Freight Terminology

Freight Terminology

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Freight Terminology
To clarify and assist you with some of the most common shipping and freight terms please use our A-Z Glossary.


Find all Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain Terminology and Definition’s easily. All major Terms below from Demurrage, Cabotage, BAF’s, CAF’s, Bill of Lading, EDI, FEU, Intermodal, Terminal Charge and many more.


Simply search below to view a breakdown of the logistics, freight and shipping terminology and phrases you may encounter when dealing with Shipping lines, Freight Forwarders and Haulage Companies.




3PL A 3PL is a third-party, or contract, logistics company to whom a firm outsources part or all logistics services. a 3PL will typically handle many of the following tasks: purchasing, inventory & warehouse management, transportation management and order management.


AAR Abbreviation for Against All Risks (insurance clause)
AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) Authorised Economic Operator is a party involved in the international movement of goods that has been approved by or on behalf of a national Customs administration as complying with World Customs Organisation or equivalent supply chain security standards.
Abandon A proceeding wherein a shipper/consignee seeks authority to abandon all or parts of their cargo
Accessorial charges (also called assessorial charges) Charges made for performing services beyond normal pickup and delivery, such as inside delivery or storage charges.
Act of God An act beyond human control, such as lightning, flood or earthquake
ADR The European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road. You must gain an ADR License if you wish to transport hazardous materials by road.
Ad Valorem A term from Latin meaning, “according to value”
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
Advising Bank A bank operating in the seller’s country, that handles letters of credit in 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.
Agent (Agt.) A person authorized to transact business for and in the name of another person or company. Types of agent are:(1) brokers, (2) commission merchants, (3) resident buyers, (4) sales agents, (5) manufacturer’s representatives.
Air freight forwarder An air freight forwarder provides pickup and delivery service under its own tariff, consolidates shipments into larger units, prepares shipping documentation and tenders shipments to the airlines. Air freight forwarders do not generally operate their own aircraft and may therefore be called "indirect air carriers." Because the air freight forwarder tenders the shipment, the airlines consider the forwarder to be the shipper.
Air Waybill An air waybill is a shipping document airlines use. Similar to a bill of lading, the air waybill is a contract between the shipper and airline that states the terms and conditions of transportation. The air waybill also contains shipping instructions, product descriptions, and transportation charges.
Alongside 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 can be loaded.
Ambient (goods) Goods that need no cold storage and can be transported at room temperature
Ambient Temperature The temperature of a surrounding body. The ambient temperature of a container is the atmospheric temperature to which it is exposed.
AMS The U.S. Customs’ “Automated Manifest System.”
Anti-Dumping Duty A tariff imposed to discourage sale of foreign goods, subsidized to sell at low prices detrimental to local manufacturers.
Acquired Rights Having ‘acquired rights’ means that you didn’t have to take the Driver CPC initial qualification because of the license you already held.
Arrival Notice A notification by carrier of ship’s arrival to the consignee, the “Notify Party,” and – when applicable – the “Also Notify Party.” These parties in interest are listed in blocks 3, 4 and 10, respectively, of the Bill of Lading.
Artic - Articulated Truck An articulated truck is also called a C+E. The front unit (C) is connected to the separate trailer (E) via an airline and the trailer weighs over 750kg.
Articles of Extraordinary Value Carriers are not liable for "documents, coin money, or articles of extraordinary value" unless the items are specifically rated in published classifications or tariffs. Exceptions may be made by special agreement. If an agreement is made, the stipulated value of the articles must be endorsed on the bill of lading. Articles may include precious stones, jewels and currency. Many tariffs include restrictions on goods with values in excess of a specified amount.
ATR1  A customs document that allows goods moving between an EU country and Turkey to benefit from cheaper rates of duty.


Backhaul Freight movement in a direction (or lane) of secondary importance or light demand.
Back load Either a load transported on the return journey of a delivery vehicle (noun) or to transport a load on a return journey (verb)

A bill of lading is a binding contract that serves three main purposes:

  • a receipt for the goods delivered to the transportation provider for shipment;
  • a definition or description of the goods; and
  • evidence of title to the relative goods, if "negotiable".
BAF (Bunker Adjustment Factor) The Bunker Adjustment Factor, or BAF, as it is more commonly known, is one of the charges levied on goods transported via Sea Freight. This particular charge represents the fluctuating costs to the shipping, as an example varying global oil prices.
Bank Guarantee Guarantee issued by a bank to a carrier to be used in lieu of lost or misplaced original negotiable bill of lading.
Barratry 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.
Base Rate A tariff term referring to ocean rate less accessorial charges, or simply the base tariff rate.
Beneficiary – Entity to whom money is payable.

