Glossary of Terms



Here are various terms and expressions used within this website and used generally within the international shipping, haulage and logistic industry:



This is an international standard that refers to the carriage of dangerous and hazardous goods by road.  Lorries used to carry such goods are required to be inspected and approved by their appropriate domestic government department for such use.  Whilst items like explosives and toxic materials are clearly categorised as dangerous/hazardous, the use of ADR approved carriers is also often required for the movement of such items as Paint which normal carriers may be reluctant to move due to its potential to damage other items being carried.


Airway Bill (AWB)

A contract or agreement, sometimes in the form of a Consignment Note, between the customer and the shipper or courier that specifies the shipping details including the name and address of the consignor and consignee. (see also Waybill)



“Bunker Adjustment Factor”, a surcharge that may contractually be applied by operators to cover an increase in fuel costs that they have to bear.


Bill of Lading

A document issued by a shipper acknowledging that freight has been received on board as cargo for the transport to the named destination. It acts as evidence of a valid contract of carriage, as a receipt confirming the goods match the description given and proof that they have been received in good order.  There are two types of Bill of Lading: (i) a straight bill of lading is non-negotiable, and (ii) a negotiable or shippers' order bill of lading which can be bought, sold or traded whilst goods are in transit and is used for many types of financial transaction.


Bonded Warehouse

The customs service authorises bonded warehouses for the storage or manufacture of goods on which payment of duties is deferred until the goods enter the Customs Territory.  The goods are not subject to duty if they are reshipped to a foreigh country.



"Cost & Freight".  The cost of the goods and the freight.



"Cost, Insurance & Freight”.  When a CIF value or price is quoted, this includes the cost of the goods plus the freight/transport costs and the cost of in-transit insurance which is often the marine insurance.



“Currency Adjustment Factor”. This effectively enables, contractually, a variation in the amount charged for transportation of international freight when currency fluctuations take place.



A customs document that allows the holder to carry or send merchandise temporarily into certain foreign countries for display, demonstration or other purpose without paying duty.


Commercial Invoice

This is bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer that is often used by governments to determine the value of goods for the assessment of duty payable.


Consignment Note

An agreement between the customer and the shipper or courier which accompanies a consignment that specifies the shipping details.



The person or firm named in a freight contract as the recipient of the goods.



A strong metal box used for the shipment of goods standardised to fit on the back of lorries, trains and on container ships (sometimes referred to as “Intermodal Freight Transport”). They come in two sizes; 20 foot and 40 foot long.



The carrier of goods (of whatever size) on behalf of their customers.


Customs Clearance

Procedures involved in getting cargo released from Customs which can include presenting required documents including import licences and permits, and the payment of duties.


Customs Entries

The declaration on a prescribed form of information on imported and exported goods which is submitted to customs officials. It includes the customs classification number, the country of origin, description, quantity, CIF value of the goods, and the estimated amount of duty to be paid.



A charge levied for a container when its use exceeds the free time period (usually between 3 and 5 days) allowed for taking delivery and unloading following its arrival in port.


Drop Shipping

A process where (usually) a distributor, wholesaler or manufacturer delivers directly to a customer on behalf of a retailer or agent.


EAN Code

International Article Number, originally European Article Number, is a 13 digit code, usually barcoded, now used worldwide for marking products often for retail sale.



“Economic Operator Registration and Identification”. A unique requirement of the European Union, the number is issued by customs authorities to identify a business in order to show that the business is valid within the entire European Community. It is now a requirement for all businesses involved in the shipment of goods in and out of the European Community to have a registered EORI number.



“Full Container Load”.


Free-time period

A period following the docking of a ship that a shipping company will not charge quay rent or Demurrage. Effectively it is the period in which a consignment would normally be expected to have cleared the port and all other regulatory requirements and the container to have been emptied and returned to the shipper. The precise length of time will vary depending upon the port and the shipping company involved but is normally around three to five days. It is understood that, when a ship docks, the time between the first cargo and the last to be unloaded could vary widely so, in precise terms, the free period starts from the time that any particular piece of cargo is discharged from a vessel.


