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Air Waybill (AWB)

The AWB is a document that controls the routing of an exporter’s cargo while it is in the hands of the air carrier or a consolidator. It is a contract for carriage.


Refers to the side of a ship. Goods delivered alongside are placed on the dock or barge within reach of the ship’s rigging so it can be easily loaded onto the ship.

Arrival Notice

Notification provided by the carrier when a shipment has arrived to the consignee or notify party.

Automatic Identification System (AIS)

A satellite system used by ships and vessel tracking service (VTS) to identify and locate ships.



A large, flat-bottomed boat used to carry cargo from a port to shallow-draft waterways.



The port space at which a ship docks. A port may have two or three berths, depending on the length of incoming ships.


Bill of Lading
The Bill of Lading is a legal document issued by a carrier to a shipper including shipment details such as the type of goods, quantity, freight rate, and destination. The bill of lading also serves as a shipment receipt.


Breakbulk Cargo

Non-containerized general cargo stored in boxes, bales, pallets or other units to be loaded onto or discharged from ships or other forms of transportation. Examples include iron, steel, machinery, linerboard and woodpulp.

Bulk Cargo

Cargo that is shipped loose as opposed to being shipped in packages or containers. Grain and coal are examples of goods usually shipped as bulk cargo.

Cargo Manifest

A document detailing the cargo carried on a ship, often provided to a customs authority.

Cargo Declaration

Information submitted prior to, upon arrival or upon departure of an international shipment required by a country’s customs authority.


A carrier is a party that transports goods for another person or company and is responsible for any possible loss of or damage to the goods during transport.

Certificate of Inspection

A document certifying that merchandise is in good condition immediately prior to being shipped.

Certificate of Origin (COO)

A document certifying where goods were originally made. A generic certificate of origin may be requested by the customs authority of the country of import.



Like a hotel at sea, a ship needs many supplies to operate and serve its crew-- groceries; paper products; engine parts; electronics; hardware; etc. A chandler sells these supplies to the ship’s agent.



Change Of Destination or Cash on Delivery

Commercial Invoice

A fundamental document for an international transaction with details including what goods are being shipped, who is the shipper and who is the ultimate consignee. Serves as the basis for all other documents related to the shipment.


Any commercial good that is shipped.


The person or place to whom a shipment will be transferred. The ultimate consignee is the final recipient of the goods, while an intermediate consignee takes possession of the goods for a portion of the time that they are in transit.


A shipment of goods to a consignee.


Refers to the exporter or shipper from which the goods originate. 


When cargo from multiple shippers is combined in a single container.


Container Chassis

A piece of equipment specifically designed for the movement of containers by highway to and from container terminals.

Caricom Invoice

A document required by a Caricom country’s customs authority, which serves the same purpose as a standard commercial invoice but also contains additional information such as a certificate of origin.

Cut-Off Time

The latest time cargo may be delivered to a terminal for loading.



Container Yard to Container Yard

Dangerous Goods

A product may be considered a dangerous good if it is corrosive, flammable, poisonous, toxic, explosive, etc. Shipping dangerous goods may require special documentation or packaging to ensure safety. 


Abbreviation for “dangerous and hazardous” cargo.


Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT)

Maximum weight of a vessel including the vessel, cargo and ballast.

Delivery Receipt

A document signed and dated by a consignee or their authorized agent confirming receipt of goods and stating the condition of the goods upon delivery.



Is a fee that you have to pay if you have picked up your imported containers but didn’t return them to the shipping line in time. You will then have to pay for the extra number of days it took for you to return the containers.


A penalty fee assessed when cargo isn’t moved off a wharf before the free time allowance ends.



The transport of freight from an ocean port to a destination. Drayage refers to the process of transporting goods over short distances. It includes the trucking of containerized cargo from one port to another or from a port to a railyard and is an essential part of intermodal shipping. 

Dutiable Value

The amount on which a customs duty is calculated.


Taxes collected on importing and exporting goods. Also called tariffs.


In the context of importing, an entry is an official statement made to Customs regarding details of a shipment entering the country. It is usually completed by a customs broker acting on behalf of the importer.



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



FCL is short for Full Container Load. This means you have enough goods to stuff an entire container.



LCL (Less than Container Load) is often beneficial for small or midsize businesses that don’t have very large goods volumes but cannot afford to miss delivery deadlines. It often allows for savings on freight costs as the goods are shipped at lower rates.


FEU (Forty-Foot Equivalent Unit)

A standard 40-foot shipping container, measuring approximately 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8.1 feet high. One standard FEU can hold 22 to 23 pallets. The container can carry approximately 58,930 pounds, depending on the shipping line's limitations. One FEU has the capacity of two TEUs.   



Are flexible tank containers that offer secure storage and shipment of liquid cargo in bulk. It is a sealed, collapsible, and flexible bag or bladder, which is fitted into a twenty-foot Dry Van (DV) or standard container.