– The entity for whom a letter of credit is issued.

– The seller and the drawer of a draft.
BIFA (British International Freight Association) BIFA is a trade association for UK registered companies engaged in international movement of freight by all modes of transport, air, road, rail and sea. All Business undertaken by RJJ Freight Ltd of whatever nature is subject to the Standard Trading Conditions of BIFA 2005A edition.
Bilateral 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 exceptions

The terms and conditions of most bills of lading release transportation providers from liability for loss or damage arising from:

  • an act of God,
  • a public enemy,
  • the authority of law or
  • the act or default of the shipper.

In addition, except in the case of negligence, a transportation provider will not be liable for loss, damage, or delay caused by:

  • the property being stopped and held in transit at the request of the shipper, owner or party entitled to make such request;
  • lack of capacity of a highway, bridge or ferry;
  • a defect or vice in the property; or
  • riots or strikes.
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.
BIP (Border Inspection Post) Boarder controls operated by the Port Health Authorities 
Bobtail Slang term for a tractor driven without its trailer. Can be used to refer to a straight truck.
Bonded Warehouse A building or other secure area in which dutiable goods can be stored, manipulated or undergo manufacturing operations without payment of Vat and Duty. See also under ERTS.
Box A trailer with rigid sides and top. Open only through back doors.
BTIS (Binding Tariff Information System) A system created by the EU to help formal classification of a product to a specific Customs commodity code and to establish the amount of VAT and Duty applicable for the specific product.
Bulk Cargo Cargo which is stowed loose on transportation vehicles, in a tank or without specific packaging. Handled by a pump, scoop, conveyor, or shovel. Examples: grain, coal, petroleum, chemicals


Cab Driver compartment of a truck or tractor.
Cabotage 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.
CAF (Currency Adjustment Factor) The Currency Adjustment Factor is a component of the cost of shipping goods, by air or by sea. It reflects changes in foreign exchange rates.
Cargo Manifest A manifest that lists all cargo carried on a specific vessel voyage.
Carnet 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.
Carrier 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.
Cartage Usually refers to intra city hauling on drays or trucks.
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.
Cat C/Category C Rigid body vehicles over 3,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg).
Cat C1 Vehicles that weigh between 3,500 and 7,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg).
Cat C1+E C1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750kg, but the fully loaded trailer must not weigh more than the vehicle itself. The combined weight of both trailer and vehicle must not exceed 12,000kg.
Cat C+E Category C vehicle connected to the separate trailer (E) via an airline and the trailer weighs over 750kg.
Certificate of Insurance Document certifying that one has met specified requirements. Issued by an office of an insurance company stating the party named has insurance coverage in the amounts & types named.
CFS 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.
Chassis A piece of trucking equipment which is essentially a set of wheels on a lightweight frame.
CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) The computer system used by HM Revenue & Customs to manage both the declaration and movement of goods into and out of the UK. The system also manages movements of goods owned by UK residents and businesses across EU boarders.
Chilled distribution Transporting chilled products (usually food) using temperature-controlled facilities and vehicles.
Chocks Block or stop barriers placed behind/in front of the wheels of a trailer, or container, to keep the vehicle from rolling.
Claim A demand made upon a transportation line for payment on account of a loss sustained through its alleged negligence.
Class 1 Driver A Driver who is qualified to drive C+E Vehicles, which is a Category C vehicle connected to the separate trailer (E) via an airline and the trailer weighs over 750kg.
Class 2 Driver A Driver who is qualified to drive Category C vehicles, which are Rigid body vehicles over 3,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg).
Claused CMR Signed CMR but with a comment noting missing goods or damage to goods in transit
Clean CMR Signed CMR confirming goods intact on deliver
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.”
CLECAT European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services.

