A charge assessed in addition to ocean freight (charges), i.e., stuffing charges, loose cargo charge, terminal charges.


Latin for “According to the value”. When a shipper wishes to increase the liability of a carrier beyond the liability stated in the terms of the bill of lading, he places the actual value of the cargo in block 23 of the bill of lading. The carrier is then liable for the value of the cargo and charges a higher rate accordingly based on the value.


European agreement about international road transport of dangerous goods


‘Allgemeine Deutsche Spediteurbedingungen’ General Carrier Conditions in Germany

Air Waybill

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 Agent

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

Airport Code

A three letter code assigned to all airport locations worldwide.

Alternate Port

Port offered by service where the vessel does not physically call. The cargo will be trucked or railed to or from the load or discharge port. The truck or rail portion is at the expense of carrier.

Arrival notice

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


Actual Time of Arrival, or Airport-To-Airport, or Air Transport Association of America.


Actual Time of Departure.


Bunker Adjustment Factor. Used to compensate steamship lines for fluctuating fuel costs. Sometimes called “Fuel Adjustment Factor” or FAF.


German Federal Office for Goods Traffic


Flat-bottomed boat designed to carry cargo on inland waterways, usually without engines or crew accommodations. Barges can be lashed together and either pushed or pulled by tugs, carrying cargo of 60,000 tons or more.

Bill of Lading (B/L)

Bills of lading are contracts between the owner of the goods and the carrier. There are two types. A straight bill of lading is nonnegotiable. A negotiable or shipper’s order bill of lading can be bought, sold, or traded while goods are in transit and is used for many types of financing transactions. The customer usually needs the original or a copy as proof of ownership to take possession of the goods.

Bill of Sale

Confirms the transfer of ownership of certain goods to another person in return for money paid or loaned.

Bill to Party

Customer designated as party paying for services.

Bonded Goods

Dutiable goods upon which excise duty has not been paid,i.e., goods in transit or warehoused pending use. The bond is the agreement entered into by the owner of the dutiable goods with Customs and the excise authority in which the owner promises to pay the duty when the goods are released for final distribution or use.

Bonded Warehouse

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


Arrangements with a carrier for the acceptance and carriage of freight; i.e., a space reservation.

Booking Number

Reservation number used to secure equipment and act as a control number prior to completion of a B/L.

Break Bulk

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


One who arranges transportation and/or clearing of cargo without actually performing the transportation


Bunker Surcharge.


Currency Adjustment Factor.

Car carrier

Car carriers are special built vessels that are able to transport cars in a manner where they are stored in a garage with ambient control and ventilation. The largest car carriers can transport up to 7.000 units. Such vessels have a construction as a very efficient parking house that are able to propel itself on water. There are several level of internal decks with ramps system to elevate cars up and down to a berth. A large car carrier would typically have a ship crew of about 20 people on board, and has a service speed of 16-18 knots.


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 assessment of duty and charges for damage.

Carrier Certificate and Release Order

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.


A corrugated cardboard container filled at the facility for handling (shipping).


Cubic Meter (35.314 cubic Feet = 1 CBM).

Certificate of Origin

The document certifies that goods were manufactured in the United States. 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 U.S. goods. Specific C/Os are required for duty reductions with Canada (U.S./Canada Free Trade Agreement) and Israel (U.S./Israel Free trade Area).


Container Freight Station.


Cubic Feet.

Chargeable Weight

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 frame with wheels and container locking devices in order to secure the container for movement.

Clean On-Board B/L

A Bill of Lading issued without exceptions.


Abbreviation for “centimeter.”


Collect on Delivery: cost of goods and freight.


Collect Charges.

Collect Freight

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 Letter

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 Invoice

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, and U.S. 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 Value

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

Commodity Control List

List of commodities subject to U.S. Department of Commerce export controls.


Any article or goods of commerce.

Conference Rates

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


The receiver of the shipment. The person or firm named in a freight contract to whom goods have been consigned or turned over. For export control purposes, the documentation differentiates between an “intermediate” consignee and an “ultimate” consignee.

