GLOSSARY OF TERMS
ABOARD: (a) The placement or lading of cargo on any
conveyance. (b) Cargo that has been placed or laden on any means of conveyance.
ACCESSORIAL CHARGES: Charges made for additional, special,
or supplemental services, normally over and above the line haul services.
ACT OF GOD: An act of nature beyond man’s control such as
lightning, flood, earthquake, or hurricane.
AD VALOREM: According to value. Any charge, tax, or duty
that is applied as a percentage of value.
ADVANCE SHIPMENT NOTICE: A document transmitted to a
consignee in advance of delivery detailing the contents and particulars of a
AMENDMENT: An addition, deletion, or change in a legal
AMS: Advance Manifest Surcharge
ANTIDUMPING DUTIES: Duties assessed on imported merchandise
of a class or kind that is sold at a price less than the fair market value.
Fair market value of merchandise is defined as the price at which it is
normally sold in the manufacturer’s home market.
ARRIVAL NOTICE: A notice furnished to consignee and shipping
broker alerting them to the projected arrival of freight and availability of
freight for pickup.
AUTOMATED CLEARINGHOUSE (ACH): ACH is a feature of the
automated broker interface which is part of Customs’ Automated Commercial
System. The ACH combines elements of bank lock ox arrangements with electronic
funds transfer services to replace cash or check for payment of estimated
duties, taxes, and fees on imported merchandise.
BANK DRAFT: A check drawn by one bank against funds
deposited to its account in another bank.
BARGE: A flat bottomed inland cargo vessel with or without
propulsion usually used on rivers and canals.
BERTH: (a) The place where a ship lies secured to a wharf,
pier or quay and can be loaded or unloaded of its cargo. (b) The distance or
space required to safely maneuver a ship. (c) The place where a truck or motor
vehicle is loaded or unloaded.
BILL OF LADING: A document issued by a carrier to a shipper,
signed by the captain, agent or owner of a vessel, furnishing written evidence
regarding receipt of the goods (cargo)
BLOCKING & BRACING: Wood or metal supports to keep
shipments in place in or on containers.
BONDED: (US Customs) Goods stored under supervision of
customs until the import duties are paid or the goods are exported.
BREAKBULK CARGO: Cargo which is shipped as a unit but which
is not containerized.
BUNKER ADJUSTMENT FACTOR: An adjustment in shipping charges
to off-set price fluctuations in the cost of bunker fuel.
CAF: Currency Adjustment Factor
CARGO: Merchandise hauled by transportation lines.
CARRIAGE OF GOODS BY SEA ACT OF 1936: A US law, which among
other provisions, establishes statutory responsibility for the carrier’s
liability for certain types of damage. Where COGSA applies, generally speaking
the vessel or carrier is responsible for damage resulting from negligence in
loading, stowing and discharge of cargo.
CARRIER: An individual or legal entity that is in the
business of transporting passengers or goods for hire. Shipping Lines,
airlines, trucking companies, and railroad companies are all carriers.
CARTAGE: The movement of goods for short distances, usually
CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN: A document attesting to the country
of origin of goods.
CHARGEABLE WEIGHT: The weight of a shipment used in
determining air or ocean charges. The chargeable weight may be dimensional
weight or on the container shipments the gross weight of the shipment less the
tare weight of the container.
CLAIM: A demand made upon a transportation line for payment
on account of a loss sustained through negligence.
CLEAN BILL OF LADING: A bill of lading receipted by the
carrier for goods received in apparent good order and condition without damages
or other irregularities.
CLEARANCE: The completion of customs entry formalities
resulting in the release of goods from customs custody to the importer.
COMMERCIAL INVOICE: A document identifying the seller and
buyer of goods or services, identifying numbers such as invoice number, date,
shipping date, mode of transport, delivery and payment terms, and a complete
listing of and description of the goods or services being sold including price,
discounts and quantities.
CONSIGNEE: The person or firm named in a freight contract to
whom the goods have been shipped or turned over for care.
