Shipping Glossary - Earthrelo
  • A
    Accessorial (additional) services

    Services such as packing, unpacking, extra stop, or shuttle that you request (or are necessary because of landlord requirements or other special circumstances). Charges for these services are in addition to the transportation costs.


    An accounting concept. It is a gradual increase by addition over a period of time and is a way of recognizing that an expense (or revenue) and the related liability (or asset) can increase over time and not as signaled by an explicit cash transaction.


    When a bill of lading is accepted or signed by a shipper or shipper’s agent without protest, the shipper is said to acquiesce to the terms, giving a silent form of consent.

    Ad Valorem

    According to value.

    Ad Valorem Duty

    Customs duty is a percentage made upon the value of goods.

    Ad Valorem Freight

    Bill of lading freight charged on goods of very high value at so much percent on the declared value of the goods.

    Advice of Shipment

    A notice sent to a local or foreign buyer advising that shipment has gone forward and containing details of packing, routing, etc. A copy of the invoice is usually enclosed and sometimes if desired, a copy of the bill of lading.

    Advising bank

    The bank which advises the seller that a letter of credit has been opened in his favor by the buyer, however, the advising bank does not necessarily guarantee payment.


    To hire, as a ship, to transport freight.

    Affreightment, Contract of

    An agreement by a steamship line to provide cargo space on a vessel at a specified time and for a specified price to accommodate an exporter or importer.

    Agent (Agt.)

    A person authorized to transact business for and in the name of another person or company.

    Air Freight Forwarder

    A type of freight forwarder who specializes in air cargo. Refer to Freight Forwarder or Forwarder.

    Air waybill

    The air waybill (also called air consignment note) is the forwarding agreement or carrying agreement between shipper and air carrier and is obtained from the airline used to ship the goods in question. Air waybills are issued only in nonnegotiable form.

    All commodity rate

    A freight rate applying, with certain restrictions, to any and all commodities.

    All inclusive rate (AI)

    Freight rate that is inclusive of all charges.


    A sum granted as a reimbursement or repayment; a deduction from the gross weight or value of goods.

    Also Notify Party

    A second notify party to whom carrier sends its arrival notice advising of goods coming forward for delivery.

    Apparent Authority

    Also known as estoppel, it is the authority of an agent which is deemed to apply in law, perhaps by inference from the principal’s present or previous conduct.

    Apparent Good Order

    When freight appears to be free of damage so far as a general survey can determine.


    A stated amount over a fixed rate to one point to make a rate to another point.


    A procedure under which a neutral third party hears both the union’s and the employer’s side in a dispute and issues an award that is binding upon both; also, the final step of a grievance process.

    Arrival notice

    Advice that carrier sends to consignee advising of goods coming forward for delivery. Pertinent information such as BL number, container number, and total charges due from consignee, etc are included and sent to consignee prior to vessel arrival. This is done gratuitously by the carrier to ensure smooth delivery but there is no obligation by the carrier to do so and the responsibility to monitor transit and present himself to take timely delivery still rest with the consignee.

    Awkward cargo

    Cargo of irregular size that either be containerized (packed in a container) or uncontainerized (without equipment associated with) in the transport. They require prior approval on a case by case basis before confirmation of booking.


    An affiliated moving company authorized to act on behalf of the van line. The agent may handle the booking, origin, hauling, and/or destination services.

  • B

    Ballast Bonus (Special payment above the Chartering price when the ship has to sail a long way on ballast to reach the loading port.)


    Bare boat (Method of chartering of the ship leaving the charterer with almost all the responsibilities of the owner.)


    Abbreviation for “Bill of Lading.”


    To haul a shipment back over part of a route it has traveled.


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

    Balloon Freight

    Light, bulky articles.

    Bank Guarantee

    Guarantee issued by a bank to a carrier to be used in lieu of lost or misplaced original negotiable bill of lading.


    An act committed by the master or mariners of a vessel, for some unlawful or fraudulent purpose, contrary to their duty to the owners, whereby the latter sustain injury. It may include negligence, if so gross as to evidence fraud.

    Barrel (BBL)

    A term of measure referring to 42 gallons of liquid at 60o F.

    Base Rate

    A tariff term referring to ocean rate less accessorial charges, or simply the base tariff rate.


    Abbreviation for “Beneficial Cargo Owner.” Refers to the importer of record, who physically takes possession of cargo at destination and does not act as a third party in the movement of such goods.


    The width of a ship.

    Belt Line

    A switching railroad operating within a commercial area.

    • Entity to whom money is payable.
    • The entity for whom a letter of credit is issued.
    • The seller and the drawer of a draft.
    Berth Terms

    Shipped under rate that includes cost from end of ship’s tackle at load port to end of ship’s tackle at discharge port.


    Used with reference to charges assessed for cargo movement past a line-haul terminating point.


    A contract term meaning both parties agree to provide something for the other.

    Bill of Exchange

    In the United States, commonly known as a “Draft.” However, bill of exchange is the correct term.

    Bill of Lading (B/L)

    A document that establishes the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company. It serves as a document of title, a contract of carriage and a receipt for goods.

    • Amended B/L: B/L requiring updates that do not change financial status; this is slightly different from corrected B/L.
    • B/L Terms & Conditions: the fine print on B/L; defines what the carrier can and cannot do, including the carrier’s liabilities and contractual agreements.
    • B/L’s Status: represents whether the bill of lading has been input, rated, reconciled, printed, or released to the customer.
    • B/L’s Type: refers to the type of B/L being issued. Some examples are: a Memo (ME), Original (OBL), Non negotiable, Corrected (CBL) or Amended (AM) B/L.
    • Canceled B/L: B/L status; used to cancel a processed B/L; usually per shipper’s request; different from voided B/L.
    • Clean B/L: A B/L which bears no superimposed clause or notation which declares a defective condition of the goods and/or the packaging.
    • Combined B/L: B/L that covers cargo moving over various transports.
    • Consolidated B/L: B/L combined or consolidated from two or more B/L’s.
    • Corrected B/L: B/L requiring any update which results in money or other financially related changes.
    • Domestic B/L: Non-negotiable B/L primarily containing routing details; usually used by truckers and freight forwarders.
    • Duplicate B/L: Another original Bill of Lading set if first set is lost. also known as reissued B/L.
    • Express B/L: Non-negotiable B/L where there are no hard copies of originals printed.
    • Freight B/L: A contract of carriage between a shipper and forwarder (who is usually a NVOCC); a non-negotiable document.
    • Government B/L (GBL): A bill of lading issued by the U.S. government.
    • Hitchment B/L: B/L covering parts of a shipment which are loaded at more than one location. Hitchment B/L usually consists of two parts, hitchment and hitchment memo. The hitchment portion usually covers the majority of a divided shipment and carries the entire revenue.
    • House B/L: B/L issued by a freight forwarder or consolidator covering a single shipment containing the names, addresses and specific description of the goods shipped.
    • Intermodal B/L: B/L covering cargo moving via multimodal means. Also known as Combined Transport B/L, or Multimodal B/L.
    • Long Form B/L: B/L form with all Terms & Conditions written on it. Most B/L’s are short form which incorporate the long form clauses by reference.
    • Memo B/L: Unfreighted B/L with no charges listed.
    • Military B/L: B/L issued by the U.S. military; also known as GBL, or Form DD1252.
    • B/L Numbers: U.S. Customs’ standardized B/L numbering format to facilitate electronic communications and to make each B/L number unique.
    • Negotiable B/L: The B/L is a title document to the goods, issued “to the order of” a party, usually the shipper, whose endorsement is required to effect is negotiation. Thus, a shipper’s order (negotiable) B/L can be bought, sold, or traded while goods are in transit and is commonly used for letter-of-credit transactions. The buyer must submit the original B/L to the carrier in order to take possession of the goods.
    • Non-Negotiable B/L: See Straight B/L. Sometimes means a file copy of a B/L.
    • “Onboard” B/L: B/L validated at the time of loading to transport. Onboard Air, Boxcar, Container, Rail, Truck and Vessel are the most common types.
    • Optional Discharge B/L: B/L covering cargo with more than one discharge point option possibility.
    • “Order” B/L: See Negotiable B/L.
    • Original B/L: The part of the B/L set that has value, especially when negotiable; rest of set are only informational file copies. Abbreviated as OBL.
    • Received for Shipment B/L: Validated at time cargo is received by ocean carrier to commence movement but before being validated as “Onboard”.
    • Reconciled B/L: B/L set which has completed a prescribed number of edits between the shippers instructions and the actual shipment received. This produces a very accurate B/L.
    • Short Term B/L: Opposite of Long Form B/L, a B/L without the Terms & Conditions written on it. Also known as a Short Form B/L. The terms are incorporated by reference to the long form B/L.
    • Split B/L: One of two or more B/L’s which have been split from a single B/L.
    • Stale B/L: A late B/L; in banking, a B/L which has passed the time deadline of the L/C and is void.
    • Straight (Consignment) B/L: Indicates the shipper will deliver the goods to the consignee. It does not convey title (non-negotiable). Most often used when the goods have been pre-paid.
    • “To Order” B/L: See Negotiable B/L.
    • Unique B/L Identifier: U.S. Customs’ standardization: four-alpha code unique to each carrier placed in front of nine digit B/L number; APL’s unique B/L Identifier is “APLU”. Sea-land uses “SEAU”. These prefixes are also used as the container identification.
    • Voided B/L: Related to Consolidated B/L; those B/L’s absorbed in the combining process. Different from Canceled B/L.
    Bill of Lading Port of Discharge

    Port where cargo is discharged from means of transport.

    Bill of Sale

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

    Bill to Party

    Customer designated as party paying for services.

    Billed Weight

    The weight shown in a waybill and freight bill, i.e, the invoiced weight.

    Blanket Bond

    A bond covering a group of persons, articles or properties.

    Blanket Rate
    • A rate applicable to or from a group of points.
    • A special rate applicable to several different articles in a single shipment.
    Blanket Waybill

    A waybill covering two or more consignments of freight.

    Blind Shipment

    A B/L wherein the paying customer has contracted with the carrier that shipper or consignee information is not given.

    Block Stowage

    Stowing cargo destined for a specific location close together to avoid unnecessary cargo movement.

    Blocked Trains

    Railcars grouped in a train by destination so that segments (blocks) can be uncoupled and routed to different destinations as the train moves through various junctions. Eliminates the need to break up a train and sort individual railcars at each junction.

    Blocking or Bracing

    Wood or metal supports (Dunnage) to keep shipments in place to prevent cargo shifting.


    Abbreviation for “Bales.”


    To gain access to a vessel.