Consignee information

Data about the party goods are shipped to, including: company name, address, city with postal code, country, individual name,

containerized Designation indicating that goods have been stuffed in a container.


Delivery of merchandise from an exporter (the consignor) to an agent (the consignee) under agreement that the agent sell the merchandise for the account of the exporter. The consignor retains title to the goods until sold. The consignee sells the goods for commission and remits the net proceeds to the consignor.

Combined freight traffic

Any freight movement completed with recourse to more than one mode of transport. Cooperation between different carriers (e.g. barge – train – lorry) with the aim of establishing an integrated transport chain. A typical feature of combined traffic is the use of standardized, reusable loading units (e.g. pallets or containers).


The individual or firm shipping the goods. More commonly referred to as the shipper.

Consolidated Cargo

Cargo, consisting of shipments from two or more shippers, usually shipped by a firm called a consolidator. These shipments are made by the consolidator to take advantage of lower FCL rates; parts of these savings are usually passed on to the shipper.

Consular Invoice

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.

Container Ship

A ship specially designed for transporting containers. The holds have vertical cell guides into which containers are lowered to form secure stacks. Containers are also carried on the deck of the ships in stacks, secured by twist locks and lashing rods.


Cargo which is prohibited by law.

Country of Transshipment

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

Country of Ultimate Destination

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. (costs for a country-sided handling of FCL containers at a “free on board” delivery)

Customs Broker

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 Clearance

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

Customs Invoice

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. The Canadian Customs Invoice is the most popular of this type.

Customs Value

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 Goods

Articles or substances which are capable of posing a significant risk to health, safety or property when transported by air and which are classified according to subsections 3.1 through 2.10 in IATA. This includes cargo labeled as flammable, corrosive, radioactive, etc.


Destination Delivery Charge.

Declared Value

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

Delivery Instructions

Also called delivery Orders, these documents provide specific information to a carrier regarding delivery to a specific port, pier, terminal, airport, or steamship line. They show the shipping carrier, delivery deadlines, name and address of consignee, and the contact name and telephone number of the shipper n case of delivery problems.

Delivery Order

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

Delivery Service

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


A penalty charge against shippers or consignees for delaying the carrier’s equipment beyond the allowed free time. The free time and demurrage charges are set forth in the charter party or freight tariff.

– See also Detention and Per Diem.


The location to which a shipment is being delivered.


A penalty charge against shippers or consignees for delaying carrier’s equipment beyond allowed time. Demurrage applies to cargo; detention applies to equipment. See Per Diem.


Dangerous Goods.

Dimensional Weight

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


A change made either in the route of a shipment in transit or of the entire ship.

Dock Receipt

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.


Charge made for local hauling by dray or truck. Same as Cartage.


Door To Door.

Documentation Charge

Fee charged shipper/consignee when the Bill of Lading is prepared by the carrier.


Through transportation of a container and its contents from consignor to consignee. Also known as House to House. Not necessarily a through rate.


Door to Port.


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

Duty Drawback

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


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.

ECCN (Export Control Commodity Number)

Number (sometimes required on international shipping documentation) that indicates the commodities subject to U.S. Department of Commerce export controls.

EIN (Exporter Identification Number)

An Employer’s IRS Identification Number (needed on some international shipping documentation) assigned by the Government when exporting goods from the United States.


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

Entry Summary

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.

Entry/Immediate Delivery

Customs Form CF3461 allows the importer or Customs Broker to take immediate delivery of imported goods prior to payment of duties and processing of an Entry Summary for most types of merchandise. The importer has ten days to file the Entry Summary and pay the appropriate duties.


Estimated Time of Arrival.


Estimated Time of Departure.


Shipper’s Export Declaration.


The standard pallet in Europe. It is 1200 mm by 800 mm in dimension and has a wood block design between the top and bottom permitting four-way or four-sided entrance by lifting forks. Although other sizes exist in Europe, they are not nearly as prominent as the Euro-pallet.

Export Airbill

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 Broker

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

Export License

A Government authorization which allows a shipper to export specified goods to designated countries.

