Useful Information

Dictionary facts

ADR (Accord européen relatif au transport international des marchandises Dangereuses par Route) – The European agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road.

AWB – Air Waybill.

AS (Alongside) – The side of the ship. Goods to be placed on the dock from which they can be loaded aboard the ship.

BAF (Bunker Adjustment Factor) – An adjustment in shipping charges to offset price fluctuations in the cost of bunker fuel.

B/L (Bill of Lading) – Documents issued by a carrier, or its agent, to the shipper as a contract of carriage of goods. It is also receipt for cargo accepted for transportation, and must be presented for taking delivery at the destination.

Booking – Arrangements with steamship companies for the acceptance and carriage of freight.

Breakbulk Cargo – Cargo which is shipped as a unit (e.g. palletized cargo, boxed cargo,…).

Bulk Cargo – Loose cargo that is loaded directly into a ship’s hold.

Cabotage – Carriage of cargo between two points within a country by a vessel or vehicle registered in another country.

CAF (Currency Adjustment Factor) – A surcharge on freight charges by a carrier to offset foreign currency fluctuations.

Certificate of Compliance – Document certified by a competent authority that the supplier of a good or service meets the required specifications.

Certificate of Origin – Documents that certifies a shipment’s country of origin.

Chassis – A wheel constructed to accept containers.

CMR (Convention relative au contrat de transport international de Merchandises per route) – Standardized document for cross-border transport of cargo by road, based on UN recommendations for uniform international rules and in force in the European Union.

Collect Freight – Freight charges paid at destination.

Consignee – Person or company (usually a buyer) named by the consignor (usually a seller) in the transportation documents (such as an AWB of B/L) as the party to whose order a consignment will be delivered at the port of destination.

Consigment – Specific shipment sent by a consignor to a named consignee.

Consignor – Person or company (usually the seller) who delivers a consignment to a carrier for transporting it to a consignee (usually the buyer) named in the transportation documents.

Container – Standardized re-sealable transportation box for unitized freight handling with standardized equipment.

Customs Broker – Person or company that transacts customhouse formalities on behalf of an importer or exporter.

Demurrage – A penalty for exceeding free time allowed for loading or unloading of cargo.

Delivery order – The release of shipment to the named delivery party.

Door to door service – Trough transport or shipping arrangement to ensure direct flow of goods from the exporter to the importer (or from the point of origin to the point of sale) with a minimum of interruption and delay. Also called house to house service.

Endorsement – Signing a legal document (such as Bill of Lading) in a legal capacity, means that endorser transferring the goods in to another party.

ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) – Date and time at which a ship journey is expected to arrive at named port.

ETD (Estimated Time of Departure) – Date and time at which a ship journey is expected to depart from a named port.

FCL – Full Container Load.

Flat Rack – A container without sides. It can be loaded from the sides and top.

GRI – General rate increase.

Gross Weight – The full weight of a shipment, including containers and packaging materials.

GMT – Greenwich mean time.

HM – Hazardous material.

Incoterms – International commercial term. Terms of sale accepted worldwide in assignment of costs and responsibilities between the buyer and the seller.

IMO (International Maritime Organization) – UN agency which promotes safety at sea through safety codes, rules and control.

JIT (Just in Time) – Inventory system in which materials are delivered just when needed for production.

L/C (Letter of Credit) – A document issued by a bank per instructions by a buyer of goods authorizingthe seller to draw a specified sum of money under specified terms.

LCL – Less than container load.

LOI – Letter of indemnity.

MAFI trailers – Low RO RO ship wheel trailer.

M/V – Motor vessel

Nett Weight – The weight of the goods alone without any immediate wrappings.

NVOCC (Non–Vessel Operating Common Carrier) – Shipment consolidator or freight forwarder who does not own any vessel, but functions as a carrier by issuing its own bills of lading or air waybills and assuming responsibility for the shipments.

Perishable goods – Any cargo that loses considerable value if it is delayed in transportation.

POD – Port of discharge.

POL – Port of loading.

Prepaid freight – Freight charges paid at origin.

Reefer – A refrigerated trailer for houling perishables.

RO – RO (Roll on – Roll off) – A ship designed to accommodate cargo that is rolled on and rolled off.

Shipment – Cargo transported under the terms of a single bill of lading or waybill, irrespective of the quantity or number of containers, packages or pieces. Also called consignment.

Shipper – An exporter, usually a manufacturing company.

Tare weight – The weight of packing and containers without the weight of goods.

TEU – A twenty foot equivalent unit (6,1m).

THC (Terminal Handling Charge) – A charge made for certain handling services performed at terminals.

Transshipment – The transfer of a shipment from one ship to another.

VOY – Voyage.


Incoterms or international commerce terms are a series of international sales terms and widely used in international commercial transactions.

They were created to be a universal language for global business, facilitating trade and minimizing misunderstandings over commercial terminology.

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