International Shipping Words You Should Know
One of the more difficult aspects of shipping goods, or even shipping personal items over seas is learning the complicated lingo. There are a ton of terms relating to international shipping, especially cargo and freight shipping. This is a glossary of some of the more important terms related to shipping, international shipping, and freight shipping. It will help you navigate the difficult vocabulary.
A discount allowed for damage or overcharge in the payment of a bill
Charges that are applied to the base tariff rate or base contract rate, e.g., bunkers, container, currency, destination/delivery
A term from Latin meaning, “according to value.” Import duty applied as a percentage of the cargo’s dutiable value
Advanced Charge Transportation charge advanced by one carrier to another to be collected by the later carrier from the consignor or consignee
Advanced Notice of Arrival (ANOA)
Any vessel entering United States waters from a foreign port is required to give a 96–hour ANOV. Any vessel of 300 gross registered tonnage and greater is required to give the ANOA to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Vessel Movement Center. Any vessel under 300 gross registered tons is required to give the ANOA to the appropriate Captain of the Port.
Shipment of goods on shipper’s own account. A bill of adventure is a document signed by the master of the ship that carries goods at owner’s risk. Also, a term used in some insurance policies to mean a voyage or a shipment.
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 often enclosed and, if desired, a copy of the bill of lading.
A bank operating in the seller’s country that handles letters of credit on behalf of a foreign bank
Affreightment, Contract of
An agreement by an ocean carrier to provide cargo space on a vessel at a specified time and for a specified price to accommodate an exporter or importer.
The forwarding agreement or carrying agreement between shipper and air carrier and is issued only in nonnegotiable form.
The total price to move cargo from origin to destination, inclusive of all charges.
Same as 0.4535924277 kilogram
Light, bulky articles
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.
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.
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.
A B/L wherein the paying customer has contracted with the carrier that shipper or consignee information is not given.
Port of initial Customs entry of a vessel to any country. Also known as First Port of Call.
Freight moving under a bond to U.S. Customs or to the Internal Revenue Service, to be delivered only under stated conditions.
A warehouse authorized by Customs authorities for storage of goods on which payment of duties is deferred until the goods are removed
Water transportation term applicable to shipments between ports of a nation; commonly refers to coastwise or intercoastal 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 manifest that lists all cargo carried on a specific vessel voyage.
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.
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
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.
Certificate of Inspection
- A document certifying that merchandise (such as 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. These facilities can be located in container yards, or off dock.
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 mark or label indicating the cargo conforms to standards required by China for certain products.
A mark or label indicating the cargo conforms to standards required by the European Union for certain products.
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.
CIF (Named Port)
Abbreviation for “Cost, Insurance, Freight.” (Named Port) Same as C&F or CFR except seller also provides insurance to named destination.
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.”
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.
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
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.
Document showing contents and loading sequence, point of origin, and point of destination for a container. Vessels are required by law to carry such a document for each container carried.
An incentive payment paid by the vessel to the charterer for loading and unloading the cargo faster than agreed.Usually negotiated only in charter parties. Also called “dispatch.”
The amount on which an Ad Valorem or customs duty is calculated.
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 title of a common clause in contracts, exempting the parties for non–fulfillment of their obligations as a result of conditions beyond their control, such as earthquakes, floods or war.
Free of Particular Average (FPA)
A marine insurance term meaning that the assurer will not allow payment for partial loss or damage to cargo shipments except in certain circumstances, such as stranding, sinking, collision or fire.
That amount of time that a carrier’s equipment may be used without incurring additional charges. (See Storage, Demurrage or Per Diem.)
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. 60 K KT Kilo or metric ton. 1,000 Kilos or 2,204.6 pounds. Kilogram 1,000 grams or 2.2046 pounds.
A loss discovered before or at the time of delivery of a shipment.
Abbreviation for “Letter of Credit.”
The total cost of a good to a buyer, including the cost of transportation.
Certificate issued by consular officials of some importing countries at the point or place of export when the subject goods are exported under bond.
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 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.
A legal claim upon goods for the satisfaction of some debt or duty.
The penalty a seller must pay if the construction project does not meet contractual standards or deadlines.
A carrier giving a customer illegal preference to attract cargo. This can take the form of a money refund (rebate); using lower figures than actual for the assessment of freight charges (undercubing); misdeclaration of the commodity shipped to allow the assessment of a lower tariff rate; waiving published tariff charges for demurrage, CFS handling or equalization; providing specialized equipment to a shipper to the detriment of other shippers, etc.
A writ issued by a court; requires that specific things be done.
that lists in detail all the bills of lading issued by a carrier or its agent or master for a specific voyage. A detailed summary of the total cargo of a vessel. Used principally for Customs purposes.
Marine Insurance Broadly,
insurance covering loss or damage of goods at sea. Marine insurance typically compensates the owner of merchandise for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, etc., but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier
It is an integrated, data–driven environment providing essential information to support the strategic requirements of the United States Marine Transportation System and its contribution to economic viability of the nation. Marking Letters, numbers, and other symbols placed on cargo packages to facilitate identification. Also known as marks
Memorandum Bill of Lading
An in–house bill of lading. A duplicate copy.
Minimum Bill of Lading
A clause in a bill of lading which specifies the least charge that the carrier will make for issuing a lading. The charge may be a definite sum or the current charge per ton for any specified quantity.
The lowest charge that can be assessed to transport a shipment. 69 Mixed Container Load A container load of different articles in a single consignment.
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.
Abbreviation for “Not Otherwise Indexed.” NOIBN Abbreviation for “Not Otherwise Indexed By Name.”
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.
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.
Office of Global Maritime Situational Awareness (OGMSA) It is the United States initiative to establish a world–wide maritime information exchange that encompasses both public and private sector entities with maritime interests. The GMSA supports maritime domain awareness by making maritime related information available and searchable.
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.
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. Origin 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lifts temporary quarantine of a vessel; granted pratique by Health Officer.
Request for Proposal
Request for quotation.
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.
U.S. Commerce Department document, “Shipper’s Export Declaration.”
Saturday and Holidays Excluded.
Saturday and Holidays Included.
Short Sea Shipping – SSS (European-EU)
Short Sea Shipping means the movement of cargo by sea between ports situated in geographical Europe or between those ports situated in non-European countries having a coastline on the enclosed seas bordering Europe (Baltic, Mediterranean and Black). It is a successful mode of transport in Europe.
Individual or firm that employs longshoremen and who contracts to load or unload the ship
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)
Validated Export License
A document issued by the U.S. government; authorizes the export of commodities for which written authorization is required by law. Validation Authentication of B/L and when B/L becomes effective
A term for stowing cargo in a container.
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.
Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement. Provides the U.S. defense community with “assured access” to commercial intermodal capacity to move sustainment cargoes during time of war or national emergency. In return, during peacetime, the carriers receive preference in the carriage of DOD cargoes.
VLFO – Vessel Load Free Out
The loading and discharge terms for the cargo to be shipped, as agreed to in the chartger party. The vessel (carrier) pays for the loading of the cargo on board the ship and the receiver pays for the discharge of the cargo from the ship to the pier.
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.
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.