually means the issuance of the three original’s and three copies of the ocean Bill of Lading. This term is generally accepted by banks and shippers


Full Value Declared.

Gateway City2019-08-24T15:21:27+00:00

Key cities of entry/departure for international shipments, strategically located for the most efficient movement of goods.

General Order (G.O.)2019-08-24T15:22:27+00:00

A Customs term referring to a warehouse where merchandise not entered within five working days after the carrier’s arrival is stored at the risk and expense of the importer

Gondola Cars2019-08-24T15:23:19+00:00

Special type of railroad equipment. Car usually shaped like a gondola (long with no top). Usually carries grain, ore, or other bulk cargo.

Gross Weight2019-08-24T15:24:17+00:00

The total weight of a shipment including the goods and packaging. (Compare with Tare Weight.)

Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (“Harmonized Code”)2019-08-24T15:25:25+00:00

An international classification system that assigns identification numbers to specific products. The coding system ensures that all parties in international trade use a consistent classification for the purposes of documentation, statistical control, and duty assessment

Hazmat Bill of Lading2019-08-24T15:26:31+00:00

The Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) of the Department of Transportation provides specific regulations for shipping papers documenting hazardous material shipments in the U.S. The Haznat Bill of Lading, usually based on a straight, non-negotiable Short Form Bill of Lading, includes areas to report the additional requirements of the RSPA.


House Bill of Lading.

House to House Rates2019-08-24T15:29:05+00:00

This rate usually applied from the Shipper’s Warehouse to the Consignee’s Warehouse. Also known as Warehouse to Warehouse.

IATA (International Air Transport Association)2019-08-24T15:30:04+00:00

International Air Transport Association. The trade and service organization representing international airlines from more than 100 countries.


International Civil Aviation Organization. A United Nations agency organized to ensure orderly worldwide technical development of civil aviation.


International Maritime Organization. A United Nations affiliated organization representing all maritime countries in matters affecting maritime transportation, including the movement of dangerous goods. The organization also is involved in deliberations on marine environmental pollution.

Import License2019-08-24T15:33:16+00:00

Many countries have currency exchange controls which serve to limit the amount of currency available for the purchase of foreign merchandise. The import license is used to control orders sent to foreign exporters. It is important for exporters to understand their foreign buyer’s licensing requirements as payment negotiations are made prior to any exportation.

Import License2019-08-24T15:34:06+00:00

A document issued by a carrier required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods into their individual countries.

In Bond2019-08-24T15:35:00+00:00

A term applied to the status of merchandise admitted provisionally to a country without payment of duties, either for storage in a bonded warehouse or for transshipment to another point, where duties eventually will be paid.

Inland Bill of Lading2019-08-24T15:36:07+00:00

The Inland Bill of Lading, usually a non-negotiable document, evidences the receipt of goods by an inland carrier for transport from the point of origin to the point of export. These bills of lading include the following export information: “for export,” marks and number, “freight prepaid,” and special delivery/notification instructions.

Inspection Certificate2019-08-24T15:37:25+00:00

To protect themselves, many foreign firms request a Certificate of Inspection. This may be an affidavit by the shipper, or by an independent inspection firm hired by the buyer, certifying the quality, quantity, and conformity of the goods to the purchase order.

Insurance Certificate2019-08-24T15:38:29+00:00

An Insurance Certificate gives evidence of risk coverage for merchandise shipped. It is sent to the bank with other collection documents, and normally is used only when required by Letter of Credit or Documentary Collection procedures. There are many types of insurance policies available.

Insured Value2019-08-24T15:40:18+00:00

Currency amount of which goods are insured by shipper.

Integrated Carrier2019-08-24T15:41:52+00:00

An airfreight company that offers a blend of transportation services such as air carriage, freight forwarding, and ground handling.

Interchange Agreement2019-08-24T15:42:48+00:00

A contract between a steamship line and the truck line, stating the (truck line) is responsible for any detention charges and/or repairs that may occur while container is in their possession. Contract also proves that truck line has the required insurance.


Kilogram (2.2046 pounds).

Knots Per Hour2019-08-24T15:44:47+00:00

Units of measure for ship’s speed: Nautical Miles per Hour. One nautical mile is 1852 meters.


