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Shipping Terms


When shippers and consignees seek the authority to abandon all or part of their cargo.


A discount for overcharging on a bill or damage to the cargo.

ABC analysis

Classification of inventory items by importance, defined by criteria such as purchase volume or sales volume.


A ship's relative bearing, specifically, at a right angle to the keel's centerline.


Cargo or passengers on or in a vessel or another means of transportation.

Above board

On or above the ship's deck, in plain view.

Absolute bearing

The bearing of an object relative to the north, either the geographical true north or the magnetic north.


An agreement to purchase goods according to specified terms.

Acceptance of goods

The process of receiving a consignment, usually with a receipt issued. The moment the carrier accepts the goods, he or she takes the responsibility for the consignment.


A carrier's ability to provide service between a shipment's origin and destination.

Accessorial charges

What a carrier charges for accessorial services, which include pickup, loading, delivery, and unloading.

Accessorial services

Service performed in addition to the normal transportation service (e.g., COD service, inside delivery).

Accommodation ladder

Portable steps alongside a ship.

Account party/accountee

The importer or the purchasing party in a transaction.


In accounting, a gradual increase over a given period. It indicates that expenses and revenue, as well as related liabilities and assets, can increase over time beyond the initial cash expense.

Acknowledgement of receipt

A notification to acknowledge the receipt of messages, documents, goods, or other assets.


When a shipper or shipper's agent signs a bill of lading without protest, giving his or her silent consent.

Act of God

Accidents out of the scope of human control, including floods and storms and quoted as a "force majeure."

Act of man

In shipping via water transportation, the deliberate sacrifice of some cargo to make the vessel safe to carry the remaining cargo to its destination. Those who share ownership of the remaining cover the loss proportionately.

Act of pardon/act of grace

A letter from a state or other governing power to authorize action by a privateer.

Action message

An alert that a DRP or MRP system generates to inform a controller of a situation that requires attention.

Active stock

Goods in an active pick location that are ready to fill orders.

Activity-based costing

A cost management method that identifies the costs of business activities performed and the accumulated costs associated with these activities. It uses cost drivers to trace the costs of these activities to the products themselves.

Ad hoc charter

A one-time charter needed by a charterer or airline.

Ad valorem (ad valorem freight)

  1. Upon import, a duty fee that is calculated as a percentage of a shipment's value subject to duty.
  2. Ocean freight prices might also be calculated based on the shipment's value, as opposed to its weight or volume.
  3. Freight on a bill of lading that is charged on high-value goods. The charge is based on a percentage of the declared value of the goods.

Ad valorem freight

Bill of lading freight charged on high-value goods, based on a percentage of the declared value of the goods.


Costs incurred after delivery. A shipment might need adjustments if there are additional services or if there is a discrepancy between the quote and the freight's actual dimensions, weight, or class.


A floating vessel that has come loose from her moorings or anchor and is drifting out of control.


To move cargo into a vessel that will leave sooner than the one the shipper booked.

Advance against documents

A cargo loaded on good faith based on the security of the shipping documents, a form of acceptance credit.

Advance Commercial Information (ACI)

To fulfill its goal to make Canada's border more secure and crossings more efficient, the Canada Border Services Agency requires all commercial freight that enters Canada to register electronically before it crosses the border.

Advance note

A note that promises sailors one month's wages upon their signing on to a ship's articles.

Advanced charge

A charge that a carrier pays to another carrier or an agent. The delivering carrier then collects the charge, typically for forwarding fees and other out-of-pocket incidental expenses, from the consignee.

Advanced shipment notice

A list transmitted to a customer or consignor designating items shipped. May also include expected time of arrival.


A document that the ship's master signs indicating that the ship carries the goods at the owner's risk on the shipper's own account.

Advice of shipment

A notice sent to the buyer that informs them that the shipment has gone out. It spells out several details about the shipment, such as packing and routing. It often includes a copy of the invoice and the bill of lading.

Advice, letter of

Sent by one party to the party to the party receving the shipment, whether on consignment or other terms. It contains a description of the good, the carrier(s), the departure date, and other critical data. Bankers also use this term to notify parties about opening a line of credit, drawing drafts, and non-payment or payment of those drafts.

Advising bank

The bank that informs the seller that a buyer has opened a letter of credit in the seller's favor, often in the seller's country on behalf of a foreign bank.

Advisory capacity

This term indicates that a shipper's agent or representative has no power to make decisions or adjustments without the represented entity's approval.


AESDirect is a free filing tool that processes export data to the AES. Exports that once required a paper declaration must now be filed electronically with the AES.


To hire a ship or other transportation to carry freight.

Affreightment, contract of

The contract that ocean carriers make to provide cargo space on a vessel at a specific place and time to accommodate exporters' and importers' needs.


A condition in which a vessel is floating freely and not adrift or sunk, usually in service and under control.

Against all risks (AAR)

Insurance that provides coverage against any kind of loss or damage or loss as opposed to specific cases.

Agency agreement

A company's agreement with a carrier line to appoint a port agent to define the specific responsibilities of the agent.

Agency fee

The fee that a shipowner or operator must pay a port agent for services renders while the ship is in port.

Agency tariff

A publication put out by the rate bureau. It states rates for a variety of carriers.

Agent (Agt.)

A person who does business for another company or individual. Agents usually supervise documentation, insurance, customs requirements, and other shipping matters. They often receive a percentage of profit from transactions as their payment.

Aggregate shipment

Different shipments from multiple sellers to one consignee that the carrier consolidates into a single shipment.

Aggregate tender rate

A reduced rate that a company offers to a shipper that tenders multiple class-related shipments at a single time and place.

Agreed valuation

The agreed-upon value of a shipment to procure a specific freight shipment.

Agreed weight

The weight agreed upon between the shipper and carrier for goods shipped in specific packages or a specific number.


When a vessel touches the bottom of a waterway or the ground along the shore.


  1. When a boat lies broadside to the sea.
  2. Also refers to riding out a storm with the helm to leeward and no sails.

Air brakes

Heavy trucks, such as semi-trucks, use these brakes to slow down or stop. Applying the brakes activates air to enter the brake chamber, forcing out a push rod, which then turns a slack adjuster. The slack adjuster rotates the S-cam, forcing the brake shoes up against the drum. This process generates friction, which slows or stops the vehicle.

Air cargo

Freight that is moved by air transportation.

Bull rings

Floor-mounted devices in containers to lash and secure cargo.


The extension of the sides of a ship above the weather deck level.

Bunker surcharge (BAF, BSC)

A surcharge that a carrier assesses to cover the cost of fuel used on its ship, also called a "bunker adjustment factor" (BAF) or a "bunker surcharge" (BSC).


A floating object of defined shape and colour, which is anchored at a given position and serves as an aid to navigation. Floats that warn of hazards such as rocks or shallow ground, to help ships maneuver through unfamiliar harbors.


An upward force that water exerts on a partially or completely immersed object, such as a ship. Shipmakers calculate buoyancy as the weight of the water that the ship's hull displaces.

Buoyed up

A cable or other object that is lifted by a buoy to keep it from trailing along the bottom of a body of water.

Bureau Veritas

An international shipping certification agency, one of the largest certification and conformity assessment organizations in the world. It was formerly known as the Bureau Veritas Quality International (BVQI).

Business Logistics

The process whereby a company plans, implements, and controls the flow of services, goods, and information from its origin to the end consumer.


An individual or company that arranges to acquire services or goods and agrees to the seller's payment terms.

Cable length

A measure of distance, equivalent to approximately 600 US feet, 1/10 nautical mile (UK), 120 fathoms, or 219 meters. Various countries use different values to measure cable length.


Transporting goods between two locations in one nation by a transporter from another nation.


Transporting goods by truck to or from an aircraft, vessel, or bonded warehouse under the custody of the country's customs agents.


A large vessel whose size prevents it from going through the Suez or Panama Canals, making it necessary for it to pass around the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn.


When a ship or boat rolls over on its side, exposing its keel. Larger vessels usually sink when they capsize.

Captain's protest

A document that a ship's captain prepares when the ship arrives at a port. It documents the conditions the ship encountered during its voyage. The document is meant to shift the responsibility for any loss to the ship's cargo to the insurance company.

Captive cargo port

A port in which most of its inbound cargoes will be shipped short distances, and its exports come from areas nearby, as opposed to a transit port.

Captive register

A register of ships that a possession, territory, or colony maintains primarily for ships owned by parties in its parent country. Also called an "offshore register."


A barge with train tracks installed. It is used to transport railroad cars in inland waterways or harbors


Goods that are transported from their origin to their destination by any means of transportation.

Cargo claim

A claim for payment for damaged or lost goods when the loss occurred while the goods were in the carrier's possession. They must be filed within a certain period, depending on the insurance carrier, the specific policy, and the mode of shipment.

Cargo insurance

A type of insurance that protects shippers against theft or damage incurred during transit, usually arranged through a shipper's forwarder.

Cargo manifest

A document that details a ship's cargo and is usually presented to the customs agent at the destination.

Cargo not otherwise specified (cargo NOS)

Commodities that aren't covered in a specific category or sub-category in a tariff.

Cargo preference

Cargo that can only be transported by vessels registered in a given nation. Usually, the cargo is transported to support a government's directive or activity.

Cargo ramp

A dedicated facility for cargo aircraft to load and unload.

Cargo receipt

Used in ocean freight, a receipt that shows that cargo has been received for shipment.

Cargo tonnage

The weight of a cargo carrier's cargo. It varies by country. In the US, a short ton is 2,000 pounds, and a long ton is 2,240 pounds. In the UK, the long ton is 2,240 pounds. Countries that use the metric system calculate a ton as 2,204.62 pounds. A measurement ton is usually 40 cubic feet or one cubic meter (35.3 cubic feet).


The quantity of cargo required to apply a special carload rate.

Carload rate

A special rate given to cargos that fill an entire car.


The Carmack Amendment is a US law that regulates damage or loss of goods by a motor carrier. The carrier must issue a bill of lading and pay the cost of the injury or loss of the property. Carriers can limit damages to either $100,000 per shipment or $25 per pound.


A document that permits its holder to send goods to specified foreign nations for demonstration or display purposes without having to pay duty costs. Also refers to various customs documents some nations require to cross their borders.


A Customs document permitting the holder to temporarily carry or send merchandise into certain foreign countries (for display, demonstration or similar purposes) without paying duties or posting bonds.


One of 11 Incoterms, carriage and insurance paid to (CIP) is recommended for containerized freight. Shipments can use CIP for any mode of transportation, or if they are using more than one mode of transportation. It indicates that the seller is responsible for arranging carriage to the destination and insurance to cover the carriage.

Carriage and Insurance Paid To (CIP)

One of 11 Incoterms, carriage and insurance paid to (CIP) is recommended for containerized freight. Shipments can use CIP for any mode of transportation, or if they are using more than one mode of transportation. It indicates that the seller is responsible for arranging carriage to the destination and insurance to cover the carriage.

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA)

A US statute that standardizes a carrier's liability under the carrier's bill of lading.

Carriage Paid To (CPT)

One of 11 Incoterms, Carriage Paid To (CPT) indicates that the seller is responsible for arranging transportation to the shipment's destination but not for insuring the shipment. It applies to any mode of transportation or even more than one mode of transportation. Sellers are responsible for all the steps in their own country up to the buyer's forwarder's warehouse. Once the goods arrive at the warehouse or terminal in the seller's country, the seller is not liable.


A company or individual that transports goods or services.

Carrier certificate and release order

A document that informs customs officials about the details of the shipment. In it, the carrier must certify that the individual or company named in the document is the cargo's consignee or owner.

Carrier liability

Common carriers are liable for delay, loss, and damage to a shipment unless the harm was caused by an act of a public enemy, an act of God, an act of a public authority, an act of the shipper, or the cargo's inherent nature.

Carrier(s) containers or shipper(s) containers

The terms "carrier(s) containers" or "shipper(s) container") refer to containers that the shipper or carrier either owns, leases, or rents from container companies. By law, carriers may not buy, lease, or rent containers owned by a shipper.

Carrier, common

A company (either privately or publicly held) that transports others' goods by any means of transport for a stated freight rate. By law, common carriers must carry all goods that the shipper offers if the established rate is paid and the transport has the required accommodations.

Carrier's lien

The right of a carrier to retain cargo until all transportation charges are paid.

Cars knocked down (CKD)

Automobile parts and partially assembled sections of a car that are manufactured in another country and transported to the manufacturer's US-based assembly plant.


Carting, trucking, or draying freight, usually locally. Also refers to the rate a company charges to pick up goods from a sender or to deliver it to a home or business.


A customs form that permits in-bond cargo to be moved under the control of customs personnel, so long as it is in the same district.

Cash against documents

A payment method in which the documents that transfer the title are given to the buyer when he or she pays cash to a third-party intermediary that acts on behalf of the seller.

Cash in advance (CIA)

A payment method in which a buyer pays the seller the entire price before the goods are shipped. Generally, this payment method is used for custom-built machinery or other custom-designed goods.

Cash on delivery (COD)

A payment method in which the buyer pays upon delivery rather than in advance, and the transportation provider collects the price of the goods from the buyer.

Cash with order (CWO)

A payment method in which the buyer pays cash at the time he or she places the order. At that time, the transaction becomes binding for both seller and buyer.


A watercraft (vessel) with two parallel hulls of equal size.


Areas of uniform size within a cargo vessel into which standard-sized containers can be loaded for optimum stability and minimum wasted space. In modern vessels, cells typically have guides for cranes at each corner to increase the speed and efficiency of loading and unloading containers.

Cellular vessel

A vessel with internal ribbing built in to support stacked containers.

