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




C TPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Agains

A voluntary supply chain security partnership established by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in November 2001. Meeting the C TPAT standards allows cargo owners faster processing through customs formalities and inspections.

C&,F Terms of Sale or INCOTERM

Obsolete although heavily used term of sale meaning cargo and freight whereby Seller pays for cost of goods and freight charges up to destination port. In July 1990 the International Chamber of Commerce replaced C&,F with CFR.


Water transportation term applicable to shipments between ports of a nation, commonly refers to coastwise or intercoastal navigation or trade. Many nations including the United States have cabotage laws which require national flag vessels to provide domestic interport service.


Currency Adjustment Factor. A charge expressed as a percentage of a base rate that is applied to compensate ocean carriers of currency fluctuations.

Cancelled B/L

B/L status, used to cancel a processed B/L, usually per shippers request, different from voided B/L.

Capesize Vessel

A dry bulk vessel above 80000dwt or whose beam precludes passage via the Panama Canal and thus forces them to pass around Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope

Captains Protest

A document prepared by the captain of a vessel on arriving at port, shows conditions encountered during voyage generally for the purpose of relieving ship owner of any loss to cargo and shifting responsibility for reimbursement to the insurance company.

Car Pooling

Use of individual carrier/rail equipment through a central agency for the benefit of carriers and shippers.

Car Seal

Metal strip and lead fastener used for locking freight car or truck doors. Seals are numbered for record purposes.


A barge equipped with tracks on which up to approximately 12 railroad cars are moved in harbours or inland waterways.


Freight loaded into a ship.

Cargo Manifest

A manifest that lists all cargo carried on a specific vessel voyage.

Cargo NOS

Cargo Not Otherwise Specified. Usually the rate entry in a tariff that can apply to commodities not covered under a specific item or subitem in the applicable tariff.

Cargo Preference

Cargo reserved by a Nations laws for transportation only on vessels registered in that Nation. Typically the cargo is moving due to a direct or indirect support or activity of the Government.

Cargo Tonnage

Most ocean freight is billed on the basis of weight or measurement tons (W/M). Weight tons can be expressed in short tons of 2000 pounds long tons of 2240 pounds or metric tons of 1000 kilos (2204.62 pounds). Measurement tons are usually expressed as cargo measurement of 40 cubic feet (1.12 meters) or cubic meters (35.3 cubic feet.)

Carload Rate

A rate applicable to a carload of goods.


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.


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.

Carriers Certificate

A certificate required by U.S. Customs to release cargo properly to the correct party.


Usually refers to intra city hauling on drays or trucks. Same as drayage.


Customs form permitting in bond cargo to be moved from one location to another under Customs control within the same Customs district. Usually in motor carriers possession while draying cargo.

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.

Cash in Advance (CIA)

A method of payment for goods in which the buyer pays the seller in advance of the shipment of goods. Usually employed when the goods such as specialized machinery are built to order.

Cash With Order (CWO)

A method of payment for goods in which cash is paid at the time of order and the transaction becomes binding on both buyer and seller.


Cubic Meter.

CCC Mark

A mark or label indicating the cargo conforms to standards required by China for certain products.


Consumption Entry. The process of declaring the importation of foreign made goods for use in the United States.

CE Mark

A mark or label indicating the cargo conforms to standards required by the European Union for certain products.


The construction system employed in container vessels, permits ship containers to be stowed in a vertical line with each container supporting the one above it.

Centre of Gravity

The point of equilibrium of the total weight of a containership truck train or a piece of cargo.

Certificate of Inspection

A document certifying that merchandise (such as perishable goods) was in good condition immediately prior to its shipment. The document issued by the U.S. Coast Guard certifying an AmericanFlag vessels compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Certificate of Origin

A document that certifies the country where the product was made (i.e. its origin). A common export document a Certificate of Origin is needed when exporting to many foreign markets. It may be required in order to obtain preferential tariff treatment under several Free Trade Agreements (i.e. NAFTA APTA DR_CAFTA etc.)


Container Freight Station. A shipping dock where cargo is loaded (stuffed) into or unloaded (stripped) from containers. Generally this involves less than container load shipments although small shipments destined to same consignee are often consolidated. Container reloading from/to rail or motor carrier equipment is a typical activity. These facilities can be located in container yards or off dock.

Charter Party

A written contract between the owner of a vessel and the person desiring to employ the vessel (charterer), sets forth the terms of the arrangement such as duration of agreement freight rate and ports involved in the trip.


A frame with wheels and container locking devices in order to secure the container for movement.


A piece of wood or other material placed at the side of cargo to prevent rolling or moving sideways.


Cost and Insurance. A price that includes the cost of the goods the marine insurance and all transportation charges except the ocean freight to the named point of destination.

CIF (Named Port)

Cost Insurance Freight.(Named Port) Same as C&,F or CFR except seller also provides insurance to named destination.


