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ACS (A.C.S.):

U.S. Customs master computer system, "Automated Commercial Systems."

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.

Air Waybill:

The forwarding agreement or carrying agreement between shipper and air carrier and is issued only in non-negotiable form.

All In:

The total price to move cargo from origin to destination, inclusive of all charges.


A phrase referring to the side of a ship. Goods delivered "alongside" are to be placed on the dock or barge within reach of the transport ship´s tackle so that they kan be loaded.

Ambient Temperature:

The temperature of a surrounding body. The ambient temperature of a container is the atmospheric temperature to which it is exposed.


The U.S. Customs´ "Automated Manifest System."

Apparent Good Order:

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


The Hague rules were followed by the Hague-Visby rules.


Abbreviation for "Bill of Lading."


Abbreviation for "Bunker Adjustment Factor" Used to compensate steamship lines for fluctuating fuel costs. Sometimes called "Fuel Adjustment Factor" of FAF.

Bank Guarantee :

For example a guarantee issued by a bank to a carrier to be used in lieu of lost or missplaced original negotiable bill of lading.

Base Rate:

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

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.

Billed Weight :

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

Bonded Warehouse:

A warehouse authorized by Customs authorities for storage of goods on wich 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.


The front of a vessel.

Bunker Charge :

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

Bunkers :

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


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.


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.


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

Cash Against Documents (CAD) :

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

CBM (CM) :

Abbreviation for "Cubic Meter".

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.


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


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

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.”

Clip-On :

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


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.

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.

Commodity Rate :

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


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

Common Carrier :

A 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.

Conference :

An association of ship owners 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.

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.


A person or company to whom commodities are shipped.


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.

Container Booking :

Arrangements with a steamship line to transport containerized cargo.

Container Load :

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

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


Abbreviation for “Dangerous and Hazardous” cargo.

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.


– The place to which a shipment is consigned. – The place where carrier actually turns over cargo to consignee or his agent.


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.

Devanning :

The unloading of a container or cargo van.

Dock :

– 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.

Door-to-Door :

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

Dry Cargo :

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


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.


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

Ethylene :

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

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.

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.


Abbreviation for “Free Alongside Ship.”


Abbreviation for “Full Container Load.”

Feeder Service :

Cargo to/from regional ports are transferred to/from a central hub port for a longhaul 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.

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.

Force Majeure :

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.

Foreign Trade Zone :

A free port in a country divorced from Customs authority but under government control. Merchandise, except that which is prohibited, may be stored in the zone without being subject to import duty regulations.

Fork Lift :

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

Four-Way Pallet :

A pallet designed so that the forks of a fork lift truck can be inserted from all four sides. See Fork lift.

Free Alongside (FAS) :

The seller must deliver the goods to a pier and place them within reach of the ship’s loading equipment.

Free Port :

A restricted area at a seaport for the handling of duty-exempted import goods. Also called a Foreign Trade Zone.

Free Trade Zone :

A port designated by the government of a country for duty-free entry of any non-prohibited goods. Merchandise may be stored, displayed, used for manufacturing, etc., within the zone and re-exported without duties.

Freight Bill :

A document issued by the carrier based on the bill of lading and other information; used to account for a shipment operationally, statistically, and financially. An Invoice.

Freight Forwarder :

A person whose business is to act as an agent on behalf of the shipper. A freight forwarder frequently makes the booking reservation.


Refers to either the cargo carried or the charges assessed for carriage of the cargo.

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.

I.M.D.G. Code :

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


An United Nations agency concerned with safety at sea. Its work includes codes and rules relating to tonnage measurement of vessels, load lines, pollution and the carriage of dangerous 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.


Abbreviation for ”Letter of Credit.”


Loaded aboard a vessel.

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.

Letter of Indemnity :

In order to obtain the clean bill of lading, the carriers may accept that 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.


Document 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.

Meter :

39.37 inches (approximately).

Metric Ton :

2,204.6 pounds or 1,000 kilograms.

Modified Atmosphere :

A blend of gases tailored to replace the normal atmosphere within a container.

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.

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.

Packing List :

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


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

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.

Point of Origin.

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

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.

Prepaid (Ppd.) :

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

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.).


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.


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

”Ro/Ro” :

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.


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

Shipper’s Instructions :

Shipper’s communication(s) to its agent and/or directly to the international


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

Stowage :

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


Removing cargo from a container (devanning).


Putting cargo into a container.


An extra or additional charge.


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


Abbreviation for ”Twenty foot Equivalent Unit.”


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.

U.S.F.D.A :

United States Food and Drug Administration.


Removal of a shipment from a vessel.


A term for stowing cargo in a container.

War Risk :

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

Warehouse :

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

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.