Here you will find a list in an alphabetic order with the most used logistic terms. There are many shipping terms in logistics industry where it becomes difficult to recognise all of them, but don’t worry Sino shipping have carefully selected the most common terms which you will encounter in logistics.




Ad Valorem Tarif: A tariff calculated “according to value“, or as a percentage of the value of goods cleared through customs; for example, 15 percent ad valorem means 15 percent of the value of the entered merchandise


Air Waybill: A bill of lading that covers both domestic and international flights that transport goods to a specified destination. This is a non-negotiable instrument of air transport that serves as a receipt for the shipper, indicating that the carrier has accepted the goods listed and is obligated to carry the consignment to the airport of destination according to specified conditions.


ATA Carnet:  An ATA Carnet (a. k. a. “Merchandise Passport”) is a document that facilitates the temporary importation of products into foreign countries by eliminating tariffs and value-added taxes (VAT) or the posting of a security deposit normally required at the time of importation.


Aggregate Shipment: Numerous shipments from different shippers to one consignee that are consolidated and treated as a single consignment


(AD) Anti-Dumping: Anti-dumping suits, along with ‘safeguards’ and ‘countervailing measures’, are tools for protecting domestic industries from surges of cheap foreign imports. Although the WTO strives to eliminate all trade barriers, it recognizes that nations require flexibility to adjust to economic shocks as multilateral agreements increasingly liberalize trade. Thus, these measures allow nations to temporarily protect their economies against fluctuations in trading patterns.


Alongside: The side of a ship. Goods to be delivered “alongside” are to be placed on the dock or barge within reach of the transport ship’s tackle so that they can be loaded aboard the ship


Advice of Shipment:  A notice sent to a local or foreign buyer advising that shipment has gone forward and containing details of packing, routing, etc. A copy of the invoice is often enclosed and, if desired, a copy of the bill of lading.


Anti-Diversion Clause: Prevents exported goods from going to destinations not approved by the government. In the United States, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Export Administration requires commercially exported goods to be accompanied by a destination control statement saying that the goods are only authorized for export to certain locations and that U.S. law prohibits their diversion. The latter part of this statement is the anti-diversion clause.


Arbitrage: The process of buying foreign exchange, stocks, bonds, and other commodities in one market and immediately selling them in another market at higher prices.




Balance of Trade: The difference between a country’s total imports and exports. If exports exceed imports, a favorable balance of trade exists; if not, a trade deficit exists.


Bill of Lading (B/L):  A document that establishes the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company under which freight is to be moved between specified points for a specified charge. Usually prepared by the shipper on forms issued by the carrier

  1. A receipt for the goods delivered to the carrier for shipment.
  2. A definition of the contract of carriage of the goods.
  3. A Document of Title to the goods described therein.
  4. This document is generally not negotiable unless consigned “to order.”


Bonded Warehouse: A warehouse authorized by customs for storage of goods on which payment of duties is deferred until the goods are removed.


Booking: Arrangements with a carrier for the acceptance and carriage of cargo; i.e., a space reservation.


Broker of Trade: Someone that acts as an agent for others, as in negotiating contracts, purchases, or trade sales in return for a fee or commission




Consignee: The individual or company to whom a seller or shipper sends merchandise and who, upon presentation of necessary documents, is recognized as the merchandise owner for the purpose of declaring and paying customs duties


(CFR) Cost and Freight: A pricing term indicating that the cost of the goods and freight charges are included in the quoted price; the buyer arranges for and pays insurance. Also see C&F


CBM: Abbreviation for Cubic meter


Consolidator: An agent who brings together a number of shipments for one destination to qualify for preferential rates


Carrier:  Any person who, through a contract of carriage, undertakes to perform or procure the performance of carriage by rail, road, sea, air, inland waterway, or by a combination of modes


Clean Bill of Lading: A receipt for goods issued by a carrier which indicates that the goods were received in “apparent good order and condition,” without damages or other irregularities. Compare Foul bill of lading.