Centralized dispatching

When an organization consolidates its entire dispatching operation into a single location. It employs data collection devices to communicate between the dispatchers, the manufacturing department, and the production control department.

Center of gravity

The container ship's and its cargo's point of equilibrium. The lower and more central the point, the better the ship's stability.

Certificate of analysis

A document some nations require to prove the composition and quality of pharmaceutical or food products. The analysis can be done by a government or a private agency. Both the manufacturer's nation and the nation the goods enter must legalize the document, either by an apostille or a foreign consul of the country involved, depending on each nation's laws.

Certificate of inspection

A document that certifies that a shipment of merchandise (like perishable goods) was in good condition before it was shipped.

Certificate of insurance

A document from an insurer that certifies that a person or company has met specific requirements, such as having the required insurance of a certain type and amount.

Certificate of origin (COO)

A document that certifies the country of origin of goods. It contains an affidavit and other information about the goods and shipment. It is usually signed or issued by an embassy or a local chamber of commerce.

Certificate of weight

A certified statement that documents the weight of a shipment.


See Container Freight Station.

CFT or Cu. Ft.

Cubic feet also referred to as cft or cu. ft. is a measure of cargo volume derived by multiplying the length x width x height of an item measured in feet.


A person or company that sells supplies to support a ship's crew and to operate, such as engine parts, groceries, electronics, paper products, and other necessities.

Channel of distribution

One of the means by which manufacturers distribute products from their plant to wholesalers, retailers, brokers, or the end users. It includes physical routes that manufacturers use to ship their products.

Chargeable weight

Shipments that are light for their size might incur a higher rate than their actual weight since they take up space in a ship, truck, railcar, or aircraft. A chargeable and volumetric weight calculator can help you calculate what rate you will have to pay. Find it here:

Charges, statement of

A detailed statement that lists all the charges incurred by the shipper during a shipment. The shipper sends it to the importer to illustrate how the shipper calculated the charges. It lists the charges that are outside of the agreed-upon price.

Charter party (C/P)

An agreement spelled out in a contract between a ship's owner and the cargo's owner, in which a ship is hired (chartered) for a single voyage or for a given period spelled out in the contract.

Charter party bill of lading

A bill of lading that serves as a receipt of goods. It is issued by the person or company that charters a vessel to the shippers for whom the charterer will transport cargo.

Charter rates

  1. The rates that a shipowner and the person who wants to charter a vessel agree upon.
  2. A tariff applied to charter tonnage in a specific trade.

Charter service

Hiring an aircraft on a temporary basis, usually for a single trip, to transport cargo or passengers.

Chartered ship

A ship leased to others by its owner.


The person who has signed an agreement with an aircraft's or ship's owner to use the vessel to transport passengers or cargo.


  1. The base frame of a wheeled vehicle.
  2. A type of trailer designed to carry shipping containers.

China Classification Society (CCS)

A ship classification society in the People's Republic of China. It performs certification surveys, classification surveys, notarial surveys of ships, containers, and other shipping products. It also performs work for the Chinese government. It is a full member of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS).


  1. Material (usually wood) placed beside cargo to prevent the cargo from moving excessively and causing damage.
  2. Blocks or stop barriers placed either in front or behind a container's or trailer's wheels to prevent it from rolling.


Rigging blocks that fit so tightly against each other that they cannot be tightened any further.


One of 11 Incoterms, Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) applies only to goods transported by water. Sellers should use CIF when they have access to the vessel to load it, such as with non-containerized goods or bulk cargoes. The seller arranges and pays for the transport to the port. He or she delivers previously cleared for export goods and loads them onto the vessel. Once the goods are loaded, the risk transfers to the buyer. The seller also makes arrangements and pays for insurance for the goods during carriage to the port.

City driver (P&D driver)

A driver whose responsibility is to make deliveries and pickups from a specific terminal location. Generally, they have a specific geographical area in which they operate. City drivers usually deliver in the morning and make pickups in the afternoon.

City loading diagram

A form that destination dock personnel use to record shipments on a city trailer as they load. It needs to include the initials of each person who is loading freight, as well as the trailer number, date, delivery area, the number of pieces in the shipment, and the PRO number.

City run (pedal run or peddle run)

A route on which a driver stays within the boundaries serviced by his or her terminal, making many stops to deliver shipments in the process.


A demand a customer makes to his or her transportation company for a payment to compensate him or her for damaged or lost goods or for a refund of an overcharge.


A rating assigned to a product based on its shipping characteristics, such as density and how it is packaged. There are 17 classes in the system that range from 50 to 500. These classes determine the rate.

Class I Carrier

A carrier classification that requires a carrier to have an annual operating revenue of more than $5 million.

Class II Carrier

A carrier classification that requires a carrier to have an annual operating revenue that ranges from $1 to $5 million.

Class III Carrier

A carrier classification that requires a carrier to have an annual operating revenue of less than $1 million.

Class rates

A rate that applies to a class rating to which articles are assigned in a class tariff, one that contains only class rates.


Publications, like the National Motor Freight Classification for motor carriers and the Uniform Freight Classification for railroad carriers, that assign ratings to types of merchandise and provide rules and descriptions for bills of lading.

Clean bill of health

A certificate that a port issues that indicates that a ship carries no contagious diseases.

Clean bill of lading

A bill of lading that states that the merchandise in a shipment has been shipped in good condition and order without any qualifications.

Clean draft

A draft to which no documents are attached.

Clearance limits

A size beyond which vehicles or their loads cannot use tunnels, bridges, or other structures.

Clip-on unit (COU)

Refrigeration equipment that can be attached to an insulated container without its own refrigeration unit.

Closed ventilated container

A closed container that is similar to a general-purpose container but designed specifically for cargo that needs ventilation.

Closing date

The latest date on which exports or other cargo can be accepted for sailing.


Commercial motor vehicle

Coastal shipping

Also called "coastwise" or "short-sea shipping," this term describes marine shipping operations between ports on the same coast or only a short sea crossing.


In trucking, defined as Collect (cash) on Delivery. In ocean transportation, defined as Change of Destination.

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

A publication of the US Federal Register, a CFR contains federal rules and regulations. Each arm of the US government has its own CFR.

Collect freight (Collect or COL)

Freight payable by the consignee to the carrier at the port of discharge or final destination. If the cargo does not arrive at its destination, the consignee does not pay.

Collect on delivery (COD)

A shipment for which the carrier bears the responsibility to collect the payment for the goods in a shipment before delivery. The extra administration required for this arrangement makes it necessary for the carrier to charge an additional fee to cover its cost.

Collecting bank

A bank that acts as the agent for the seller's bank, called the "presenting bank." A collecting bank takes no responsibility for the merchandise or the documents.


A draft drawn on a buyer that usually includes documents that contain the complete directions to process payment or acceptance.

Collective paper

All documents, such as bills of lading, commercial invoices, and others, submitted to a buyer to receive payment for a shipment.

Combination aircraft

An aircraft that can transport both cargo and passengers on the same flight.

Combined transport

Carriage by more than one mode of transportation with only one contract of carriage.

Combined transport bill of lading

A bill of lading for combined transport.

Combined transport document (CTD)

  1. A non-negotiable or negotiable document that provides evidence of a contract for the procurement and performance of combined transport.
  2. A combined transport operator's (CTO's) bill of lading.

Combined transport operator (CTO)

A common carrier who contracts as a principal to provide combined (multimodal) transport services.

Commercial invoice

A document that serves as a detailed record of a transaction, particularly an international one. It is a complete bill of sale that includes the shipper's name, the ultimate consignee, payment terms, prices, quantities, discounts, and the goods shipped, among other items.


Usually referring to agricultural products and raw materials traded on the market, it generally means any item exchanged in trade.

Commodity box rate

A rate quoted by container and classified by the commodity shipped.

Commodity code

A classification code for the most commonly traded and produced. To learn more, see "Harmonized system" (HS).
The HS is a six-digit code. The first four digits are called the "heading," while the first six digits are called the code's "subheading." It is known in the US as Schedule B number for exports and the HTS code for imports.

Commodity rate

Freight rates that apply individually to goods that move regularly in large quantities.

Commodity tariff

A tariff that shows specific rates for specific articles.

Common carrier

A for-hire carrier that provides transportation services to the general public for compensation. They are obligated to avoid discrimination, to charge reasonable rates, to serve their customers, and to deliver their customers' goods. In the US, these carriers were previously regulated but are now deregulated.

Concealed damage/shortage

Damage to or a shortage of a package's contents that is not evident externally, appearing to be in good condition.

Concealed loss

Loss (missing contents), which is not evident until the package is opened.

Condition of contract

The terms and conditions that carriers establish for transporting goods. Carriers print these terms and conditions on their airbills.

Conference rate

Freight rates that a conference of carriers (usually water carriers) set as a group.

Confirmed letter of credit

A letter of credit that is issued by a foreign bank and confirmed by a domestic bank. Exporters with confirmed letters of credit are assured of payment in case the foreign bank or buyer defaults.

Confirmed on board

Verification that an air carrier provides to confirm that the freight on a bill has been physically loaded onto the aircraft.

Confirming bank

The bank that adds its confirmation to that of the bank that issues a letter of credit. It promises to pay the beneficiary when he or she presents documents that comply with the letter of credit.


The accumulation of vessels in a port to the point that arriving vessels must wait for a vacant berth. Often, a congestion surcharge applies to offset the wait.

Congestion surcharge

A carrier charges a congestion surcharge if an event causes a port to become congested. See "Congestion," above.

Connecting carrier

A carrier that acts as an intermediary, forming links among a group of two or more other carriers.

Connecting carrier agreement

A contract between an originating carrier and a second carrier whereby the second carrier agrees to transport a cargo to its final destination with a bill of lading.

Connecting line load and count (CLLC)

Freight that is received or given to an interline carrier without a joint inspection.


An individual or company to whom cargo is shipped, i.e., the party who receives the shipment.

Consignee marks

A symbol stamped or written on packages to identify them. These marks are usually a geometric figure, such as a square, circle, or triangle plus letters and/or numbers, as well as the port discharged from.


Cargo shipped to a consignee.


Also spelled "consigner," the "consignor" refers to the exporter or shipper from which the goods originate.


To group multiple shipments in one container.

Consolidated cargo

Cargo that contains two or more shippers' cargoes, generally coordinated by a consolidator.

Consolidated container

A container that contains several shipments (consignments) from different shippers.

Consolidated freight station or container freight station (CFS)

The location where workers fill containers with goods.

Consolidated shipment (consolidation)

An arrangement in which various shippers join their smaller shipments together into one large shipment and share the total charge for the shipment.


The grouping of multiple small shipments into one container, typically used to reduce overall freight charges. Sometimes known as groupage, LCL, Buyer's Consolidation or Air Freight consolidation.

Consolidation fee

A fee that a forwarder charges shippers to pack smaller shipments into one container.


A person or company that combines a group of smaller shipments for another person or company to allow the customer to take advantage of the lower rates for a full container load (FCL).

Consolidator's bill of lading

A bill of lading (BOL) issued by a consolidator. It serves as a receipt for the merchandise that the consolidator will group with other shippers' cargo.

Consular declaration

A formal statement that describes goods that will be shipped. It is filled out and approved by the consul of the destination country before shipment.

Consular invoice

A document required by some nations to describe a shipment. It is used by the customs agents of the destination country to confirm quantity, value, and the cargo's nature.

Consumption entry

Goods that are imported into the US without any use or time restrictions. Most imported goods fall under this category.


A reusable rectangular aluminum, steel, or fiberglass box in which goods are shipped by truck, rail, or ship. Sizes are standardized for easy storage and movement. Types include standard, hardtop, high cube, open-top, refrigerated, flatbed, and bulk. To identify a container, shippers use a code that consists of four alpha characters, followed by a numerical code.

Container booking

Making arrangements with a shipping line to transport containerized cargo.

Container check digit

The seventh digit of the serial number of a container used to check whether prefix and serial number are correct (ex: MSCU-123456-7).

Container equivalents (FEU/TEU)

The designation for the standard 40-foot equivalent and 20-foot equivalent container sizes and is recognized internationally. Lots use these equivalents to calculate the number of containers that each lot can accommodate. They are also used to calculate the required volume of service contracts.

Container freight station (CFS) receiving service

A service performed at a loading port that consists of receiving cargo and packing it into containers from the container freight station to the container yard (CY). It also includes moving empty containers from the CY to the CFS, tallying, issuing receiving and shipping orders, and drayage of the loaded containers to a ship's tackle.

Avoirdupois pound

A measure of mass (weight) that equals 0.4535924277 kilograms.

Bill no freight (BNF)

When an entire shipment is short, typically used in LTL shipments in the United States.

Bulk freight container

A container customized to transport free-flowing bulk cargo. It has portholes on the top and discharge hatches in its doors.

Bundle (Bdl)

A kind of customary packaging unit.

Air cargo agent

An agent that an airline appoints to solicit and process international air cargo shipments.

Air cargo containers

Shipping containers that fit within the cargo hold of an airplane. Designed in a variety of shapes and sizes, these containers come in three categories: pallets, box-type, and lower deck containers.

Air carrier

A company that provides air transportation.


A collision that occurs between a stationary object and a moving vessel.

All-inclusive rate (AI)

A freight rate that includes all charges.


A group of ocean carriers or airlines that sell capacity on each other's voyages or flights and cross-list and coordinate their schedules.

All-commodity rate

A freight rate that applies to all commodities, subject to specific restrictions.

All-cargo carrier

An air carrier that only transports cargo. Also called a "cargo aircraft only" (CAO) service.

All-cargo air service

When an air service carries only cargo in an aircraft, as opposed to both cargo and passengers.

All water

Transportation occurring only by water routes.

