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Incoterms 2020

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Container Measurements

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Onboarding Documents

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Glossary of Terms

Accessorial charges (also called assessorial charges)

Charges made for performing services beyond normal pickup and delivery, such as inside delivery or storage charges.

Air Freight

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. See also waybill.

Alameda Corridor Surcharge (ACS)

This surcharge only applies to southbound containers transported by rail through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
The Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) applies this fee, to cover their operating costs and construction debt. A standard pass-through charge and legally not negotiable.

Amazon Reference ID

An Amazon Reference ID is a unique number used by to identify Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) shipments when they arrive at a warehouse. The ID can be found on the Amazon Seller Central website after creating a shipment and must be noted on the Bill of Lading.

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.

Beneficial Cargo Owner (BCO)

A beneficial cargo owner (BCO) is an importer that takes control of a shipment at the destination using their own logistics assets instead of utilizing a third-party source like a freight forwarder or NVOCC.

Bill of Lading

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".

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.

Blind Shipping

A blind shipment is when the consignee of a shipment is unaware of who the shipper is.

Bonded Carrier

A transportation provider U.S. Customs allows to carry customs-controlled merchandise between customs points. YRC Freight is a bonded carrier.

Bonded Goods

Bonded Goods are imported shipments on which customs charges, including duties, taxes, and any penalties are still owing. Bonded goods are kept in an area of a warehouse controlled by customs authorities, called a customs bonded warehouse. When the bonded warehouse is managed by a third party, as in the US, importers are required to pay a customs bond in advance of import.

Booking Confirmation

The booking confirmation is the document issued by the freight forwarder confirming all details of the booking you have made, except for the actual cost of the transportation. The booking confirmation is used as documentation for the booking and for sharing between shipper, consignee and other relevant parties as easy reference of the booking details. If you present the booking confirmation to your bank, please note that it does not replace the bill of lading as confirmation of cargo shipped.

Booking Fee

This is an administration fee from the forwarder at origin.
AKA Documentation Fee at Origin, or House Documentation Fee.

When applied at destination, it is called a Documentation Fee at Destination or Arrival Agent Fee.

Break Bulk

Break bulk is described as cargo that does not fit in standard shipping containers or cargo bins.


A broker is an independent contractor paid to arrange motor-carrier transportation. A broker may work on the carrier's or shipper's behalf.

Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF)

Bunker Adjustment Factor Surcharge Description: BAF is based on TEU, to smooth out the effect of oil price fluctuations on carrier costs. It periodically changes, typically monthly or quarterly. Usually charged at port to port leg.

Cargo Insurance

Cargo Insurance is designed specifically to address the needs of Brokers and Shippers by standardizing cargo coverage and putting control of the claims process back into their hands.

Carriage & Insurance Paid To Incoterm (CIP)

Carriage and Insurance Paid To (CIP) is when a seller pays freight and insurance to deliver goods to a seller-appointed party at an agreed-upon location. The risk of damage or loss to the goods being transported transfers from the seller to the buyer as soon as the goods are delivered to the carrier or appointed person. It is comparable, but different to Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF).

Carriage Paid To Incoterm (CPT)

What Is Carriage Paid To (CPT)? CPT stands for Carriage Paid To and is an international trade term which means that the seller delivers the goods at their expense to a carrier or another person nominated by the seller. The seller assumes all risks, including loss, until the goods are in the care of the nominated party

Carrier’s Lien

The right of an individual or organization that publicly advertises itself for hire for the transportation of goods to keep possession of the cargo it has delivered to a destination until the person who is liable to pay the freight charges plus any other expenses incurred by its shipment has done so.

Certificate of Origin (CoO)

A certificate of origin or CO is a document issued by an exporter and used in international trade transactions to authenticate that the product sold or shipped was manufactured in a particular country. This document ultimately contains information regarding the product, its destination, and the country of export. A CO is required by many treaty agreements for cross-border trade, as it helps determine whether certain goods are eligible for import, or whether they are subject to duties.

