Brush up on your international shipping vocabulary or find the definition for a specific shipping or customs term.





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Always Afloat. A contract term requiring that the vessel notrest on the ground. In some ports the ship is aground when approaching or atberth.


Against All Risks (insurance clause). Association of AmericanRailroads.


A point beyond the midpoint of a ships length towards the rearor stern.


A proceeding wherein a shipper/consignee seeks authority toabandon all or parts of their cargo.


A discount allowed for damage or overcharge in the payment of abill.


Referring to cargo being put or laden onto a means ofconveyance.


A time draft (or bill of exchange) that the drawee (payer) has accepted and is unconditionally obligated to pay at maturity. Broadly speaking any agreement to purchase goods under specified terms.

Accessorial Charges

Charges that are applied to the base tariff rate or base contract rate e.g.bunkers container currency destination/delivery.


When a bill of lading is accepted or signed by a shipper or shippers agent without protest the shipper is said to acquiesce to the termsgiving a silent form of consent.


A written receipt in full in discharge from all claims.

Act of God

An act beyond human control such as lightning flood orearthquake.


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Ad Valorem

A term from Latin meaning according to value. Import duty applied as a percentage of the cargos dutiable value.

Administrative Law Judge

A representative of a government commission or agency vestedwith power to administer oaths examine witnesses take testimony and conducthearings of cases submitted to or initiated by that agency. Also called HearingExaminer.

Admiralty (Adm.)

Refers to marine matters such as an Admiralty Court.


To move cargo up line to a vessel leaving sooner than the onebooked.

Advanced Charge

Transportation charge advanced by one carrier to another to becollected by the later carrier from the consignor or consignee.


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Advanced Notice ofArrival (ANOA)

Any vessel entering United States waters from a foreignport is required to give a 96 hour ANOV. Any vessel of 300 gross registeredtonnage and greater is required to give the ANOA to the U.S. Coast GuardsNational Vessel Movement Centre. Any vessel under 300 gross registered tons isrequired to give the ANOA to the appropriate Captain of the Port.


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Shipment of goods on shippers own account. A bill of adventureis a document signed by the master of the ship that carries goods at ownersrisk. Also a term used in some insurance policies to mean a voyage or ashipment.


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Advice of Shipment

A notice sent to a local or foreign buyer advising that shipmenthas gone forward and containing details of packing routing etc. A copy of theinvoice is often enclosed and if desired a copy of the bill of lading.

Advising Bank

A bank operating in the sellers country that handles letters ofcredit on behalf of a foreign bank.

Affreightment Contract of

An agreement by an ocean carrier to provide cargo space on avessel at a specified time and for a specified price to accommodate an exporteror importer.

Aframax Tanker

A vessel of 70000 to 119000 DWT capacity. The largest tanker size in theAFRA (average freight rate assessment) tanker rate system.


Movement toward the stern (back end) of a ship.

Agency Tariff

A tariff published by an agent on behalf of several carriers.

Agent (Agt.)

A person authorized to transact business for and in the name ofanother person or company.

Aggregate Shipment

Numerous shipments from different shippers to one consignee thatare consolidated and treated as a single consignment.

Agreed valuation

The value of a shipment agreed upon in order to secure aspecific freight rate.

Agreed Weight

The weight prescribed by agreement between carrier and shipperfor goods shipped in certain packages or in a certain number.

Air Waybill

The forwarding agreement or carrying agreement between shipperand air carrier and is issued only in nonnegotiable form.

Air Waybill (AWB)

Specifies the terms under which the air carrier is agreeing totransport the goods and contains limitations of liability, contract betweenshipper and carrier.

All In

The total price to move cargo from origin to destinationinclusive of all charges.


The striking by a moving vessel against a stationary object.


A phrase referring to the side of a ship. Goods deliveredalongside are to be placed on the dock or barge within reach of the transportships tackle so that they can be loaded.

Alternative Rates

Privilege to use the rate producing the lowest charge.

Ambient Temperature

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

Anti Dumping Duty

A tariff imposed to discourage sale of foreign goods subsidizedto sell at low prices detrimental to local manufacturers.

Any Quantity (A.Q.)

Usually refers to a rating that applies to an article regardlessof size or quantity.

Apparent Good Order

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


Determination of the dutiable value of imported merchandise by aCustoms official who follows procedures outlined in their countrys tariff suchas the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930.

Appraisers Stores

The warehouse or public stores to which samples of importedgoods are taken to be inspected analyzed weighed etc. by examiners orappraisers.


A stated amount over a fixed rate to one point to make a rate toanother point.

Arrival Notice

A notification by carrier of ships arrival to the consignee theNotify Party and when applicable the Also Notify Party. These parties ininterest are listed in blocks 3 4 and 10 respectively of the

Assessment of Duties and Taxes

Determining the amount of duties and taxes payable.


A term commonly used in connection with a bill of lading. Itinvolves the transfer of rights title and interest in order to assign goods byendorsing the bill of lading.


Behind a vesselMove in a reverse direction.


Any time Day or Night Sundays &, Holidays Included. A chartering termreferring to when a vessel will work.

Athwart ships

A direction across the width of a vessel.

Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)

U.S. Customs electronic data system that provides support for ensuring tradecompliance enforcing trade and contraband laws and providing service andinformation to the international trade community.

Automated IdentificationSystem (AIS)

It is a system used by ships and Vessel Traffic Service (VTS)principally for the identification and the locating of vessels. AIS provide ameans for ships to electronically exchange ship data including identificationposition course and speed with other nearby ships and VTS stations.

Avoirdupois Pound

Same as 0.4535924277 kilograms.


Bill of Lading.