All in

The all-inclusive price to transport cargo from its origin to the destination.

Alameda Corridor Surcharge (ACS)

A special surcharge levied by the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) to cover its construction and other operating costs. It applies only to cargo transported by rail southbound through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.

Airport Mail Facility (AMF)

A US Postal Service (USPS) office that is located in an airport.

Air waybill

A bill of lading for the air transport industry, covering both international and domestic flights to a specific destination. It serves as the shipper's receipt and indicates that the carrier has accepted the listed goods and has agreed to transport the consignment to its specified destination according to the conditions listed therein.

Air taxi

An exempt air carrier for hire that will fly anywhere for a fee but is restricted to a maximum passenger capacity and payload per plane.

Air freight forwarder

A company that handles a shipment's pickup and delivery under its own tariff, consolidates small shipments into larger ones, prepares the shipping paperwork, and arranges for shipments to get to the air carrier. An air freight forwarder does not generally operate its own aircraft. For that reason, they often are called "indirect air carriers." Airlines list the forwarder as the shipper since the forwarder tenders the cargo to them.

Air freight

Exporters and importers around the world ship goods by air when they need to get a shipment to its destination quickly. Though most international cargo is shipped by ocean, air transportation can cut a 20- to 30-day shipping time down to three days. With regular international air freight, shipments often employ multiple carriers, while with express air freight, all shipping is usually handled by a single company, such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL.

Apparent good order

When a cargo appears to be free from damage after a general assessment.

Apparent authority

The authority of an agent that is deemed to apply in the law, usually inferred from the principal's previous or present conduct. Also called "estoppel."

Any-quantity rate

A rate that applies to shipments of any size, with no discount rate for larger shipments.


A suitable spot for a ship to anchor, usually in a specific area of a harbor or port. Also refers to the port charge for vessels moored at the site.


When referencing a Letter of Credit (L/C): A written change in any part of the terms of an L/C that becomes a legal addition to the original L/C.
When referencing an ocean carrier contract: A change, removal or addition to a service contract (e.g. adding a new port pair rate or free time to the contract)

Ambient temperature

The atmospheric temperature of the environment to which a container is exposed.

Amazon Reference ID

A Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) unique reference number used by Amazon to reference cargo arriving to one of their FBA warehouses. An Amazon Seller will find this number generated on their Amazon Seller Central site once they have created a shipment, this number must be included on the Straight Bill of Lading given to the LTL carrier at the time of pickup.

Always Within Institute Warranties Limits (AWWL)

Always Within Institute Warranties Limits (AWWL), an insurance term.

Always afloat (AA)

A term in a contract that requires that a vessel must not rest on the ground, to prevent the vessel from orders to proceed to a port berth at which she will rest on the ground.

Alternative rates

A privilege that allows a shipper to use the rate that results in the lowest charge.

Also notify party

A second party to whom a carrier sends a notice that advises them about goods coming for delivery.


The side of a vessel. Cargo delivered alongside is put on a barge or the dock within easy reach of the ship for easy loading.

All-risk clause

A provision in an insurance policy that insures against all damage or loss to goods except for self-caused damage or loss. Also referred to as "all-risk insurance."


A deduction from the value of the goods or their gross weight that is given as a repayment or reimbursement.


A specific party's (such as an agent's or carrier's) assigned share of a vessel or another vehicle's capacity to book cargo for a specific trip.

ATA Carnet

Pronounced car-nay, a carnet is a quick-and-simple way of getting customs clearance for a temporary export. It is a customs document that will allow the free movement of goods between countries for a year before being returned to its originating country. It is referred to as an ATA Carnet, which is an amalgam of the French “Admission Temporaire” and the English “Temporary Admission.”

Asylum Harbour

A harbour or port used to provide shelter to a vessel during a storm.

Astray freight

When all or part of a shipment travels on a route that differs from the route shown on the trip computer.


Refers to1) a location behind a vessel or 2) to move a vessel in a reverse direction.

Assignment of proceeds

An assignment of proceeds transfers the rights, title, and interest of a shipment to an assignee in order to endorse the bill of lading. Also refers to a stipulation in a letter of credit in which all or some of the proceeds are assigned from the original beneficiary to another beneficiary or group of beneficiaries.

Asset-based provider

A carrier that has all the assets (such as warehouses, terminals, and trucks) necessary to pick up, haul, and deliver goods.


Also known as kitting, the process of packaging or combining various components into a finished goods, typically done at a manufacturing or 3PL warehouse. This can be in a manufacturing process or in a packaging process whereby goods are "kitted" into a carton or box.


A vessel that is on the shore, beach, or other land.

Articles of extraordinary value

Items, such as jewels, documents, currency, or other valuables. Unless a specific agreement has been made with the carrier, the carrier is not liable for such articles. All agreements require that the value of the articles must be listed on the bill of lading.

Arrival notice

A notice that a carrier sends to the consignee or other responsible party that their shipment has arrived. Also refers to a notice from a carrier that indicates a shipment's estimated arrival date and location.

Arrival Date

The date the cargo, vessel, aircraft, truck or rail carrier will arrive to the delivery location, whether it is a port, rail ramp or door location.

Arrest, ship

Ship arrest is a civil legal procedure in which a ship, cargo, or freight can be seized by an admiralty court or other judicial process and held until present and future claims on the vessel are settled.

Arbitration Clause

A clause that is typically included in a contract between of exporters and importers (sellers and buyers) that declares that any issue or claim related to the parties shall be settled with arbitration according to the American Arbitration Association so court can be avoided.


A procedure in which a neutral third party listens to both an employer's and their workers' union's points of view in a dispute. The arbitrator helps to negotiate a settlement and issues a solution that is binding upon both union and employers, the final step in the grievance process.

Arbitrary (ARB)

In ocean freight, it is the amount added to an existing port to port rate to move the cargo to another port. Example: rate is $600 per 40'HC from Long Beach to Shanghai with an arbitrary (ARB) of $200 to ship from Shanghai to Busan making the total rate for the container from Long Beach to Busan $800.


An area immediately behind or in front of a wharf shed on which freight is lifted. The front apron is where cargo is unloaded or loaded onto a ship. The rear apron is where cargo is unloaded or loaded onto railroad cars.


The method used and valuation of imported merchandise by a Customs official based on a country's Customs tariff. In the US, appraisement is determined based on the regulations found in 19 CFR 152 which are are found in section 402, Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1401a), as amended by section 201, Trade Agreements Act of 1979. In the US there are 6 appraisement methods that must be followed in order: (1) the transaction value, (2) the transaction value of identical merchandise, (3) the transaction value of similar merchandise, (4) the deductive value, (5) the computed value, and (6) value based on those found in 19 CFR 152.107

Average annual daily truck traffic (AADTT)

The average volume of truck traffic traveling on a given highway segment each day, calculated by dividing the total traffic by the days in that year.

Average adjusters

Average adjusters apportion the expenditure and loss to the parties involved in the maritime venture to determine which expenses are general average or average.


Loss or damage to a ship or its cargo sustained at sea, usually less than a total loss. Maritime insurance can insure against this type of risk.

Automated Manifest System (AMS)

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) electronic submission system used for air and ocean cargo arriving into the United States from a foreign area. It is the responsbility of the airline or ocean carrier to file AMS on the "Master" level and the freight forwarder on the "House" level, but this must be established ahead of time by the shipper.

Automated Export System (AES)

The system that the United States government employs to collect data on exporters. In many cases, exporters must use this system for each of their shipments.

Automated Commercial System (ACS)

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) software program that has been replaced by the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system.

Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) software program that gives CBP and other participating government agencies (PGA) the ability to access data throughout the international supply chain for security and safety purposes. The ACE system gives carriers the ability to file electronic manifests in advance of freight arrival for faster entry and entry summary. ACE replaces the Automated Commercial System (ACS).

Automated Broker Interface (ABI)

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) software system used by customs brokers to file importers' entries electronically. ABI is a component of the U.S. Customs Service's Automated Commercial System (ACE).

Authorized party

The party that can legally override the instructions in the bill of lading, usually the shipper or occasionally a consignee or a responsible third party.


The process of calculating the transportation charges due to the carrier. During an audit, the auditor checks the freight bill for the correct rate, the cargo's weight, and any errors.


When referencing freight bills, audit is the process to check on the accuracy of freight bills or freight invoices from a carrier. Errors in freight bills could be related to the rate, weight, volume or error in wording or documentation (which can affect the rate).

Athwart, athwartships

At a right angle to the centerline (fore and aft) of a ship, in a direction across the ship's width.


Any Time, Day or Night, Sundays and Holidays Included” which is a chartering term defining when a vessel will operate.


An act that a vessel's master or mariners commit for fraudulent or other unlawful purposes against the interests of and causing injury to the owners, including gross negligence.


A flat-bottomed vessel designed for transporting cargo inland on rivers and canals. Usually, barges are not self-propelled and need tugboats to pull or push them.

Bareboat charter (bareboat charter party)

Chartering a ship without the crew for an agreed-upon sum for a given period, usually for years. The charterer pays for all the running expenses, provides the cargo, appoints the captain and crew, and acts as the owner. Also called a "demise charter."

Bank guarantee

A guarantee that a bank issues to a carrier to release cargo in case the original bill of lading gets lost.

Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO)

Based in Copenhagen, BIMCO is the largest private shipping organization in the world. It promotes consistently proper shipping practices and stands against unfair claims, import charges, and other shady practices. Its membership includes shipowners, brokers, agents, managers, and other stakeholders in the shipping industry.

Balloon freight

Freight that is bulky but light in weight.

Ballast bonus (BB)

A special payment beyond the charter price when a ship must sail a long route hauling ballast alone to reach the port where the cargo will be loaded. Also called "bareboat." The term also refers to chartering a ship in which the charterer bears nearly all the owner's responsibilities.


Materials that a vessel carries for the sole purpose of stabilizing the ship. Usually, ships carry water in special tanks designed for use as ballast.

Bales (Bls)

A type of customary packing unit.

Balance of trade

The deficit or surplus that results from comparing a nation's imports and exports of merchandise with those of another nation.


Usually refers to a transport vehicle's return trip from its destination to its origin. It also refers to the movement of freight in a direction of light demand or secondary importance.


A payment to a ship's owners when they are entitled to a payment over and above the normal freight payment for merchandise that is returned due to the fault of the consignors or consignees.

Aye, aye

On a ship, the affirmative reply to a superior's command to indicate that the person heard, understood, and will carry out the order. To officers, "sir" is required in the reply.


A ship that lies so low in the water that the water washes across the ship's deck.

Beneficial cargo owner (BCO)

An importer that physically takes control of a shipment at the destination with his or her own logistics rather than using a third-party logistics firm, such as a freight forwarder.

Belly pit (hold)

A compartment located beneath an aircraft's cabin, used to carry cargo. Also called a "hold."

Belly cargo

Freight stored beneath a ship's main deck or in the belly of a passenger aircraft.

Bay plan

A stowage plan that indicates where all the containers on a vessel are located.


A numerical division of a ship from stem to stern to measure storage capacity for containers. Even numbers denote 40-foot positions, while odd numbers denote 20-foot positions.

Batch picking

Grouping orders into smaller batches so that pickers can gather more than a single order at one time.

Basing-point pricing

Pricing that includes transportation from a specific location and varies depending on the distance from the given location.

Base Rate

A term referring to the tariff ocean rate minus the accessorial charges such as bunker fuel, GRIs, or other charges. Also known as the base tariff rate. Some ocean carriers and NVOCCs lump all of the accessorial charges into the base rate and give the shipper a base rate inclusive of the accessorial charges to simplify the quote.

Base currency

In currency exchanges or quotes between currencies, the currency whose value is 1.00.


A form of trade in which the parties exchange merchandise directly instead of exchanging money.

Barrel (BBL)

A barrel is equivalent to 42 gallons of liquid at a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blocked train

Railcars grouped by destination so that each group of cars can easily be uncoupled and sent to different destinations at various junctions.

Block stowage

Loading items close together so that they do not move around during transit to minimize the risk of damage.

Blind Shipment

A shipment that requires the shipper and receiver to not be aware of one another. In blind shipments, the bill of lading (BOL) typically lists the party customer who paid for the freight as the shipper or receiver of the freight shipment along with their address.

Blanket waybill

A waybill that covers two or more freight consignments.

Blanket rates

A special rate that applies to transportation from or to a specific set of locations or to several items in a given shipment.

Bill-to party

The party in a transaction that pays for the services or goods.

Bill of sale

A document that details the goods being transferred from seller to buyer in exchange a specific amount of money.

Bill of lading Ton

see Revenue Ton

Bill of Lading Number

The number assigned by a carrier to identify the bill of lading as a unique document that only pertains to the cargo declared on it.

Bill of lading exceptions

Terms and conditions that exempt transportation providers from liability for damage occurring from an act of God, a defect in the property, riots, or strikes or from loss, delay, or damage due to the cargo being stopped and held in transit at the shipper's, owner's, or other responsible party's request.

Bill of lading (BOL or B/L)

A document that a carrier or their agent issues to acknowledge that they have received specific goods for shipment.

Bill of health

A document that medical authorities at the departing port issue to certify that a ship and its contents, including people, have no contagious disease and can disembark freely at their destination.

Bill No Freight (BNF)

When an entire shipment is short, typically used in LTL shipments in the United States.

Berth terms (liner terms)

Terms that cover the assessment of a ship's freight rates, not covering loading and unloading costs.

Berth liner service

A steamship line that has regular schedules going to and from specific ports of call.


A place adjacent to a quay, wharf, or pier where a ship can be loaded or unloaded.


The party that is entitled to receive payment, the party issued a letter of credit, or the drawer or seller of a draft.

Beneficial owner

A person who has specific property rights even though the actual title is in another party's name.