    Board Feet

    The basic unit of measurement for lumber. One board foot is equal to a one inch board, 12 inches wide and one foot long. Thus, a board ten feet long, 12 inches wide, and one inch thick contains ten board feet.


    Movement of a tractor, without trailer, over the highway.


    A set of wheels built specifically as rear wheels under the container.


    A device fitted on a chassis or railcar to hold and secure the container.

    Bond Port

    Port of initial Customs entry of a vessel to any country. Also known as First Port of Call.

    Bonded Freight

    Freight moving under a bond to U.S. Customs or to the Internal Revenue Service, and to be delivered only under stated conditions.

    Bonded Warehouse

    A warehouse authorized by Customs authorities for storage of goods on which payment of duties is deferred until the goods are removed.


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

    Booking Number

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

    Bottom Side Rails

    Structural members on the longitudinal sides of the base of the container.

    Bottom-Air Delivery

    A type of air circulation in a temperature control container. Air is pulled by a fan from the top of the container, passed through the evaporator coil for cooling, and then forced through the space under the load and up through the cargo. This type of airflow provides even temperatures.


    The front of a vessel.


    A closed rail freight car.

    Break Bulk
    • To unload and distribute a portion or all of the contents of a rail car, container, or trailer.
    • Loose, non-containerized cargo.
    Broken Stowage
    • The loss of space caused by irregularity in the shape of packages.
    • Any void or empty space in a vessel or container not occupied by cargo.

    A person who arranges for transportation of loads for a percentage of the revenue from the load.


    Freight forwarder/broker compensation as specified by ocean tariff or contract.

    Bulk Cargo

    Not in packages or containers; shipped loose in the hold of a ship without mark and count.” Grain, coal and sulfur are usually bulk freight.

    Bulk-Freight Container

    A container with a discharge hatch in the front wall; allows bulk commodities to be carried.


    A partition separating one part of a ship, freight car, aircraft or truck from another part.

    Bull Rings

    Cargo-securing devices mounted in the floor of containers; allow lashing and securing of cargo.

    Bunker Charge

    An extra charge sometimes added to steamship freight rates; justified by higher fuel costs. (Also known as Fuel Adjustment Factor or FAF.)


    A Maritime term referring to Fuel used aboard the ship. Coal stowage areas aboard a vessel in the past were in bins or bunkers.

    Bridge Point

    An inland location where cargo is received by the ocean carrier and then moved to a coastal port for loading.

    Bridge Port

    A port where cargo is received by the ocean carrier and stuffed into containers but then moved to another coastal port to be waded on a vessel.

  • C
    C&F Terms of Sale, or INCOTERMS.

    Obsolete, albeit heavily used, term of sale meaning “cargo and freight” whereby Seller pays for cost of goods and freight charges up to destination port. In July, 1990 the International Chamber of Commerce replaced C&F with CFR.


    Water transportation term applicable to shipments between ports of a nation; commonly refers to coast-wise or inter-coastal navigation or trade. Many nations, including the United States, have cabotage laws which require national flag vessels to provide domestic interport service.


    Abbreviation for “Currency Adjustment Factor.” A charge, expressed as a percentage of a base rate, that is applied to compensate ocean carriers of currency fluctuations.


    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. Any of various Customs documents required for crossing some international borders.

    Captain’s Protest

    A document prepared by the captain of a vessel on arriving at port; shows conditions encountered during voyage, generally for the purpose of relieving ship owner of any loss to cargo and shifting responsibility for reimbursement to the insurance company.


    A barge equipped with tracks on which up to about 12 railroad cars are moved in harbors or inland waterways.

    Car Pooling

    Use of individual carrier/rail equipment through a central agency for the benefit of carriers and shippers.

    Car Seal

    Metal strip and lead fastener used for locking freight car or truck doors. Seals are numbered for record purposes.


    Freight loaded into a ship.

    Cargo Manifest

    A manifest that lists all cargo carried on a specific vessel voyage.

    Cargo NOS

    Cargo Not Otherwise Specified. Usually the rate entry in a tariff that can apply to commodities not covered under a specific item or sub item in the applicable tariff.

    Cargo Preference

    Cargo reserved by a Nation’s laws for transportation only on vessels registered in that Nation. Typically the cargo is moving due to a direct or indirect support or activity of the Government.

    Cargo Tonnage

    Most ocean freight is billed on the basis of weight or measurement tons (W/M). Weight tons can be expressed in short tons of 2000 pounds, long tons of 2240 pounds or metric tons of 1000 kilos (2204.62 pounds). Measurement tons are usually expressed as cargo measurement of 40 cubic feet (1.12 meters) or cubic meters (35.3 cubic feet.)

    Carload Rate

    A rate applicable to a carload of goods.


    Any person or entity who, in a contract of carriage, undertakes to perform or to procure the performance of carriage by rail, road, sea, air, inland waterway or by a combination of such modes.

    Carrier’s Certificate

    A certificate required by U.S. Customs to release cargo properly to the correct party.


    Usually refers to intra city hauling on drays or trucks.


    Customs form permitting in bond cargo to be moved from one location to another under Customs control, within the same Customs district. Usually in motor carrier’s possession while draying cargo.

    Cash Against Documents (CAD)

    Method of payment for goods in which documents transferring title are given the buyer upon payment of cash to an intermediary acting for the seller, usually a commission house.

    Cash in Advance (CIA)

    A method of payment for goods in which the buyer pays the seller in advance of the shipment of goods. Usually employed when the goods, such as specialized machinery, are built to order.

    Cash With Order (CWO)

    A method of payment for goods in which cash is paid at the time of order and the transaction becomes binding on both buyer and seller.

    CBM (CM)

    Abbreviation for “Cubic Meter.”


    Abbreviation for “Consumption Entry.” The process of declaring the importation of foreign made goods for use in the United States.


    The construction system employed in container vessels; permits ship containers to be stowed in a vertical line with each container supporting the one above it.

    Center of Gravity

    The point of equilibrium of the total weight of a containership, truck, train or a piece of cargo.

    • A document certifying that merchandise (such as of Inspection perishable goods) was in good condition immediately prior to its shipment.
    • The document issued by the U.S. Coast Guard certifying an American flag vessel’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
    Certificate of Origin

    A certified document showing the origin of goods; used in international commerce.


    Abbreviation for “Container Freight Station.” A shipping dock where cargo is loaded (“stuffed”) into or unloaded (“stripped”) from containers. Generally, this involves less than containerload shipments, although small shipments destined to same consignee are often consolidated. Container reloading from/to rail or motor carrier equipment is a typical activity.

    Charter Party

    A written contract between the owner of a vessel and the person desiring to employ the vessel (charterer); sets forth the terms of the arrangement such as duration of agreement, freight rate and ports involved in the trip.


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


    A piece of wood or other material placed at the side of cargo to prevent rolling or moving sideways.


    Abbreviation for “Cost and Insurance.” A price that includes the cost of the goods, the marine insurance and all transportation charges except the ocean freight to the named point of destination.


    Abbreviation for “Cost, Insurance, Freight.” (Named Port) Same as C&F or CFR except seller also provides insurance to named destination.


    Price includes commission as well as CIF.


    Abbreviation for “Cost, Insurance, Freight And Exchange.”


    Abbreviation for “Cost, Insurance, Freight, Collection And Interest.”


    Cost, Insurance, Freight, Interest and Exchange.


    Abbreviation for “Completely Knocked Down.” Parts and subassemblies being transported to an assembly plant.


    Abbreviation for “Carload” and “Containerload”.


    A demand made upon a transportation line for payment on account of a loss sustained through its alleged negligence.


    A publication, such as Uniform Freight Classification (railroad) or the National Motor Freight Classification (motor carrier), that assigns ratings to various articles and provides bill of lading descriptions and rules.

    Classification Rating

    The designation provided in a classification by which a class rate is determined.

    Classification Yard

    A railroad yard with many tracks used for assembling freight trains.

    Clayton Act

    An antitrust act of the U.S. Congress making price discrimination unlawful.

    Clean Bill of Lading

    A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were received in “apparent good order and condition,” without damage or other irregularities. If no notation or exception is made, the B/L is assumed to be “cleaned.”

    Cleaning in Transit

    The stopping of articles, such as peanuts, etc., for cleaning at a point between the point of origin and destination.


    The size beyond which cars or loads cannot use limits bridges, tunnels, etc.


    A strip of wood or metal used to afford additional strength, to prevent warping, or to hold in place.


    Refrigeration equipment attachable to an insulated container that does not have its own refrigeration unit.


    Abbreviation for “Cubic Meter” (capital letters).


    Abbreviation for “centimeter.”

    Coast wise

    Water transportation along the coast.


    Abbreviation for:

    • Collect (cash) on Delivery.
    • Carried on Docket (pricing).

    Abbreviation for the Railway Service “Container On Flat Car.”


    Carriage of Goods by Sea Act. U.S. federal codification passed in 1936 which standardizes carrier’s liability under carrier’s bill of lading. U.S. enactment of The Hague Rules.


    A bank that acts as an agent to the seller’s bank (the presenting bank). The collecting bank assumes no responsibility for either the documents or the merchandise.


    A draft drawn on the buyer, usually accompanied by documents, with complete instructions concerning processing for payment or acceptance.

    Combination Export Mgr.

    A firm that acts as an export sales agent for more than one noncompeting manufacturer.

    Combination Rate

    A rate made up of two or more factors, separately published.

    Commercial Invoice

    Represents a complete record of the transaction between exporter and importer with regard to the goods sold. Also reports the content of the shipment and serves as the basis for all other documents about the shipment.


    Article shipped. For dangerous and hazardous cargo, the correct commodity identification is critical.

    Commodity Rate

    A rate published to apply to a specific article or articles.

    Common Carrier

    VA transportation company which provides service to the general public at published rates.

    Common Law

    Law that derives its force and authority from precedent, custom and usage rather than from statutes, particularly with reference to the laws of England and the United States.

    Concealed Damage

    Damage that is not evident from viewing the unopened package.


    An association of shipowners operating in the same trade route who operate under collective conditions and agree on tariff rates.

    Confirmed Letter of Credit

    A letter of credit, issued by a foreign bank, whose validity has been confirmed by a domestic bank. An exporter with a confirmed letter of credit is assured of payment even if the foreign buyer or the foreign bank defaults.

    Confirming Bank

    The bank that adds its confirmation to another bank’s (the issuing bank’s) letter of credit and promises to pay the beneficiary upon presentation of documents specified in the letter of credit.

    Connecting Carrier

    A carrier which has a direct physical connection with, or forms a link between two or more carriers.


    A person or company to whom commodities are shipped.

    Consignee Mark

    A symbol placed on packages for identification purposes; generally a triangle,square, circle, etc. with letters and/or numbers and port of discharge.