Certificate of Origin: A document, required by certain foreign countries for tariff purposes, certifying the country of origin of specified goods


(CIF) Cost, Insurance, Freight: A pricing term indicating the cost of the goods, insurance, freight, and the ports involved in the transportation.


Commercial Invoice: Receipt for a transaction and or goods purchased (invoice) indicating the sender or seller and the receiver or purchaser. A commercial invoice should contain an itemized list of the merchandise with the complete description of goods with their unit value and extended total value. Depending on the Customs requirements of the destination country, there may be additional requirements, statement or clauses that must appear as well.


Commodity: any article exchanged in trade but most commonly used to refer to raw materials, including such minerals as tin, copper, and manganese, and bulk-produced agricultural products such as coffee, tea.


Customs: The authorities designated to collect duties levied by a country on imports and exports. The term also applies to the procedures involved in such collection


CNTR NO: Container number




DDC: Destination Delivery Charge.


DDP (Delivered Duty Paid): A transaction in international trade where the seller is responsible for making a safe delivery of goods to a named destination, paying all transportation expenses but not the duty. The seller bears the risks and costs associated with supplying the good to the delivery location, whereas the buyer is responsible for paying the duty and other customers clearing expenses.


(DDP) Delivered Duty Paid: A transaction in which the seller is responsible for all of the costs related to transporting the goods, and for the goods themselves, until they have been received and transferred to the buyer. This includes paying for the shipping, duties, and any other expenses incurred while shipping the goods.


Demurrage: A penalty for exceeding free time allowed for loading or unloading at a pier or freight terminal. Also a charge for undue detention of transportation equipment or carriers in port while loading or unloading.


Door to Door: Through transportation of a container and its contents from consignor to consignee. Also known as House to House. Not necessarily a through rate.


Duty: A tax imposed on imports by the customs authority of a country. Duties are generally based on the value of the goods (ad valorem duties), some other factor such as weight or quantity (specific duties), or a combination of value and other factors (compound duties)


Draft: An unconditional order in writing from one person (the Drawer) to another (the Drawee), directing the drawee to pay a specified amount to a named drawer on presentation or on a fixed date


Drawee: The individual or firm on whom a draft is drawn and who owes the stated amount to the drawer





Export License: A document secured from a government, authorizing a shipper to export a specific quantity of a particular commodity to a certain country. An export license is often required when a government places restrictions upon exports


Exchange Permit: A permit sometimes required by the importer’s government to enable the import firm to convert its own country’s currency into foreign currency with which to pay a seller in another country


ETA: Estimated time of arrival
ETD: Estimated time of departure


Ex Works: terms the buyer is responsible for the whole shipment from door to door. All costs and liabilities are with the buyer. Ex Works (sometimes shown as EXW or ExWorks) is a widely used international shipping term or Incoterm


Export Declaration: The U.S. Treasury Department requires an export declaration for all export shipments, indicating the value, weight, destination, and other basic information about the shipment




(FOB) “Free on board”: A pricing term indicating that the quoted price covers all expenses up to and including delivery of goods upon an overseas vessel provided by or for the buyer


Freight Forwarder: An independent business that handles export shipments for compensation. A freight forwarder is among the best sources of information and assistance on U.S. export regulations and documentation, shipping methods, and foreign import regulations


FCL: Full container load, a common shipping term used in the international logistics industry for export and import ocean freight


Foreign Trade Zone Entry: A form declaring goods which are brought duty free into a Foreign Trade Zone for further processing or storage and subsequent exportation from the zone into the commerce of another country


Free-Trade Zone: A port designated by the government of a country for duty-free entry of any non-prohibited goods. Merchandise may be stored, displayed, used for manufacturing, etc., within the zone and re-exported without duties being paid. Duties are imposed on the merchandise (or items manufactured from the merchandise) only when the goods pass from the zone into an area of the country subject to the customs authority.




GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade): A multilateral treaty signed in 1947 to help reduce trade barriers between signatory countries and to promote trade through tariff concessions. The workings of the GATT agreement are the responsibility of the Council for Trade in Goods, which is made up of representatives from all WTO member countries. GATT membership now includes more than 110 countries


Gross Weight (GR Wt./GW ): The full weight of a shipment, including containers and packaging materials


General Export License: Any of various export licenses covering export commodities for which Individually Validated Export Licenses (IVEL) are not required. No formal application or written authorization is needed to ship exports under a general export license.