A slang term used for an ocean going freight container such as a 20', 40', or 45' container.

Bow thrusters

A small water jet or propeller located at the bow of a ship, helping it to maneuver at a slow speed.

Bottom side rails

Supporting beams that lie lengthwise along the bottom (base) of a container.

Bottom air delivery

When temperature-controlled air is delivered into the container at the floor level.

Booking number

A shipment's unique reference number, used in tracking the shipment. It must not be duplicated within three years.

Booking fee

The administrative fee charged by the forwarder at the shipment's origin, also called a "house documentation fee" or "documentation fee at origin."

Booking confirmation

A booking confirmation is one's receipt for the main leg of the shipment. It usually includes the booking number, equipment used, and the load itinerary.


The process of making arrangements with a transportation company, such as an airline or shipping company, for the acceptance and carriage of freight or passengers.

Bonded warehouse (customs bonded warehouse)

A customs-approved building to store goods pending payment of duties. The process of storing these goods is called "bonded warehousing."

Bonded logistics park (or center)

An area that expedites logistics between ports and free trade zones when they are separated by distance. A park contains bonded warehouses, processes information, facilitates export and import trade, houses commodities exhibitions, and provides for customs checks and maintenance, as well as distribution and allotment.

Bonded indemnity

A certificate that relieves a carrier from liability.

Bonded freight

Freight moving under a bond to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or US Customs.

Bonded carrier

A transportation provider that US Customs permits to carry merchandise between two customs points.

Bond, in

Holding goods under the control of customs officers until import duties are paid.

Bond port

The port of entry where a vessel first arrives at a country's border.


A device that attaches to a railcar or chassis to secure a container.


In rail transportation, a wheeled frame that holds a container for over-the-road (OTR) shipping.

Bobtail (bobtailing)

  1. A semi-truck without a trailer attached.
  2. Driving a semi-truck (tractor) without its trailer.


A small, usually open watercraft. Alternatively, a vessel designed for inland water transportation.

Blocking and bracing

Supports, usually made from wood, that keep items in place in containers or trailers.

Bonded goods

Imported goods on which customs charges have not been paid. They are held in a special warehouse until the fees are paid in full.


A person or company that facilitates a sale by bringing the seller and buyer together, often taking part in negotiating contracts and closing the deal.

Broken stowage

Empty space in a shipping container.

British thermal unit (BTU)

The amount of heat it takes to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

Bridge point

An inland location at which an ocean carrier receives cargo and moves it to a coastal port to load on a ship.


A structure above a ship's weather deck that houses the command center.

Break terminal (breakbulk)

Consolidating LTL freight from several terminals to create a full load for longer hauls.

Break Bulk Vessel

A vessel designed to handle break bulk cargo, usually fitted with cranes onboard.

Break bulk cargo

Cargo shipped as a package or unit, either in a box or pallet, or as large stand-alone machinery. It is not placed into a container.

Break a Trailer

To unload a trailer.


To secure cargo inside of a container or trailer to prevent movement.

Box Car

A rail freight car that is enclosed, similar to an ocean container in design.

Bulk freight

Unpackaged, non-containerized freight, such as crude oil, grain, or ore.

Bulk carriers

A vessel that carries unpackaged dry or liquid cargo that doesn't bear marks and is not counted, such as grain or oil.

Bulk area

A storage space for large items which are best shipped by the pallet load.


Homogeneous cargo shipped unpackaged, such as petroleum products (liquid) or raw ore and grain (dry). It usually is shipped on ships built to handle the specific commodity.

Buffer stock

Goods that a seller stores to assure adequate supply in case of rising demand or shortages.

Brussels tariff nomenclature

The former nomenclature for the classification of goods, used by the Customs Co-operation Council.

Brokerage license

A document required by law that a broker must obtain before making shipping arrangements. Different licenses are required for each type of shipping, such as land, sea, or air.


A structure that protects cargo from shifting, also used to separate loads.


The driver's compartment within a truck or tractor.


Refers to the space available for a specific shipment or the ability (or time) to handle freight. Example would be the capacity for MSC for this weeks vessel departure, which will be calculated by the number of open container slots available.

Canada Customs Invoice

A commercial invoice for shipments going from the United States into Canada that accompanies the cargo from door to door. This document must also be provided to the Canadian Customs Broker that is submitting the customs entry.


An arrival of a vessel to a port. In ocean transportation, the port(s) a vessel calls in its string of ports on a specific service (e.g. Long Beach-Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Xiamen-Shanghai-Long Beach)

Capacity/Weight (Container)

For an ocean container, the total internal container volume (LxWxD) or actual container weight limitation according to ISO standards.

Cargo and freight (C&F)

An obsolete Incoterm. This term of sale indicates that the seller pays for both the cost of the goods and the freight charges. The acronym was replaced with "CFR."

Cartage Company

A trucker that performs trucking or drayage services within a local geographic area or ton (e.g. denver cartage company). Cartage companies sometimes offer line haul services between several smaller towns within a city or town.

CE mark

Required by the European Economic Area (EEA), the CE mark certifies that a product meets the area's health, consumer safety, and environmental standards.

CDL (Commercial Drivers License)

Commercial Drivers License, issued in the United States which authorizes individuals to operate commercial motor vehicles over 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW).

CCC Mark

A quality control mechanism and label established by the Chinese government to indicate that cargo conforms to specific standards. The certification process involves the Chinese national standards referred to as Guobiao (GB) standards, which are administered by the Standardization Administration of China (SAC).


Cubic meter or cbm as it is commonly referred to is a measure of cargo volume derived by multiplying the length x width x height of an item measured in meters. To derive the cbm from cubic centimeters (cbc), divide the cbc by 1,000,000. To derive cbm from cubic feet (cft) divide the cft by 35.3147.


A sailboat with a single sail mast mounted at the bow with only one sail, usually gaff-rigged.

Centralized Examination Station (CES)

A CES (Centralized Examination Station) is a privately operated facility approved and nominated by CBP where imported or exported cargo is physical examined by CBP.
If a shipment is tagged by CBP for a Tail Gate or Intensive exam, it will be moved to a CES nominated by CBP.

The importer or exporter is responsible for all costs associated with a Customs exam including the drayage to/from the CES, the inspection and storage ees of the CES and ocean carrier related charges.


In certain plants, the process of exposing them to temperatures that are low enough to stimulate the plants' production of enough food reserves to support vigorous growth.

Chassis Usage Fee

A fee charged by the shipping line, drayage carrier, freight forwarder or freight broker for the usage of a container chassis that carries ocean containers by road. Typically charged as a daily usage rate.

Chassis pool

A common supply of chassis or containers. They belong to a group of carriers that share them to ensure a steady supply of equipment.

China Compulsory Certification (CCC) mark

A mark required by the Chinese government to denote safety for most products offered for sale on the Chinese market.

Classification Yard

A railroad terminal yard with tracks that is used for assembling rail freight trains for a specific routing.

Clean On Board

see Clean Bill of Lading

Coastal shipping

Ocean transportation along a coastline.

Collapsible container

A container with removable or hinged parts so that its volume can be reduced when it is empty.

Commerce Control List (CCL)

Published under the authority of the US Department of Commerce's Export Administration Regulations (EAR), this document lists items that have both potential for military and commercial applications. Each item has a unique number, called an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). For exporters, this list is of critical importance since knowing your product's ECCN determines whether you need an export license.

Common tariff

A tariff published for or by two or more transportation lines.

Consolidation Point

The location where a consolidation will occur, such as a CFS warehouse or private warehouse.

Container Depot

The yard or storage area for empty containers, also known as a CY Depot, sometimes within a port or rail ramp area, or in a drayage carrier's yard.

Container Crane

Typically called a gantry crane located on a wharf inside a container terminal, used to move containers from truck chassis (or rail flatcar, or from the dock) and load onto a ship (or vice versa).

Container Cleaning Fee

A fee typically charged at the destination port by the shipping line to clean debris, sediment or liquids in an ocean container.

Container freight station charge (CFS charge)

The charge that a container freight station assesses for services that it performs at the loading or unloading location.

Container freight station pier-to-pier (CFS/CFS pier-to-pier or port-to-port)

A shipping service in which the cargo is transported from a container freight station or port to another. The cargo is packed by the carrier with other shipments and then accepted and unpacked by the consignee when it arrives at its destination. Shippers usually opt for this service for less-than-containerload (LCL) shipments.

Container freight station to house (CFS/CY)

A type of cargo transportation by container. The carrier receives the loose cargo at the shipment's origin, loads it into a carrier, and then is delivered intact at its destination.

Container fumigation (at export)

A fee for fumigating cargo. Fumigation might be required by US law and enforced by the Customs and Border Protection Services or by the IMO International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code.

Container Gross Weight

see Gross Weight

Container Lease

A contract between the owner of the containers (lessor) and the renter of the containers (lessee) for a specified period of time and with associated fees. Typically ocean carriers lease the containers from companies that specialize in container leasing to minimize the assets they have on their balance sheets and free up cash for other purposes.

Container load

A shipment or load with enough volume (cbm) or weight to fill a container. Also known as FCL.

Container load plan (CLP)

A document that shows all the details of cargo that is loaded in a container, such as the combined weight and individual weights of each piece, the measurement, shippers, consignees, markings, the origin and destination, and where the cargo is located inside the container.

Container manifest

A document that states the loading sequence and contents of a container, as well as its origin and destination. In many countries, vessels are required to produce a manifest for each container they transport.

Container Number

A unique identification of an intermodal container (typically consisting of four letters followed by seven numbers, XXXX1234567) under the rules governed by the International Container Bureau (BIC) for coding, identification and marking of intermodal containers ISO 6346.

Container on a Flat Car (COFC)

Container on a flatcar (railway equipment similar to a flatbed). This is a the way intermodal freight is transported with intermodal containers such as ocean containers.

Container part load

A shipment that does not use the entire space inside a container nor its maximum payload by weight. Most of the time, partial loads from other shipments are added to fill the container before transport.

Container pool

An agreement that transportation companies make with each other that allows for the most efficient supply and use of containers. Containers from the various owners are pooled together, allowing everyone to use any of the pooled containers.

Container seal number

Typically a high security seal number installed on a container or trailer to ensure the cargo was not tampered with during transport.

Container security initiative (CSI)

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, the office of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) proposed a security protocol to ensure that all containers that present a potential risk to contain a weapon are inspected and identified at a foreign port before they are loaded onto US-bound vessels. The idea is to ensure that US borders are the final line of defense. CSI is currently operational at ports in the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, prescreening 80 percent of containerized content.

Container ship

An ocean vessel designed specifically to carry containers, it is designed with vertical cells to accommodate the ship's maximum capacity.

Container size

The length of an ocean container such as a 20'GP, 40'GP, 40'HC, 45'HC, 20'FR, 40'FR, 20'OT or 40'OT container.

Container terminal

A docking, loading, and unloading area inside a port specifically designed to accommodate container ships.

Container type

The purpose and specific ISO standard of a container. Each container type has a BIC (Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal) code that meets ISO standards.

Container Vessel

A vessel designed for the carriage and transportation of cargo containers.

Container Yard

see Container Depot

Container yard/container freight station.CY/CFS (house-to-pier)

Containers that the shipper packs off the carrier's premises and delivers to the carrier's container yard at the shipper's expense (and risk). The carrier unpacks them in the CFS at the destination port.

Containerizable cargo

Cargo that can fit easily into a container without damage. Using a container makes a shipment more economical.

Continuous bond

A yearly customs bond that ensures compliance with all requirements and regulations.


Prohibited cargo, such as unauthorized weapons, illegal drugs, or otherwise offensive or dangerous.

Contract carrier

Any carrier other than a common carrier, i.e., a carrier for hire that works under individual agreements or contracts to transport property or passengers for compensation.

Contract of carriage

A document that defines the legal responsibilities of both the user and the carrier, as well as the terms and conditions that apply to each party.

Contract rates

Lower and more favorable rates over a given period in exchange for a shipper's commitment to a specified volume of shipments.

Controlled atmosphere (CA)

High-tech computer-controlled systems provide a select mixture of gases inside a container to reduce spoilage in perishable items.

Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)

An international treaty that deals with the international trade of endangered species to protect them from extinction. It went into effect in 1975.

Copy B/L

A non-negotiable duplicate of an original bill of lading.

Corner posts (door posts)

Strong vertical frame components that lie at each corner of a container to connect the roof and floor structures.

Corps of Engineers (US Army)

A department of the US Army that bears responsibility to protect flood-prone areas of the country from floods and to provide safe navigation channels. To that end, they build and maintain floodwalls, levees, and spillways and dredge harbor and river bottoms to keep these navigation channels clear.

Correction memo (Corrector)

An internal document which registers amendments to a bill of lading or manifest after the bill of lading is provided to the shipper.

Corrector (ship's compass)

A device that corrects a ship's compass.

Correspondent Bank

A crucial part of international trade, a bank (correspondent) that hold deposits on behalf of the other bank (respondent bank), and offers payment, Treasury, clearance of checks, drawing of demand drafts, processing of documentation, foreign exchange services, and financing. A correspondent bank is an agent of the respondent bank. For wires to the United States, if a foreign bank does not have a SWIFT code, they must use a correspondent (or Intermediary) bank to send the wire to the US beneficiary bank.

Cost and Freight (CFR or C&F)

One of 11 Incoterms, Cost and Freight is restricted to goods transported by water. It applies to shipments in which a seller has direct access to the ship for loading, such as non-containerized goods and bulk cargo. The seller makes the arrangements and pays for transportation to the port. The seller delivers the goods, which should be already cleared for export, and loads them onto the vessel. After loading, the risk transfers from the seller to the buyer.