Freight Forwarder

A company that acts as an agent, a carrier or both that organises more complex freight movements often to overseas destinations that may require the use of different disciplines and carriers (“multimodal”) as well as customs expertise.


GOH Storage

"Garment on Hanger", as required by some companies for the distribution of clothing especially when handling quality / expensive items.



The combining of two or more smaller loads to make a larger or full load in order to improve freight rates. This expression is used in terms of both vehicle loads and container loads.


Guaranteed Next Day

A prioritised delivery that is specifically scheduled for delivery next day often before a specified time. It is noteworthy that the guaranteed element is usually not contractually or legally enforceable.


HTS Code

"Harmonized Tariff Schedule", sometimes just referred to as a Tariff Code, is essentially an international commodity classification system with about 17,000 different codes used by customs to help calculate duty. The code refers to the types of goods, what they are made from and, sometimes, their origin. Different countries will sometimes add/alter either the prefix or suffix to the code for their own purposes.



International Ship & Port Security



Part container Load – actually stands for “Less than (full) Container Load”.


Letter of Credit

A financial document issued by a bank at the request of the consignee guaranteeing payment subject to the terms and conditions therein contained



“Load-off, Load-on”; usually refers to the loading by specialist cranes of containers on and off ships and lorries.



The management of the flow of goods between two or more points in order to meet the requirements of a customer. This may involve one or more of the following: transport, mailing, inventory, warehousing, storage, packaging and even security which can all make up part of a customer’s supply chain.


Ocean Freight

The carriage of goods by sea.


Pick N Pack

A process where a large quantity / bulk products are normally held in some form of warehouse to be selected ("pick") as and when required for packing ("pack") and dispatching as individual smaller orders.



“Proof of Delivery”, usually a document signed by or on behalf of the recipient ("the consignee") as evidence of the fact that the delivery has been made.



The connection of power to a reefer (see below) which, especially when on a quay, may lead to additional charges.



A container that is refrigerated for the transportation of temperature sensitive cargo.



"Roll-on, Roll-off".  Where cargo is load on and off a ship on wheels, usually a lorry driving onto a ferry.


Signed For

Sometimes referred to as Recorded Delivery, a postal delivery where a premium has been paid in order to obtain a signature on delivery as proof of that delivery.



A general term referring to the movement of goods and not specifically to ship-borne traffic.


SKU Number

"Stock Control Unit", an individual firm's computer recognisable number used for stock identification and control.


Special Delivery

A premium postal service that prioritises a consignment for next day delivery usually before 1pm.



Terminal Handling Charges.


Timed Delivery

Where the fulfilment of consignments into distribution centres and large firms is scheduled to a specific time slot on a specific day usually on the basis of a prior "Book In" process.



The monitoring of a consignment’s movement, usually through the scanning of a barcode at each stage, in order to provide a record of its whereabouts.


UN Number

A four-digit number that identifies hazardous substances such as explosives, flammable liquids, toxic substances, paints etc. Some hauliers and couriers will not transport hazardous substances.


Variable Fuel Charge

A variable additional charge added by many hauliers and couriers to their published rates to cover from time to time variations in fuel costs. In practice this is often a greater proportion of the total charge with international consignments than with domestic consignments.


Volumetric Weight

Used, especially by couriers, to decide on whether to charge on a weight or volume basis.  Where a consignment's volume is proportionately greater than its weight, the volume is convereted into Kgs for the puropose of establishing the charge for the consignment by multiplying the length by the width by the height (in cms) and then dividing by an amount as set by the particular courier to give a volumetric weight (in Kgs). The rate charged by the courier will be based on either the actual weight or the volumetric weight whichever is the greater. 



A a document issued by a carrier giving details and instructions relating to a shipment. Normally it will include names and addresses of the consignor and consignee, the point of origin of the consignment, its destination, and route. Most freight forwarders and trucking companies use an in-house waybill called a house bill. These typically contain "conditions of contract of carriage" terms on the back of the form. These terms cover limits to liability and other terms and conditions.

Centurion Business Services