    1. A stock of merchandise advanced to a dealer and located at his place of business, but with title remaining in the source of supply.
    2. A shipment of goods to a consignee.

    A person or company shown on the bill of lading as the shipper.


    Cargo containing shipments of two or more shippers or suppliers. Containerload shipments may be consolidated for one or more consignees.


    A person or firm performing a consolidation service for others. The consolidator takes advantage of lower full carload (FCL) rates, and savings are passed on to shippers.

    Construction Differential Subsidy

    A program whereby the U.S. government attempted to offset the higher shipbuilding cost in the U.S. by paying up to 50% of the difference between cost of U.S. and non U.S. construction. The difference went to the U.S. shipyard. It is unfunded since 1982.


    A government official residing in a foreign country who represents the interests of her or his country and its nationals.

    Consular Declaration

    A formal statement describing goods to be shipped; filed with and approved by the consul of the country of destination prior to shipment.

    Consular Invoice

    A document, certified by a consular official, is required by some countries to describe a shipment. Used by Customs of the foreign country, to verify the value, quantity and nature of the cargo.

    Consular Visa

    An official signature or seal affixed to certain documents by the consul of the country of destination.

    Consumption Entry (CE)

    The process of declaring the importation of foreign-made goods into the United States for use in the United States.


    A truck trailer body that can be detached from the chassis for loading into a vessel, a rail car or stacked in a container depot. Containers may be ventilated, insulated, refrigerated, flat rack, vehicle rack, open top, bulk liquid or equipped with interior devices. A container may be 20 feet, 40 feet, 45 feet, 48 feet or 53 feet in length, 8’0″ or 8’6″ in width, and 8’6″ or 9’6″ in height.

    Container Booking

    Arrangements with a steamship line to transport containerized cargo.

    Container Freight Station

    See CFS.

    Container Manifest

    Document showing contents and loading sequence of a container.

    Container Pool

    An agreement between parties that allows the efficient use and supply of containers. A common supply of containers available to the shipper as required.

    Container Terminal

    An area designated for the stowage of cargoes in container; usually accessible by truck, railroad and marine transportation. Here containers are picked up, dropped off, maintained and housed.

    Container Yard (CY)

    A materials handling/storage facility used for completely unitized loads in containers and/or empty containers. Commonly referred to as CY.

    Containerizable Cargo

    Cargo that will fit into a container and result in an economical shipment.


    Stowage of general or special cargoes in a container for transport in the various modes.

    Container Load

    A load sufficient in size to fill a container either by cubic measurement or by weight.


    Cargo that is prohibited.


    A legally binding agreement between two or more persons/organizations to carry out reciprocal obligations or value.

    Contract Carrier

    Any person not a common carrier who, under special and individual contracts or agreements, transports passengers or property for compensation.

    Controlled Atmosphere

    Sophisticated, computer controlled systems that manage the mixtures of gases within a container throughout an intermodal journey reducing decay.

    Corner Posts

    Vertical frame components fitted at the corners of the container, integral to the corner fittings and connecting the roof and floor structures. Containers are lifted and secured in a stack using the castings at the ends.

    Correspondent Bank

    A bank that, in its own country, handles the business of a foreign bank.

    Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF)

    Cost of goods, marine insurance and all transportation (freight) charges are paid to the foreign point of delivery by the seller.

    Countervailing Duty

    An additional duty imposed to offset export grants, bounties or subsidies paid to foreign suppliers in certain countries by the government of that country for the purpose of promoting export.

    Cross Member

    Transverse members fitted to the bottom side rails of a container, which support the floor.


    An abbreviation for “Cubic.” A unit of volume measurement.

    Cube Out

    When a container or vessel has reached its volumetric capacity before its permitted weight limit.

    Cubic Foot

    1,728 cubic inches. A volume contained in a space measuring one foot high, one foot wide and one foot long.


    A government office where duties are paid, import documents filed, etc., on foreign shipments.

    Customhouse Broker

    A person or firm, licensed by the treasury department of their country when required, engaged in entering and clearing goods through Customs for a client (importer).


    Government agency charged with enforcing the rules passed to protect the country’s import and export revenues.

    Customs Bonded Warehouse

    A warehouse authorized by Customs to receive duty-free merchandise.

    Customs Entry

    All countries require that the importer make a declaration on incoming foreign goods. The importer then normally pays a duty on the imported merchandise. The importer’s statement is compared against the carrier’s vessel manifest to ensure that all foreign goods are properly declared.

    Customs Invoice

    A form requiring all data in a commercial invoice along with a certificate of value and/or a certificate of origin. Required in a few countries (usually former British territories) and usually serves as a seller’s commercial invoice.

    Customs of the Port

    A phrase often included in charter parties and freight contracts referring to local rules and practices which may impact upon the costs borne by the various parties.

    Cut-Off Time

    The latest time cargo may be delivered to a terminal for loading to a scheduled train or ship.


    Hundred weight (United States, 100 pounds: U.K.,112)

    • Abbreviation for Container Yard.
    • The designation for full container receipt/delivery.
  • D

    Abbreviation for “Dangerous and Hazardous” cargo.


    Abbreviation for “Doing Business As.” A legal term for conducting business under a registered name.


    Abbreviation for “Destination Delivery Charge.” A charge, based on container size, that is applied in many tariffs to cargo. This charge is considered accessorial and is added to the base ocean freight. This charge covers crane lifts off the vessel, drayage of the container within the terminal and gate fees at the terminal operation.


    One leg of a move without a paying cargo load. Usually refers to repositioning an empty piece of equipment.

    Deadweight Cargo

    A long ton of cargo that can be stowed in less than 40 cubic feet.


    The number of tons of 2,240 pounds that a vessel can transport of cargo, stores and bunker fuel. It is the difference between the number of tons of water a vessel displaces “light” and the number of tons it displaces when submerged to the “load line.”

    Deconsolidation Point

    Place where loose or other non-containerized cargo is ungrouped for delivery.

    Deficit Weight

    The weight by which a shipment is less than the minimum weight.

    Delivery Instructions

    Order to pick up goods at a named place and deliver them to a pier. Usually issued by exporter to trucker but may apply to a railroad, which completes delivery by land. Use is limited to a few major U.S. ports. Also known as shipping delivery order.


    Demurrage/Despatch money. (Under vessel chartering terms, the amount to be paid if the ship is loading/discharging slower/faster than foreseen.)


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

    • See also Detention and Per Diem.

    The weight of cargo per cubic foot or other unit.

    Depot, Container

    Container freight station or a designated area where empty containers can be picked up or dropped off.


    An incentive payment paid to a carrier to loading and unloading the cargo faster than agreed. Usually negotiated only in charter parties.

    • The place to which a shipment is consigned.
    • The place where carrier actually turns over cargo to consignee or his agent.
    Destination Control Statements

    Various statements that the U.S. government requires to be displayed on export shipments. The statements specify the authorized destinations.


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


    The unloading of a container or cargo van.

    DF Car

    Damage Free Car. Boxcars equipped with special bracing material.


    An amount added or deducted from base rate to make a rate to or from some other point or via another route.

    Discrepancy Letter of Credit

    When documents presented do not conform to the requirements of the letter of credit (L/C), it is referred to as a “discrepancy.” Banks will not process L/C’s which have discrepancies. They will refer the situation back to the buyer and/or seller and await further instructions.


    The weight, in tons of 2,240 pounds, of the vessel and its contents. Calculated by dividing the volume of water displaced in cubic feet by 35, the average density of sea water.


    A change made either in the route of a shipment in transit (see Reconsignment) or of the entire ship.


    Carriers’ practice of dividing revenue received from through rates where joint hauls are involved. This is usually according to agreed formulae.

    • For ships, a cargo handling area parallel to the shoreline where a vessel normally ties up.
    • For land transportation, a loading or unloading platform at an industrial location or carrier terminal.
    Dock Receipt

    A form used to acknowledge receipt of cargo and often serves as basis for preparation of the ocean bill of lading.


    Present a rate proposal to a conference meeting for adoption as a conference group rate.

    Documents Against Acceptance (D/A)

    Instructions given by a shipper to a bank indicating that documents transferring title to goods should be delivered to the buyer only upon the buyer’s acceptance of the attached draft.

    Documents Against Payment (D/P)

    An indication on a draft that the documents attached are to be released to the drawee only on payment.


    A set of wheels that support the front of a container; used when the automotive unit is disconnected.


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


    Department of Transportation.

    • The number of feet that the hull of a ship is beneath the surface of the water.
    • An unconditional order in writing, addressed by one party (drawer) to another party (drawee), requiring the drawee to pay at a fixed or determinable future date a specified sum in lawful currency to the order of a specified person.
    Draft, Bank

    An order issued by a seller against a purchaser; directs payment, usually through an intermediary bank. Typical bank drafts are negotiable instruments and are similar in many ways to checks on checking accounts in a bank.

    Draft, Clean

    A draft to which no documents are attached.

    Draft, Date

    A draft that matures on a fixed date, regardless of the time of acceptance.

    Draft, Discounted

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

    Draft, Sight

    A draft payable on demand upon presentation.

    Draft, Time

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


    A partial refund of an import fee. Refund usually results because goods are re-exported from the country that collected the fee.


    The individual or firm that issues a draft and thus stands to receive payment.


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


    Abbreviation for “Destination Rail Freight Station.” Same as CFS at destination, except a DRFS is operated by the rail carrier participating in the shipment.


    Delay in Startup Insurance is a policy to protect the seller of a construction project from penalties if the project is not completed on time. See “Liquidated Damages.”

    Dry Cargo

    Cargo that is not liquid and normally does not require temperature control.

    Dry-Bulk Container

    A container constructed to carry grain, powder and other free-flowing solids in bulk. Used in conjunction with a tilt chassis or platform.


    Attempting to import merchandise into a country at a price less than the fair market value, usually through subsidy by exporting country.

  • E

    Eastern Central Motor Carriers Association.

    Edge Protector

    An angle piece fitted over the edge of boxes, crates, bundles and other packages to prevent the pressure from metal bands or other types from cutting into the package.


    Abbreviation for “Electronic Data Interface.” Generic term for transmission of transactional data between computer systems. EDI is typically via a batched transmission, usually conforming to consistent standards.


    International data interchange standards sponsored by the United Nations. See UN/EDIFACT.

    • A charge for services performed in connection with floating elevators.
    • Charges assessed for the handling of grain through grain elevators.
    Elkins Act

    An act of Congress (1903) prohibiting rebates, concession, misbilling, etc. and providing specific penalties for such violations.


    Order to restrict the hauling of freight.

    Eminent Domain

    The sovereign power to take property for a necessary public use, with reasonable compensation.