A standard document used when transporting goods internationally which is signed at delivery to show proof of delivery and normally includes the name and address of:

  • the carrier (the company responsible for transport)
  • the shipper (the consignor/sender, or his agent)
  • the consignee (the buyer or his agent)
  • places of departure and destination
  • description of the goods
  • any other information relevant to the shipment
CMR Convention The agreement between EU countries which sets out the rules by which transport by road is regulated in Europe
COGSA 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.
Commercial Release A document sent out a warehouse operator that states that goods are ready for release to an authorised collector and all applicable taxes and duties have been paid.
Commodity 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 to the contents of a package which in good condition externally
Concealed Loss Loss or damage to product which cannot be determined until the package is opened.
Connecta Connecta is an Airfreight Association of independent freight forwarders that unites the best independent air transport and logistics companies around the world.
Consignee A person or company to whom goods are shipped
Consignment A shipment of goods to a consignee
Consignor A person or company shipping goods
Consolidation A joining together of many small shipments – often from different shippers – into large shipment quantities, in order to take advantage of economies of scale in transportation costs.
Container A single, rigid, sealed and reusable metal box in which merchandise is shipped by vessel, truck, or rail. Container types include standard, high cube, hardtop, open top, flatbed and refrigerated or bulk.
Container Crane Used to lift containers from truck chassis (or rail flatcar, or from the dock) and load onto a ship.
Container Demurrage If a container is used for longer than it was booked or agreed free time, the excess time is referred to as demurrage.
C of O (Certificate of Origin) An official document that, when stamped by the relevant authorities, provide the Country of Origin of the goods in transit. This is often required when shipping textiles. 
CPC The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence
CPC Periodic Training The classroom training that professional Drivers must complete in order to retain their vocational license. They must complete 35 hours in every 5-year period.
Cross-Dock Transportation terminal in which received items are transferred directly from inbound to the outbound shipping dock. Temporary storage only and used mostly for vehicle transfers. Often owned and operated by large shippers.
Curtain-sider Trailer with ‘curtains’ which can be pulled back for loading/unloading
Customs 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 Broker Specialists in customs procedures who act for importers for a fee; licensed by the Treasury Department.
Customs Cleared A cargo becomes customs cleared once it has been declared to the local customs authorities and all applicable taxes and duties have been paid. Once cleared, goods are ready for onward shipment.
Customs Commodity Code A six, eight or 10 digit code that tells customs authorities exactly what the cargo is.
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.
CVC (Certificate of Veterinary Check) Certificate of Veterinary Checks/Inspection is a legal regulatory document in which the attending veterinarian attests to the veracity of the information contained in the documents.


DA Course Driver CPC periodic training modules based on subjects specific to the needs of newly qualified Drivers.
Dangerous goods Hazardous goods such as chemicals which hauliers need a special licence to carry
DC Distribution centre
DCPC Driver CPC Training
Dead-Head A portion of a transportation trip in which no freight is conveyed; an empty move.
Deferment Account Organisations can apply for an account with HM Revenue & Customs – a deferment account. It’s like putting things on a tab in the pub or restaurant. When it’s time to pay duty or VAT it get charged to your account and you settle the bill.
Demurrage 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.
Density The weight of cargo per cubic foot or other unit.
Detention 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.
DGN (Dangerous Goods Note) A Dangerous Goods Note is usually completed by a consignor who is qualified within the company to complete this document.  The DGN contains all the hazardous information required for the goods to be transport in a safe manner. A DGN is required for all hazardous goods shipments via air or sea.
DGSA Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor.
Digital Tachograph Card Card used to operate a Digital Tachograph Machine
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.
Diversion; Reconsignment Rerouting of freight by the shipper while the goods are in transit.
Dock A platform where trucks are unloaded and loaded.
Dock Receipt A form used to acknowledge receipt of cargo and often serves as basis for preparation of the ocean bill of lading.
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.
Domestic transport Transporting goods within one country, at HGV Alliance this usually refers to collecting and delivering within the UK
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.
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.
Drawback A partial refund of an import fee. Refund usually results because goods are re-exported from the country that collected the fee.
Draw Bar A drawbar is a solid coupling between a vehicle and the load it is towing. C+E/Articulated vehicles are often given the nickname ‘Drawbar’ for this reason.
Drawee The individual or firm that issues a draft and thus stands to receive payment.
Drayage Local trucking, to and from rail or to and from port facilities.
Drivers working hours The commonly used term for regulations that govern the activities of the drivers of goods vehicles.
Dunnage Wood and packaging materials which are used to keep cargo in place while inside a container or transportation vehicle.
DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) A vehicle requires a UK registered number plate before it can be used on British roads. Where applicable Road Tax needs to be paid. DVLA issue a V5 document showing the vehicles technical data and the registered owner of the vehicle.
DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) merged with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) in April 2014 to create DVSA.  All garages needs to be DVSA approved in order to do MOT and vehicle testing.