Import license: A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods into their individual countries.


Importer of Record: The importer is legally liable for payment of duties, taxes, and fees for compliance with customs and other government agency regulations pertaining to their imports. The importer of record may be the party who is buying or receiving the imported goods, or an interested party in the transaction who has the right to take entry under the customs regulations.




LCL:  Less than Container Load; Less than Car load


(L/C) Letter of credit: Issued by a bank per instructions by a buyer of goods, an LC authorizes the seller to draw a specified sum of money under specified terms, usually the receipt by the bank of certain document within a given time


Landed Cost: The total cost of a good to a buyer, including the cost of transportation.




Manifest: A list of the goods being transported by a carrier


Measurement Ton: The measurement ton (also known as the cargo ton or freight ton) is a space measurement, usually 40 cubic feet or one cubic meter. Cargo is assessed a certain rate for every 40 cubic feet or one cubic meter it occupies


M/T or Metric Ton: 1000 Kilos


Marking: Letters, numbers, and other symbols placed on shipment packages to facilitate identification. Also known as marks


Market Disruption: A situation where a surge in imports of a certain product causes a sharp decline in the domestic sales of that product, thereby creating a hardship for domestic producers




Net Weight (Actual Net Weight): The weight of the goods alone without any immediate wrappings; e.g., the weight of the contents of a tin can without the weight of the can.

NT: Net Tons.

NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement): A free trade agreement comprising the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico.




Ocean Bill of Lading: A bill of lading (B/L) indicating that the exporter consigns a shipment to an international carrier for transportation to a specified foreign market. Unlike an inland B/L, the Ocean Bill of Lading also serves as a collection document. If it is a “straight” B/L, the foreign buyer can obtain the shipment from the carrier by simply showing proof of identity. If a “negotiable” B/L is used, the buyer must first pay for the goods, post a bond, or meet other conditions agreeable to the seller


On Board Bill of Lading: A bill of lading in which a carrier certifies that goods have been placed on board a certain vessel


Order Bill of Lading: A negotiable bill of lading made out to the order of the shipper




Port of Discharge: A port where a vessel is off-loaded and cargo discharged


Port of Entry: A port at which foreign goods are admitted into the receiving country


Port of Loading:  A port where cargo is loaded aboard the vessel, lashed, and stowed.


Packing list: A list showing the number and kinds of items being shipped, as well as other information needed for transportation purposes


Pro forma Invoice: An invoice provided by a supplier prior to the shipment of merchandise, informing the buyer of the kinds and quantities of goods to be sent, their value, and important specifications (weight, size, etc.)


Proof of Delivery (POD): The delivery receipt copy of a freight bill indicating the name of the person who signed for a package with the date and time of delivery




Quota: The quantity of goods of a specific kind that a country permits to be imported


Quotation: An offer to sell goods at a stated price and under specific conditions




Shipment: Freight tendered to a carrier by one consignor at one place at one time for delivery to one consignee at one place on one bill of lading


Ship’s Manifest: An instrument in writing, signed by the captain of a ship that lists the individual shipments constituting the ship’s cargo


Short-Shipped: Cargo manifested but not loaded


Shipper: The person or company who is usually the supplier or owner of commodities shipped. Also called Consignor


Schedule B: Refers to the statistical classification of domestic and foreign commodities exported from the United States. All commodities exported from the United States must be assigned a seven-digit Schedule B number




Tracking:  A system of recording movement intervals of shipments from origin to destination


Trade Barriers: Government laws, regulations, policies, or practices that either protect domestic products from foreign competition or artificially stimulate exports of particular domestic products


Tare Weight: The weight of a container and packing materials without the weight of the goods it contains


Terminal: An assigned area in which containers are prepared for loading into a vessel, train, truck, or airplane or are stacked immediately after discharge from the vessel, train, truck, or airplane