    Empty Repo

    Contraction for Empty Repositioning. The movement of empty containers.


    A legal signature usually placed on the reverse of a draft; signifies transfer of rights from the holder to another party.v


    Customs documents required to clear an import shipment for entry into the general commerce of a country.


    A monetary allowance to the customer for picking up or delivering at a point other than the destination shown on the bill of lading. This provision is covered by tariff publication.

    Equipment Interchange Receipt (EIR)

    A document transferring a container from one carrier to another, or to/from a terminal.

    • Estimated Time of Availability. That time when a tractor/partner carrier is available for dispatch.
    • Estimated time of arrival.

    A gas produced by many fruits and vegetables that accelerates the ripening and aging processes.


    Eastern Weighing and Inspection Bureau.

    “Ex Dec”

    Contraction for “Shipper’s Export Declaration.”

    Ex – “From”

    When used in pricing terms such as “Ex Factory” or “Ex Dock,” it signifies that the price quoted applies only at the point of origin indicated.


    Notations made when the cargo is received at the carrier’s terminal or loaded aboard a vessel. They show any irregularities in packaging or actual or suspected damage to the cargo. Exceptions are then noted on the bill of lading.

    EXIM Bank

    Abbreviation for Export-Import Bank of the United States. An independent U.S. Government Agency which facilitates exports of U.S. goods by providing loan guarantees and insurance for repayment of bank-provided export credit.

    Expiry Date

    Issued in connection with documents such as letters of credit, tariffs etc. to advise that stated provisions will expire at a certain time.


    Shipment of goods to a foreign country.

    Export Declaration

    A government document declaring designated goods to be shipped out of the country. To be completed by the exporter and filed with the U.S. Government.

    Export License

    A government document which permits the “Licensee” to engage in the export of designated goods to certain destinations.

    Export Rate

    A rate published on traffic moving from an interior point to a port for transshipment to a foreign country.

  • F

    A factor is an agent who will, at a discount (usually five to 8% of the gross), buy receivables.


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

    False Billing

    Misrepresenting freight or weight on shipping documents.


    Abbreviation for “Free Alongside Ship.”


    Abbreviation for “Full Container Load.”


    Abbreviation for “Free Discharge.”


    Food and Drug Administration.

    Feeder Service

    Cargo to/from regional ports are transferred to/from a central hub port for a long-haul ocean voyage.

    Feeder Vessel

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


    Abbreviation for “Forty-Foot Equivalent Units.” Refers to container size standard of forty feet. Two twenty-foot containers or TEU’s equal one FEU.

    Fifth Wheel

    The semi-circular steel coupling device mounted on a tractor which engages and locks with a chassis semi-trailer.


    See Free In and Out.


    A capacity measurement equal to one-fourth of a barrel.

    Fixed Costs

    Costs that do not vary with the level of activity. Some fixed costs continue even if no cargo is carried. Terminal leases, rent and property taxes are fixed costs.

    Flat Car

    A rail car without a roof and walls.

    Flat Rack/Flat Bed Container

    A container with no sides and frame members at the front and rear. Container can be loaded from the sides and top.

    FMC (F.M.C.)

    Federal Maritime Commission. The U.S. Governmental regulatory body responsible for administering maritime affairs including the tariff system, Freight Forwarder Licensing, enforcing the conditions of the Shipping Act and approving conference or other carrier agreements.


    See Free On Board. See also Terms of Sale, FOB.


    Abbreviation for “Free on Rail.”

  • G

    Industry-related: A point at which freight moving from one territory to another is interchanged between transportation lines.


    Abbreviation for “General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.” A multilateral treaty to help reduce trade barriers between the signatory countries and to promote trade through tariff concessions. The World Trade Organization (WTO) superseded GATT in 1994.


    Abbreviation for “Government Bill of Lading.”


    Abbreviation for “General Department Store Merchandise.” A classification of commodities that includes goods generally shipped by mass-merchandise companies. This commodity structure occurs only in service contracts.

    General Order (G.O.)

    When U.S. Customs orders shipments without entries to be kept in their custody in a bonded warehouse.

    Generator Set (Gen Set)

    A portable generator which can be attached to a refrigerated container to power the refrigeration unit during transit.


    In the Far East, a warehouse where goods are stored and delivered.


    The front rails of the chassis that raise above the plane of the chassis and engage in the tunnel of a container leading to the connection to tractor.


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

    Gross Tonnage (GT)

    Applies to vessels, not to cargo, (0.2+0.02 log10V) where V is the volume in cubic meters of all enclosed spaces on the vessel.

    Gross Weight

    Entire weight of goods, packaging and freight car or container, ready for shipment. Generally, 80,000 pounds maximum container, cargo and tractor for highway transport.


    A consolidation service, putting small shipments into containers for shipment.


    Abbreviation for “Gross Vehicle Weight.” The combined total weight of a vehicle and its container, inclusive of prime mover.

  • H
    Hague Rules,

    The multilateral maritime treaty adopted in 1921 (at The Hague, Netherlands). Standardizes liability of an international carrier under the Ocean B/L. Establishes a legal “floor” for B/L. See COGSA

    Harbor Master

    An officer who attends to the berthing, etc., of ships in a harbor.

    Harmonized System of Codes (HS)

    An international goods classification system for describing cargo in international trade under a single commodity-coding scheme. Developed under the auspices of the Customs Cooperations Council (CCC), an international Customs organization in Brussels, this code is a hierarchically structured product nomenclature containing approximately 5,000 headings and subheadings. It is organized into 99 chapters arranged in 22 sections. Sections encompass an industry (e.g., Section XI, Textiles and Textile Articles); chapters encompass the various materials and products of the industry (e.g., Chapter 50, Silk; Chapter 55, Manmade Staple Fibers; Chapter 57, Carpets). The basic code contains four-digit headings and six-digit subheadings. Many countries add digits for Customs tariff and statistical purposes. In the United States, duty rates will be the eight-digit level; statistical suffixes will be at the ten-digit level. The Harmonized System (HS) is the current U.S. tariff schedule (TSUSA) for imports and is the basis for the ten-digit Schedule B export code.


    The opening in the deck of a vessel; gives access to the cargo hold.


    An industry abbreviation for “Hazardous Material.”

    Heavy-Lift Charge

    A charge made for lifting articles too heavy to be lifted by a ship’s normal tackle.

    High-Density Compression

    Compression of a flat or standard bale of cotton to approximately 32 pounds per cubic foot. Usually applies to cotton exported or shipped coastwise.


    The marrying of two or more portions of one shipment that originate at different locations, moving under one bill of lading, from one shipper to one consignee. Authority for this service must be granted by tariff publication. See Bill of Lading.

    Hopper Barge

    A barge which loads material dumped into it by a dredger and discharges the cargo through the bottom.


    See Door-to-Door.


    Cargo loaded into a container by the shipper under shipper’s supervision. When the cargo is exported, it is unloaded at the foreign pier destination.


    The process of connecting a moving rail car with a motionless rail car within a rail classification yard in order to make up a train. The cars move by gravity from an incline or “hump” onto the appropriate track.

  • I

    Abbreviation for “Independent Action.” The right of a conference member to publish a rate of tariff rule that departs from the Agreement’s common rate or rule.


    Abbreviation for

    1. “Interstate Commerce Commission,”
    2. “International Chamber of Commerce.”

    Stands for “Immediate Exit.” In the U.S., Customs IE Form is used when goods are brought into the U.S. and are to be immediately re-exported without being transported within the U.S.


    International Maritime Consultative Organization. A forum in which most major maritime nations participate and through which recommendations for the carriage of dangerous goods, bulk commodities, and maritime regulations become internationally acceptable.

    I.M.D.G. Code

    International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code. The regulations published by the IMO for transporting hazardous materials internationally.

    Immediate Exportation

    An entry that allows foreign merchandise arriving at one port to be exported from the same port without the payment of duty.

    In-Transit Entry (I.T.)

    Allows foreign merchandise arriving at one port to be transported in bond to another port, where a superseding entry is filed.


    To receive goods from a foreign country.

    Import License

    A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods.

    In Bond

    Cargo moving under Customs control where duty has not yet been paid.

    In Gate

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

    In Transit

    In transit, or in passage.

    Incentive Rate

    A lower-than-usual tariff rate assessed because a shipper offers a greater volume than specified in the tariff. The incentive rate is assessed for that portion exceeding the normal volume.


    The recognized abbreviation for the International Chamber of Commerce Terms of Sale. These terms were last amended, effective July 1, 1990.

    Indemnity Bond

    An agreement to hold a carrier harmless with regard to a liability.

    Independent Action

    Setting rate within a conference tariff that is different from the rate(s) for the same items established by other conference members.

    Independent Tariff

    Anybody of rate tariffs that are not part of an agreement or conference system.


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

    Inherent Vice

    An insurance term referring to any defect or other characteristic of a product that could result in damage to the product without external cause (for example, instability in a chemical that could cause it to explode spontaneously). Insurance policies may exclude inherent vice losses.

    Inland Carrier

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

    Inspection Certificate

    A certificate issued by an independent agent or firm attesting to the quality and/or quantity of the merchandise being shipped. Such a certificate is usually required in a letter of credit for commodity shipments.

    Installment Shipments

    Successive shipments are permitted under letters of credit. Usually they must take place within a given period of time.

    Insulated Container

    A container insulated on the walls, roof, floor, and doors, to reduce the effect of external temperatures on the cargo.

    Insulated Container Tank

    The frame of a container constructed to hold one or more thermally insulated tanks for liquids.

    Insurance with Average-clause

    This type of clause covers merchandise if the damage amounts to three percent or more of the insured value of the package or cargo. If the vessel burns, sinks, collides, or sinks, all losses are fully covered. In marine insurance, the word average describes partial damage or partial loss.

    Insurance, All-risk

    This type of insurance offers the shipper the broadest coverage available, covering against all losses that may occur in transit.

    Insurance, General-Average

    In water transportation, the deliberate sacrifice of cargo to make the vessel safe for the remaining cargo. Those sharing in the spared cargo proportionately cover the loss.

    Insurance, Particular Average

    A Marine insurance term to refer to partial loss on an individual shipment from one of the perils insured against, regardless of the balance of the cargo. Particular average insurance can usually be obtained, but the loss must be in excess of a certain percentage of the insured value of the shipment, usually three to five percent, before a claim will be allowed by the company.

    Interchange Point

    A location where one carrier delivers freight to another carrier.


    Water service between two coasts; in the U.S., this usually refers to water service between the Atlantic and Pacific or Gulf Coasts.

    Interline Freight

    Freight moving from origin to destination over the Freight lines of two or more transportation carriers.

