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





Food and Drug Administration.


A factor is an agent who will at a discount (usually five to 8% ofthe gross) buy receivables.


Freight All Kinds.Usually refers to full container loads of mixed shipments.

False Billing

Misrepresenting freight or weight on shipping documents.


Free Alongside Ship.


Full Container Load.


Free Discharge.

Feeder Service

Cargo to/from regional ports are transferred to/from a centralhub port for a long haul ocean voyage.

Feeder Vessel

A short sea vessel which transfers cargo between a central hubport and smaller spoke ports.


Forty Foot EquivalentUnits. Refers to container size standard of 40 feet. Two 20 foot containers orTEUs equal one FEU.

Fifth Wheel

The semi circular steel coupling device mounted on a tractorwhich engages and locks with a chassis semi trailer.


See Free In and Out.


A capacity measurement equal to one fourth of a barrel.

Fixed Costs

Costs that do not vary with the level of activity. Some fixedcosts continue even if no cargo is carried. Terminal leases rent and propertytaxes are fixed costs.

Flat Car

A rail car without a roof and walls.

Flat Rack/Flat BedContainer

A container with no sides and frame members at the front andrear. Container can be loaded from the sides and top.

FMC (F.M.C.)

Federal Maritime Commission. The U.S. Governmental regulatory bodyresponsible for administering maritime affairs including the tariff systemfreight forwarder licensing enforcing the conditions of the Shipping Act andapproving conference or other carrier agreements.


See Free On Board. See also Terms of Sale FOB.

FOB Freight Allowed

The same as FOB named inland carrier except the buyer pays thetransportation charge and the seller reduces the invoice by a like amount.

FOB Freight Prepaid

The same as FOB named inland carrier except the seller pays thefreight charges of the inland carrier.

FOB Named Point ofExportation

Seller is responsible for the cost of placing the goods at anamed point of exportation. Some European buyers use this form when theyactually mean FOB vessel.

FOB Vessel

Seller is responsible for goods and preparation of exportdocumentation until actually placed aboard the vessel.


Free on Rail.

Force Majeure

The title of a common clause in contracts exempting the partiesfor non fulfilment of their obligations as a result of conditions beyond theircontrol such as earthquakes floods or war.

Fore and Aft

The direction on a vessel parallel to the centre line.

Foreign Sales Corporation

Under U.S. tax law a corporation created to obtain tax exemptionon part of the earnings of U.S.products in foreign markets. Must be set up as a foreign corporation with anoffice outside the USA.

Foreign Trade Zone

A free port in a country divorced from Customs authority butunder government control. Merchandise except that which is prohibited may bestored in the zone without being subject to import duty regulations.

Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ)

An area within the U.S. thatis legally considered outside of U.S. customs territory.

Fork Lift

A machine used to pick up and move goods loaded on pallets orskids.

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.

Four Way Pallet

A pallet designed so that the forks of a fork lift truck can beinserted from all four sides. See Fork lift.


Foreign Principal Party of Interest. The party to whom finaldelivery or end use of the exported goods will be made usually the buyer.

Free Alongside (FAS)

The seller must deliver the goods to a pier and place themwithin reach of the ships loading equipment.

Free Astray

An astray shipment (a lost shipment that is found) sent to itsproper destination without additional charge.

Free Carrier (FCA)

An Incoterm of sale meaning the seller has delivered when thecargo is given to the carrier nominated by the buyer at the named place.

Free In and Out (FIO)

Cost of loading and unloading a vessel is borne by thecharterer/shipper.

Free of ParticularAverage (FPA)

A marine insurance term meaning that the assurer will not allowpayment for partial loss or damage to cargo shipments except in certaincircumstances such as stranding sinking collision or fire.

Free on Board (FOB U.S.Domestic Use)

Shipped under a rate that includes costs of delivery to and theloading onto a carrier at a specified point.

Free on Board (FOB)

The goods are placed on board the vessel by the seller at the port of shipmentspecified in the sales contract. The risk of loss or damage is transferred tothe buyer when the goods pass the ships rail.

Free Out (FO)

Cost of unloading a vessel is borne by the charterer.

Free Port

A restricted area at a seaport for the handling of duty exemptedimport goods. Also called a Foreign Trade Zone.

Free Sale Certificate

The U.S. government does not issue certificates of free sale.However the Food and Drug Administration Silver Spring Maryland will issue uponrequest a letter of comment to the U.S. manufacturers whose productsare subject to the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act or other actsadministered by the agency. The letter can take the place of the certificate.

Free Time

That amount of time that a carriers equipment may be usedwithout incurring additional charges. (See Storage Demurrage or Per Diem.)

Free Trade Zone

A port designated by the government of a country for duty freeentry of any non prohibited goods. Merchandise may be stored displayed used formanufacturing etc. within the zone and re exported without duties.


Refers to either the cargo carried or the charges assessed forcarriage of the cargo.

Freight B/L

A contract of carriage between a shipper and forwarder (who is usually a NVOCC),a non negotiable document.

Freight Bill

A document issued by the carrier based on the bill of lading andother information, used to account for a shipment operationally statisticallyand financially. An Invoice.

Freight Forwarder

A person whose business is to act as an agent on behalf of theshipper. A freight forwarder frequently makes the booking reservation. In theUnited States freight forwarders are now licensed by the FMC as OceanIntermediaries.


See Ships.

Full and Down

An expression to describe a loaded vessel carrying cargoes ofsuch a volume and weight that it fills all the vessels spaces and also bringsher down to her tonnage load line. A rare but optimum revenue condition for avessel operator.

Full Shipload Lot

The amount of cargo a vessel carries or is able to carry.Practically it is the amount of cargo which induces the specific voyage. Whilethe cargo lot may take up the majority of the vessels space or tonnage capacityit does not require a vessels volume and weight capacity to be fully utilized.


Industry related A point at which freight moving from oneterritory to another is interchanged between transportation lines.