Cost and insurance (CI)

A price that includes both the cost of the goods and the price to insure it, as well as all transportation charges except for the ocean freight to its destination.

Cost, insurance, freight, and commission (CIF&C)

A price that will include the commission, as well as the cost of insurance and freight (CIF).

Cost, insurance, freight, and exchange (CIF & E)

The price will include the cost, insurance, freight, and exchange.

Cost, insurance, freight, collection, and interest (CIFCI)

The price will include the cost, insurance, freight, collection, and interest.

Cost, insurance, freight, interest ,and exchange (CIFI & I)

The price will include the cost, insurance, freight, interest, and exchange.


A reciprocal trade that includes a variety of transactions that involve two or more parties.

Countervailing duties

Special customs duties that are imposed on imports to offset subsidies to exporters or producers of the exporting country.

Country of origin (country of provenance)

The country in which a commodity or product was mined, manufactured, or grown, listed to comply with US Customs requirements. If the shipper cannot determine the country of origin, the transaction is listed under the country from which it was shipped.

Credit risk insurance

Insurance that covers risks for non-payment of delivered goods.


A transportation terminal in which items received get transferred straight from the outbound shipping dock to the inbound dock.

Crossmember, rear

The crossbar at the very rear of a trailer onto which manufacturers mount the bumper, turn, tail, and brake lights.


When a trailer or container is delivered from a railroad along the shipping route.

Crow flies (as the)

An expression that means a direct line between two points as a bird might travel.


Also see THC. This surcharge is charged by the ocean carrier to the shipper or NVOCC for terminal charges relating to the handling of ocean containers within a terminal.

CSC Plate

A safety plate that must be attached to a container that mets all CSC and International Standardization Organization (ISO) standards.


Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is one of the security layer's of CBP. CTPAT creates a high level of cargo security for the United States through a cooperation with the principle stakeholders of the international supply chain which includes: importers, ocean carriers, airlines, trucking companies, freight brokers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers. CTPAT is a voluntary public-private sector partnership program.


Abbreviation for “cubic” which is a unit of measurement used to indicate volume.

Cu. In.

The length x width x height of a given box or package inches, this measure of volume is used to determine density factors, dimensional weights and container capacity.


The cubic volume of space available or being used for storage or shipping.


The capacity in cubic feet of a trailer's interior.

Cube out

When a vessel or container has reached its maximum volume before it reaches its maximum weight capacity.

Cubic capacity

A piece of equipment's carrying capacity, measured in cubic feet.

Cubic meters and centimeters (CM and cm)

"CM" in uppercase letters stands for “cubic meters,” while "cm" in lowercase letters stands for “centimeters.”

Currency adjustment factor (CAF)

A surcharge on a carrier's tariff. Usually, this charge is adjusted quarterly based on the country's currency fluctuation versus the US dollar.

Custom house

A government office (usually a part of their Treasury Department) where customs duties and fees on imported shipments and export paperwork and shipments are handled.

Customer’s own transport

A shipment whereby the customer collects the cargo from the CFS/CY for an import shipment or delivers the cargo to a CFS/CY for an export shipment.


See Custom house

Customhouse Broker

See Customs Broker


A government agency that is in charge of collecting duties and enforcing export and import regulations.

Customs bond

A fee charged by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a shipment's destination to protect the government in case an importer does not pay any penalties or duties due while in CBP custody or after their release.

Customs broker

A customs procedure specialist who acts for importers to help clear freight through customs for a fee. In the US, customs brokers are licensed by the US Treasury Department.

Customs clearance

All goods that are shipped across national borders, regardless of the mode of transportation, must pass through customs before they can exit or enter a country. After clearance, the customs officer provides the shipper with a document that confirms their clearance.

Customs Clearance Fee

A Fee charged by a Customs Broker or Freight Forwarder for submission of a Customs Entry to a Customs authority.

Customs Entry

A document produced by an importer or their nominated customs broker to declare what they are importing which determines how much duties and fees they will pay to Customs. In the US, the 3461 and 7501 are the documents that state the customs release and entry summary for imported goods (

Customs Invoice

Similar to a Commercial Invoice (but also contains a Certificate of Origin or states the Country of Origin in the Invoice), this document is required the customs authority at the time of importation.

Customs union

When two or more nations agree to abolish tariffs and other restrictions on each other's goods and establish a common tariff for other countries' imports.

Customs Value

The value Customs will use to determine the duties of imported goods. See the definition for "Appraisement" which determines how value is determined.

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)

The US Customs and Border Protection established this protocol as a voluntary partnership with businesses to ensure better security of the supply chain. Those who meet C-TPAT standards enjoy faster customs processing.

Cut-Off Time

In ocean, air or rail shipping, this is the latest possible day and time which cargo can be delivered to the ocean terminal, ocean CFS, rail terminal or airport terminal in order to catch the intended departure. Also referred to as a Closing Date.


Commercial Vehicle Operations


Per hundredweight. A Hundred weight is equal to exactly 100 pounds.


Container Yard. Where an ocean container is picked up or returned, it is also where the mode of transport changes, such as from an ocean terminal to arail ramp, feeder vessel or drayage carrier.


Container Yard. Where an ocean container is picked up or returned, it is also where the mode of transport changes, such as from an ocean terminal to a rail ramp, feeder vessel or drayage carrier.


A term of service where the shipper loads cargo in an FCL (full-container-load) at origin and delivers it to the carrier's terminal at destination at which point the consignee becomes responsible to pickup the container and truck it to its final destination.

Cycle count

The process conducting regularly scheduled inventory counts that cycle through a company's inventory.

D & H

Dangerous and Hazardous. Also see Dangerous Goods or Hazardous Goods

Damaged cargo report

A written statement that documents damage to cargo and on-board equipment.

Dangerous Cargo

see Dangerous Goods.

Dangerous goods

Products that are flammable, toxic, explosive, corrosive, or otherwise present a danger. Also called "hazardous materials."

Dangerous goods declaration

A document that an exporter produces that provides details on any dangerous goods in a shipment. For air shipments, the declaration is called an "IATA form," and by sea, the declaration is called an "IMO form."

Dangerous goods requirement (DGR)

Also called "dangerous goods regulations," the group of rules that govern how transporters must deal with dangerous goods within a shipment.

Date draft

The latest time that cargo may be delivered to a terminal to load onto a scheduled ship or train.

Dead freight (DF)

Freight charges a shipper pays for space booked but not used to help the carrier recoup the loss of revenue occurring from unused space that another shipper might have used.

Dead head (Dead-heading)

Driving a semi-truck (tractor-trailer) without cargo. This term also describes the return of an empty container back to its facility (Also called "empty backhaul").

Dead leg

A sector that is navigated without a payload.

Dead run

In sailing, a downwind run.

Dead space

Space inside a cargo vehicle that is not utilized.

Dead weight (DW)

The number of tons of cargo, bunker fuel, and stores that a ship can a ship can transport, also called "deadweight tonnage."

Dead weight tonnage (DWT)

The maximum weight of a vessel It includes not only the vessel but the ballast and cargo as well.


A wooden block with holes that is used to adjust the tension in a ship's standing rigging. To do so, sailors run a lanyard through the black's hole to the deck.


The angle formed between a ship's keel and its horizontal plane.

Deadweight cargo

A cargo that weighs a long ton but can be stowed within fewer than 70 cubic feet.

Deadweight cargo capacity (DWCC)

How much cargo can safely be loaded on a ship, excluding fuel, lubricant, or provisions.

Deadweight tonnage (D/W or DWT)

The amount of total weight (in tons) a ship can safely carry, including cargo, crew, passengers, provisions, ballast water, fresh water, and fuel.


Located between the amidships and the sternpost of a ship, a wooden part of the centerline's structure.

Deck barge

A ship that transports oversized or heavy cargoes mounted to its top deck, rather than in a hold.

Deck cargo

Cargo that a ship carries on its deck instead of under the deck. Certain cargo, such as explosives, must by law be transported on the deck.

Deck supervisor

A person who is in charge of assigning and completing all a ship's deck-specific tasks. Some larger ships use both an aft-deck supervisor and a forward desk supervisor.

Deck trailers

Trailers that have tracking on each of their sidewalls and deck load bars. The load bars form temporary decks onto which people can load cargo. They allow more cargo to be loaded while reducing damage.


A person who helps a ship's deck supervisor moor and unmoor, anchor, maintain, and other tasks on the ship's deck.


The underside of a ship's deck that serves as a ceiling for the parts of the ship under the deck.


Like floors in an apartment, the horizontal surfaces in a ship's structure.

Declaration of origin

A statement of where the goods originated from, listed on the commercial invoice or other documents describing the goods.

Declared value (DEC)

The total dollar value of a shipper's goods, needed for duties and shipping rates based on the goods' value.

Declared value for carriage

The shipper's declared value of a shipment's goods, declared on a bill of lading to determine the carrier's liability limit or its freight rate.

Deconsolidation point

A location where non-containerized cargo is separated for delivery.


A company that separates shipments for delivery and distribution.

Dedicated unit train

A train that railroads operate for their exclusive use.

Deemed export

Transmitting source code, information, or controlled technology to a foreign national either abroad or at home.

Deferred payment credit

A letter of credit that provides payment after the exporter presents all the shipping documents.

Deferred rebate

Returning part of a carrier's freight charges in exchange for the shipper giving most or all of their shipments to the carrier during a specific period. It is illegal in the US but generally accepted by sea traders in foreign nations.

Deficit weight

The number of pounds, ounces, grams, or kilograms that a shipment is less than the minimum weight allowed.


Splitting up shipments into smaller consignments.

Delivered at Place (DAP)

One of 11 Incoterms. When using DAP shipping, the seller arranges the whole shipment, except for import customs.

Delivered in Place Unloaded (DPU)

One of 11 Incoterms, Delivered in Place Unloaded means that a seller is responsible to clear the goods for export. The seller also bears all the costs and risks in delivering and unloading them at the destination. The buyer bears responsibility for all the risks or costs after the cargo is unloaded at the destination, including clearing the cargo for import in the destination country.


The transfer of goods from a consignor to a carrier, from one carrier to another carrier, or from a carrier to a consignee.

Delivery Authorized Document (DAD)

A US Customs term for imports that indicates that a shipment is authorized by the US Customs for entry.

Delivery fee

Charged by the forwarder at the destination, the fee for delivery, determined by load. Also called "Transport Arbitrary at Destination."

Delivery instructions

  1. A forwarder's instructions that provide information about how and where merchandise is to be delivered to a specific ship or pier.
  2. A document provided to a carrier to pick up merchandise at one location and deliver them to another.

Delivery manifest

A listing of the various shipments that are loaded onto a P&D unit for delivery.

Delivery order

  1. A document that authorizes delivery to one party in the care of another, sometimes issued by a carrier upon a bill of lading's surrender and then used by a merchant to transfer the title by an endorsement.
  2. A document that a customs broker issues to the ocean carrier to give them the authority to release cargo to the proper party.

Delivery purpose only (DPO)

Free astrays that go directly to consignees or to a designated salvage freight.

Delivery receipt (DR)

A document that a consignee or their agent signs and dates to confirm that they have received a shipment and indicating the condition of the goods when delivered.

Delivery, Duty Paid (Delivered Duty Paid or DDP)

One of 11 Incoterms, indicating that the terms of sale include delivery with the duty paid. Also called "'free domicile." The seller will deliver to the buyer the merchandise already cleared for import and still loaded on its means of transport. Sellers must bear all the risks and costs involved. Where applicable, the seller pays the duty fees, taxes, and other charges for imports that the destination country levies.

Demise charter

A contract in which a charterer leases a vessel from the shipowner for a given period. The charter uses and manages the vessel, paying all expenses, while the crew and officers will work for the charterer.

Demurrage (Dem.)

  1. In domestic shipping, a penalty charge against consignees or shippers for delaying a carrier's equipment beyond a given provision.
  2. In international shipping, a storage charge shippers must pay. It starts to accrue after a vessel discharges a container, varying by the rules of the tariff.
Learn more here:

Demurrage and detention/warehouse fees

After a stated period after offload, demurrage fees (FCL) or warehouse fees (LCL) apply to the shipment for each day until the shipment is picked up. After pickup, a detention fee applies for each day the empty container is not returned. Learn more here:

Denied party screening

The process of screening potential partners, customers, or vendors against lists of organizations or individuals that a nation's government has identified as persons or organizations with whom one cannot do business These lists are called "denied party lists."


The relationship of a shipment's mass (weight) to the space that it occupies.

Density calculation

Density of a shipment is equal to the length of the freight, multiplied by the height of the freight, multiplied by the width of the freight in inches. The product is then divided by 1,728 to convert the units to cubic feet. (12″ × 12″ × 12″ = 1,728 ÷ 1,728 = 1 cubic foot.)

Density rate

A rate that depends on both the shipment weight and the density.


The act of putting vessels to use to maximize not only their revenue-generating potential, but their efficiency, space, and energy utilization, and their customers' satisfaction.

Depot (container)

The place that a carrier designates to keep empty containers in stock.


A lifting device with a pole or mast and a jib or boom that is hinged freely at the bottom.


The location at which a carrier turns over the cargo to the consignee or their agent.

Destination control statement

A legal statement attached to a shipping document. It specifies that the shipment must be transferred to the consignee and no other party. Without prior authorization, transferring the shipment to other parties or countries violates US law.

Destination delivery charge (DDC)

A charge that applies to many cargo tariffs. It is based on the container size and considered as an accessorial fee. It covers drayage of the container inside the terminal, gate fees at the terminal exit, and crane lifts off the ship.

Destination delivery charges (DDC)

Charges that a carrier accesses to handle positioning of a full container.