    Intermediate Point

    A point located en route between two other points.


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


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

    Inward Foreign Manifest (IFM)

    A complete listing of all cargo entering the country of discharge. Required at all world ports and is the primary source of cargo control, against which duty is assessed by the receiving country.


    Abbreviation for “Inland Point Intermodal.” Refers to inland points (non-ports) that can be served by carriers on a through bill of lading.

    Irrevocable Letter of Credit

    Letter of credit in which the specified payment is guaranteed by the bank if all terms and conditions are met by the drawee and which cannot be revoked without joint agreement of both the buyer and the seller.


    International Standards Organization which deals in standards of all sorts, ranging from documentation to equipment packaging and labeling.

    Issuing Bank

    Bank that opens a straight or negotiable letter of credit and assumes the obligation to pay the bank or beneficiary if the documents presented are in accordance with the terms of the letter of credit.

    Issuing Carrier

    The carrier issuing transportation documents or publishing a tariff.


    Abbreviation for “Immediate Transport.” The document (prepared by the carrier) allows shipment to proceed from the port of entry in the U.S. to Customs clearing at the destination. The shipment clears Customs at its final destination. Also called an “In-Transit” Entry.

  • J

    A wood or fiber cover placed around such containers as cans and bottles.

    Jacob’s Ladder

    A rope ladder suspended from the side of a vessel and used for boarding.


    Act of throwing cargo or equipment (jetsam) overboard when a ship is in danger.


    Abbreviation for “Just In Time.” In this method of inventory control, warehousing is minimal or non existent; the container is the movable warehouse and must arrive “just in time;” not too early nor too late.

    Joint Rate

    A rate applicable from a point on one transportation line to a point on another line, made by agreement and published in a single tariff by all transportation lines over which the rate applies.

  • K

    Kilo or metric ton. 1,000 Kilos or 2,204.6 pounds.


    1,000 grams or 2.2046 pounds.

    King Pin

    A coupling pin centered on the front underside of a chassis; couples to the tractor.

    Knocked Down (KD)

    Articles which are taken apart to reduce the cubic footage displaced or to make a better shipping unit and are to be re-assembled.


    One nautical mile (6,076 feet or 1852 meters) per hour. In the days of sail, speed was measured by tossing overboard a log which was secured by a line. Knots were tied into the line at intervals of approximately six feet. The number of knots measured was then compared against time required to travel the distance of 1000 knots in the line.

    Known Loss

    A loss discovered before or at the time of delivery of a shipment.

  • L

    Abbreviation for “Letter of Credit.”


    Loaded aboard a vessel.|


    Refers to the freight shipped; the contents of a shipment.

    Land bridge

    Movement of cargo by water from one country through the port of another country, thence, using rail or truck, to an inland point in that country or to a third country. As example, a through movement of Asian cargo to Europe across North America.

    Landed Cost

    The total cost of a good to a buyer, including the cost of transportation.

    Landing Certificate

    Certificate issued by consular officials of some importing countries at the point or place of export when the subject goods are exported under bond.

    Landing Gear

    A support fixed on the front part of a chassis (which is retractable); used to support the front end of a chassis when the tractor has been removed.


    A maritime industry abbreviation for “Lighter Aboard Ship.” A specially constructed vessel equipped with an overhead crane for lifting specially designed barges and stowing them into cellular slots in an athwartship position.


    Laydays/Cancelling (date): Range of dates within the hire contract must start.


    Abbreviation for “Less than Container Load.” The quantity of freight which is less than that required for the application of a container load rate. Loose Freight.

    Less Than Truckload

    Also known as LTL or LCL.

    Letter of Credit (LC)

    A document, issued by a bank per instructions by a buyer of goods, authorizing the seller to draw a specified sum of money under specified terms, usually the receipt by the bank of certain documents within a given time.

    Some of the specific descriptions are:

    • Back-to-Back: A new letter of credit issued to another beneficiary on the strength of a primary credit. The second L/C uses the first L/C as collateral for the bank. Used in a three-party transaction.
    • Clean: A letter of credit that requires the beneficiary to present only a draft or a receipt for specified funds before receiving payment.
    • Confirmed: An L/C guaranteed by both the issuing and advising banks of payment so long as seller’s documents are in order, and the L/C terms are met. Only applied to irrevocable L/C’s. The confirming bank assumes the credit risk of the issuing bank.
    • Deferred Payment: A letter of credit issued for the purchase and financing of merchandise, similar to acceptance-type letter of credit, except that it requires presentation of sight drafts payable on an installment basis.
    • Irrevocable: An instrument that, once established, cannot be modified or cancelled without the agreement of all parties concerned.
    • Non cumulative: A revolving letter of credit that prohibits the amount not used during the specific period from being available afterwards.
    • Restricted: A condition within the letter of credit which restricts its negotiation to a named bank.
    • Revocable: An instrument that can be modified or cancelled at any moment without notice to and agreement of the beneficiary, but customarily includes a clause in the credit to the effect that any draft negotiated by a bank prior to the receipt of a notice of revocation or amendment will be honored by the issuing bank. Rarely used since there is no protection for the seller.
    • Revolving: An irrevocable letter issued for a specific amount; renews itself for the same amount over a given period.
    • Straight: A letter of credit that contains a limited engagement clause which states that the issuing bank promises to pay the beneficiary upon presentation of the required documents at its counters or the counters of the named bank.
    • Transferable: A letter of credit that allows the beneficiary to transfer in whole or in part to another beneficiary any amount which, in aggregate, of such transfers does not exceed the amount of the credit. Used by middlemen.
    • Unconfirmed: A letter of credit forwarded to the beneficiary by the advising bank without engagement on the part of the advising bank.
    Letter of Indemnity

    In order to obtain the clean bill of lading, the shipper signs a letter of indemnity to the carrier on the basis of which may be obtained the clean bill of lading, although the dock or mate’s receipt showed that the shipment was damaged or in bad condition.

    • Some governments require certain commodities to be licensed prior to exportation or importation. Clauses attesting to compliance are often required on the B/L.
    • Various types issued for export (general, validated) and import as mandated by government(s).

    A legal claim upon goods for the satisfaction of some debt or duty.


    A vessel discharges part of its cargo at anchor into a lighter to reduce the vessel’s draft so it can then get alongside a pier.


    An open or covered barge towed by a tugboat and used mainly in harbors and inland waterways to carry cargo to/from alongside a vessel.


    Refers to carriage of goods by lighter and the charge assessed therefrom.


    A vessel sailing between specified ports on a regular basis.


    Transportation from one city to another as differentiated from local switching service.


    The amount in degrees that a vessel tilts from the vertical.


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

    Liquidated Damages

    The penalty a seller must pay if the construction project does not meet contractual standards or deadlines.

    Lloyds’ Registry

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

    Load Ratio

    The ratio of loaded miles to empty miles.

    Local Cargo

    Cargo delivered to/from the carrier where origin/destination of the cargo is in the local area.

    Long Ton

    2,240 pounds


    Individual employed in a port to load and unload ships.


    Without packing.


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

  • M
    Method of payment

    Payment must be in the form of cash, traveler’s checks, money order, a bank cashier’s check or a credit card. Credit card payment must be pre-approved prior to loading. Personal checks are not accepted.

  • N
    Nautical Mile

    Distance of one minute of longitude at the equator, approximately 6,076.115. The metric equivalent is 1852.


    National Committee on International Trade Documentation.


    Abbreviation for “Not Elsewhere Classified.”

    Negotiable Instruments

    A document of title (such as a draft, promissory note, check, or bill of lading) transferable from one person to another in good faith for a consideration. Non-negotiable bills of lading are known as “straight consignment.” Negotiable bills are known as “order b/l’s.”


    Abbreviation for “Not Elsewhere Specified.”


    Articles packed so that one rests partially or entirely within another, thereby reducing the cubic-foot displacement.

    Net Tare Weight

    The weight of an empty cargo-carrying piece of equipment plus any fixtures permanently attached.

    Net Tonnage (NT)

    (0.2+0.02 log10(Vc)) Vc (4d/3D)2, for passenger ships the following formula is added: 1.25 (GT+10000)/10000 (N1+(N2/10)), where Vc is the volume of cargo holds, D is the distance between ship’s bottom and the uppermost deck, d is the draught N1 is the number of cabin passengers, and N2 is the number of deck passengers.) “Ton” is figured as an 100 cubic foot ton.

    Net Weight

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

    Neutral Body

    An organization established by the members of an ocean conference acts as a self-policing force with broad authority to investigate tariff violations, including authority to scrutinize all documents kept by the carriers and their personnel. Violations are reported to the membership and significant penalties are assessed.


    National Motor Freight Classification.


    Abbreviation for “Not Otherwise Indexed.”


    Abbreviation for “Not Otherwise Indexed By Name.”

    Nomenclature of the Customs Cooperation Council

    The Customs tariff used by most countries worldwide. It was formerly known as the Brussels Tariff Nomenclature and is the basis of the commodity coding system known as the Harmonized System.

    Non-Dumping Certificate

    Required by some countries for protection against the dumping of certain types of merchandise or products.

    Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC)

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


    Notice of Readiness, or Not Otherwise Rated.


    Abbreviation for “Not Otherwise Specified.”


    Front of a container or trailer – opposite the tail.


    Cargo which has been booked but does not arrive in time to be loaded before the vessel sails. See also “Windy Booking.”


    North Pacific Coast Freight Bureau.

  • O
    Ocean Bill of Lading (Ocean B/L)

    A contract for transportation between a shipper and a carrier. It also evidences receipt of the cargo by the carrier. A bill of lading shows ownership of the cargo and, if made negotiable, can be bought, sold or traded while the goods are in-transit.


    See “Overland Common Points.”


    Abbreviation for “Operating Differential Subsidy.” An amount of money the U.S. government paid U.S. shipping companies that qualify for this subsidy. The intent was to help offset the higher subsidy. The intent was to help offset the higher cost of operating a U.S.-flag vessel. The ODS program is administered by the U.S. Maritime Administration and is being phased out.


    Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, headquartered in Paris with membership consisting of the world’s developed nations.

    On Board

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

    On Deck

    A notation on a bill of lading that the cargo has been stowed on the open deck of the ship.

    Open Account

    A trade arrangement in which goods are shipped to a foreign buyer without guarantee of payment.

    Open Insurance Policy

    A marine insurance policy that applies to all shipments made by an exporter over a period of time rather than to one shipment only.

    Open Top Container

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

    Operating Ratio

    A comparison of a carrier’s operating expense with its net sales. The most general measure of operating efficiency.


    Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

    Optimum Cube

    The highest level of cube utilization that can be achieved when loading cargo into a container.