Free Time

The amount of time that a carrier’s equipment may be used without incurring additional charges.



The Harmonized System is an internationally accepted system used to classify products. The first six digits of an HS code are universal across all countries, but each country will add additional digits to further specify products. HS codes play a role in determining import and export controls as well as duty rates. The code for a particular product is often called its tariff classification, as is the process for finding the right code.


International Maritime Dangerous Goods code; the regulations established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for the international transport of dangerous goods.

Import Declaration

Information submitted by an importer or their agent to their country’s customs authority before or upon importation of goods, such as the contact details of the importer, how the goods are being transported and the tariff classifications and values of the items on the shipment.


Incoterms – International Commercial Terms

They are a series of pre-defined commercial terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce. The terms are intended primarily to clearly communicate the tasks, costs, and risks associated with the transportation and delivery of goods. Insert a clickable link back to the Incoterms page under Brokerage.


Intermodal transportation is the movement of goods via more than one type of transportation (e.g. air, rail, sea, truck, etc.). An intermodal container is one that can be used in different modes of transport without having to unload the goods and reload them at each point at which the mode of transport changes.


Landed Cost

The total cost of an international shipment, found by adding the price paid by the buyer to the seller, shipping costs, shipment insurance and all applicable import duties and fees.

Letter of Credit

Also called a documentary collection and often abbreviated as LC or L/C, a letter of credit is a written commitment by a bank issued after a request by an importer that payment will be made to an exporter provided that the terms of the letter of credit have been met as evidenced by the presentation of certain documents.



Dock workers who load and unload ships, or perform administrative tasks associated with the loading or unloading of cargo. Longshoremen are also called stevedores.


Master Bill of Lading

A bill of lading issued by a carrier to a freight forwarder acknowledging receipt of container for shipment. This is different from a house bill of lading which is issued by a freight forwarder to a shipper, acknowledging receipt of their items for shipment.

Net Weight

The weight of goods not including the weight of their packaging.


A non-vessel operating common carrier behaves like a carrier except it doesn’t provide the actual transportation service itself. Instead, a NVOCC buys space from carriers and sells this space to shippers.


Can mean 1) Location where a shipment starts its journey or 2) Country where goods were originally manufactured.

Packing List

A standard document that accompanies a shipment. Also called a packing slip, this document lists the products on a shipment along with packaging information but does not include prices.



A licensed navigational guide with thorough knowledge of a particular section of a waterway whose occupation is to steep ships along a coast or into and out of a harbor. Local pilots board the ship to advise the captain and navigator of local navigation conditions (difficult currents; hidden wrecks, etc.).

Place of Delivery

Location where cargo leaves the custody of a carrier.

Place of Receipt

Location where cargo enters the custody of a carrier.


Port of discharge 

Point of Origin

The location where a shipment is transferred from a shipper to a carrier.


Port of loading 

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

Port where cargo is loaded and leaves a country.


Port Storage
When your containers have been discharged from a ship, they are moved to a container yard. The port provides a free period of storage. During this period, you have time to take care of customs clearance procedures and transport your goods to a warehouse or the final destination. If you do not clear your goods and move your containers in time, the port can charge you for Port Storage.

Project cargo

The materials and equipment to assemble a special project overseas, such as a factory or highway.



A container with refrigeration for transporting frozen foods (meat, ice cream, fruit, etc.)


The transfer of containers from one ship to another when both ships are controlled by the same carrier.


These are vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo, such as vehicles and trailers.


It sometimes happens that containers get rolled. This means your container didn’t make the vessel. Not having your container loaded onto the ship may happen because of customs problems, overbooking, or vessel omissions.



Devices placed beneath boxes or packages in order to raise them off the floor to permit access by a forklift.



Labor management companies that provide equipment and hire workers to transfer cargo between ships and docks. Stevedore companies may also serve as terminal operators. The laborers hired by the stevedoring firms are called stevedores or longshoremen.


Putting cargo into a container.


Also called a container terminal, a location where containers are picked up, dropped off, maintained and kept.


Terminal Charge

A charge for a service carried out in a carrier’s terminal area.

TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit)

A standard 20-foot shipping container, measuring approximately 20 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet high. One standard TEU can hold 9 to 11 pallets. The container can carry approximately 56,000 pounds, depending on the shipping line's limitations. Two TEUs have the capacity of a single FEU. 


The transfer of cargo from one carrier to another or from one vehicle to another at an intermediate point during the goods’ journey to the final destination.


A term used in marine transportation referring to the time it takes between arrival of a ship and its departure.


UN numbers or UN IDs

Are four-digit numbers that identify dangerous goods, hazardous substances and articles (such as explosives, flammable liquids, toxic substances, etc.) in the framework of international transport. They are assigned by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.



Removing goods from a container



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