Chargeable Weight

It's the amount the carrier charged to move your shipment. The chargeable weight is whichever of the following is greater: The gross weight (including the product, packaging, pallet, etc.).

Chassis Usage Fee

This fee is for the use of their chassis. This fee is to encourage shippers and truckers to provide their own chassis for pick-up and delivery of ocean containers, and/or to use the common chassis pool now provided by a few ports on the U.S. East Coast.

Commercial Invoice

The commercial invoice is a legal document between the supplier and the customer that clearly describes' the sold goods, and the amount due on the customer. The commercial invoice is one of the main documents used by customs in determining customs duties.

Congestion Surcharge

An additional charge added to the base rate ocean freight cost, reflecting the additional expenses that the ship lines incur when calling at congested ports.


In a contract of carriage, the consignee is the entity who is financially responsible (the buyer) for the receipt of a shipment. Generally, but not always, the consignee is the same as the receiver.


Person or firm (usually the seller) who delivers a consignment to a carrier for transporting it to a consignee (usually the buyer) named in the transportation documents. Ownership (title) of the goods remains with the consignor until the consignee pays for them in full. Also spelled as consigner.

Consolidation Fee

Only applying to ocean freight LCL and to air freight, this a service fee for bringing together and packing several smaller shipments into the same container.

AKA Assembly service, Cargo Consolidation, Freight Consolidation.

Container Cleaning

Most containers do not require cleaning. The most common exceptions are for certain refrigerated goods shipped in reefers.

Container Freight Station

A container freight station is a facility where freight shipments are consolidated or de-consolidated, and staged between transport legs. A CFS is typically located in proximity to an ocean, port, or airport where cargo containers are transported to and from

Container Fumigation (at Export)

Fumigation is executed, by suffocating or poisoning pest, within an area of specified space by using fumigants. Normally, fumigation is done for wood material used for packing of goods to be exported. In some cases, empty container before stuffing of cargo is fumigated.

Contract of Carriage

A contract of carriage is a contract between a carrier of goods or passengers and the consignor, consignee or passenger. Contracts of carriage typically define the rights, duties and liabilities of parties to the contract, addressing topics such as acts of God and including clauses such as force majeure.

Cost Freight Incoterm (CFR)

Cost and freight (CFR) is a legal term used in foreign trade contracts. In a contract specifying that a sale is cost and freight, the seller is required to arrange for the carriage of goods by sea to a port of destination and provide the buyer with the documents necessary to obtain them from the carrier

Cost Insurance Freight Incoterm (CIF)

Under CIF, the seller delivers the goods, cleared for export, onboard the vessel at the port of shipment, pays for the transport of the goods to the port of destination, and also obtains and pays for minimum insurance coverage on the goods through their journey to the named port of destination.

Currency Adjustment Factor (CAF)

A currency adjustment factor is an additional cost on trades between the United States and Pacific Rim countries.

Customs Bond

A customs bond is a legal agreement that ensures all necessary duties, taxes, and fees are paid to customs when importing commercial goods. Also known as an import bond, CBP requires this when importing goods valued at over $2,500.

Customs Broker

Customs broker is a profession which expertise include tariff and customs laws, rules and regulations for the clearance of imported or exported goods or merchandise from customs authority, preparation of import or export documents including computation and payment of duties, taxes and other charges accruing.

Customs Clearance

The act of passing goods through customs so that they can enter or leave the country. a document given by customs to a shipper to show that customs duty has been paid and the goods can be shipped.

Customs Clearance Fee

The customs clearance covers the process of preparing and submitting Customs Entry documentation to the CBP. This is also known as Customs Brokerage.

Customs Duty (at Destination)

Duty on imports to the US may apply.

Customs Duty (at Origin)

Duty on imports to the US may apply in origin country.

Customs Entry

Customs Entry, also called Entry Summary or Form 7501, is a document that provides US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with details about your shipment, such as value, classification, and origin. The CBP uses the form to calculate duties owed.

DAP (Delivered At Place Incoterm)

Under the Delivered At Place (DAP) Incoterms rules, the seller is responsible for delivery of the goods, ready for unloading, at the named place of destination.