Price includes commission as well as CIF.


Cost Insurance Freight and Exchange.


Cost Insurance Freight Collection and Interest.


Cost Insurance Freight Interest and Exchange.


Completely Knocked Down. Parts and subassemblies being transported to an assembly plant.


Carload and Container load.


A demand made upon a transportation line for payment on account of a loss sustained through its alleged negligence.


A publication such as Uniform Freight Classification (railroad) or the National Motor Freight Classification (motor carrier) that assigns ratings to various articles and provides bill of lading descriptions and rules.

Classification Rating

The designation provided in a classification by which a class rate is determined.

Classification Society

An organization maintained for the surveying and classing of ships so that insurance underwriters and others may know the quality and condition of the vessels offered for insurance or employment.

Classification Yard

A railroad yard with many tracks used for assembling freight trains.

Clean B/L

A B/L which bears no superimposed clause or notation which declares a defective condition of the goods and/or the packaging.

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.

Cleaning in Transit

The stopping of articles such as peanuts etc. for cleaning at a point between the point of origin and destination.

Clearance Limits

The size beyond which cars or loads cannot use bridges tunnels etc.


A strip of wood or metal used to afford additional strength to prevent warping or to hold in place.

Clip On

Refrigeration equipment attachable to an insulated container that does not have its own refrigeration unit.


Cubic Meter (capital letters).


Water transportation along the coast.


Collect (cash) on Delivery. Carried on Docket (pricing).


the Railway Service Container On Flat Car.


A bank that acts as an agent to the sellers bank (the presenting bank). The collecting bank assumes no responsibility for either the documents or the merchandise.


A draft drawn on the buyer usually accompanied by documents with complete instructions concerning processing for payment or acceptance.

Combined B/L

B/L that covers cargo moving over various transports.

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 relating to the shipment.

Commercial Invoice (CI)

A document prepared by the exporter or freight forwarder and required by the foreign buyer to prove ownership and arrange for payment to the exporter. It should provide basic information about the transaction including description of goods address of shipper and seller as well as delivery and payment terms. In some cases the Commercial Invoice is used to assess customs duties.

Commercial Transport Vessel

Any ship which is used primarily in commerce For transporting persons or goods to or from any harbour(s) or port(s) or between places within a harbour area In connection with the construction change in construction servicing maintenance repair loading unloading movement piloting or salvaging of any other ship or vessel.


Article shipped. For dangerous and hazardous cargo the correct commodity identification is critical.

Commodity Rate

A rate published to apply to a specific article or articles.

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.

Company Security Officer

Is the person designated by the company for ensuring that a ship security assessment is carried out and that a ship security plan is developed submitted for approval and thereafter implemented and maintained for liaison with port facility security officers and the ship security officer.

Compulsory Ship

Any ship which is required to be equipped with radio telecommunication equipment in order to comply with the radio or radio navigation provisions of a treaty or statute to which the vessel is subject.

Concealed Damage

Damage that is not evident from viewing the unopened package.


An association of ship owners operating in the same trade route who operate under collective conditions and agree on tariff rates.

Confirmed Letter of Credit

A letter of credit issued by a foreign bank whose validity has been confirmed by a domestic bank. An exporter with a confirmed letter of credit is assured of payment even if the foreign buyer or the foreign bank defaults

Confirming Bank

The bank that adds its confirmation to another banks (the issuing banks) letter of credit and promises to pay the beneficiary upon presentation of documents specified in the letter of credit.

Connecting Carrier

A carrier which has a direct physical connection with or forms a link between two or more carriers.

Connecting Carrier Agreement

A connecting carrier agreement is a contract between the originating carrier and a second party where the second party agrees to carry goods to a final destination on a through Bill of Lading.


A person or company to whom commodities are shipped.

Consignee Mark

A symbol placed on packages for identification purposes, generally a triangle square circle etc. with letters and/or numbers and port of discharge.


A stock of merchandise advanced to a dealer and located at his place of business but with title remaining in the source of supply. or A shipment of goods to a consignee.


A person or company shown on the bill of lading as the shipper.

Consolidated B/L

B/L combined or consolidated from two or more B/Ls.


Cargo containing shipments of two or more shippers or suppliers. Container load shipments may be consolidated for one or more consignees often in container load quantities.


A person or firm performing a consolidation service for others. The consolidator takes advantage of lower full carload (FCL) rates and passes on the savings to shippers.


A government official residing in a foreign country who represents the interests of her or his country and its nationals.

Consular Declaration

A formal statement describing goods to be shipped, filed with and approved by the consul of the country of destination prior to shipment.

Consular Invoice

A document certified by a consular official is required by some countries to describe a shipment. Used by Customs of the foreign country to verify the value quantity and nature of the cargo.

Consular Visa

An official signature or seal affixed to certain documents by the consul of the country of destination.