CONSOLIDATED CONTAINER: A shipping container containing
cargo from a number of shippers for delivery to a number of different
CONTRACT OF CARRIAGE: The contract between the shipper and
carrier for the transport of freight, including the terms and conditions of
carriage and costs to the shipper.
CUSTOMS BONDED WAREHOUSE: A federal warehouse where goods
remain until duty has been collected from the importer
CUSTOMS BROKER: An individual or firm licensed by the U.S.
Customs Service to act for importers in handling the sequence of customs
formalities and other details critical to the legal and speedy exporting and
importing of goods.
CUSTOMS DUTY: A tax levied and collected by custom
officials in discharging the tariff regulations on imports.
DANGEROUS GOODS: Articles or substances which are capable
of posing significant risk to health, safety or property when transported by
air or ocean.
DECLARED VALUE FOR CARRIAGE: The value of goods declared to
the carrier by the shipper for the purpose of determining the charges or of
establishing the limit of the carrier’s liability for loss damage or delay.
DELIVERY ORDER: A document from the consignee, shipper or
owner of freight ordering a terminal operator, carrier or trucker to deliver
freight to another party.
DEMURRAGE: (a) The detention of a freight car or ship by the
shipper beyond time permitted for loading or unloading. (b) the extra charges a
shipper pays for detaining a freight car or ship beyond time permitted for
loading or unloading.
DESTINATION: The place to which a shipment is consigned.
DETENTION: (a) Holding a carriers driver and or trailer
beyond a certain stated period of free time often resulting in the assessment
of detention charges. (b) The delay in clearing goods through customs resulting
in storage and other demurrage.
DEVANNING: Unloading of cargo from a container. Also called
DISCHARGE: The unloading of passengers or cargo from a
vessel or aircraft.
DOCK RECEIPT: A receipt issued by a warehouse supervisor or
port officer certifying that the goods have been received by the shipping
company. The dock receipt is used to transfer accountability when an export
item is moved by domestic carrier to the port of embarkation and left with the
international carriers for movement to its final destination.
DRAWBACK: The refund of all or part of customs duties, or
domestic tax paid on imported merchandise which was subsequently either
manufactured into a different article of re-exported.
DRAYAGE: The charge made for hauling freight.
DUTY: A tax levied by a government on the import, export or
consumption of goods. Usually a tax imposed on imports by the customs
authority of a country.
EDI: Electronic Data Interchange
ELECTRONIC FUNDS TRANSFER: System of transferring funds
from one account to another by electronic impulses rather than transfer of
EMBARGO: A prohibition upon exports or imports, either with
respect to specific products or specific countries.
ETA: Estimated time of arrival
ETD: Estimated time of delivery
EXCHANGE RATE: The price of one currency expressed in terms
of another, i.e. the number of units of one currency that may be exchanged for
one unit of another currency.
EXCISE TAX: A selective tax-sometimes called a consumption
tax- on certain goods produced within or imported into a country
EXPORT: To ship an item away from a country for sale to
EXPORT DECLARATION: a document required of the exporter by
the export authority of a country identifying the particulars of a specific
export shipment including the seller, buyer, goods shipped, quantities and
description of goods and other details.
FAK: Freight all kinds
FCL: Full container load
FMC: Federal Maritime Commission. The US federal agency
responsible for overseeing rates and practices of ocean carriers who handle
cargo to and from US ports.
FEU: Forty foot equivalent unit
FORCE MAJEURE: Any condition or set of circumstances, such
as earthquakes, floods, or war beyond the carrier’s control that prevents the
carrier from performing fulfillment of their obligations.
FREE IN: A pricing term indicating that the loading charges
are for the account of the supplier
FREE IN AND OUT: A pricing term that the charterer of a
vessel is responsible for the cost of loading and unloading goods from a
FREE OUT: A pricing term indicating that unloading charges
are for the account of the receiver.