EDI 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.
Empty running A truck travelling without a load.
End-Use Relief Organisations shipping aircraft, ships spares, hydrocarbon oil and some foodstuffs can apply for what is called end-use relief – an exemption from paying duty and VAT.
Entry Customs documents required to clear an import shipment for entry into the general commerce of a country.
ERTS (Enhanced Remote Transit Shed) A warehouse outside the port controlled by HM Revenue & Customs where goods can be held as un-cleared (Duty VAT unpaid, Non EEC status). For example a groupage container may be moved to these locations for devanning and then each individual shipment can be cleared separately through customs.
EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification scheme) Businesses and individuals require to register with HM Revenue & Customs prior to arrival and/or departure for goods in the UK. An EORI number, formerly TURN number or VAT Number is a number, unique throughout the European Community, assigned by a customs authority in a Member State to economic operators (businesses) or persons. By registering for customs purposes in one Member State, an Economic Operator (EO) is able to obtain an EORI number which is valid throughout the Community. The EO will then use this number in all communications with any EC customs authorities where a customs identifier is required for example customs declarations.
EORI Number EORI numbers are unique throughout the EU. Those issued in the UK starts with the letters GB. Most are then followed by 12 digits based on the trader’s VAT number.
ETA Estimated time of arrival.
EUR1 A form that, when completed and endorsed by HM Revenue & Customs, entitles goods originating in the UK or EU to lower – possible zero- import duties and they arrive in countries covered by EU trade agreements.
Euro Liner A trailer like a tilt with a sliding roof for loading if required through the roof area.
Ex – “Form” 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.
Exception 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.
Expediting Accelerating transportation times.
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.
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.
Express Release Bill A bill of lading used when a shipper wants cargo to be released to a consignee immediately on arrival at a port, rather than to have to wait for the consignee to present the original bill of lading given to the shipper.


FAK (Freight All Kinds) Shipping industry term for a carrier's tariff classification for all kinds of goods that are pooled and shipped together at one freight rate. Consolidated shipments are generally classified as FAK.
F.D.A. Food and Drug Administration.
FCL Abbreviation for “Full Container Load.” A shipment made in a dedicated 20- or 40- foot container
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.
FEU (Forty foot Equivalent Unit) The length of a container in foot. Also referred to as 40’ or 40ft. A FEU is twice the size of a TEU.
FIATA (International Federation of Freight Forwarding Associations) International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, a non-governmental organisation, representing some 40,000 forwarding and logistics companies in 150 countries.
Flatbed A level bed platform with no sides or top. Most often used for oversized shipments. But in Hawaii and Guam – where space is limited – flatbeds are used to deliver freight where no docks are available for off-load.
Flatrack Similar to flatbed trailer offering a level platform with no top. However, there are sideboards at each corner that allow stacking of the unit for vessel transport.
Force Majeure A short-sea vessel which transfers cargo between a central “hub” port and smaller “spoke” ports.
FLT (Fork Lift Truck) A machine used to pick up and move goods loaded on pallets
FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service) The Financial Ombudsman Service is the UK’s official body to address and assist with customer complaints and problems relating to financial and insurance products and services.
Foul Bill of Lading A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were damaged when received. Compare Clean Bill of Lading.
Free Astray An astray shipment (a lost shipment that is found) sent to its proper destination without additional charge.
Free Circulation Goods Goods on which the import duty, VAT and any excise duties have been paid and as a result are no long under HM Revenue & Customs control.
Free Time That amount of time that a carrier’s equipment may be used without incurring additional charges. (See Storage, Demurrage or Per Diem.)
Freeze & Chill Temperature controlled equipment used for the transport of perishable goods.
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 An agency that receives freight from a shipper and arranges for transportation with one or more carriers to the consignee. Often used for international shipping. Will usually consolidate freight from many shippers to obtain low, large volume transportation rates from carriers (through contract). Often owns pick-up and delivery equipment; uses to transport freight to/from consolidation facilities. Frequently provide packaging, temporary freight storage, and customs clearing services. Approved is a licensed freight forwarder.
Freight Size Most commonly measured by weight. But is often measured by cube – or cubic feet — of the shipment.
Fridge A refrigerated trailer
FTA The Freight Transport Association, one of the main trade bodies for the Freight industry.
FTL A full truck load
Fumigation The process during which a container is filled with gases or pesticides to kill vermin or insects or other infestations that may have crept inside the container during loading before any cargo is devanned.  