Consumption Entry (CE)

The process of declaring the importation of foreign made goods into the United States for use in the United States.


A truck trailer body that can be detached from the chassis for loading into a vessel a rail car or stacked in a container depot. Containers may be ventilated insulated refrigerated flat rack vehicle rack open top bulk liquid or equipped with interior devices. A container may be 20 feet 40 feet 45 feet 48 feet or 53 feet in length 80 or 86 in width and 86 or 96 in height.

Container Booking


Container Load

A load sufficient in size to fill a container either by cubic measurement or by weight.

Container Manifest

Document showing contents and loading sequence point of origin and point of destination for a container. Vessels are required by law to carry such a document for each container carried.

Container Pool

An agreement between parties that allows the efficient use and supply of containers. A common supply of containers available to the shipper as required.

Container Terminal

An area designated for the stowage of cargoes in container, usually accessible by truck railroad and marine transportation. Here containers are picked up dropped off maintained and housed.

Container Yard (CY)

A materials handling/storage facility used for completely unitized loads in containers and/or empty containers. Commonly referred to as CY.

Containerisable Cargo

Cargo that will fit into a container and result in an economical shipment.


Stowage of general or special cargoes in a container for transport in the various modes.


Cargo that is prohibited.


A legally binding agreement between two or more persons/organizations to carry out reciprocal obligations or value.

Contract Carrier

Any person not a common carrier who under special and individual contracts or agreements transports passengers or property for compensation.

Controlled Atmosphere

Sophisticated computer controlled systems that manage the mixtures of gases within a container throughout an intermodal journey reducing decay.

Corner Posts

Vertical frame components fitted at the corners of the container integral to the corner fittings and connecting the roof and floor structures. Containers are lifted and secured in a stack using the castings at the ends.

Corrected B/L

B/L requiring any update which results in money or other financially

Correspondent Bank

A bank that in its own country handles the business of a foreign bank.

Cost and Freight (C&,F)

The exporter pays the costs and freight necessary to get the goods to the named destination. The risk of loss or damage is assumed by the buyer once the goods are loaded at the port of embarkation.

Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF)

The exporter pays the cost of goods cargo and insurance plus all transportation charges to the named port of destination.

Countervailing Duty

An additional duty imposed to offset export grants bounties or subsidies paid to foreign suppliers in certain countries by the government of that country for the purpose of promoting export.

Country of Origin of Goods

Country of origin in which the goods have been produced or manufactured.

Cross Member

Transverse members fitted to the bottom side rails of a container which support the floor.


An Cubic. A unit of volume measurement.

Cube Out

When a container or vessel has reached its volumetric capacity before its permitted weight limit.

Cubic Foot

1728 cubic inches. A volume contained in a space measuring one foot high one foot wide and one foot long


A government office where duties are paid import documents filed etc. on foreign shipments.

Customhouse Broker

A person or firm licensed by the treasury department of their country when required engaged in entering and clearing goods through Customs for a client (importer).


The government service that is responsible for the assessment of import and export duties and taxes and administration of other laws and regulations that apply to the importation transit and exportation of goods. This term is also used when referring to any part of the customs service or its main or subsidiary offices. This term is also used adjectivally in connection with customs officials import or export duties control on goods or any other matter within the purview of customs (customs officer customs duties customs office customs declaration).

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Single unified border agency of the United States.

Customs Bonded Warehouse

A warehouse authorized by Customs to receive duty free merchandise.

Customs Declaration

A document that traditionally accompanies exported goods bearing such information as the nature of the goods their value the recipient and their ultimate destination. Required for statistical purposes it accompanies all controlled goods being exported under the appropriate permit.

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 importers statement is compared against the carriers vessel manifest to ensure that all foreign goods are properly declared.

Customs Invoice

A formal document used to clear goods through customs in the importing country by providing pertinent shipment information including but not limited to country of origin description and value.

Customs of the Port (COP)

A phrase often included in charter parties and freight contracts referring to local rules and practices which may impact upon the costs borne by the various parties.

Customs Self Assessment (CSA)

Offers approved importers approved carriers and registered drivers the benefits of a streamlined clearance option for CSA eligible goods.

Customs Trade Partnership Against Terror

Joint government business initiative designed to build cooperative relationships that seek to strengthen the overall supply chain and border security.

Customs Trade PartnershipAgainst Terrori

It is a voluntary supply chain security program launched inNovember 2001 and led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which focuseson improving the security of private companies supply chains with respect toterrorism. In exchange for companies participation CBP will provide reducedinspections at the port of arrival expedited processing at the border andpenalty mitigation.

Cut Off Time

The latest time cargo may be delivered to a terminal for loadingto a scheduled train or ship.


Hundred weight (United States 100 pounds, U.K.112)


Container Yard. The designation for full containerreceipt/delivery.