Kilo ton (1,000 kilograms)


Land Bridge.


Letter of Credit.

Lash Down2019-08-24T15:50:03+00:00

A method of securing cargo inside the hold or on deck of a vessel. Usually done with cables.




Less than Container Load.

Letter of Credit2019-08-24T15:54:05+00:00

The Letter of Credit is a financial Instrument issued by an importer’s bank (opening bank, on behalf of the importer). The opening bank substitutes its own credit for that of the importer, and undertakes a commitment to designated beneficiary (the exporter) to pay a stated amount within a stated time frame, provided that the exporter complies with all the terms and conditions of the Letter of Credit.

Limits of Liability2019-08-24T15:55:00+00:00

The extent to which carrier is liable for loss or damage to a particular shipment.

Loss and Damage Claim2019-08-24T15:56:23+00:00

This document is used to claim insurance compensation for goods lost or damaged during exportation. The items lost or damaged must be fully described. Supporting documentation would include copies of the Commercial Invoice, Bill of Lading, and Insurance Certificate.


Last Receiving Date.


Long Ton (2,249 Pounds).


Less than Trailer Load.


Marks and Numbers.


Cubic Meters.

Manufacturer’s Certificate2019-08-24T16:04:12+00:00

A Certificate of Manufacture is used when a buyer intends to pay for goods prior to shipment, but the lead time for the manufacturing process is lengthy and the buyer does not which to tie up funds too far in advance. Usually, the goods are manufactured after a small down payment. when the goods have been manufactured, the seller prepares a Manufacturer’s Certificate stating that the goods ordered have been produced in accordance with the contract with the buyer. Upon receiving the certificate, the buyer forwards both payment and shipping instructions, and the shipment is made by the seller.

Marine Cargo Insurance2019-08-24T16:05:44+00:00

Average – A term in marine cargo insurance signifying loss or damage to merchandise. General average – A loss arising out of a voluntary sacrifice made of any part of a shipment or cargo to prevent loss of the whole and for the benefit of all persons concerned. FPA – Free of particular average – a provision in a marine cargo insurance policy that no claim shall be paid for damage to goods in the course of a voyage unless a loss is sustained that totals or exceeds a certain percentage of the value as specified in the policy. The object of such a provision is the avoidance of petty claims. Open Policy – A contract between an insurance company and the exporter by which all shipments made by the assured are automatically protected from the time the merchandise leaves the initial shipping. Particular average – A partial loss or damage of merchandise caused by a peril insured against, but which is not a general-average loss.


Mini-Land Bridge.


Notify Party.

NCV (No Commercial Value)2019-08-24T16:09:01+00:00

Shipments declared as having no commercial value but having a value for Customs. Best example would be business documents

No shipping terms in this category.2019-08-31T10:56:51+00:00
Non-Conference Rate2019-08-24T16:10:39+00:00

Rates which are assessed by those lines that do not belong to a particular conference. Rates can be approximately 10% lower than conference rates.


Not otherwise specified/Not elsewhere specified. This term often appears in ocean or airfreight tariffs respectively. If no rate for the specific commodity shipped appears in the tariff, then a general class rate (for example, “printed matter NES”) will apply. Such rates usually are higher than rates for specific commodities.


Non-vessel operating common carrier. A firm that offers the same services as an ocean carrier, but which does not own or operate a vessel. NVOCCs usually act as consolidators, accepting small shipments (LCL) and consolidating them into full containerloads. They then act as a shipper, tendering the containers to ocean common carriers


Onboard Vessel


Ocean Freight (charges).


Ocean Bill of Lading.

Ocean Bill of Lading2019-08-24T16:19:30+00:00

Issued by: Steamship line Purpose: Each carrier has its own bill of lading form. Serves as contract of carriage between carrier and shipper, spelling out legal responsibilities and liability limits for all parties to the shipment. The B/L also can be used to transfer title to the goods to a party named in the document. Specifics shipment details, such as number of pieces, weight, destination, etc. Usually three signed originals issued. Licensed consolidators (NVOCCs) issue their own B/Ls to shippers.

On-Board Courier2019-08-24T16:22:00+00:00

A dedicated messenger who physically accompanies an international shipment.

On-Deck Cargo2019-08-24T16:20:4