Gateway Industry-related: A point at which freight moving from one territory to another is interchanged between transportation lines.
General Average Expenses and damages incurred as the result of damage to a ship and its cargo and/or of taking direct action to prevent initial or further damage to the ship and its cargo. These expenses and damages are paid by those with an interest in the ship and its cargo in proportion to their values exposed to the common danger.
General Cargo Any cargo that isn’t packed into a standard container for shipment. This might be bulk cargo - grain or fertilisers, for example. Alternatively, it could be an item on a pallet or something that’s too big to fit into a container.
GIT Goods in transit, i.e. term used for goods while loaded on a truck
GIT insurance Insurance for damage and theft while goods are being transported
GRI Abbreviation for “General Rate Increase.” Used to describe an across-the-board tariff rate increase implemented by conference members and applied to base rates.
Groupage The process of combining smaller shipments from separate shippers into a container to make it easier and cheaper to ship to a common destination.
GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) A scheme that allows organisations in developing countries to ship goods into the EU and other developed countries to pay lower-than-normal rate of duty or, sometimes, no duty at all.


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 Cooperation’s 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 Fibres; 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.
Haulage The process of moving goods to or from a port.
Haulier Person or company responsible for moving goods to or from a port, typically using a van or truck.
HAWB (House Airway Bill) Freight Forwarders offering a consolidated service – to combine goods from several different shippers into a single unit prior to shipment – issue a house air waybill to describe the unit’s content.
Heavy load Abnormal size load which needs special equipment to carry and may also need other services such as convoy, road closures etc
HGV Heavy Goods Vehicle
HiAb Standard used in the trade to describe a lorry or tuck that comes with a small crane attached. The name comes from the original manufacturer of the device – the Swedish firm, Hydraliska Industri AB. 
High Cube A trailer or container which allows above average cubic capacity.
HMRC (Her Majesty Revenue & Customs) Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs or HM Revenue & Customs is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government responsible for the collection of taxes in the UK.
Horsebox Usually either a B+E or C1+E vehicle used for the purpose of transporting horses.
Household Goods Carrier An HHG Carrier is any carrier authorized to transport furniture, household goods, and other properties involved in a change of location.
House-to-Pier 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.
Hundredweight; CWT 100 weight; common weight unit for domestic mainland moves. Payer is charged a determined amount per 100lbs of freight.


I.M.C.O 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.
IATA (The International Air Transport Association) The International Air Transport Association, is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 265 airlines worldwide.
ICC Abbreviation for (1) International Chamber of Commerce.
ICD (Inland Clearance Depot) An inland area that operates as an extension to a port and offers similar services as an approved Customs warehouse where cargo can be stored before being customs cleared.
IIFA Irish International Freight Association
Import To receive goods from a foreign country.
Import License A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods.
Import Quota The quantity of a commodity that can be imported at a lower rate of duty than would otherwise apply. Quotas apply to certain goods from particular countries.
In Bond Storage of goods in custody of government bonded warehouses, or carriers from whom goods can be taken only upon payment of duties, to appropriate government agencies.
INCO Terms (International Commercial Terms) The Inco terms rules or International Commercial Terms are a series of pre-defined commercial terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). They are widely used in International commercial transactions or procurement processes. A series of three-letter trade terms related to common contractual sales practices, the Incoterms rules are intended primarily to clearly communicate the tasks, costs, and risks associated with the transportation and delivery of goods.
Indemnity Bond An agreement to hold a carrier harmless with regard to a liability.
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.
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.
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.
Interline Shipment Shipments moving from origin to destination via two or more carriers. Frequently occurs in rail transportation.
Intermodal 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.
International transport Transporting goods between two countries
IPR (Inward Processing Relief) A relief from duty and VAT on goods being imported from outside the EU only to be process. When the process is completed the goods will be exported to countries outside the EU.
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.
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.
IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) Previously known as Single Vehicle Approval (SVA). A legal requirement which is designed to ensure a vehicle complies with the current UK regulations for the use on British roads. All cars and vehicles manufactured within the preceding 10 years are required to undergo this process and in some cases modifications of the car or vehicle is required.