FREE PORT: An area such as a port city, into which imported
merchandise may legally be moved without payment of duties.
FTL: Full Truck Load
GANTRY CRANE: A specialized machine for raising or lowering
of cargo mounted on a structure spanning an open space on a ship.
GENERAL AVERAGE: A loss that affects all cargo interests on
board a vessel as well as the ship herself. These include the owner of the
hull and the owners of all the cargos on board for their respective values plus
the owner or charter party who stands to earn a specific income from freight
charges for the voyage.
GENERAL ORDER: Merchandise not entered within 5 working days
after arrival of the carrier and then stored at the risk and expense of the
GROSS TON: Unit of measure equal to 2,240 pounds.
GRI: General rate increase.
HANDLING COSTS: Costs related to moving transferring and
preparing inventory for shipment, but not the shipping charges themselves.
HARMONIZED TARIFF SCHEDULE: An organized listing of goods
and their duty rates which is used by U.S. Customs as the basis for classifying
imported products and therefore establishing the duty to be charged and
providing the U.S. Census with statistical information about imports and
HAULAGE: Local transportation of goods.
HAZMAT: An abbreviation for hazardous materials
IMPORT: To receive goods and services from abroad. An
IMPORT LICENSE: A document required and issued by some
national governments authorizing the importation of goods.
IMPORT QUOTA: A protective ruling establishing limits on the
quantity of a particular product that can be imported.
IMPORTER: The individual, firm or legal entity that brings
articles of trade from a foreign source into a domestic market in the course of
IMPORTER NUMBER: An identification number assigned by the US
Customs service to each importer, used to track entries and other transactions.
IN BOND: A procedure under which goods are transported or
warehoused under customs supervision until they are either formally entered into
the customs territory of the United States and duties paid, or until they are
exported from the United States.
INTERCHANGE AGREEMENT: An agreement which fixes specific
accountability for use and maintenance of carrier-owned equipment. It
formalizes terms and conditions under which equipment will be leased, in order
to protect the carrier’s financial and legal interest in the operation of the
INTERCHANGE RECEIPT: A document that states the condition of
the equipment at the time of the interchange.
INTERMODAL MARKETING COMPANY: A shipping intermediary that
acts as a broker by arranging, buying and selling intermodal freight services.
INVOICE: A document identifying the seller and buyer of
goods or services, identifying numbers such as invoice number, date, shipping
date, mode of transport, delivery and payment terms and a complete listing and
description of goods or services being sold including prices, discounts and
JOINT AGENT: A person having authority to transact business
for two or more transportation lines.
JOINT VENTURE: (a) A combination of two or more individuals
or legal entities who undertake together a transaction for mutual gain or to
engage in a commercial enterprise together with mutual sharing of profits and losses.
(b) A form of business partnership involving joint management and the sharing
of risks and profits as between enterprises based in different countries. If
joint ownership of capital is involved the partnership is known as an equity
JUST IN TIME: The principle of production and inventory
control that prescribes precise control for the movements of raw materials,
component parts and work in progress. Goods arrive when needed for production
rather than becoming expensive inventory that occupies warehouse space.
KILOGRAM: Unit of measurement equal to 2.204.6 Lbs.
KITTING: The assembly or packaging of components, parts or
finished products into a new single item.
KNOCKED DOWN (KD): A article taken apart and folded or
telescoped in such a manner as to reduce its bulk at least 66 2/3 % from its
normal shipping cubage when set up or assembled.
KNOWN LOSS: A loss discovered before or at the time of
delivery of a shipment.
LADING: The act of loading cargo or freight onto a
LANDBRIDGE: The movement of containers from a foreign
country by vessel, transiting a country by rail or truck and then being loaded
aboard another vessel for delivery to a second foreign country.
LANDED COST: The total cost of a shipment delivered to a named
location. Specifically, the cost of goods plus the cost of transportation.
LEAD INVENTORY: The volume of inventory necessary to satisfy
demand during the cycle time required to obtain a new shipment from a supplier.