Export Trading Company

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.

Export Management Company

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

Express B/L

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.

Export License

Under the Export Administration Act, the U.S. Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) is charged with controlling and licensing most items exported from the U.S. for reasons of national security, short supply, and foreign policy. There are two basic types of export licenses: Individual Validated Licenses which must be applied for and received from the BXA: and General Licenses, which are not documents but rather published authorizations covering commodities not subject to validated licensing.

F.O.B. (Free on Board)

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.


Abbreviation for “Freight All Kinds.” Usually refers to full container loads of mixed shipments.


Full Container Load.

Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)

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

Feeder Vessel

A short-sea vessel that transfers cargo between a central hub port and smaller spoke ports.


40 foot equivalent unit.


International Union of Transport Organisations

Flat Rack / Flat Bed Container

A container with no sides and frame members at the front and rear for cargo loading from the sides and top.

Foreign Trade Zone

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.

40 Footer

A container which is 40 feet in length.

Fork Lift

A machine used to pick up and move goods loaded on pallets or skids.

Forwarder’s Receipt

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 On Board (F.O.B)

The goods are placed on board a ship by the seller at a port of shipment named in the sales contract. The risk of loss or damage to the goods is transferred from the seller to the buyer when the goods pass the ship’s rail.

Free Time

That amount of time that a carrier’s equipment may be used without incurring additional charges. (See Storage, Demurrage or Per Diem.)

Free Trade Zone

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 Forwarder

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 Destination

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

Freight Rate

The charge made for the transportation of freight.

Full Set Off B/L’s

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 City

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

General Order (G.O.)

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.

General Order Warehouse

A government contract warehouse for the storage of cargoes left unclaimed for a designated number of days after availability. Unclaimed cargoes may later be auctioned publicly.


Abbreviation for “General Rate Increase.” Used to describe an across-the-board tariff rate increase implemented by conference members and applied to base rates.

Gross Weight

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

Harbor Maintenance Fee

Customs form CF349 is used by both exporters and importers to report, on a quarterly basis, all shipments which used a U. S. water port. A fee of .125% of the value of the shipments is collected and used to maintain U.S. harbors.

Harmonized Commodity

Description and Coding System (“Harmonized Code”) 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.


House Air waybill issued by carrying airlines’ agent, normally freight forwarder.

Hazmat Bill of Lading

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.

Heavy Lift Charge

A charge assessed in addition to ocean freight charges when cargo is too heavy to be handled by normal means, necessitating the use of special cranes.


Hull Identification Number

House to House Rates

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


Central transhipment point for combining and splitting up commodity flows and loads.


Shell or body of a ship.

IATA (International Air Transport Association)

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.


Maintained by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), this codification of terms is used in foreign trade contracts to define which parties incur the costs and at what specific point the costs are incurred.


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 License

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.

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

Importer of Record

The U.S. Customs Service defines the importer of record as the owner or purchaser of the goods; or, when designated by the owner, purchaser, or consignee, a licensed Customs broker.

In Bond

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.


Maintained by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), this codification of terms is used in foreign trade contracts to define which parties incur the costs and at what specific point the costs are incurred.

Inland Bill of Lading

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.

Inland Carrier

A transportation line that hauls export or import traffic between ports and inland points.

Inspection Certificate

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 Certificate

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. Coverage requested is usually 110% of the value of the cargo shipped.

Insured Value

Dollar amount of which goods are insured by shipper.

Integrated Carrier

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

Interchange Agreement

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.

International Import Certificate

This document is the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) form number BXA-645P. It is required for the import of selected commodities form COCOM nations. The U.S. importer would supply this form, after authorization by BXA, to the foreign exporter so that he could apply for an export license.

In-Transit Declaration

The In-Transit Declaration, Department of Commerce form 7513, is prepared for shipments in transit form one foreign county to another which pass through the continental U.S., the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico. Also used for merchandise exported from General Order warehouses and for imports rejected by the U.S. government and re-exported.


An itemized list of goods shipped to a buyer, stating quantities, prices, shipping charges, etc.