JAUPT Jaunt Approvals Unit for Periodic Training - responsible for the quality assurance of periodic training centres and courses.
JIT Just in Time; A manufacturing system which depends on frequent, small deliveries of parts and supplies, to keep on-site delivery to a minimum.


Landbridge 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.
LC (Letter of Credit) A letter of credit is a letter from a bank guaranteeing that a buyer's payment to a seller will be received on time and for the correct amount. In the event that the buyer is unable to make payment on the purchase, the bank will be required to cover the full or remaining amount of the purchase.
LCL (Less than a Container Load) A shipment too small to require a container of its own. The shipment will be grouped with other shipments to the same destination and loaded in a shared 20- or 40-foot container.
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.
LGV Light Goods Vehicle; often used to refer to Cat C1 or Cat C vehicles
Licenses – 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).
Lien A legal claim upon goods for the satisfaction of some debt or duty.
Line-Haul Regular transport from one city or distribution centre to another
LO-LO (Load-On, Load-Off) This term is usually describing the charge made for loading and or discharging a container from or onto a truck.
Longhaul Terminal-to-terminal freight movement in transportation for long distance moves, as distinguished from local freight moves.
Loss or Damage Loss or damage of freight shipments while in transit or in a carrier-operated warehouse.
LTL Term meaning Less Than Truckload, see part load


Marine Cargo Insurance Marine Cargo Insurance cover loss or damage to goods in transit, subject to the Institute Cargo Clauses. These clauses provide standard comprehensive marine insurance cover. The term "All Risks" broadly speaking means any accidental event which is external to the cargo. War and Strikes (including Terrorism) subject to the application of the appropriate Institute Clauses providing for War and Strikes risks. General Average contributions and salvage cover.
MAWB (Master Airway Bill) Master airway bill is issued by main carrier of goods on receipt of goods from a freight forwarder to deliver at destination as per agreed terms.
Mini Land-bridge An intermodal system for transporting containers by ocean and then by rail or motor to a port previously served as an all water move (e.g., Hong Kong to New York over Seattle).
Minimum Charge The lowest charge that can be assessed to transport a shipment.
Moffitt Truck Lorry or truck that comes with a fork-lift attached.
Multi Drop Delivery Driver A Driver who makes several deliveries per day, usually as part of a pre-planned delivery schedule.
Multimodal Movements of cargo containers interchangeably between transport modes, i.e., road, rail, sea, and air carriers, and where the equipment is compatible within the multiple systems


NCTS (The New Computerised Transit System) The computer system traders use to declare goods that will be moved by road across boarders between EU countries.
NIRU (National Import Relief Unit) The department of HM Revenue & Customs that control the import of goods from outside the EU in cases where certain procedures apply or reliefs are being claimed.
Normal trailer dimensions 13.6 metre (L) x 2.42 metres (W) x 2.45 metres (H)
NOVA (Notice of Vehicle Arrival) All vehicles arriving into the UK require notification to HM Revenue & Customs within 14 days. For private individuals RJJ can assist with the NOVA formalities. A vehicle cannot be registered or licenses with the DVLA without a NOVA declaration.
NVOCC A Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier. Owns no vessels (ships) but provides ocean freight-forwarding services. Provides consolidated negotiated rate services, for ocean and inland water carriers.


O License Operators License – A license required by anyone who owns vehicles and is paid to transport goods for other people. There are three types of license and the rules are outlined here;
Open Top Containers with sides but no permanent tops.
Original Bill of Lading The bill of lading is given to the shipper as receipt of goods. Shipping lines may require this document to be surrendered to them prior to the release of the goods at destination port.
Out of gauge Normally wide load, see heavy load
Overage Excess freight over the quantity believed to have been shipped, or more than the quantity shown on the shipping document.
Over Dimensional Movement The term used to describe goods or containers that arrive unexpectedly at a port. They are on the ship, but not on the ship’s manifest.
Over-the-Road Commonly referred to as OTR, it is the transport of goods by road; usually in trucks.
Owner-Operator Drivers who own and operate his or her own truck.