LCL: Less than container load
LTL: Less than truck load
LETTER OF CREDIT: A letter of credit is a document issued by
a bank stating its commitment to pay someone a stated amount of money on behalf
of a buyer so long as the seller meets very specific terms and conditions.
LICENSING AGREEMENT: A contract whereby the holder of a
trademark, patent or copyright transfers a limited right to use a process, sell
or manufacture an article, or furnish specialized services covered by the
trademark, patent or copyright to another firm.
LIQUIDATED DAMAGES: A sum of money that a contract party
agrees to pay to the other for breaching an agreement, particularly important
in a contract in which damages for breach may be difficult to assess.
LOGISTICS: The process of planning, implementing and
controlling the flow of personnel, materials and information from the point of
origin to the final destination at the required time and in the desired
MANIFEST: A document giving the description of a ship’s
MARITIME: Business pertaining to commerce or navigation transacted
upon the sea or in such matters as the court of admiralty have jurisdiction
over, concurrently with the courts of common law.
METER: A unit of measure equal 39.37 inches.
METRIC TON: A unit of mass or weight measure equal to
2,204.6 pounds or 1,000 kilograms preferably called a kiloton.
MINIBRIDGE: Movement of cargo from a port over water, then
over land to a port on an opposite coast.
MOOR: To secure a vessel to an anchor, buoy or pier.
MULTIMODAL: Shipping which includes at least two modes of
transport, such as shipping by rail and by sea.
NAFTA: North American free trade agreement
NEGOTIABLE: Anything that can be sold or transferred to
another for money or as payments of debt.
NET WEIGHT: The weight of goods without packaging. The
weight of merchandise without the shipping container. Also the weight of the
contents of a freight car.
NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT: An agreement between two or more
parties not to disclose trade secrets, trade practices, business or marketing
plans or other proprietary or confidential information.
NVOCC: Non-Vessel operating common carrier.
NOTIFY PARTY: Name and address of a party in the transport
document (bill of lading or airway bill) to which the carrier is to give notice
when goods are due to arrive.
OCEAN BILL OF LADING: A receipt for the cargo and a
contract for transportation between a shipper and the ocean carrier. It may
also be used as an instrument of ownership (non negotiable) which can be
bought, sold or traded while the goods are in transit.
OCEAN TRANSPORT INTERMEDIARY (OTI): An ocean freight
forwarders and NVOCC that acts as an intermediary between shippers and shipping
ONBOARD: Notation on a bill of lading indicating that the
goods have been loaded on board or shipped on a named ship.
OPEN-TOP CONTAINER: A shipping container that is designed to
open from the top so that cargo too large to be loaded from the side can be
lowered in through the roof.
ORDER CYCLE: The total time and process required for the placement
of an order and its final receipt by a customer. This includes order placement,
order processing, production and transportation to the final destination.
OCP/ OVERLAND COMMON POINT: A special rate concession made
by shipping lines, rail carriers, and truckers serving the US West Coast for
export and import traffic intended to benefit Midwest shippers and importers by
equalizing rates to and from other coastal area and offering Midwest companies
a comparable alternative.
OSD/ OVER, SHORT, DAMAGED: A report that details the
discrepancies between a bill of lading and a shipment at hand.
PACKING LIST: A document prepared by the shipper listing the
kinds and quantities of merchandise in a particular shipment.
PER DIEM: Latin for “per day”. A charge or allowance based
upon a rate or cost per day.
PICK/PACK: The selection of component parts or finished
products from inventory and their subsequent packing for shipment.
PICKUP ORDER: An order from a broker to a carrier to pick up
freight at a location
POINT OF ORIGIN: The location at which a shipment is
received by a transportation line from the shipper.
POD: Port of discharge. The port at which a shipment is
off-loaded by a transportation line, not to be confused with destination which
may be a point further inland.