Placing a port on a vessel’s itinerary because the volume of cargo offered at that port justifies the cost of routing the vessel.


Used to denote movements of cargo containers interchangeably between transport modes, i.e., motor, water, and air carriers, and where the equipment is compatible within the multiple systems.


Abbreviation for “Immediate Transport.” The document (prepared by the carrier) allows shipment to proceed from the port of entry in the U.S. to Customs clearing at the destination. The shipment clears Customs at its final destination. Also called an “In-Transit” Entry. -Abbreviation for Information Technology. The Georgia Ports Authority is recognized for maintaining one of the top IT departments in the port industry.


Kilogram (2.2046 pounds).

Knots Per Hour

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 Down

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




Less than Container Load.

Letter of Credit

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 Liability

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

Lift-on/Lift-off (LoLo)

A conventional vessel specially stiffened below (mechanised below), tank tops, etc sheer removed with bulkheads along ship sides, 5 – 10 tonne cranes or gears to handle unit loads, strapped pallets, containers, etc, and stowed by machines (forklift trucks and forklift cranes) working below.


1.06 liquid U.S. quarts or 33.9 fluid ounces.

Lloyds’ Registry

An organization maintained for the surveying and classing of ships so that insurance underwriters and others may know the quality and condition of the vessels offered for insurance or employment.

Loss and Damage Claim

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.


A trailer or semi-trailer with no sides and with the floor of the unit close to the ground.


Last Receiving Date.


Long Ton (2,249 Pounds).


Less than Trailer Load.


Marks and Numbers.


Cubic Meters.

Mafi trailer

Brand name of a trailer which is used for roll-on and roll-off operations


A list on which all items loaded on a means of transport are documented (cargo manifest). Manifests are used for administrative purposes and are compiled by the agents in the ports, based on the Bill of Lading.

Manufacturer’s Certificate

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 Insurance

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.

Marks & Numbers

Marks and/or numbers placed on cargo to identify the shipper, forwarder, and destination; marks to identify the cargo during sorting.

Metric Ton

1 Ton = 1,000 kilograms or 2,204.62 lbs.


Mini-Land Bridge.


Merchandise Processing Fee: A mandatory fee collected by USA Customs: -0.21% (.0021) of Invoice Value, Minimum $25, Maximum $480.

Multi purpose vessel

A ship which was designed to transport miscellaneous cargo, e.g. container cargo, bulk cargo or general cargo.

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

Non-Conference Rate

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


Those goods which are exempt from duty as per each nation’s Customs regulation.


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.

Net Weight

Weight of the goods alone without any immediate wrappings, e.g., the weight of the contents of a tin can without the weight of the can.

Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC)

A cargo consolidator in ocean trades who will buy space from a carrier and sub-sell it to smaller shippers. The NVOCC issues bills of lading, publishes tariffs and otherwise conducts itself as an ocean common carrier, except that it will not provide the actual ocean or intermodal service.


Onboard Vessel.


Ocean Freight (charges).


Ocean Bill of Lading.

Ocean Bill of Lading

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-Deck Cargo

Cargo usually stowed on the deck of a vessel. This cargo is usually subjected to wind and sea water.

On Board

A notation on a bill of lading that cargo has been loaded on board a vessel. Used to satisfy the requirements of a letter of credit, in the absence of an express requirement to the contrary.

On-Board Courier

A dedicated messenger who physically accompanies an international shipment.


Forwarding a shipment from an intermediate stop to its final destination; subject to additional charge.

Open Top Container

A container fitted with a solid removable roof, or with a tarpaulin roof so the container can be loaded or unloaded from the top.

Overheight Cargo

Cargo more than eight feet high which thus cannot fit into a standard container.

Oversized Pieces

Shipments of 85 inches or greater that are too large to fit on a pallet.

Packing List

This important document describes all items in the box, crate, pallet, or container, plus the type, dimensions, and weight of the container. It is used to determine total shipping weight and volume (cubes) by Customs officials to check cargo, and by the buyer to inventory merchandise received. Prices and item values are usually omitted from the Packing List. Shipping marks, reference numbers and carton numbers are also important additions to the packing list.