    Order-Notify (O/N)

    A bill of lading term to provide surrender of the original bill of lading before freight is released; usually associated with a shipment covered under a letter of credit.


    Abbreviation for “Origin Rail Freight Station.” Same as CFS at origin except an ORFS is operated by the rail carrier participating in the shipment.


    Location where shipment begins its movement.

    Original Bill of Lading (OBL)

    A document which requires proper signatures for consummating carriage of contract. Must be marked as “original” by the issuing carrier.


    Abbreviation for “Over, Short or Damaged” Usually discovered at cargo unloading.

    Out Gate

    Transaction or interchange that occurs at the time a container leaves a rail or water terminal.


    To charge more than the proper amount according to the published rates.

    Overheight Cargo

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

    Overland Common Point (OCP)

    A term stated on the bills of lading offering lower shipping rates to importers east of the Rockies, provided merchandise from the Far East comes in through the West Coast ports. OCP rates were established by U.S. West Coast steamship companies in conjunction with western railroads so that cargo originating or destined for the American Midwest and East would be competitive with all-water rates via the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf ports. Applies to eastern Canada.

    Owner Code (SCAC)

    Standard Carrier Abbreviation Code identifying an individual common carrier. A three letter carrier code followed by a suffix identifies the carrier’s equipment. A suffix of “U” is a container and “C” is a chassis.

  • P
    PBO (packed by owner)

    When articles are packed by the customer for moving.


    Abbreviation for “Protection and Indemnity,” an insurance term.

    Packing List

    Itemized list of commodities with marks/numbers but no cost values indicated.


    Abbreviation for “Please Authorize Delivery Against Guarantee.” A request from the consignee to the shipper to allow the carrier or agent to release cargo against a guarantee, either bank or personal. Made when the consignee is unable to produce original bills of lading.

    Paired Ports

    A U.S. Customs program wherein at least two designated Customs ports will enter cargo that arrives at either port without the necessity of an in-bound document.


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

    Paper Ramp

    A technical rail ramp, used for equalization of points not actually served.

    Paper Rate

    A published rate that is never assessed because no freight moves under it.

    Parcel Receipt

    An arrangement whereby a steamship company, under rules and regulations established in the freight tariff of a given trade, accepts small packages at rates below the minimum bill of lading, and issues a parcel receipt instead of a bill of lading.

    Partial Shipments

    Under letters of credit, one or more shipments are allowed by the phrase “partial shipments permitted.”

    Particular Average

    See Insurance, Particular Average.


    A party named in an instrument as the beneficiary of the funds. Under letters of credit, the payee is either the drawer of the draft or a bank.


    A party responsible for the payment as evidenced by the given instrument. Under letters of credit, the payer is the party on whom the draft is drawn, usually the drawee bank.

    Per Diem

    A charge, based on a fixed daily rate.

    Perils of the Sea

    Those causes of loss for which the carrier is not legally liable. The elemental risks of ocean transport.

    Phytosanitary Inspection Certificate

    A certificate issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to satisfy import regulations of foreign countries; indicates that a U.S. shipment has been inspected and found free from harmful pests and plant diseases.


    The act of calling for freight by truck at the consignor’s shipping platform.


    The structure perpendicular to the shoreline to which a vessel is secured for the purpose of loading and unloading cargo.


    A shipment loaded into a container at the pier or terminal, thence to the consignee’s facility.


    Containers loaded at port of loading and discharged at port of destination.

    Piggy Packer

    A mobile container-handling crane used to load/unload containers to/from railcars.


    A transportation arrangement in which truck trailers with their loads are moved by train to a destination. Also known as Rail Pigs.

    Place of Delivery

    Place where cargo leaves the care and custody of carrier.

    Place of Receipt

    Location where cargo enters the care and custody of carrier.

    Plimsoll Mark

    A series of horizontal lines, corresponding to the seasons of the year and fresh or saltwater, painted on the outside of a ship marking the level which must remain above the surface of the water for the vessel’s stability.


    Abbreviation for:

    • Port of Discharge.
    • Port of Destination.
    • Proof of Delivery. A document required from the carrier or driver for proper payment.
    Point of Origin

    The place at which a shipment is received by a carrier from the shipper.


    Abbreviation for:

    • Port of Loading.
    • Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants.

    Pomerene Act, Also known as (U.S.) Federal Bill of Lading Act of 1916.

    U.S. federal law enacting conditions by which a B/L may be issued. Penalties for issuing B/L’s containing false data include monetary fines and/or imprisonment.

    • Harbor with piers or docks.
    • Left side of a ship when facing forward.
    • Opening in a ship’s side for handling freight.
    Port of Call

    Port where a ship discharges or receives traffic.

    Port of Entry

    Port where cargo is unloaded and enters a country.

    Port of Exit

    Place where cargo is loaded and leaves a country.

    Pratique Certificate

    Lifts temporary quarantine of a vessel; granted pratique by Health Officer.


    A process employed in the shipment of citrus fruits and other perishable commodities. The fruit is packed and placed in a cold room from which the heat is gradually extracted. The boxes of fruit are packed in containers that have been thoroughly cooled and transported through to destination without opening the doors.

    Prepaid (Ppd.)

    Freight charges paid by the consignor (shipper) prior to the release of the bills of lading by the carrier.

    Pro Forma

    A Latin term meaning “For the sake of form.”

    Pro Forma Invoice

    An invoice provided by a supplier prior to the shipment of merchandise, informing the buyer of the kinds and quantities of goods to be sent, their value, and specifications (weight, size, etc.).

    Pro Rata

    A Latin term meaning “In proportion.”

    Project Rate

    Single tariff item, established to move multiple commodities needed for a specified project, usually construction.

    Public Service Commission

    A name usually given to a State body having control or regulation of public utilities.

    Publishing Agent

    Person authorized by transportation lines to publish tariffs or rates, rules, and regulations for their account.

    Pulp Temperature

    Procedure where carrier tests the temperature of the internal flesh of refrigerated commodities to assure that the temperature at time of shipment conforms to prescribed temperature ranges.


    A short semi-trailer used jointly with a dolly and another semi-trailer to create a twin trailer.

  • Q

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


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


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


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


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

  • R

    Before the actual initiation of the unloading of your shipment, you may request a reweigh of the shipment. If a reweigh is performed the actual charges will be based upon the reweigh weight, regardless of whether the reweigh weight is higher or lower than the first weight of the shipment.

    Rag Top

    A slang term for an open-top trailer or container with a tarpaulin cover.

    Rail Division

    The amount of money an ocean carrier pays to the railroad for overland carriage.

    Rail Grounding

    The time that the container was discharged (grounded) from the train.


    Railroad terminal where containers are received or delivered and trains loaded or discharged. Originally, trailers moved onto the rearmost flatcar via a ramp and driven into position in a technique known as “circus loading.” Most modern rail facilities use lifting equipment to position containers onto the flatcars.


    A movement where the load initiates at an origin rail ramp and terminates at a consignee’s door.


    A movement of equipment from an origin rail ramp to a destination rail ramp only.

    Rate Basis

    A formula of the specific factors or elements that control the making of a rate. A rate can be based on any number of factors (i.e., weight, measure, equipment type, package, box, etc.).


    Under ICC and common law, the requirement that a rate not be higher than is necessary to reimburse the carrier for the actual cost of transporting the traffic and allow a fair profit.


    An illegal form of discounting or refunding that has the net effect of lowering the tariff price. See also Malpractice.


    Changing the consignee or destination on a bill of lading while shipment is still in transit. Diversion has substantially the same meaning.


    A right claim against the guarantors of a loan or draft or bill of exchange.

    Red Label

    A label required on shipments of flammable articles.


    Refrigerated container.

    Related Points

    A group of points to which rates are made the same as or in relation to rates to other points in group.


    Request for quotation.


    To transfer containers from one ship to another when both vessels are controlled by the same network (carrier) manager.


    Funds sent by one person to another as payment.

    Restricted Articles

    Articles handled only under certain conditions.

    Revenue Ton (RT)

    A ton on which the shipment is freighted. If cargo is rated as weight or measure (W/M), whichever produces the highest revenue will be considered the revenue ton. Weights are based on metric tons and measures are based on cubic meters. RT=1 MT or 1 CBM.

    Reverse IPI

    An inland point provided by an all water carrier’s through bill of lading in the U.S. by first discharging the container in an East Coast port.


    A shortening of the term, “Roll On/Roll Off.” A method of ocean cargo service using a vessel with ramps which allows wheeled vehicles to be loaded and discharged without cranes.


    To re-book cargo to a later vessel.


    The side-to-side (athwartship) motion of a vessel.


    The manner in which a shipment moves; i.e., the carriers handling it and the points at which the carriers interchange.

    Running Gear

    Complementary equipment for terminal and over the road handling containers.


    Abbreviation for “Released Value Not Exceeding.” Usually used to limit the value of goods transported. The limitation refers to carrier liability when paying a claim for lost or damaged goods.

  • S
    Shuttle service

    Used if the assigned over-the-road van is unable to make a normal pickup or delivery because of physical constraints (extremely narrow road, inadequate parking area for the truck, weak bridge, etc.). A shuttle service is the use of a secondary, smaller vehicle to complete the pickup or delivery. Charges for this service are based on the weight of the shipment and the location where the service is performed.

    Storage-in-transit (SIT)

    The temporary storage of your household goods in the warehouse of the carrier’s agent, pending further transportation at a later date. SIT service may not exceed a total of 180 calendar days. After 180 days, the interstate nature of the shipment ends and is converted to the rules of the local warehouseman.


    Performed by an agent to examine the customer’s belongings in order to develop an estimate of move charges.


    An embargo imposed by a Government against another country.


    South African Bureau of Standards


    Abbreviation for:

    • Sight draft.
    • Sea damage.
    SCAC Code

    See Owner Code.

    Schedule B

    The Statistical Classification of Domestic and Foreign Commodities Exported from the United States.

    Sea-Bee Vessels

    Ocean vessels constructed with heavy-duty submersible hydraulic lift or elevator system at the stern of the vessel. The Sea-Bee system facilitates forward transfer and positioning of barges. Sea-Bee barges are larger than LASH barges. The Sea-Bee system is no longer used.

    Sea Waybill

    Document indicating the goods were loaded onboard when a document of title (b/L) is not needed. Typically used when a company is shipping goods to itself.


    The fitness of a vessel for its intended use.


    U.S. Commerce Department document, “Shipper’s Export Declaration.”


    A string of vessels which makes a particular voyage and serves a particular market.