DAT (Delivered At Terminal Incoterm)

Delivered At Terminal refers to the seller delivering the goods, once unloaded from the arriving means of transport.

DDP (Delivered Duty Paid Incoterm)

DDP stands for “Delivered Duty Paid” which means that the seller delivers the goods when the goods are placed at the disposal of the buyer, cleared for import on the arriving means of transport, and ready for unloading at the named place of delivery.

Delivery Fee

The load type determines which term the fee for delivery is called. Drayage applies to containers. Trucking Fee applies to ocean freighted pallets. Airfreight Cartage applies to air-freighted pallets. This charge covers delivery from a warehouse at the destination terminal to your requested delivery point. The two variable factors that determine how high this fee is the fee is distance and either freight class (for most US truck carriers) or chargeable weight.

Demurrage and Detention/Warehouse Fees

Demurrage always relates to the time a container is inside a terminal. While detention is a charge for extended use of the container until it's returned empty to the shipping line.

Dimensional Weight (Volumetric Weight)

Dimensional weight, also called DIM weight, is a pricing technique used for commercial freight transfer, including courier and postal services. Dimensional weight is computed by multiplying length times width times height.

Expedited Freight

Expedited freight services are required to get packages where they need to go by the date they are promised to be at their end location.

Export Declaration

An export declaration is a form that is submitted by an exporter at the port of export. It provides information about the goods being shipped, including type, number, and value. This information is used by customs to control exports, in addition to compiling statistical information about a country's foreign trade.

Export License

An export license grants permission to conduct a certain type of export transaction. It is issued by the appropriate licensing agency after a careful review of the facts surrounding the given export transaction. Most export transactions do not require specific approval in the form of licenses from the U.S. Government.

EXW (Ex Works Incoterm)

This rule places minimum responsibility on the seller, who merely has to make the goods available, suitably packaged, at the specified place, usually the seller’s factory or depot. The buyer is responsible for loading the goods onto a vehicle (even though the seller may be better placed to do this); for all export procedures; for onward transport and for all costs arising after collection of the goods.

FAS (Free Alongside Ship Incoterm)

In the Incoterms rules for FAS (short for “Free Alongside Ship”), the seller clears goods for export and places them alongside the vessel at the named port of departure. The named port of departure location can be a loading dock or a barge, but not a container terminal.

FCA (Free Carrier Incoterm)

Incoterms-FCA. "Free Carrier" means that the seller fulfils his obligation to deliver when he has handed over the goods, cleared for export, into the charge of the carrier named by the buyer at the named place or point.

FCL (Full Container Load)

FCL (full container load) is an ocean shipment in which the cargo occupies a full container (of any size). An FCL shipment can be stuffed at the supplier, and then trucked directly to the CY (container yard): The container can either be live unloaded at the destination, or the trucker can do a drop.

FOB (Free On Board Incoterm)

FOB, "Free On Board", is a term in international commercial law specifying at what point respective obligations, costs, and risk involved in the delivery of goods shift from the seller to the buyer under the Incoterms standard published by the International Chamber of Commerce.

Forty-Foot Equivalent Unit (FEU)

A forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU) is a shipping container whose internal dimensions measure about 40 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8 feet tall.

Forwarder’s Cargo Receipt (FCR)

A Forwarder’s Cargo Receipt (FCR) is a document issued by a freight forwarder to the shipper that serves as certification of the receipt of cargo. Once issued, the consignor assumes full responsibility for the shipment.

Freight Carriers

A freight carrier is an individual or a company that specializes in shipping, and they directly handle your cargo.

Freight Class

Freight class is an important measurement system used by carriers for pricing and formulating the cost to ship your freight. Freight class is a standardized classification system for commodities transported via less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipping. The classification system ensures that customers receive an unbiased price when shipping freight. Freight class is assigned to a shipment based on either the specific commodity being transported or the total density of the freight being shipped.

Freight Forwarder

A freight forwarder, forwarder, or forwarding agent, also known as a non-vessel operating common carrier, is a person or company that organizes shipments for individuals or corporations to get goods from the manufacturer or producer to a market, customer or final point of distribution.