Destination terminal (DT)

The terminal that delivers shipments within the geographical area that it serves.

Detention and demurrage

A penalty for exceeding the free time allotted for loading or unloading under the terms of the shipper's agreement with the carrier. Detention is used for the motor industry, while demurrage is used in the ocean and rail transportation industries. Learn more here:

Detention fee

The carrier fees and charges and fees that apply when ships or rail freight car overstay their loading or unloading time. Learn more here:


The removal of freight from a container. Also called "unpacking," "unstuffing," "stripping," or "unloading."

Devil seam

The "devil" was possibly a slang term for the garboard seam; hence the saying, "between the devil and the deep blue sea," alludes to keelhauling. Today, the "devil" refers to a seam between a waterway and stanchions that pose a challenge to workers and require a cranked caulking iron along with a restricted swing of the caulking mallet.

Devil to pay (Devil to pay, and no pitch hot)

"Paying' the devil" is an expression for sealing the (modern-day) devil seam. This task is challenging because it is the worker against the stanchions. If the "devil" is the garboard seam, the sealing must happen when the ship is careened or slipped.

Differential (differential rate)

An amount deducted from or added to the base rate to create a rate from or to another point or route.

Dimensional weight (volumetric weight)

If your shipment is light for its size, your charges might reflect its volume instead of its weight. Learn more and calculate your rate here:

Direct interchange

A transfer of leased equipment (usually a container) from a lessee to another without needing to pass through the lessor's container depot.

Direct loading

Loading shipments from a service center from another without the need to stop at an intermediate location for rehandling.

Direct to store

Shipping directly from a distribution center or manufacturer’s plant to a retail store, bypassing the store's distribution center.

Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC)

A government agency within the US Department of State that enforces the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). These regulations govern the export of space-and defense-related products.


  1. Unloading of a vessel, vehicle, or aircraft.
  2. Landing cargo.

Discrepancy letter of credit

When documents that a party presents do not conform to the letter of credit's requirements, it's a discrepancy. Banks will refer back to the parties involved but will not process letters of credit that have a discrepancy.


Sending drivers on their assigned routes with required shipping papers and instructions. Carriers maintain contact with their drivers throughout the day by cell phone, landline, pagers, radios, or satellite communications.


The individual at a carrier (usually a trucking company or truck brokerage company) that is responsible for matching available trucks with available loads.


A ship's displacement is its mass, usually loaded at its maximum capacity, usually expressed in long or metric tons. It is the equivalent of the mass of the water a ship displaces while it floats.


The instructions given to a common carrier that relate to moving a shipment.

Distressed freight

A shipment that has an issue that will cause non-delivery or a delay in delivery.


Storing and transporting goods between their finished production and the final customer.

Distribution center (DC)

A warehouse facility that holds inventory from a manufacturing facility, pending distribution to stores.

Distribution service

A service where a carrier accepts a shipment from one shipper. After transporting it as a single shipment, the carrier separates it into several parts at the destination and then distributes them to the receivers


A company or individual that performs a distribution service on consolidated shipments or pool cars at the destination.


A change a shipment in transit makes in its route. Also called "reconsignment."


To change a shipment's route while it is in transit.


  1. A platform on which trucks are loaded or unloaded.
  2. A cargo-handling location adjacent to the shoreline or the water along a wharf or pier.

Dock (verb)

To bring a ship in to tie up at its berth along the wharf.

Dock lock

A safety device that hooks to the bumper of a trailer when it is backed up to a loading dock. It prevents the trailer from pulling away while people are in the trailer.

Dock personnel

People that unload and load freight from trailers or ships.

Dock receipt (D/R)

A document that acknowledges the receipt of a cargo. It provides a framework to prepare an ocean bill of lading.


Charges by the dock owner for berthing a vessel at a dock.


Typically referred to as a delivery docket, which is a document or label accompanying a shipment or delivery of goods that describes the commodity and quantity of goods being delivered.

Documentary credit

To facilitate international trade, a method where payment is made against the surrender of specified documents.

Documents against acceptance (D/A)

Instructions that a shipper provides to a bank that indicate that the documents that transfer the title to goods should be delivered to the buyer only upon the buyer's acceptance of the attached draft.

Documents against payment (D/P)

A notation on a draft that the attached documents can only be released to the drawee upon payment.

Dog watch

A short watch period on a ship, usually half the normal time (e.g., a two-hour watch between two four-hour watches).


A converter that provides another axle and a fifth wheel. It is used to connect several trailers, usually towed behind a semi-truck. Also called a 'bowie." See also "jifflox."

Domestic carriage

Transportation in which the departure and destination are located in the same nation.


A transportation arrangement where freight moves from the shipper to the ultimate consignee for a specific rate.

Double-deck load

A load in which a second cargo tier is placed on top of the first one.

Doubles (twins)

A configuration in which a tractor (semi-truck) pulls two trailers connected by a jifflox or a dolly.

Double-stack train (DST)

Railcars shipping containers that are stacked two high.

Draft or draught

  1. (vessel) The number of feet that a ship's hull lies below the waterline. Also called a "draught."
  2. (finance) An unconditional written order that is addressed by one party, the drawer, to a second party, the drawee. It requires the drawee to pay at a determinable or fixed future date in a specified sum to the order of a specific person.

Draft, bank

A US term that defines an order that a seller issues against a purchaser and directs payment, generally through an intermediary bank. In other countries, this arrangement is called a "bill of exchange." A bank draft is a negotiable instrument and is similar to a check.

Draft, clean

A draft with no attached documents.

Draft, date

A draft that becomes mature on a given date, regardless of its acceptance time.

Draft, discounted

A time draft under a letter of credit that a bank has accepted and purchased at a discount.

Draft, sight

A draft that is payable on demand upon presentation.

Draft, time

A draft that will mature at a determinable or fixed time after acceptance or presentation.


A partial refund of an import charge. Drawbacks are generally given if the goods are exported again from the nation that collected the fee.


A company or individual who issues a draft and stands to receive payment.


A truck or other heavy equipment that hauls heavy loads.


  1. Local transport to and from port facilities or a railroad.
  2. The charge made for such transport. Also called "cartage."


When a trucking company's driver delivers a trailer, container, or boxcar (i.e. equipment) to a warehouse or other facility for loading or unloading and "drops" the equipment for a few hours or sometimes days (as opposed to a live load or live unload where the driver waits for the loading/unloading to take place). The driver subsequently returns at a later time or day to pickup the equipment.

Drop and Hook

When a trucking company's driver delivers a trailer, container or boxcar (i.e. equipment) to the shipper or consignee and drops the equipment proceeds to pickup another piece of equipment such as a container. This can occur for domestic only trailer, export cargo as well as import cargo. For export cargo, the carrier will "drop" an empty container for loading and "hook" onto a loaded container and return it to the port. For import cargo, the carrier will "drop" a full container for unloading and "hook" onto an empty container and return it to the port.

Drop Trailer

see Drop

Drop Trailer Agreement

An agreement in writing between a shipper and domestic freight carrier or broker to allow the carrier or broker to drop a trailer, container or boxcar for loading/unloading.

Drop-off charge

A charge made by a terminal operator or container owner for delivery of a pooled or leased container into the depot stock. It is usually a combination of storage and handling charges with surcharges, if applicable.

Dry bulk

Minerals, grain, or other dry goods hauled and stored in loose piles without count or count.

Dry Bulk Container

A container used to carry any solid bulk cargo such as grains, they are typically used along with a tilt chassis or platform.

Dry Cargo

Any cargo that is not liquid and/or does not require any temperature control. Also referred to as Dry Freight.

Dry Cargo Container

A container which is designed for the carriage of cargo other than liquids and/or temperature control cargo.

Dry dock

A narrow, enclosed basin where a ship is taken for repair and cleaning. It has watertight entry gates. When those gates are closed, maintenance personnel can pump it dry.

Dry port

A dry port (sometimes inland port) is an inland intermodal terminal that connects directly by roads or railways to a seaport. It operates as a center to transport sea cargo to their inland destinations. In addition to playing a role in freight transshipment, dry ports might include facilities for storing and consolidating goods, maintaining rail or road cargo carriers, and customs-clearing services. Dry ports, therefore, lessen the competition for customs services and storage at the seaport. Sometimes referred to as an "inland container depot" (ICD).

Dry-Bulk Container

A container designed to carry grain, powder and other free flowing solids in bulk.


Double-stack train service, which is a form of intermodal freight transportation in railroad transportation where the railroad carries two layers of intermodal containers double stacked.


Goods imported into a country at a price that is below fair market value, usually through subsidies available in the exporting country.

Dunnage (Dge.)

  1. Loose packing material or wood that keeps cargo in place while it is inside a vehicle or container.
  2. A person's baggage.

Dutiable value

The amount or value that Customs uses to calculate the customs duties. See Customs Value and Appraisement to learn more.


Taxes collected on goods that are imported or exported also referred to as government tariffs.


A tax that a government imposes on goods that are imported into the country. There are several types of duty that include: a) specific duty, based on an item's quantity or weight, and b) ad valorem, based on the goods' value.

Duty Drawback

A refund of duty paid on imported merchandise that is repaid once their cargo is exported. An importer or exporter (if authorized by the original importer) must request the duty drawback with Customs or through their Customs Broker.

Duty-free zone

A place where cargo can be stored to await manufacturing or transport without paying duty fees.

Dwell time

The number of days that a container changed from one type of status to another, such as from an outbound load (UOL) to an inbound load (UIL) to empty and available (MTA). The fewer the days, the more efficient the container utilization.

Dynamic flow guidelines (DFG)

Guidelines used to keep tabs on the on-land stock level of each region, using traffic patterns and local dwell time to boost efficiency.


The Export Administration Regulations are found in 15 C.F.R. § 730 and published by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and administered by Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) which regulates the export of dual-use items which include commodities, software and technology that may have both a commercial use as well as a potential military application (dual-use items).
The EAR's aim is to protection the national security of the U.S., non-proliferation matters, as well as the U.S.'s foreign policy. Depending on the commodity and country of destination, certain exports and reexports require the submission of a license request to the BIS using their online SNAP-R application. According to the EAR: A "dual use" item is one that has civil applications as well as terrorism and military or weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related applications.


An Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) number used in determining whether an export license is needed from the U.S. Department of Commerce's (DOC) export control division, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). ECCNs are five character alpha-numeric designations used on the Commerce Control List (CCL) to identify dual-use items for export control purposes.
An ECCN categorizes items based on the nature of the product, i.e. type of commodity, software, or technology and its respective technical parameters.
Knowing the right ECCN for your commodity, software or technology is the key in determining if you need an export license.

Electronic Export Information (EEI)

An Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing is required documentation when the value of each commodity classified under a Schedule B number is over $2,500 or if a validated export license issued by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is required to export the commodity. The exporter is responsible for preparing the EEI and the carrier files it with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) through the Automated Commercial Environment's (ACE) AES Direct portal.
The Principal Party in Interest (whether it is the USPPI for non-routed transactions or FPPI for routed transactions) is responsible to file the EEI. The PPI can file it directly or through their freight forwarder.
The EEI is also referred to as an SED (Shipper's Export Declaration)


A government order that prohibits imports or exports of specific products or nations.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

A US Tax Identification number which is used by governments or companies to identify a business entity. Similar to a Social Security Number for a business.


Ocean Containers or Trailers that do not have any freight loaded inside. Also known as "MTY."

Empty Leg

The portion of a carrier's route when a vessel, aircraft, trailer or container is empty.

Empty Repositioning

Empty repositioning or empty repo refers to the transportation of empty containers, whether from an inland rail ramp to a seaport or vice versa.
Typically an empty repo is performed by an ocean carrier to move a container from a location of low demand where revenues are lower, to a location of high demand where revenues are higher to accomodate an exporter.
An empty repo is done at the cost of the carrier, and sometimes incorporated in a contract rate of an NVOCC or Exporter.


A signature that transfers rights from one party to another.


  1. A flag that indicates a vessel's country of registry.
  2. The lowest rank of naval commissioned officers.


see Entry Form

Entry form

A document that one must file with the customs office to clear imported goods through customs. Also called an "entry" or a "customs entry form."

Entry summary declaration (ENS)

An electronic declaration of goods that are carried into the customs area.


A monetary allowance given to a customer for delivering or picking up at a location other than the destination that is shown on the bill of lading.


Materials and machinery needed to handle and transport cargo, such as loading devices, trailers, pallets, and containers.

Equipment damage report (EDR)

A written report that details equipment damages after a physical inspection is performed.

Equipment interchange receipt (EIR)

A written report that documents the transfer of a container from one terminal to another or from one carrier to another.

Estimated time of arrival, completion, departure, readiness, or sailing (ETA, ETC, ETD, ETR, ETS)

Estimated time of arrival, completion, departure, readiness, or sailing

Estimated time of arrival (ETA)

The closest estimate of the arrival time of a means of transportation. Companies publish arrivals and departures as estimates because they cannot be responsible for lateness due to weather conditions or similar situations out of their control.

Estimated time of availability (ETA)

The time when a partner carrier or tractor is available for dispatch.

Estimated time of departure (ETD)

The expected time when a means of transportation will leave its port or terminal.


U.S. dollars that are deposited outside the United States. These dollars are on deposit at foreign branches of U.S. banks and dollars on deposit with foreign banks.


A word that indicates that a quoted price applies only at the point of origin.

Ex Dec

see Export Declaration

Ex works (EXW)

One of 11 Incoterms. It means that a seller delivers when he or she places the merchandise at the buyer's disposal at the seller's premises or another named place, not cleared for export and not yet loaded on a collecting vehicle. The buyer must arrange the entire shipment from the supplier’s warehouse to its ultimate destination.