Tariff (the rate of duty): A schedule or system of duties imposed by a government on goods imported


Time Draft: A draft that matures either a certain number of days after acceptance or a certain number of days after the date of the draft. Compare Date draft and Sight draft


TEU: Twenty feet Equivalent Unit


Transaction statement: A document that delineates the terms and conditions agreed upon between the importer and exporter


UN numbers or UN IDs: 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




Value Added: The difference between the value of goods produced and the cost of producing them – the wages, interest, rent, and profits added to the output by a firm or industry


(VAT) Value Added Tax: A sales tax which is generally calculated by foreign countries on the basis of Cost Insurance Freight (CIF) value plus duty




Warehouse Receipt: A receipt of commodities deposited in a warehouse identifying the commodities deposited. It is non-negotiable if permitting delivery only to a specified person or firm, but it is negotiable if made out to the order of a person or firm or to a bearer. Endorsement (without endorsement if made out to bearer) and delivery of a negotiable warehouse receipt serves to transfer the property covered by the receipt. Warehouse receipts are common documents in international banking



  • Gross – The weight of the goods including packing, wrappers, or containers, both internal and external. The total weight as shipped.
  • Net – The weight of the goods themselves without the inclusion of any wrapper.
  • Tare – The weight of the packaging or container.
  • Weight/Measurement Ton – In many cases, a rate is shown per weight/measurement ton, carrier’s option. This means that the rate will be assessed on either a weight ton or measurement ton basis, whichever will yield the carrier the greater revenue.
  • Weight Ton – Metric measure equals 1000 Kilograms; in English measure a short ton is 2000 pounds, a long ton is 2240 pounds


(WTO) World Trade Organization: The international organization which resulted from the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations. The WTO seeks to establish global rules of trade between nations; its goal is to help trade flow smoothly, freely, fairly and predictably



1. AQL = AQL stands for 'Acceptance Quality Limit’ and is defined as the “quality level that is the worst tolerable” in ISO 2859-1. It represents the maximum number of defective units, beyond which a batch is rejected. 3 major AQL defects levels are: Critical, Major, and Minor defects. Different product has different criteria for Critical, Major and Minor. In general, Critical defects are hazardous and unsafe for end-users; Major Defects cause product function and performance failure; Minor Defects are the ones deviate from the spec, but not likely to affect the usability of the product.

2. AWB = Airway Bill, the Receipt of your Air shipment. Issued by the air freight Carrier, the airlines.

3. AIR FREIGHT = Sometimes referred as the “air cargo”, are normally larger shipments via air from port to port. You need a freight forwarder to book the air cargo space with the commercial airlines.

4. AIR EXPRESS: Refers to courier companies (such as DHL, UPS, FedEx) shipping products from a pickup point (such as the supplier factory) to a designated address (such as your home or Amazon FBA warehouse).

5. BOL or B/L= Bill of Lading, the Receipt of your ocean shipment. Issued by the ocean freight Carrier to the shipper (supplier) and to the freight forwarder. The container# or the B/L# on the BOL can be used to track shipment status either on fright Carrier’s website or freight forwarder’s website. 7. CONTAINER: LCL = Less than Container Load;

8. CONTAINER: FCL = Full Container Load.

20FT = 20 Feet Container (~30 cubic meters);

40FT = 40 Feet Container (~60 cubic meters);

40HQ = 40 Feet High Cubic Container (~68 cubic meters)

9. CBM = Cubic Meter, this term is often referenced when the supplier give you the total shipment size.

10. CI and PL = Commercial Invoice and Packing List. Prepared by your supplier declare value of the goods and packaging detail of the goods. CI and PL are required set of documents for making the shipment booking (either AIR or Ocean) and custom clearance.

11. CUSTOM BROKER = Customs broker is a licensed professional who prepares and submits documentation to obtain custom clearance from government agencies. Custom broker is different from freight forwarder. Freight forwarder uses custom broker’s service to clear custom. Sometimes a freight forwarding company has in house custom broker, sometimes they use a third party broker’s service to clear custom.