POE: Port of Entry. A port at which foreign goods are
admitted into the receiving country
POWER OF ATTORNEY: A written legal document by which one
person authorizes another person to perform stated acts on the principal’s
PREMIUM: The amount above the regular price, paid as an
incentive to do something.
PREPAID: Freight for which transportation charges have been
paid by the consignor at the time of shipment.
PROCUREMENT AND LEAD TIME: The tie required by the buyer to
select a supplier and to place and obtain a commitment for specific quantities
of material at specified times.
PROFORMA INVOICE: An invoice provided by the supplier prior
to sales or shipment of merchandise, informing the buyer of the kinds and
quantities of goods to be sent, their value, and important specifications
(weight, size and similar characteristics.) A proforma invoice is used (1) as
a preliminary invoice together with quotation; (2) for customs purposes in
connection with shipments of samples, advertising material etc.
PROOF OF DELIVERY: Information provided to paying party
containing the name of the person who signed for the package with the date and
time of delivery.
PURCHASE ORDER: A purchasers written offer to a supplier
formally stating all terms and conditions of a proposed transaction.
QUAY: A structure built for the purpose of mooring a vessel.
QUOTA: A limitation on quantity of goods that may be
imported into a country from all countries or from specific countries during a
set period of time.
QUOTATION: The price offered to provide a service to a
RECONSIGNMENT: A change in the name of the consignor or
consignee; a change in the place of delivery; a change in the destination
point; or the relinquishment of shipment at pint of origin.
REEFER CONTAINER: A controlled temperature refrigerated
REEFER VESSEL: A vessel with refrigerated cargo holds.
RE-EXPORT: The export of imported goods without added
RFQ: Request for quotation
RORO: A type of vessel that transports wheeled vehicles.
SEAL NUMBER: A number located on the plastic or metal tamper
seal or tag affixed to a loaded container or truck.
SEAWAY BILL: Sometimes referred to as an express bill of
lading. A transport document which is not a document of title/negotiable
SHIPPERS EXPORT DECLARATION: A form required by the export
authorities of many countries to document an export of goods. A form required
for all US export shipments by mail valued at more than $500 dollars and for
non-mailed shipments with declared value greater than $2500.00 The shipper’s
export declaration is used to control exports and compile trade statistics.
SHIPPING INSTRUCTIONS: Information supplied by the
shipper/exporter providing detailed instructions pertaining to the shipment
(e.g. Shipper, consignee, bill to party, commodity, pieces, weight, cube etc)
SHORT TON: A unit of measure equal to 2,000 lbs.
STOWAGE: Arranging and packing of cargo in a vessel for
THC: Terminal handling charge A charge made to a shipper for
moving a container from within a terminal to an ocean vessel.
THIRD PARTY BILLING: The designated payer of an invoice
other then the shipper or consignee.
TEU: 20’ FT equivalent unit
TRANSSHIP: The transfer of freight from one conveyance or carrier
to another, or from one ship to another of different ownership.
TRIANGULAR TRADE: Trade between three countries, in which
an attempt is made to create a favorable balance for each.
ULD: Unit Load Device
UNIT COST: The total of all costs associated with the
production of a single unit of a product or service.
UNLOADING: The physical removal of cargo from carrier’s
VALIDATED EXPORT LICENSE: A document issued by the US
government authorizing the export of commodities for which written export
authorization is required.
VAT: Value added tax.
VOLUME RATE: A rate applicable in connection with a
specified volume of freight.
WAR RISK: The risk to a vessel, its cargo and passengers by
aggressive actions of a hostile nation or group.
W/M: Weight measure
WHARFAGE: (a) A charge assessed by a pier or dock owner for
handling incoming or outgoing cargo, (b) the charge made for docking vessels at
WTO: World Trade organization. The premier international
organization seeking to deal with the global rules of trade between nations.
YEN: Currency of Japan
YUAN: Currency of China
ZIP CODE: A numerical code, established by the US Postal
Service, used for the purpose o routing and to identify delivery zones.