FTL (Full Truckload)

Full truckload, commonly referred to as FTL, is a type of shipping mode whereby a truck carries one dedicated shipment. In other words, the journey is reserved for one shipment only.

Fumigation Certificate

A fumigation certificate, sometimes referred to as a pest-control certificate, is a document that serves as confirmation that any wooden packing materials (ie, pallets) used in a cargo shipment have been fumigated. They contain details such as treatment purpose, fumigants used, and temperature range.

General Rate Increase (GRI)

A GRI is a general rate increase that carriers can apply to their ocean freight rates.

Green Freight

Green freight refers to a collection of technologies and practices that improve the efficiency of the freight sector and provide a means to benchmark and track performance. Green freight programs promote these technologies and practices across the freight sector to help cut costs, track carbon, and benefit the environment.

Harbor Maintenance Fees (HMF)

The Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF) is a fee imposed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for U.S. imports shipped via ocean freight.

Hazardous Material

Hazardous materials are chemical substances that if released or misused can pose a threat to property, the environment, or health. Such chemicals are prevalent in many industries and products, including agriculture, medicine, research, and consumer product development.

House Bill of Lading

A House Bill of Lading (HBL) is a document created by an Ocean Transport Intermediary (OTI) such as a freight forwarder or non-vessel operating company (NVOCC). The document is an acknowledgment of the receipt of goods that are to be shipped.

HS Code (Harmonized System Code)

The Harmonized System is an international nomenclature for the classification of products. It allows participating countries to classify traded goods on a common basis for customs purposes. At the international level, the Harmonized System (HS) for classifying goods is a six-digit code system.

Import Duty

Import duty is a tax collected on imports and some exports by a country's customs authorities. A good's value will usually dictate the import duty. Depending on the context, import duty may also be known as a customs duty, tariff, import tax or import tariff.


The Incoterms rules are the world’s essential terms of trade for the sale of goods. Whether you are filing a purchase order, packaging and labelling a shipment for freight transport, or preparing a certificate of origin at a port, the Incoterms rules are there to guide you. The Incoterms rules provide specific guidance to individuals participating in the import and export of global trade on a daily basis.

Inland Haulage Charges (IHC)

Inland Haulage Charges are the transportation costs incurred when moving freight from a seaport of loading to an inland container freight station, and vice versa.

Inspection Certificate

An inspection certificate is a document used to signify that shipped goods have been inspected in order to certify that they conform with the terms stated on the sales contract. It is only required on specific goods, such as industrial equipment, perishable items, and meat.

Intermodal Shipping

Intermodal shipping is the use of two modes of freight, such as truck and rail, to transport goods from shipper to consignee.

International Courier Express

Express Courier International Inc. ... provides courier services. The Company offers delivery of individually addressed letters, parcels, and packages, as well as logistic and warehousing services. Express Courier International serves customers worldwide.

ISF Filing

United States Customs and Border Protection has announced a new rule, known as the Importer Security Filing or more commonly called 10+2; which requires containerized cargo information, for security purposes, to be transmitted to the agency at least 24 hours

LCL (Less Than Container Load)

LCL (less than container load) is a mode of shipping via ocean. If you don't have enough cargo to fill up an entire container, consider shipping LCL.

Letter Of Credit

A letter of credit, also known as a documentary credit or bankers commercial credit, or letter of undertaking, is a payment mechanism used in international trade to provide an economic guarantee from a creditworthy bank to an exporter of goods.

LTL (Less Than Truck Load)

Less than truckload freight shipping (LTL) is used for the transportation of small freight or when freight doesn't require the use of an entire trailer.

Master Bill Of Lading

A Master Bill of Lading (MBL) is issued by the Shipping Line (Carrier) to the NVOCC Operator, or Freight Forwarder

Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

This is a document that contains information on the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) and how to work safely with the chemical product. It is an essential starting point for the development of a complete health and safety program.

Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF)

The Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) is a U.S. Customs charge, assessed for most imports into the United States. The fee is 0.3464% of the cargo value as declared on the commercial invoice, with a minimum of $26.79 and a maximum of $519.76 per entry.