Except as otherwise noted (EAON)

Except as otherwise noted


Concerning a delivery, a situation in which the recipient or driver notes an issue on the delivery receipt before he or she signs it, usually related to damage or a shortage of the delivered goods.

Exclusive use

When a shipper pays a premium rate to obtain exclusive use of a trailer for only his or her goods, even if there is extra space.

Exempt carrier

A carrier for hire that is free from economic regulations. Trucks that haul specific commodities are exempt from US Interstate Commerce Commission economic regulations, such as those hauling seafood or agricultural commodities.


The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), which is the official export credit agency of the United States federal government. It operates as a wholly owned federal government corporation, the Bank "assists in financing and facilitating U.S. exports of goods and services."

Expedited freight

A premium service offered by an ocean or other carrier to streamline shipping processes to offer faster delivery.

Expediting / Expedite

see Expedited Freight

Expiry date (L/C)

The last date on which the documents and draft must be presented to an accepting, negotiating, issuing, or paying or bank to effect payment.


Shipment of goods out of a country.

Export broker

One who brings together an importer and exporter for a fee, then withdrawing from the transaction.

Export Declaration

In the United States, known as the Export Declaration or Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) which provides information about the cargo being exported including the commodity type(s), quantity, value among other information. This form is submitted by an exporter at the port of export. It provides information about the goods being shipped, including type, number, and value.

Export license

A permit issued by a government that authorizes a shipper to export a specific good or to export to a certain party or nation.

Export management company

A private company that acts as the export department for several manufacturers. It solicits and transacts export business on behalf of its clients for a salary, commission, or a retainer and commission.

Export packers

Firms that securely pack export products into a container to crate to protect the cargo from damage during an ocean voyage.

Export sales contract

The first document involved in any international transaction. It states the specific provisions of the sales agreement between the seller and buyer.


The seller of the goods being shipped, also known as the shipper.

Express B/L

A special designation that a carrier grants under a guarantee from the shipper or consignee to release the merchandise to the consignee without presenting the original bill of lading. See "Sea waybill."

Express Service

A premium-rated service for shipments that have a higher level of urgency.

Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)

The agency within the US federal government that enforces laws that regulate transportation of goods by sea.

Federal Register

The official journal of the US federal government that publishes new regulations. Abbreviations include: "Fed. Reg.," "FedReg," and "FR."

Feeder service

  1. A service which uses a smaller vessel to transport containers from and to the "mother ship." Mother ships are the larger ships that carry high-volume cargo to high-volume ports. Feeder vessels carry smaller volumes to small-volume ports. See also "Feeder vessel."
  2. A grain container constructed around the hatchway between two decks of a ship. When they are filled with grain, they pour the grain into empty areas on the lower deck's holds.

Feeder vessel

A vessel used to carry containers and goods to and from larger ocean vessels, called "mother ships."


A ship that carries vehicles and/or passengers across a narrow body of water or between two or more locations.


Forty-foot Equivalent Unit, a 40' container, also calculated as 2 TEUs or 1 FEU.


Federal Highway Administration

Fifth wheel

In a semi-truck, a semi-circular coupling steel mechanism mounted on a dolly or tractor that joins it to a trailer.

Fill rate

A processing measurement on a sales order that quantifies a seller's ability to fill orders. It is defined mathematically by the percentage of ordered items that the picking operation finds.

Final Destination (FND)

A consignee's facility or their 3PL's facility where the carriage of the cargo ends and consequently the carrier's liability ends.

First Carrier

The carrier that performs the first part of a transport move that has multiple legs in a domestic or international air, sea or surface move.

First-in-first-out (FIFO)

A warehousing term that means that a warehouse rotates its inventory so that it uses the oldest products first.

Fixed quantity inventory model

When a company orders the same fixed quantity of goods every time it places an order for those goods.

Flag of convenience register (FOC)

A national register that provides registration to a merchant ship not owned by someone in the flag state. They attract ships to register by their low fees, lower or no taxes on profits, and relaxed manning requirements.

Flag state

The nation in which a ship is registered, it holds the legal jurisdiction over the ship's operation of the ship wherever it goes, including outside the flag state's borders.

Flammable liquids

Liquids that give off vapors that can burst into flame spontaneously at a specific temperature, the flashpoint. Also called "inflammable."


The temperature at which inflammable substances will burst into flame. It is an IMCO requirement for transporting hazardous goods.

Flat Car

A Flat Car is a type of railway equipment similar to a flatbed without a roof or walls.

Flat Rack

A type of ocean container without sides, but containing end walls at the front and rear. The container can be loaded from the sides and top. Flatracks (FR) are typically used to load, lash and secure cargo that is out of gauge (OOG) which cannot be loaded in General Purpose container such as 20'GP, 40'GP, 40'HC, or 45'HC containers.


A type of trailer, that is a level platform with no sides or top. Flatbed trailers are used for oversized shipments or cargo that cannot be loaded in a Dry Van Enclosed trailer.


A group of vehicles that travel together and are owned by the same party and/or engaged in the same activity.


  1. The location at which tugs, barges, and towboats are kept until needed.
  2. Dismantling or building barge tows.

Floating crane

A crane mounted on a barge or pontoon, which can be towed or is self-propelled.

Floating dock

A floating structure that can be partially submerged so that vessels can enter or leave and can be raised to use as a dry dock.


Cargo or debris that stays afloat after a shipwreck. See also "jetsam."

Flow rack

A method of storage in which a product is shown to picking operations at one end of a rack and replenished from the other end.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) an administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) whose mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving trucks and buses.

Force majeure

A frequent clause included in contracts. It exempts the parties for not fulfilling their obligations because of events beyond their control, like war or natural disasters.

Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR)

A set of regulations that deal with international trade in the US. Under the authority of the US Census Bureau. The FTR are the rules that govern the requirement to file the Electronic Export Information (EEI) through the Automated Export System (AES).

Foreign trade zone entry

A form that declares goods that are brought duty-free into a foreign trade zone for further storage or processing and eventually, exportation.

Foreign trade zone (FTZ)

A specific port in which merchandise may be stored without being subject to a country's import regulations. Also called a "free trade zone" or a "free port."

For-hire carrier

A carrier that provides transportation services to the public for a fee.

Fork pockets

Recesses or openings on the side of a freight container that are designed to make it easier for a forklift truck's forks to enter it.

Forklift (also "fork lift" or "fork lift truck")

A motorized freight-handling vehicle used for loading, unloading, and mooring packaged freight.

Forklift extensions

Long blades that attach to a forklift's regular blades. They enable it to move long pallets and odd-shaped freight.

Forklift rug pole

A forklift extension designed for moving large rolls of fabric and rugs.

Forwarder’s cargo receipt (FCR)

Also called a "forwarder’s certificate of receipt," this document is issued by a forwarder to the shipper and serves as a certification that the cargo has been received. Once it is issued, the consignor takes full responsibility for the cargo.

Forwarding charge

A charge paid or needing to be paid for preliminary surface or air transportation or air transport to the airport of departure. The charge is paid by the forwarder, but not by the carrier, on an air waybill.

Forwarding instruction

A document issued to a freight forwarder that gives instructions to the forwarder concerning the forwarding of the goods described in the document.

Foul bill of lading

A carrier issues a foul bill of lading as a receipt for goods that indicates that the goods were damaged when they were received.

Fourth-party logistics (4PL)

A logistics company that goes beyond third-party logistics (3PL) services to manage resources, technology, infrastructure, and 3PLs to provide businesses with supply-chain solutions.

Four-way pallet

A pallet designed for four-side access to a forklift truck's forks.


The Foreign Principal Party in Interest is the the party abroad (non-U.S. entity or individual) who purchases the goods for export or will receive final delivery or end-use of the goods. The FPPI may be the Ultimate Consignee.
The FPPI must provide their U.S. agent, who is authorized to file the Electronic Export Information (EEI), with a power of attorney (POA) or written authorization to file the EEI on its behalf.
The USPPI is still responsible to provide information to the FPPI's U.S. agent regarding the shipment. The USPPI can also file the EEI if they have received act as the agent of the FPPI and received authorization to file the EEI.

Free Alongside Ship (FAS)

  1. One of 11 Incoterms, FAS means that a seller delivers when goods are placed alongside the vessel at the port from which the goods will ship. The buyer must then bear all the risks and costs of damage or loss to the merchandise from that time forward.
  2. An acronym for "fixed assets system," which is an OOCL mainframe application that records transfers, retirements, and acquisitions to OOCL's assets.

Free and Secure Trade (FAST)

A joint initiative between the US Customs and Border Protection Service and the Canada Border Services Agency. It enhances supply-chain security in international trade and makes cross-border shipments easier, with fewer delays.

Free astray

A lost shipment that is found and sent to its destination without an additional charge.

Free Carrier (FCA)

One of 11 Incoterms, FCA means that that a seller makes all or most of the arrangements in the exporting country. The buyer makes all the rest of the arrangements.

Free in and out (FIO)

A shipping term that means that loading and unloading costs are not included in the price. With charter parties, it means that loading and unloading are not the shipowner´s responsibility. Instead, the charterer bears responsibility for loading and unloading. May also be used with the addition of stowed (FIOS) or trimmed (FIOST) cargo.

Free In and Out (FIO)

Free In and Out (FIO) also referred to as Free In and Free Out (FIO) is a transportation term which declares the freight rate of the carrier excludes the costs of loading at origin, discharging at destination and stowage and lashing.
In other words, FIO declares to the shipper that the cargo to be loaded at origin, and discharged at destination shall be "free" of expense to the carrier, and therefore such charges are the responsibility of the shipper.

Free in liner out (FILO)

A condition of transport that indicates that the freight rate includes sea carriage and the cost of discharging, according to the port's custom. It excludes the loading, stowage, and lashing costs.

Free of capture, seizure, riots, and civil commotions (FCSRCC)

An insurance clause that indicates that a loss is not insured if it occurs from capture, seizure, riots, confiscation, and similar actions, legal or not, or from civil war, piracy, civil strife, and rebellion.

Free of particular average (FPA)

The insurer will not pay for partial loss or damage to cargo except for certain circumstances, such as sinking, stranding, fire, or collision.

Free on board (FOB)

One of 11 Incoterms, FOB means that goods must be delivered on board a vessel by the shipper at a designated place free of charge.

Free on board (FOB) destination

A term of sale where freight and all accessorial charges, like insurance, are arranged and paid for by a seller until the cargo gets to its destination.

Free on board (FOB) factory

Where the goods' title and the responsibility for their transportation are transferred from the seller to the buyer at the factory's loading docks.

Free on board (FOB) freight allowed

A term of sale in which the seller fulfills his or her obligation to deliver goods when he or she has transferred it to its point of departure. The buyer pays for the transportation charge, but the seller reduces the invoice by the same amount.

Free on board (FOB) origin

The risk and title pass on to the buyer the moment that the seller delivers the goods to a carrier. Parties can amend this agreement by another written agreement.

Free Out (FO)

Free Out (FO) is an international shipping term of service that states the cost of unloading a vessel at destination is borne by the consignee or charterer of the shipment.

Free port

An international port or a designated area within an international port at which passengers, crew, cargo, baggage, stores, and mail may be disembarked and unloaded without customs charges or duty taxes. The cargo or persons, however, can be examined for narcotics detection or other security requirements. To learn more, see "Foreign trade zone."

Free Pratique

Pratique is the clearance granted to a ship to enter a port based on the captain's assurance that he or she is free from contagious diseases.

Free time

  1. The time that a carrier’s equipment may be used without incurring more charges.
  2. For pickups and deliveries, the time allotted for receivers or shippers to unload or load containers before incurring waiting time charges.

Free trade agreements (FTAs)

Free trade agreements are made between countries in an effort to reduce barriers to trade between the participating countries.


  1. Goods that are being transported.
  2. The price due to the carrier for transportation.

Freight all kind (FAK)

A system in which the freight price is charged per container, no matter the nature of the merchandise and not under a tariff. See "All commodity rate."

Freight bill

A document used to confirm a shipment's delivery and indicate its payment terms, whether prepaid or collect, that describe the shipment.

Freight bill of lading

A document that constitutes a binding contract between a carrier and a shipper for freight transportation. It specifies the obligations of both parties, and it serves as a receipt of freight for the shipper by the carrier.

Freight broker

A firm that arranges freight transportation for other individuals or companies, using for-hire carriers for transportation. Usually, they do not take possession of the freight and do not take responsibility for the cargo.

Freight carriers

Companies that transport freight on behalf of shippers.

Freight claim

A claim that a shipper or consignee makes on a carrier for an overcharge, loss, or damage.

Freight class

Volume and weight play key factors in US domestic carriers' freight classification. A freight class calculator can help shippers determine the freight class of their shipments.

Freight Collect

When freight and related charges are to be paid by the consignee (i.e. paid at destination)

Freight Costs

Any and all costs incurred by the seller and/or buyer in transporting goods, by any and all modes of transportation, from one point to another under the contract of carriage. Additional charges that may apply aside from transport costs may include packing, documentation, loading, lashing, securing unloading and cargo insurance.

Freight Forwarder

An International Freight Forwarder (FMC licensed OTI in the U.S.) is a company that prepares the documentation, arranges space with ocean carriers and airlines, and coordinates the transportation, consolidation, warehousing and/or storage of cargo. Freight forwarders typically arrange multimodal shipments from door to door including air, ocean, rail and road transportation.
A domestic freight forwarder (DOT licensed in the U.S.) combines less-than-truckload (LTL) into truckload shipments. They are considered common carriers. Freight forwarders differ from freight brokers because the former assembles, consolidates, deconsolidates, and distributes cargo, issues straight bills of lading and accept responsibility for goods being transported while the latter does not accept responsibility for the goods and only arranges the transportation.