A platform with or without sides, on which a number of packages or pieces may be loaded to facilitate handling by a lift truck.

Palletized Cargo

Cargo that is placed on portable platforms for easier loading/unloading or transportation. Platforms are called pallets.

Pallet truck/pallet jack

A manually powered fork truck. The operator physically pushes the forks into the opening on the pallet and “jacks” the racheting lift mechanism so as to raise the pallet off the floor. Once lifted, the load can be manually moved from place to place.

Per Diem

A charge, based on a fixed daily rate.


Products that require expedited transport or special attention to prevent spoilage or decay such as fruits, vegetables, frozen fish or certain chemical products.

Phytosanitary Inspection Certificates

Also referred to as “plant health” certificates, these are required by many foreign countries for shipments of plants and plant products. They serve to certify conformity to local plant quarantine import regulation with respect to pest and disease infection.

Pick Up Service

Retrieving goods from a shipper to be brought to their destination for a fee.


The location in a seaport at which cargo arrives or departs. A dock for loading or unloading ships or vessels. A type of wharf running at an angle with the shoreline of a body of water.

Place of Delivery

Place where cargo leaves the care and custody of carrier.

Place of Receipt

Location where cargo enters the care and custody of carrier.


Port of Discharge, also Proof of Delivery.

Point of Origin

The location where a shipment first starts out.


Port of Landing

Port of Call

Port where a ship discharges or receives traffic.

Port of Entry

Port where cargo is unloaded and enters a country.

Port of Exit

Place where cargo is loaded and leaves a country.

Postal Code

A four to nine digit number identifying postal delivery zones in Canadian and international cities.

Power of Attorney

Exporters and Importers authorize Freight Fowarders and Customs Brokers to act as their agents, for export control and Customs purposes, with this document. Completed Power of Attorney documents, however, do not relieve importers or exporters from liability to the U.S. Government in the event of export control or entry errors.


Prepaid Charges.

Prepaid freight

Freight paid by the shipper to the carrier when merchandise is tendered for shipment. Not refundable if the merchandise does not arrive at the intended destination.

Pro forma Invoice

The Pro Forma is used primarily to document to the buyer, in advance, the cost and terms of sale of a proposed export. It is used by the foreign buyer as a quotation from the exporter and also to assist in applying for a Letter of Credit from his bank. The Pro Forma Invoice serves as the basis for the subsequent Commercial Invoice.


Port to Port.


A restraint placed on an operation to protect the public against a health hazard. A ship may be quarantined so that it cannot leave a protected point. During the quarantine period, the Q flag is hoisted.


A wedge-shaped piece of timber used to secure barrels against movement.


The quantity of goods that may be imported without restriction during a set period of time.


An offer to sell goods at a stated price and under stated terms.


A structure attached toland to which a vessel is moored. See also Pier and Dock.

Receipt For Shipment B/L

When the steamship line gives the shipper a B/L indicating that cargo has been received at the pier, but not necessarily loaded on the vessel.


This container usually has a self-sustaining unity to keep cargo cool/cold at certain temperatures.

Restricted Articles

An airline term meaning a hazardous material as defined by Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (U.S.) and Air Transport Restricted Articles Circular 6-D. Restricted articles may be transported domestically and may be classified as dangerous goods when transported internationally by air.


Roll-on/Roll-off. A type of vessel that transports wheeled vehicles. Also used to refer to the cargo itself.

Roll booking

To re-book cargo to a later vessel.

RoRo ramp

A roll-on roll-off ramp with the help of which road vehicles can be driven on or off a ship or train.

Schedule B Number

A number from a published governmental list that classifies commodities being exported from the United States. Needed for completion of international shipping documentation.

Sea waybill

A Sea Waybill also known as Express Bill of Lading is a transport contract (contract of carriage) – the same as a Bill of Lading. A Sea Waybill, however, is not needed for cargo delivery and is only issued as a cargo receipt. A Sea Waybill is not negotiable and cannot be assigned to a third party.