    Service Contract

    As provided in the Shipping Act of 1984, a contract between a shipper (or a shippers association) and an ocean common carrier (or conference) in which the shipper makes a commitment to provide a certain minimum quantity of cargo or freight revenue over a fixed time period, and the ocean common carrier or conference commits to a certain rate or rate schedule as well as a defined service level (such as assured space, transit time, port rotation or similar service features). The contract may also specify provisions in the event of nonperformance on the part of either party.


    Saturday and Holidays Excluded.


    Saturday and Holidays Included.

    Ship Chandler

    An individual or company selling equipment and supplies for ships.

    Ship Demurrage

    A charge for delaying a steamer beyond a stipulated period.

    Ship’s Bells

    Measure time onboard ship. One bell sounds for each half hour. One bell means 12:30, two bells mean 1:00, three bells mean 1:30, and so on until 4:00 (eight bells). At 4:30 the cycle begins again with one bell.

    Ship’s Manifest

    A statement listing the particulars of all shipments loaded for a specified voyage.

    Ship’s Tackle

    All rigging, cranes, etc., utilized on a ship to load or unload cargo.


    The tender of one lot of cargo at one time from one shipper to one consignee on one bill of lading.


    The person or company who is usually the supplier or owner of commodities shipped. Also called Consignor.

    Shippers Association

    A non-profit entity that represents the interests of a number of shippers. The main focus of shippers associations is to pool the cargo volumes of members to leverage the most favorable service contract rate levels.

    Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED,”Ex Dec”)

    A joint Bureau of the Census’ International Trade Administration form used for compiling U.S. exports. It is completed by a shipper and shows the value, weight, destination, etc., of export shipments as well as Schedule B commodity code.

    Shipper’s Instructions

    Shipper’s communication(s) to its agent and/or directly to the international water-carrier. Instructions may be varied, e.g., specific details/clauses to be printed on the B/L, directions for cargo pickup and delivery.

    Shipper’s Letter of Instructions for issuing an Air Waybill

    The document required by the carrier or freight forwarders to obtain (besides the data needed) authorization to issue and sign the air waybill in the name of the shipper.

    Shipper’s Load & Count (SL&C)

    Shipments loaded and sealed by shippers and not checked or verified by the carriers.

    Shipping Act of 1916

    The act of the U.S. Congress (1916) that created the U.S. Shipping Board to develop water transportation, operate the merchant ships owned by the government, and regulate the water carriers engaged in commerce under the flag of the United States. As of June 18, 1984, applies only to domestic offshore ocean transport.

    Shipping Act of 1984

    Effective June 18, 1984, describes the law covering water transportation in the U.S. foreign trade.

    Shipping Act of 1998

    Amends the Act of 1984 to provide for confidential service contracts and other items.

    Shipping Order

    Shipper’s instructions to carrier for forwarding goods; usually the triplicate copy of the bill of lading.

    • Bulk Carriers: All vessels designed to carry bulk cargo such as grain, fertilizers, ore, and oil.
    • Combination Passenger and Cargo Ships: Ships with a capacity for 13 or more passengers.
    • Freighters: Break bulk vessels both refrigerated and unrefrigerated, containerships, partial containerships, roll on/roll off vessels, and barge carriers.
    • Barge Carriers: Ships designed to carry barges; some are fitted to act as full containerships and can carry a varying number of barges and containers at the same time. At present this class includes two types of vessels LASH and Sea-Bee.
    • General Cargo Carriers: Break bulk freighters, car carriers, cattle carriers, pallet carriers and timber carriers.
    • Full Containerships: Ships equipped with permanent container cells, with little or no space for other types of cargo.
    • Partial Containerships: Multipurpose containerships where one or more but not all compartments are fitted with permanent container cells. Remaining compartments are used for other types of cargo.
    • Roll-on/Roll-off vessels: Ships specially designed to carry wheeled containers or trailers using interior ramps.
    • Tankers: Ships fitted with tanks to carry liquid cargo such as: crude petroleum and petroleum products; chemicals, Liquefied gasses(LNG and LPG), wine, molasses, and similar product tankers.

    A prop or support placed against or beneath anything to prevent sinking or sagging.

    Short Ton (ST)

    2,000 pounds.

    Shrink Wrap

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

    Side Loader

    A lift truck fitted with lifting attachments operating to one side for handling containers.

    Side-Door Container

    A container fitted with a rear door and a minimum of one side door.

    Sight Draft

    A draft payable upon presentation to the drawee.


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


    Shippers load and count. All three clauses are used as needed on the bill of lading to exclude the carrier from liability when the cargo is loaded by the shipper.


    Loaded containers moving within the railroad system that are not clearly identified on any internally generated reports.


    A wire or rope contrivance placed around cargo and used to load or discharge it to/from a vessel.


    A vessel’s berth between two piers.


    Abbreviation for “Subject to Particular Average.” See also Particular Average.

    Spine Car

    An articulated five-platform railcar. Used where height and weight restrictions limit the use of stack cars. It holds five 40-foot containers or combinations of 40- and 20-foot containers.


    Placing a container where required to be loaded or unloaded.


    A piece of equipment designed to lift containers by their corner castings.


    The force that holds a vessel upright or returns it to upright if keeled over. Weight in the lower hold increases stability. A vessel is stiff if it has high stability, tender if it has low stability.

    Stack Car

    An articulated five-platform rail car that allows containers to be double stacked. A typical stack car holds ten 40-foot equivalent units (FEU’s).


    A rail service whereby rail cars carry containers stacked two high on specially operated unit trains. Each train includes up to 35 articulated multi-platform cars. Each car is comprised of 5 well-type platforms upon which containers can be stacked. No chassis accompany containers.

    Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)

    A standard numerical code used by the U.S. Government to classify products and services.

    Standard International Trade Classification (SITC)

    A standard numeric code developed by the United Nations to classify commodities used in international trade, based on a hierarchy.


    The right side of a ship when facing the bow.

    Statute Of Limitation

    A law limiting the time in which claims or suits may be instituted.


    Abbreviation for “Standard Transportation Commodity Code.”

    Steamship Conference

    A group of vessel operators joined together for the purpose of establishing freight rates.

    Steamship Guarantee

    An indemnity issued to the carrier by a bank; protects the carrier against any possible losses or damages arising from release of the merchandise to the receiving party. This instrument is usually issued when the bill of lading is lost or is not available.


    The end of a vessel. Opposite of bow.


    Individual or firm that employs longshoremen and who contracts to load or unload the ship.

    Store-Door Pick-up Delivery

    A complete package of pick up or delivery services performed by a carrier from origin to final consumption point.


    A marine term referring to loading freight into ships’ holds.


    Said to contain.

    Straddle Carrier

    Mobile truck equipment with the capacity for lifting a container within its own framework.

    Straight Bill of Lading

    A non-negotiable bill of lading which states a specific identity to whom the goods should be delivered. See Bill of Lading.


    Removing cargo from a container (devanning).


    Putting cargo into a container.


    Said to weigh.


    To put in place of another; i.e., when an insurance company pays a claim it is placed in the same position as the payee with regard to any rights against others.

    Surface Transportation Board (STB)

    The U.S. federal body charged with enforcing acts of the U.S. Congress that affect common carriers in interstate commerce. STB replaced the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in 1997.

    Sufferance Wharf

    A wharf licensed and attended by Customs authorities.

    Supply Chain

    A logistical management system which integrates the sequence of activities from delivery of raw materials to the manufacturer through to delivery of the finished product to the customer into measurable components. “Just in Time” is a typical value-added example of supply chain management.


    An extra or additional charge.


    An additional extra tax.

  • T

    Abbreviation for “Transportation and Exportation.” Customs form used to control cargo movement from port of entry to port of exit, meaning that the cargo is moving from one country, through the United States, to another country.


    Rear of a container or trailer-opposite the front or nose.

    Tare Weight

    In railcar or container shipments, the weight of the empty railcar or empty container.

    Tariff (Trf.)

    A publication setting forth the charges, rates and rules of transportation companies.


    Used for sending messages to outside companies. Messages are transmitted via Western Union, ITT and RCA. Being replaced by fax and internet.

    Temperature Recorder

    A device to record temperature in a container while cargo is en route.


    The offer of goods for transportation or the offer to place cars or containers for loading or unloading.


    Time and date for payment of a draft.


    An assigned area in which containers are prepared for loading into a vessel, train, truck, or airplane or are stacked immediately after discharge from the vessel, train, truck, or airplane.

    Terminal Charge

    A charge made for a service performed in a carrier’s terminal area.

    Terms of Sale

    The point at which sellers have fulfilled their obligations so the goods in a legal sense could be said to have been delivered to the buyer. They are shorthand expressions that set out the rights and obligations of each party when it comes to transporting the goods. Following, are the thirteen terms of sale in international trade as Terms of Sale reflected in the recent amendment to the International chamber of Commerce Terms of Trade (INCOTERMS), effective July 1990: exw, fca, fas, fob, cfr, cif, cpt, cip, daf, des, deq, ddu and ddp.