Freight Prepaid

The freight and related charges to be paid by the exporter (at origin).

Freight Ton

See Revenue Ton

Fresh air exchange (FAE)

An air exchange system on a refrigerator (reefer) truck or container. This system removes gases that could harm perishable items from reefers that carry them. An adjustable fresh air vent brings in air from the outside. It can be closed tightly when the reefer carries frozen cargo.

Fuel Surcharge (FSC)

An additional charge added to a freight bill for the price of fuel to offset the varying price in fuel charges.

Fuel-Taxed Waterway System

Eleven thousand miles of the US waterway system that the Water Resources Development Act designates for taxation by commercial users. Commercial shippers pay a fuel tax per gallon. The income from this tax goes to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and funds inland navigation projects every year.


When a manufacturing facility supplies a finished product directly to an end user or distributor.

Full container load (FCL)

A shipping mode in which only one shipment or a part of a shipment is loaded into a container. Benefits include less risk of loss or damage and a quicker transit time.

Full trailer

A truck trailer that has wheels on both ends, in contrast to a semi-trailer, whose front part has no wheels, but is attached in the back of the power unit.

Full truckload (FTL)

A mode of shipping in which a truck transports only one shipment from a single customer. For customers with large loads, FTL transport is cheaper, with less handling and less likelihood of loss or damage.

Full visible capacity (loaded to full visible capacity)

  1. The amount of freight equivalent to a vehicle's maximum load-carrying capacity authorized by law.
  2. The quantity of freight that fills a standard-sized truck such that no more articles of the same size as the largest item in the shipment can be loaded.


The treatment of cargo with a pesticide active ingredient that is a gas under treatment conditions, the most common is Methyl Bromide. Required by certain importing countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Fumigation certificate

Fumigation certificate


To gather or roll a sail against its spar or mast.


A group of stevedores with a supervisor assigned to a specific part area within a port terminal or portion of the vessel to load or unload cargo.

Gantry crane

A crane that crews use to unload and load container ships by lifting objects with a hoist. It can move in a horizontal direction on one or two rails.


A port at which a container is unloaded from an ocean-going ship to begin its intermodal or inland part of its trip.


The brand name for a standard-sized, reusable container used to ship cargo.

General average

An unwritten, international, but non-statutory, maritime law that is universally recognized and applied. It rests on the principle that a vessel and its cargo are parties to the same venture. As such, they share exposure to the same dangers, sacrifices, and extraordinary expenses on one party's interest for the entire venture's benefit. It signifies expenses and damage that result from accidents in navigation.

General cargo

  1. Packed or unpacked cargo in crates, bags, cartons, pallets, or bales. It includes both containerized items as well as breakbulk ones.
  2. A cargo that doesn't contain valuable items and is thus charged at a general cargo rate (regarding air cargo).

General cargo rate

The rate for transporting cargo without a specific commodity or class rate.

General commodities carrier

A common carrier (motor carrier) with the authority to transport general commodities (all commodities that are not classified as special commodities).

General merchandise warehouse

A warehouse that stores merchandise that are packaged, easily handled, and do not need a controlled environment.

General order (GO)

A notice provided by US Customs indicating their intention to take custody of goods.

General purpose container

A container used to transport general cargo with no special requirements, such as refrigeration. Also called a "standard container."

General rate increase (GRI)

  1. The amount by which an ocean carrier increases its base rates on specific lines, usually resulting from an increased demand.
  2. An across-the-board base rate increase by all conference members.

Generator Set (Gen set or Genset)

A portable power generator, used on reefer containers (both ocean refrigerated containers and domestic reefer trailers), which converts fuel into electrical power. The genset is clipped-on and mounted to the front of the refrigeration unit.

Geneva Conventions 1958

An international agreement that was adopted in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 29, 1958. Its full name is the "Geneva Conventions on the High Seas, on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, on the Continental Shelf and on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas."


  1. (US) A device that fastens the mast to the boom, allowing free movement.
  2. The front rails of a chassis raised above its plane, engaging in a container's tunnel.

Grain elevator

A facility where bulk grain is processed, including unloading, weighing, cleaning, blending, and exporting.

Gross combination weight (GCW)

The total weight of a tractor-trailer or other loaded combination vehicle.

Gross registered tons (GRT)

A measurement of a ship's internal volume, excluding certain spaces. It depends on the approximate equivalence of one ton equaling 100 cubic feet.

Gross ton

A measurement that equals 2,240 pounds.

Gross tonnage

The sum of the breakbulk, container, and bulk tonnage capacity of a ship.

Gross vehicle weight (GVW)

The total weight of a vehicle and its attached containers, including the motorized part.

Gross weight

The total weight of goods in a shipment, including their container and packaging.


A fee charged to a vessel that is entering a port or anchored near a port offshore.


A service that consolidates small shipments into containers for shipment.

Gunner's daughter

See "kissing the gunner's daughter."

Hague Protocol

A 1955 amendment to the Warsaw Convention at The Hague concerning air cargo.

Hague Rules

Rules that govern who has liability for damage or loss to goods carried under a bill of lading by sea.

Hague-Visby Rules

A 1968 revision of the Hague Rules regarding the carriage of cargo by sea.

Hamburg Rules

A 1978 international conference that met in Hamburg, Germany, to adopt a new set of rules that changed the liability that a shipowner must bear for damage or loss to goods within the signatory nations' courts.


A port where ships can seek shelter from bad weather or stop to resupply or unload and load cargo.

Harbor maintenance fees (HMF)

Fees that companies that benefit from maintaining US harbors and ports must pay to share the maintenance services' costs. It equals 0.125% of the value of commercial cargoes shipped through a seaport.


An officer in charge of berthing ships and related tasks in a harbor.

Harmonized System of Codes (HS)

An international classification system for describing cargo according to a comprehensive code. Developed by the Customs Cooperations Council (CCC), the hierarchically structured nomenclature contains roughly 5,000 headings and subheadings. The first six digits of the code are universal, but each nation adds additional digits to distinguish products.


  1. An opening on a ship's deck that provides access to the ship's cargo hold.
  2. The cover of the hatch opening.

Hatch cover

A watertight door that closes a ship's hatch.


The transportation of cargo and cargo between two points. Also called "drayage." There are two types of haulage: merchant-inspired (performed by the merchant's subcontractor), and carrier-inspired (performed by the carrier's subcontractor).


The carrier that is responsible for haulage (drayage).

Hazardous goods

Goods that pose a significant risk to property, health, or safety and thus require special handling. Also referred to as "dangerous goods."

Hazardous material (HazMat)

The nine classes of hazardous goods that the US Department of Transportation divides hazardous cargo into.

Hazmat regulations

Standards that the US government uses to regulate how hazardous goods are shipped.

Head haul

The shipping lane that generates the highest revenue from a shipper to a consignee. The antonym of "backhaul."

Head load

The first load utilized to start a trailer.

Head of navigation

The most distant point above the mouth of a river that is navigable by a ship.

Heavy hauler

A truck specially equipped to transport extremely heavy cargoes, such as heavy machinery, transformers, steel slabs, boats, and bulldozers.

Heavy lift

Items that are too heavy to lift with a ship's tackle and require special equipment to move.

Heavy lift charge

A charge for lifting extremely heavy loads that are impossible for the ship's tackle to handle.

Heavy lift vessel

A vessel fitted with heavy lift cranes and is capable of handling extremely heavy or large cargo.


A crewmember who steers the ship.


Highway Economic Requirements Systems

High cube (hi-cube, HQ)

A container or trailer or container that allows an above-average cubic capacity, usually over 8 feet 6 inches in height.

Highway performance monitoring system (HPMS)

A US federal highway information system. It includes data on the condition, extent, use, operating characteristics, and performance of all the highways in the country.


  1. A part of the ship that extends up through the ship's decks to underneath the weather deck.
  2. Formerly, the lower part of the hull's interior used as storage space for cargo.


When applying tar, paint, slush, or another preservative, a gap in coverage.


Formerly, a piece of sandstone that a crew used to scrub a ship's decks. Its name came from its Bible-like shape and size, as well as the kneeling posture the crew must take to clean the decks.

Home port

  1. The port in which a ship is registered.
  2. The port where a cruise ship loads its passengers and starts its itinerary and returns after the cruise is over.

Hopper car

A freight car designed to handle dry bulk cargo. It features a top that can be opened and one or more bottom openings through which workers dump the cargo.

Hostler (or hustler)

  1. A person whose job is to move trailers and trucks within a warehouse yard area or a terminal. Also called a "yard jockey."
  2. The tractor that the employee uses to move the trailers and trucks.

Hours of service (HOS)

A rule that states the total amount of time that a driver can work. In the US, it is enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

House air waybill (HAWB)

An air waybill from a shipper to a consignee. Arrangements are made between an agent and the shipper. Also called an "airbill."

House bill of lading (house B/L)

A bill of lading that a non-vessel-owning or operating common carrier (NVOCC) issues. House bills of lading can be issued by consolidators, forwarders, or slot carriers for transporting goods.

Household goods carrier (HHG carrier)

A carrier that is authorized to transport household goods, such as furniture and other items needed, when moving to a new location.

House-to-house transport (H/H)

Transporting cargo from the consignor's premises to the consignee's premises. Also called "door-to-door transport." In the US, this type of transportation is usually called "point-to-point transport."

House-to-pier (H/P)

See "Container yard/container freight station."


1. A facility that serves as a central location from which traffic is directed to other areas, and to which those areas' traffic is directed. 2. Consolidating freight at several terminals to build loads for shorter hauls.

Hub terminal

Terminals that provide next-day shipping services to specific regions.


The body of a ship, not including its equipment, sails, yards, masts, and machinery.

Hull underwriter

The person who insures the ship's hull, as well as its tackle and machinery.


The process of managing a ship's business while it is in port. It includes tasks such as finding food, fresh water, and supplies, customs issues, fueling, repairs, the crew's payroll, medical appointment, and other needed tasks.


A serious hazard in which temperatures below approximately -10 degrees Celsius combine with high wind speed, usually eight or more on the Beaufort Scale. Such conditions cause the sea spray to freeze immediately as it comes into contact with the ship.

Idle time

The amount of time in which available resources, such as containers, are not used.


This term describes the members of a ship's company whose tasks do not include serving watches. They are usually general tradesmen, such as carpenters or sailmakers.


Containers and pallets used in air transportation that resemble an igloo and are designed to fit the internal contours of a narrow-body aircraft.


A visual impression of a delivery receipt, bill of lading, or other important documents.

Immediate exit (IE)

A US Customs form that is used when shipments are brought into the US but will be re-exported immediately without being shipped within the US.

Immediate transport (IT entry)

A type of US Customs entry that allows foreign merchandise arriving at a port to be carried in bond to another port. At the second port, a superseding type of entry form is filed.


  1. Shipping goods into a country.
  2. Receiving goods from a foreign country.

Import license

A government-issued document that authorizes a party to import goods into the country.

Import permit

A customs requirement that authorizes importers to bring items into a country that might affect the animal life, vegetation, public health, or morals of the host country. It includes medications, food, livestock food, medical equipment, plants, seeds, or materials such as CDs, movies, or other forms of entertainment. Some countries consider an "import permit" to be the same thing as an "import license."


The buyer of the merchandise being transported into the buyer's country.

In bond

  1. Export or import shipments that have not yet cleared customs.
  2. Uncleared shipments that move from their point of entry to a location in the interior of the US for clearance or to another location on the border.

In gate

The interchange or transaction that occurs when a container is received by a water port or rail terminal from another carrier.

In the offing

  1. Regarding sea travel, something in the water that is visible from a ship.
  2. In general use, something that looks to occur imminently.

In transit

  1. Goods or passengers in passage.
  2. The status of persons or goods between the outward customs clearance and the inward customs clearance.


Toward the middle of a ship.

In-bond shipment

A shipping status in which goods are permitted to enter a nation, temporarily stored, and then transported to their final destination where the required duty will be paid.


Inward bound, a cargo or vessel coming toward its final destination or port of discharge.

Inbound editing

Documentation usually performed before a vessel arrives at its discharging point to amend or add local charges or information if needed.

Inbound freight

Shipments that are coming from vendors.

Inbound logistics

Moving materials from vendors and shippers to production or storage facilities.

Incentive rate

A lower-than-normal tariff rate assessed when a shipper offers to ship a greater volume than specified in the tariff. The rate is assessed for the portion that exceeds the normal volume.

Including particular average (IPA)

In marine insurance, including a particular average, one that is borne by the owner of the damaged or lost or property.

Incoterms 2020

International trade terms that were updated by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in 2020. They consist of 11 three-letter codes that communicate the tasks, responsibilities, risks, and costs associated with transporting and delivering goods internationally.

Indemnity bond

An agreement with a carrier to hold him or her harmless with regard to liability.

Independent action (IA)

A conference member's right to publish a tariff rule or rate that differs from the agreement's rule or rate.

Independent service contract (ISC)

A contract between a shipper and a carrier that, in a trade from or to the US, must be filed with the Federal Maritime Commission. It must include a minimum quantity commitment, port pairs, duration, and rate levies.

Independent tariff

Rate tariffs that are not part of a conference system or agreement.

Indirect air carrier (IAC)

An entity or person within the US who does not possess an FAA air carrier operating certificate who engages indirectly in transporting property by air and uses a passenger air carrier for all or part of that transportation.


Putting a port on a ship's itinerary because the volume of cargo that that port offers justifies the cost to route the vessel there.

Inland bill of lading

A carriage contract used when transporting cargo from an overland shipping point to the location of the exporter's international carrier.

Inland carrier

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

Inland charges

The amount charged to deliver goods from one part of the country to another.

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