Multimodal Shipping

Multimodal transport is a combination of several shipping modes like the truck, rail, ocean or air to deliver freight to its destination. Multimodal shipping suggests all of your freight movements are handled under a unified bill of lading, even if different carriers are moving it.

NVOCC (Non-Vessel Owning Common Carrier)

A Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) is an ocean carrier that transports goods under its own House Bill of Lading, or equivalent documentation, without operating ocean transportation vessels. ... An NVOCC can be described as a shipper to carriers and a carrier to shippers.

Ocean Freight

Ocean freight is a low cost mode of transportation and is normally used to ship large and heavy freight. Freight or cargo is defined as goods transported for commercial gain. The shipment of cargo through ocean or sea is known as ocean freight shipping.

Onboard Bill Of Lading

B/L which certifies that the specified goods have been received in apparent good order and condition from the named shipper (consignor), and have been taken aboard the named ship (vessel) on the stated date. Banks funding a shipment require this type of B/L and not a received for shipment bill of lading.

Packing List

A packing list is a document that includes details about the contents of a package. The packing list is intended to let transport agencies, government authorities, and customers know the contents of the package. These details help each of these parties handle the package accordingly.

Power of Attorney (POA)

A power of attorney (POA) is a document that allows you to appoint a person or organization to manage your property, financial, or medical affairs if you become unable to do so. However, all POAs are not created equal. Each type gives your attorney-in-fact (the person who will be making decisions on your behalf) a different level of control.

Received-For-Shipment Bill of Lading

Received for Shipment Bill of Lading. A bill of lading that is issued when goods are delivered at a ship or dock and not when they are loaded onto the ship. It serves as a receipt that the goods arrived at the port but not that they were actually loaded.

Sea Waybill

A Sea Waybill is a transport contract (contract of carriage) - the same as a Bill of Lading. A Sea Waybill, however, is not needed for cargo delivery and is only issued as a cargo receipt. It can either be issued in hard copy format or soft copy format.

Shipper’s Letter Of Instruction (SLI)

A Shipper's Letter of Instruction (SLI) is a 'letter' from the exporter instructing the freight forwarder on how and where to handle the export shipment. The exporter is granting permission to the forwarder to act as the authorized forwarding agent for U.S. export control and customs.

Shipping Quote

A Shipping Quote is a document that breaks down the individual legs of a shipment and the surcharges each will incur, as per your freight quote. These include: Information about where your cargo is the being shipped to and from.

Straight Bill of Lading

Straight bill of lading is a non-negotiable bill of lading. It is used where the goods have been paid for or do not require payment such as donations or gifts. Under this bill of lading, the shipping company will deliver the shipment to its consignee on presentation of identification.

Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF)

A Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) is a fee paid when a terminal becomes congested. It covers the added cost of workers forced to operate outside of normal hours to avoid delays and loss of business.

Transport Arbitrary at Origin

This charge is an additional rate factor which is applied for cargo on carriage by feeder or barge from an ocean port at origin.

Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU)

The twenty-foot equivalent unit (often TEU or teu) is an inexact unit of cargo capacity often used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals. It is based on the volume of a 20-foot-long (6.1 m) intermodal container, a standard-sized metal box which can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trains and trucks.

UN Number

UN numbers or UN IDs are four-digit numbers that identify dangerous goods, hazardous substances and articles (such as explosives, flammable liquids, toxic substances, etc.) in the framework of international transport. They are assigned by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, and is the country's primary border control organization.

Volumetric Weight

Dimensional weight, also known as volumetric weight, is a pricing technique for commercial freight transport (including courier and postal services), which uses an estimated weight that is calculated from the length, width and height of a package.


A "Waybill" is a non-negotiable document prepared by or on behalf of the carrier at origin. The document shows origin point, destination, route, consignor, consignee, shipment description and amount charged for the transportation service. See also air waybill.


The accommodations provided at a wharf for the loading, unloading, or storage of goods and payment made for accommodations provided at a wharf.