    • EXW (Ex Works) (…Named Place): A Term of Sale which means that the seller fulfills the obligation to deliver when he or she has made the goods available at his/her premises (i.e., works, factory, warehouse, etc.) to the buyer. In particular, the seller is not responsible for loading the goods in the vehicle provided by the buyer or for clearing the goods for export, unless otherwise agreed. The buyer bears all costs and risks involved in taking the goods from the seller’s premises to the desired destination. This term thus represents the minimum obligation for the seller.
    • FCA (Free Carrier) (… Named Place): A Term of Sale which means the seller fulfills their obligation when he or she has handed over the goods, cleared for export, into the charge of the carrier named by the buyer at the named place or point. If no precise point is indicated by the buyer, the seller may choose, within the place or range stipulated, where the carrier should take the goods into their charge.
    • FAS (Free Alongside Ship) (…Named Port of Shipment): A Term of Sale which means the seller fulfills his obligation to deliver when the goods have been placed alongside the vessel on the quay or in lighters at the named port of shipment.This means that the buyer has to bear all costs and risks of loss of or damage to the goods from that moment.
    • FOB (Free On Board) (…Named Port of Shipment): An International Term of Sale that means the seller fulfills his or her obligation to deliver when the goods have passed over the ship’s rail at the named port of shipment. This means that the buyer has to bear all costs and risks to loss of or damage to the goods from that point. The FOB term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.
    • CFR (Cost and Freight) (…Named Port of Destination): A Term of Sale where the seller pays the costs and freight necessary to bring the goods to the named port of destination, Terms of Sale but the risk of loss of or damage to the goods, as (continued) well as any additional costs due to events occurring after the time the goods have been delivered on board the vessel, is transferred from the seller to the buyer when the goods pass the ship’s rail in the port of shipment. The CFR term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.
    • CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight) (…Named Place of Destination): A Term of Sale where the seller has the same obligations as under the CFR but also has to procure marine insurance against the buyer’s risk of loss or damage to the goods during the carriage. The seller contracts for insurance and pays the insurance premium. The CIF term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.
    • CPT (Carriage Paid To) (…Named Place of Destination): A Term of Sale which means the seller pays the freight for the carriage of the goods to the named destination. The risk of loss of or damage to the goods, as well as any additional costs due to events occurring after the time the goods have been delivered to the carrier, is transferred from the seller to the buyer when the goods have been delivered into the custody of the carrier. If subsequent carriers are used for the carriage to the agreed upon destination, the risk passes when the goods have been delivered to the first carrier. The CPT term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.
    • CIP (Carriage and Insurance Paid To) (…Named Place of Destination): A Term of Sale which means the seller has the same obligations as under CPT, but with the addition that the seller has to procure cargo insurance against the buyer’s risk of loss of or damage to the goods during the carriage. The seller contracts for insurance and pays the insurance premium. The buyer should note that under the CIP term the seller is required to obtain insurance only on minimum coverage. The CIP term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.
    • DAF (Delivered At Frontier) (…Named Place): A Term of Sale which means the sellers fulfill their obligation to deliver when the goods have been made available, cleared for export, at the named point and placed at the frontier, but before the customs Terms of Sale border of the adjoining country. (continued)
    • DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid) (…Named Port of Destination): A Term of Sale where the seller fulfills his obligation to deliver when the goods have been made available at the named place in the country of importation. The seller has to bear the costs and risks involved in bringing the goods thereto (excluding duties, taxes and other official charges payable upon importation) as well as the costs and risks of carrying out customs formalities. The buyer has to pay any additional costs and to bear any risks caused by failure to clear the goods for in time.
    • DDP (Delivered Duty paid) (…Named Port of Destination): “Delivered Duty Paid” means that the seller fulfills his obligation to deliver when the goods have been made available at the named place in the country of importation. The seller has to bear the risks and costs, including duties, taxes and other charges of delivering the goods thereto, clear for importation. While the EXW term represents the minimum obligation for the seller, DDP represents the maximum.
    • DES (Delivered Ex Ship) (…Named Port of Destination): A Term of Sale where the seller fulfills his/her obligation to deliver when the goods have been made available to the buyer on board the ship, uncleared for import at the named port of destination. The seller has to bear all the costs and risks involved in bringing the goods to the named port destination.
    • DEQ (Delivered Ex Quay, [Duty Paid]) (…Named Port of Destination): A Term of Sale which means the DDU term has been fulfilled when the goods have been available to the buyer on the quay (wharf) at the named port of destination, cleared for importation. The seller has to bear all risks and costs including duties, taxes and other charges of delivering the goods thereto.

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


    Abbreviation for “Twenty foot Equivalent Unit.”


    100 cubic feet.

    Through Rate

    The total rate from the point of origin to final destination.

    Throughput Charge

    The charge for moving a container through a container yard off or onto a ship.

    Time Charter

    A contract for leasing between the ship owners and the lessee. It would state, e.g., the duration of the lease in years or voyages.

    Time Draft

    A draft that matures either a certain number of days after acceptance or a certain number of days after the date of the draft.

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

    Abbreviation for “Trailer Load.”


    Abbreviation for “Trailer on Flat Car.” The movement of a highway trailer on a railroad flatcar. Also known as Piggyback.

    • A unit used in comparing freight earnings or expenses. The amount earned from the cost of hauling a ton of freight one mile.
    • The movement of a ton of freight one mile.

    Generally refers to freight handled.

    Top-Air Delivery

    A type of air circulation in a container. In top air units, air is drawn from the bottom of the container, filtered through the evaporator for cooling and then forced through the ducted passages along the top of the container. This type of airflow requires a special loading pattern.


    The charge made for towing a vessel.


    Unit of highway motive power used to pull one or more trailers/containers.

    Trade Acceptance

    A time or a date draft that has been accepted by the buyer (the drawee) for payment at maturity.


    Persons and property carried by transport lines.


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

    Tramp Line

    An ocean carrier company operating vessels not on regular runs or schedules. They call at any port where cargo may be available.


    To move cargo from one place to another.

    Transportation & Exit (T&E)

    Allows foreign merchandise arriving at one port to be transported in bond through the U.S. to be exported from another port, without paying duty.


    To transfer goods from one transportation line to another, or from one ship to another.

    Transshipment Port

    Place where cargo is transferred to another carrier.

    Trust Receipt

    Release of merchandise by a bank to a buyer while the bank retains title to the merchandise. The goods are usually obtained for manufacturing or sales purposes. The buyer is obligated to maintain the goods (or the proceeds from their sales) distinct from the remainder of the assets and to hold them ready for repossession by the bank.


    In water transportation, the time it takes between the arrival of a vessel and its departure.

    Twist Locks

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

    Two-Way Pallet

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


    A publication containing the carrier’s rates, rules and regulations for services performed, applicable to the customer’s move.

    Third-party services

    Performed by someone other than the carrier or its agents at your request or required by federal, state or local law (e.g., appliance servicing, crating).

  • U

    Removing the customer’s goods from containers and placing them on a flat surface, as well as the disposal of such containers and packing materials. If ordered, unpacking service must be performed at the time of delivery unless requested otherwise.

  • V
    Validated Export License

    A document issued by the U.S. government; authorizes the export of commodities for which written authorization is required by law.


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


    A term for stowing cargo in a container.

    Variable Cost

    Costs that vary directly with the level of activity within a short time. Examples include costs of moving cargo inland on trains or trucks, stevedoring in some ports, and short-term equipment leases. For business analysis, all costs are either defined as variable or fixed. For a business to break even, all fixed costs must be covered. To make a profit, all variable and fixed costs must be recovered plus some extra amount.

    Ventilated Container

    A container designed with openings in the side and/or end walls to permit the ingress of outside air when the doors are closed.

    Vessel Supplies for Immediate Exportation (VSIE)

    Allows equipment and supplies arriving at one port to be loaded on a vessel, aircraft, etc., for its exclusive use and to be exported from the same port.

    Vessel Manifest

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


    Namely. Used in tariffs to specify commodities.


    A tariff-based level of carrier liability for a customer’s household goods while they are in the care, custody and control of the carrier. Valuation is NOT insurance.

    Van operator

    Oversees the loading, hauling and unloading of your possessions.

  • W
    War Risk

    Insurance coverage for loss of goods resulting from any act of war.


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

    Warehouse Entry

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

    Warehouse Withdrawal for Transportation Immediate Exportation (WDEX)

    Allows merchandise that has been withdrawn from a bonded warehouse at one U.S. port to be exported from the same port exported without paying duty.

    Warehouse Withdrawal for Transportation (WDT)

    Allows merchandise that has been withdrawn from a bonded warehouse at one port to be transported in bond to another port, where a superseding entry will be filed.

    Warehouse Withdrawal for Transportation Exportation (WDT&E)

    Allows merchandise that has been withdrawn from a bonded warehouse at one port to be transported in bond through the U.S. to be exported from another port, without paying duty.


    The storing of goods/cargo.

    Waybill (WB)

    A document prepared by a transportation line at the point of a shipment; shows the point of the origin, destination, route, consignor, consignee, description of shipment and amount charged for the transportation service. It is forwarded with the shipment or sent by mail to the agent at the transfer point or waybill destination.

    Abbreviation is WB. Unlike a bill of lading, a waybill is NOT a document of title.


    Whether Cleared Customs or Not

    Weight Cargo

    A cargo on which the transportation charge is assessed on the basis of weight.

    Weights and Measures

    Measurement ton 40 cubic ft or one cubic meter.

    Net ton, or short ton 2,000 lbs.

    Gross ton/long ton 2,240 lbs.

    Metric ton/kilo ton 2,204.6 lbs.

    Cubic meter 35.314 cubic ft.

    Well Car

    Also known as stack car. A drop-frame Rail flat car.

    Wharfage (Whfge.)

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


    Whether In Berth or Not.


    Whether in Free Pratique or Not

    Windy Booking

    A freight booking made by a skipper or freight forwarder to serve space but not actually having a specific cargo at the time the booking is made. Carriers often overbook a vessel by 10 to 20 percent in recognition that “windy booking” cargo will not actually ship.


    Whether in Port or Not

    Without Recourse

    A phrase preceding the signature of a drawer or endorser of a negotiable instrument; signifies that the instrument is passed onto subsequent holders without any liability to the endorser in the event of nonpayment or nondelivery.

    W.M. (W/M)

    Abbreviation for “Weight or Measurement;” the basis for assessing freight charges. Also known as “worm.” The rate charged under W/M will be whichever produces the highest revenue between the weight of the shipment and the measure of the shipment.


    Abbreviation for “With Particular Average.”


    Western Truck Lines.


    Weather Working Days.

    Waiting time

    If you are unable to accept delivery of your shipment within the free waiting time (i.e., two hours) after notification of arrival at destination, you may request waiting time until delivery can be made. There is a charge for the vehicle and manpower for each hour between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time (excluding Sundays or state/national holidays). The alternative is unloading your shipment at an agent’s warehouse. You will have storage, handling and delivery from warehouse expenses, and consequently it may be less expensive to pay for waiting time if it is not for an excessive length of time. The carrier is not obligated to provide waiting time, but may do so when it does not result in the delay in the delivery of other customers’ shipments or does not cause other undue inconvenience to the carrier.

    Weight additive

    Some articles included in a shipment (i.e., camper shells, boats, canoes, boat trailers, etc.) are comparatively light and occupy space in the van that is not commensurate with their weight. For instance, one might load 4,000 pounds of furniture and cartons in the space taken by a 1,500-pound boat. To compensate for this inequity, our tariff provides a schedule of additional weights for such articles.

  • X
    Content for X
  • Y

    A classification, storage or switching area.

    York-Antwerp Rules of 1974

    Established the standard basis for adjusting general average and stated the rules for adjusting claims.

  • Z
    Zulu Time

    Time based on Greenwich Mean Time.

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Abhishek Sharma
Me and my family used Earth relocation to move from Los Angeles, CA to Chennai , India their sales team and operations team were very helpful during my move to India. Earth Packing team packed each and every item properly and loaded it into the container. There destination delivery partner was very helpful with the paperwork and delivery. My shipment safely arrived and delivered to my location. Will definitely refer Earth relocation to my Friends and Family members.
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Himanshu Sharma
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I used earth relocation for my Move from Irvine, CA to Delhi, India. They had a very experienced packing crew, Operations team and sales Team. All my stuff arrived safely. I will definitely recommend it to family and friends. Thank you.
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Rahul Soni
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