Packing List Itemised list of goods which sometimes accompanies CMR
P&D Abbreviation for pick-up and delivery of freight.
Pallet Small, typically wooden or plastic platform on which goods are placed for handling and movement to and from facilities; or for simple movement and storage in a warehouse. Standard pallet dimensions are 40″x48″ — but can vary greatly. Oversized pallets (greater than 40″x48″) can limit the amount of freight that can be loaded into a container
Part load A load too small to fill a whole trailer, normally less than half a truck load
Pick-Up and Delivery (Cartage) Local hauling of freight. Transferring freight from the shipper to a terminal, or from a terminal to a consignee.
Placard A diamond shaped sign attached to a vehicle hauling hazardous materials, which indicates the class & type of the materials being moved.
POD Stands for Proof of delivery, a document required from the carrier for payment, CMR is the European standard document
Port Health The combination of national and local authorities responsible for protecting the UK against things that could put the safety of people at risk, harm livestock or damage the environment. Their function includes ensuring infectious disease does not spread from vessels, enforcing controls on imported food and sampling shellfish for contamination.
Pre-Lodged The act of registering goods with HM Revenue & Customs prior to their arrival at port.
Private Carrier Owned and operated by a shipper. Usually, refers to private trucking fleets. Components include vehicle fleet, drivers, maintenance equipment.


Quota The Import Quotas system allows the import of limited amounts of goods at a rate of duty lower than would otherwise apply. Quotas apply to certain goods from particular countries - so they are very specific.


RDC Regional distribution centre
REDS (Registered Excise Dealer and Shipper) Trader approval from HM Revenue & Customs to receive duty- suspended goods shipped from EU member states.
Reefer A shortened name for a refrigerated container. Must be plugged into a ship’s power system.
Restitution Return of a container to port of other designated location as specified by the shipping line.
RHA Road Haulage Association, the UK association for haulage companies
RHDTC Road Haulage and Distribution Training Council National Training Organisation (NTO) for the road haulage and distribution industry.
Rigid Often used to refer to a Category C vehicles over 3,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg).
Road train Tractor unit with two trailers
RoRo (Roll on/Roll off) A description of cargo such as a car, bus, truck or trailer that can make its own way onto and off a ship via its loading ramp.
RPA (Rural Payments Agency) The department of government that issues import licenses for agricultural and horticultural products and for certain types of food and drink.


Sea Waybill The document shipping lines issue on receipt of cargo for shipment.
Semitrailer A term referring to a truck and trailer/container combination, constructed so that the front-end rests upon a truck tractor.
Shipper; Consignor Individual or firm who sends freight. The freight originator
Shippers Association A not-for-profit association of shippers using collective bargaining and freight consolidation to obtain lower, high-volume transportation rates.
Shipping Order A document providing instructions to a carrier for transportation of a shipment; usually, this is simply the bill of lading.
Shortage of Drivers A shortage of Drivers is experienced when the Industry requires more qualified HGV drivers for available jobs than there are Drivers to fill those jobs. Currently the ‘gap’ is estimated to be 60,000 vacancies.
Short-Landed The term used to describe goods or containers that are recorded but have not arrived as expected, because they were not loaded on board a vessel or aircraft.
Shunt The movement of a container over a short distance – typically from the quayside to a warehouse in a port or from place to place within a dockyard
SKU Stock-keeping unit; a line-item of inventory which refers to a specific type or size of good.
Sleeper Team A pair of drivers who alternate driving and resting.
SSN (Standard Shipping Note) A standard shipping note is a form that contains information about the goods and the companies involved in sending, shipping and receiving goods overseas.
Standing trailer A trailer which remains on site for loading without tractor unit
Straight Truck Vehicles on which all axles are attached to a single frame
Sub-contractor/Subbie A haulier who agrees to take on work
SVA (Single Vehicle Approval) The vehicle approval process is now called Individual Vehicle Approval. See IVA.
SWB (Sea Way Bill) A transport document for maritime shipment which serves as evidence of the contract of carriage and as a receipt for the goods, but is not a document of title. The sea waybill indicates the on board loading of the goods and can be used in cases where no ocean bill of lading and no other document of title is required.