Since a Sea Waybill is not a negotiable document, it is not necessary to surrender it at the destination in order to obtain cargo delivery. The current bill of lading system used by shipping lines sometimes results in delays in cargo delivery and other problems when the original bill of lading is lost or arrives late. The waybill system not only expedites cargo delivery but also simplifies the documentation procedure between shipper and consignee.


In transport: any gadget or device which must be broken in order to open it and therefore serves as a proof to a consignee that the goods contained in a truck or container have not been touched during transport.


A person or enterprise having a commercial arrangement with a shipping organisation for the shipment of cargo. A shipper is the consignor of cargo.

Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods

Under the regulations of the Department of Transportation, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), shippers and exporters are required to declare dangerous cargos to the air and ocean carriers they use for shipment. Both the IMO and IATA require specific documents to report hazardous goods, and these requirements are published in their respective Codes. IATA also provides a document specifically for non-restricted articles.

Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED)

Issued by: Exporter (or freight forwarder on exporter’s behalf) Purpose: U.S. Forms 7525-V and 7525-V-Alternate (for intermodal shipments) required by federal law for any commodity with value over $2,500 or any shipment requiring validated export license. Enables Bureau of the Census to compile trade statistics. Shipper or its agent submits form to carrier, which then submits SEDs for all shipments on vessel voyage or aircraft flight to U.S. Customs.

Shipper’s Interest Insurance

Insurance, arranged for by carrier if specified on the Airbill, which covers shipments against risk of physical loss or damage from any external causes.

Shipper’s Letter of Instruction

These instructions, often prepared along with a Shipper’s Export Declaration, are the exporter’s direction to the freight forwarder on how to handle the exporter’s shipment. The information prepared on the SLI includes a description of the goods and containers, the ultimate consignee, shipping method desired, insurance requirements, and special instructions pertaining to the shipment.

Ship’s Gear

Any equipment ( such as cranes, hatches, winches, cables) belonging to or part of the vessel.

Shrink Wrap

Polyethylene or similar substance heat-treated and shrunk into an envelope around several units, thereby securing them as a single pack for presentation or to secure units on a pallet.

Sight, Time Drafts

Issued by: Exporter (or freight forwarder on exporter’s behalf) Purpose: Request for payment from foreign buyer. Instructs buyer’s bank to collect payment; when collected it releases shipping documents to buyer. Buyer’s bank then remits to seller’s bank. Sight drafts are payable on receipt at buyer’s bank. Time drafts extend credit; foreign bank releases documents immediately, but collects payment later, for example, 30 days after receipt of draft.

Single Access Document

Also referred to as “SAD” the Single Access Document required for movement of goods through the countries of the European Economic Community. Generally prepared by Customs Brokers in Europe for imports entering the EC.


Battens, or a series of parallel runners, fitted beneath boxes or packages to raise them clear of the floor to permit easy access of forklift blades or other handling equipment.

Skidded Crate

A crate with skids underneath for easy lifting with fork lifts.


Shipper Load and Count.


Placing a container where required to be loaded or unloaded.


Short Ton (2,000 pounds).


Said to Contain.

Steamship conference

A voluntary collective ratemaking body representing member steamship lines.

Steamship line

A company that owns and/or operates vessels in maritime trade.


The end of a vessel. Opposite of bow.


Removing cargo from a container (devanning).


Putting cargo into a container.


An extra or additional charge.


A person examining something carefully; an expert sent by an external office in charge of a survey.

Tare Weight

The weight of a shipment excluding the goods being shipped (compare with Gross Weight.)

Tariff Rate

The rate or price schedule for transporting different items to various countries.


A document issued by a carrier setting forth applicable rules, rates, and charges for the movement of goods. It sets up a contract of carriage between the shipper, consignee, and carrier. In international trade applications, the term also refers to a tax on imports.


To Be Nominated. (When the name of a ship is still unknown.)


A communication wire service that automatically transmits data that has been entered on a teletypewriter.


Either end of a carrier line which has the facilities required for the handling of freight and passengers.