12. CUSTOM BOND = a financial guarantee to the custom that tax and duties will be paid sufficiently.

Bond Option 1: single entry bond = good for 1 importation

Bond Option 2: continuous bond = good for 1 year, no importation limits

13. COO = Country of Origin. For example, if product is made in China, COO is China. The “Made In China” mark needs to be printed on the outer carton.

14. CONSIGNEE = The party that is legally allowed to receive the goods. For example, if you are the Buyer, on Supplier’s commercial invoice you will be listed as consignee.

15. ULTIMATE CONSIGNEE = The actual intended recipient of the shipment. For example, if you are sending the goods to Amazon warehouse, Amazon and its warehouse address will be listed as Ultimate consignee.

16. DIM AND WEIGHT = Dimensions and Weight

17. DDP = Delivery Duty Paid to a name place (it could your house, a warehouse). Supplier bears all the cost.

18. EA = Each

19. EXW = Ex Work Factory, international commerce term (Inco Term): Seller is only responsible for putting the shipment on their dock for Buyer to pick up. Buyer is responsible for all costs including pick up cost, export clearance cost, export tax & duty.

20. FREIGHT FORWARDER = A company or an agent who helps to ship product from point A to point B. Forwarders are NOT actual freight carriers. They can help prepare export documents at the origin country, book cargo space (either via air or ocean), consolidate freights, clear import customs at the destination country, deconsolidate shipments if it is LCL and deliver goods to your named destination.

21. FOB = Free On Board + (name a port), inco term: Seller is responsible for delivering shipment to the designated port AND pay all export fees, tax and duty. Shipment is FREE and ready to be exported.

22. HTS Code = Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code. HTS Code determines product’s duty. HTS code can be found at *: It is Importer’s responsibility to determine HST code. Freight forwarder can ASSIST in finding the code, the Importer Of Record (IOR) is ultimately responsible for using correct HTS code.

23. LEADT TIME: the waiting time between two transactions, e.g.:

 Production lead time = from time of the PO to order completion

 Shipping lead time = from time of the Pickup to Delivery

24. MOQ = Minimum Order QTY

25. MASTER CARTON = The outer carton that holds smaller cartons inside

26. PO = Purchase Order

27. P.I. = Pro Forma Invoice (suppliers normally use P.I. to acknowledge and confirm your PO)

28. POA = Power of Attorney. An authorization form authorizing a freight forwarder or a custom broker to perform import and export duties on your behalf.

29. PCS = Pieces

30. PANTONE COLOR = Pantone LLC is a U.S. corporation best known for its Pantone Matching System (PMS), a proprietary color used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, though sometimes in the manufacture of colored paint, fabric, and plastics.

31. RAL NUMBER = RAL is a color matching system used in Europe that is created and administrated by the German RAL. RAL classic system, mainly used for varnish and powder coating but nowadays there are reference panels for plastics as well.

32. PRICE/QTY BREAK = A tiered pricing based on order QTY change, e.g.:

 Price for 500pcs | Price for 1000pcs | Price for 5000pcs

33. QTY = Quantity

34. RFQ = Request For Quote

35. ROP = Re- Order Point. It is an inventory point. When you set a ROP point, when the inventory level falls below the set ROP point re-order is flagged.

36. SS = Safety Stock. It is an additional quantity of an item held in inventory in order to reduce the risk that the item will be out of stock. Safety stock acts as a buffer in case the sales of an item are greater than planned and/or the supplier is unable to deliver additional units at the expected time.

37. SOP = Standard Operating Procedure.

38. SLI = Shipper’s Letter of Instruction. Normally supplier fills in freight forwarder’s SLI to ship your goods.

39. TOOLING = The common categories of tooling include fixtures, jigs, gauges, molds, dies, cutting equipment and patterns.

40. DIELINE = A dieline serves as a package template that ensures proper layout for a printed product. It is a diagram that shows all the cut lines and folds of a package in flattened form. If you customize the packaging, a dieline is needed either made from scratch or from your supplier’s existing packaging.

Thanks for your attention !


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