T1 / TAD (Transit Accompanying Document) A document generated by the EU’s new computerised transit system that accompanies un –cleared goods as they move from one authorised location to another.
Tachograph (tacho) A device fitted to a vehicle that automatically records its speed and distance, together with the driver's activity. It is activated automatically when the vehicle is in motion so can measure driver’s hours
Tail Lift Mechanical device attached to rear of vehicle for lifting product to/from ground level. Extra charges can apply for this equipment to be provided
Tautliner Often called a taut. A trailer with canvas sides which slide open and steel roof.
Temperature controlled Goods which need to be carried at a specified temperature in a refrigerated truck.
Terminal Charge A charge made for a service performed in a carrier’s terminal area.
TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) The length of a container in foot. The capacity of a ship is measured in TEU, the number of 20-foot containers they can carry. Also referred to as 20’ or 20ft.
Tilt trailer Curtain-sided trailer which open on both sides. Steel back doors.
Tip Unload a trailer
TIR “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.
Tractor unit Detachable engine unit of a truck
Tramping/Tramping Making long distance deliveries which involve sleeping overnight in the vehicle.
Transportation Broker An agency that obtains negotiated large-volume transportation rates from carriers, and resells this capacity to shippers. Unlike freight forwarders, brokers will not handle freight and owns no pick-up-/delivery equipment or storage facilities.
Transshipment Off-loading of shipments from one type of container or trailer, to another type, for transport.
Tremcard (Travel Emergency Card) A document that must accompany hazardous goods and which identifies the hazard, explains how to handle the goods and says what should be done in the event of a spillage or other accident.
Trunker/Trunking Making deliveries using a regular route and spending journey time on trunk roads (e.g. motorways and dual carriageways) without an overnight stop.


UCN (Unique Consignment Number) See Unique Consignment Reference
UCP Abbreviation for the “Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits,” published by the International Chamber of Commerce. This is the most frequently used standard for making payments in international trade; e.g., paying on a Letter of Credit. It is most frequently referred to by its shorthand title: UCP No. 500. A revised publication reflecting recent changes in the transportation and banking industries, such as electronic transfer of funds. UCP No. 600 will be introduced in July 2007.
UCR (Unique Consignment Reference) The number that will uniquely identify a shipment as it moves around the world. It is used by everyone in the shipping process – the shipping lines, ports and customs authorities.
UN/EDIFACT United Nations EDI for Administration, Commerce and Transport. EDI Standards are developed and supported by the UN for electronic message (data) interchange on an international level.
Uniform Customs and Practices for Documentary Credits (UCP) Rules for letters of credit drawn up by the Commission on Banking Technique and Practices of the International Chamber of Commerce in consultation with the banking associations of many countries. See Terms of Payment.


Vans Trucking term meaning trailers.
VAT (Value Added Tax) A tax levied based on the value of goods or services. The rate varies according to the type of goods or service involved. Unless exempt, VAT is levied on goods as they are imported into the UK
VAT Registration Number Individuals and organisations are required to register for VAT if they have to levy VAT on goods or services.  The VAT registration number is issued by HM Revenue & Customs.
VBS (Vehicle Booking System) A system operated at many UK ports, that governs the movements of trucks collecting and delivering containers and other cargo in the port. To avoid congestion, vehicles must be pre-booked and arrive within an appointed time window.
VGM (Verified Gross Mass)

The SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) regulation allows for two methods to verify the gross mass of packed containers which is now mandatory to provide to the shipping line’s before a container is loaded onto a vessel.

  • Method 1. Weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment; or
  • Method 2: Weighing all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed.
VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency)  See DVSA.


Wagon and Drag A term used to describe a Category C+E vehicle where the hauling vehicle is a Category C lorry pulling a trailer, rather than a ‘tractor unit’ connected to the longer trailer.
Warehouse A place for the reception, delivery, consolidation, distribution, and storage of goods
WCA (World Cargo Alliance) World Cargo Alliance is the world’s largest and most powerful network of independent freight forwarders and covers more than 150 countries around the world.
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. York-Antwerp Rules of 1974 Established the standard basis for adjusting general average and stated the rules for adjusting claims.
War Risk Insurance coverage for loss of goods resulting from any act of war.
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.
Wet Bond A term used to describe a bonded warehouse which is authorised to store alcohol and other excisable goods prior to duties being paid.
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 non-payment or non-delivery.


Yard Term used to describe a haulier site

This content gives general guidance only and should not be regarded as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.

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