Terms of payment

The conditions which control an agreement between a supplier and a customer regarding the payments of goods or services.


Twenty-foot equivalent unit. Used to measure a vessel’s capacity.


Terminal Handling Charge.

Third Party Billing

The designated payor of an invoice other than the shipper or the consignee.


“Transport International par la Route.” Road transport operating agreement among European governments and the United States for the international movement of cargo by road. Display of the TIR carnet allows sealed containerloads to cross national frontiers without inspection.


The truck unit into which freight is loaded as in tractor trailer combination. See Container.

Transit time

A time period for cargo to move between two points (i.e., from shipper to consignee)

Transmittal Letter

The Transmittal Letter, commonly prepared with a Bank Draft, is the document used to send shipping documents to a remitting bank for processing either a collection or payment/negotiation under a Letter of Credit. It contains the shipper’s precise and complete instructions on how the documents are to be handled and the payments remitted.


Shipment of merchandise to the point of destination in another country on more than one vessel or vehicle. The liability may pass from one carrier to the next, or it may be covered by “through bills of lading” issued by the first carriers.

Twist Locks

A set of four twistable bayonet type shear keys used as part of a spreader to pick up a container or as part of a chassis to secure the containers.

Two-Way Pallet

A pallet so designed that the forks of a fork lift truck can be inserted from two sides only.


Unit load device. Refers to airfreight containers and pallets.

Unit Cost

The cost associated with one unit of an item.

U.S. DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation)

U.S. Department of Transportation, whose purpose is to provide a dynamic federal system of transportation to meet the country’s needs

U.S. Flag Vessels

Are registered in the United States and are subject to additional U.S. laws and regulations to which foreign-flag vessels are not. They must be owned by U.S. citizens, corporations, or governments and must be crewed mainly by U.S. citizens.

United Nations Dangerous Goods Number (UNDG number/UN Number)

A classification of dangerous cargo according to a four-digit number assigned by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

Validated Export License

Issued by: U.S. Department of Commerce. Purpose: Required for commodities deemed important to national security, foreign-policy objectives, or protecting domestic supplies or strategic materials. Constitutes permission to export a specific product to a specific party. Exporter applies for license, which must be returned to Bureau of Export Administration after completing specified shipments.


Authentication of B/L and when B/L becomes effective.

Vessel Manifest

The international carrier is obligated to make declarations of the ship’s crew and contents at both the port of departure and arrival. The vessel manifest lists various details about each shipment by B/L number. Obviously, the B/L serves as the core source from which the manifest is created.


Weight or Measure: whichever is greater.

Waiting time

The time one spends waiting for something to start. In production: queue time.


A place for the reception, delivery, consolidation, distribution, and storage of goods/cargo.

Warehouse Entry

Document that identifies goods imported when placed in a bonded warehouse. The duty is not imposed on the products while in the warehouse but will be collected when they are withdrawn for delivery or consumption.

Weight Certificate

The Weight Certificate, usually a certified copy of the Packing List, is occasionally required by the foreign buyer for control purposes. This type of certification may be made with an export inspection company.

Weight, Legal

Net weight of goods plus the inside packing.

Weights and Measures W/M

In many cases, a rate is shown per weight/measurement ton, carrier’s option. This means that the rate will be assessed on either a weight ton or measurement ton basis, whichever will yield the carrier the greater revenue. For example, the rate may be quoted based on 2,240 pounds, 40 cubic feet, one metric ton, or one cubic meter. (5) Weight Ton- There are three types of weight ton: the short ton, weighing 2,000 pounds; the long ton, weighing 2,240 pounds; and the metric ton weighing 2,204.68 pounds. The last is frequently quoted for cargo being exported from Europe.

Wharfage (Whfge.)

Charge assessed by a pier or dock owner against freight handled over the pier or dock or against a steamship company using the pier or dock.


Weight or Weight Ton.

Zip Code

A five (or nine) digit number that identifies every Post Office and delivery station within the United States. ZIP coded shipments will be delivered quicker than uncoded shipments.