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Act of God

An extraordinary and unexpected natural event, accidents of a nature beyond human control and without the possibility of prevention such as flood, lightning or hurricane usually quoted as ‘force majeure’.

Ad Valorem

In proportion to the value: A phrase applied to certain freight or customs duties levied on goods, property, etc. set as a percentage of their value.


A share of the capacity of a means of transport assigned to a certain party, e.g. a carrier or an agent, for the purpose of the booking of cargo for a specific voyage.

Arrival Notice

Written notice sent by a carrier to a nominated party advising of the arrival of the vessel and/or a certain shipment.


Materials, solely carried to improve the tri m and the stability of the vessel. In vessels usually water is carried as ballast in tanks especially designed for that purpose.

Bank Guarantee

An undertaking by a bank to be answerable for payment of a sum of money in the event of non performance by the party on whose behalf the guarantee is issued

Bare Boat Charter

A charter whereby the charterer leases the bare ship and appoints the master and crew himself. Charterer take over all responsibility for the operation of the vessel and expenses for the duration.


Flat bottomed inland cargo vessel for canals and rivers with or without own propulsion for the purpose of transporting goods.
Synonym: Lighter.


A vertical division of a vessel, used as a part of the indication of a stowage place for containers.

Bay Plan

A stowage plan which shows the locations of all the containers on the vessel.

Bill of lading

A document issued on behalf of the carrier which evidences a contract of carriage by sea.
The document has the following functions:
1. A receipt for goods, signed by a duly authorized person on behalf of the carriers.
2. A document of title to the goods described therein
3. Evidence of the terms and condition of carriage agreed upon between the two parties.

Break Bulk Cargo

General cargo conventionally stowed as opposed to unitized, containerized and Roll on-Roll off cargo.
Synonym: Conventional Cargo.

Bulk Carrier

Single deck vessel designed to carry homogeneous unpacked dry cargoes such as grain, iron ore and coal.

Bunker tank

Spaces on board a vessel to store fuel.

Bunker Adjustment Factor

Abbreviation: BAF
Adjustment applied by shipping lines or liner conferences to offset the effect of fluctuation in the cost of bunkers.


Quantity of fuel on board a vessel


Transport of goods between two ports or places located in the same country.


Goods transported or to be transported, all goods carried on a ship covered by a B/L.
As per IMO definition: any goods, wares, merchandise, and articles of every kind whatsoever carried on a ship, other than mail, ship’s stores, ship’s spare parts, ship’s equipment, stowage material, crew’s effects and passengers’ accompanied baggage.

Cargo Manifest

Document which lists all bills of lading particulars of the goods loaded on a vessel, for official and administrative purposes.

Carrier Haulage

An inland transport service which is performed by the Carrier and/or a subcontractor for the account and on behalf of the Merchant, in accordance with the conditions and charges of the relevant bill of lading or transport document.

Certificate of Origin

A certificate, showing the country of original production of goods. Frequently used by customs in ascertaining duties under preferential tariff programs or in connection with regulation imports from specific sources.

Charter Party

A contract in which the shipowner agrees to place his vessel or a part of it at the disposal of a third party, the charterer, for the carriage of goods for which he receives a freight per ton cargo, or to let his vessel for a definite period or trip for which a hire is paid.


The legal person who has signed a charter party with the owner of a vessel or an aircraft and thus hires or leases a vessel or a part of the capacity thereof.


See Cost, Insurance and Freight (…named port of destination).

Clean Bill of Lading

A Bill of Lading which does not contain any qualification about the apparent order and condition of the goods to be transported (it bears no stamped clauses on the front of the B/L).
It bears no superimposed clauses expressly declaring a defective condition of the goods or packaging (resolution of the ICS 1951).

Clean on Board

When goods are loaded on board and the document issued on respect to these goods is clean.
Note: Through the usage of the UCP 500 rules the term has now become superfluous.


The party such as mentioned in the transport document by whom the goods, cargo or containers are to be received.


Consortium is a form of cooperation between two or more carriers to operate in a particular trade.


An item of equipment as defined by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) for transport purposes.

Container Freight Station

Abbreviation: CFS
A facility at which (export) LCL (Less than Container Load) cargo is received from merchants for loading (stuffing) into containers or at which (import) LCL cargo is unloaded (stripped) from container and delivered to merchants.

Container Lease

The contract by which the owner of containers (lessor) gives the use of container to a lessee for a specified period of time and for fixed payments.

Container Number

Identification number of a container consisting of prefix and serial number and check digit. (e.g. ECMU 123456-7, see also container serial number and container prefix.)

Currency Adjustment Factor

Abbreviation: CAF
Adjustment applied by shipping lines or liner conferences on freight rates to offset losses or gains for carriers resulting from fluctuation in exchange rates of tariff currencies.

Customs Broker

An authorised agent specialised in customs clearance procedures on account of importers/exporters.

Container Yard (CY)

A facility at which FCL traffic and empty containers are received from or delivered to the Merchant by or on behalf of the Carrier.

Dangerous Goods

Goods are to be considered dangerous if the transport of such goods might cause harm, risk, peril, or other evil to people, environment, equipment or any property whatsoever.

Dangerous Goods Declaration

Document issued by a consignor in accordance with applicable conventions or regulations, describing hazardous goods or materials for transport purposes, and stating that the latter have been packed and labelled in accordance with the provisions of the relevant conventions or regulations.


Abbreviation: DWT
The total weight of cargo, cargo equipment, bunkers, provisions, water, stores and spare parts which a vessel can lift when loaded to her maximum draught as applicable under the circumstances. The deadweight is expressed in tons.

Delivery Order

A document issued by or on behalf of the carrier authorising the release of import cargo identified thereon and manifested under a single Bill of Lading.


Compensation / Additional charge imposed for exceeding the free time which is included in the rate and allowed for the use of certain equipment at the terminal payable by the shipper or receiver to the carrier

Direct Delivery

Direct discharge from vessel onto railroad car, road vehicle or barge with the purpose of immediate transport from the port area (usually occurs when ports lack adequate storage space or when ports are not equipped to handle a specific cargo).


The draft of a vessel is the vertical between the waterline and the underside of the keel of the vessel. During the construction of a vessel the marks showing the draft are welded on each side of the vessel.
Synonym: Draught


Road transportation between the nearest railway terminal and the stuffing place


A government order prohibiting the entry or departure of commercial vessels or goods at its ports.


The type of material used, 20 feet dry, 40 feet container, open top, …

Flash Point

The lowest temperature at which a good produces enough vapour to form a flammable mixture with air.

Flat Rack Container (Flat)

A container with two end walls and open sides.
Synonym: Flat

Forty Foot Equivalent Unit

Abbreviation: FEU
Unit of measurement equivalent to one forty foot shipping container.

Forwarder (Freight Forwarder)

The party arranging the carriage of goods including connected services and/or associated formalities on behalf of a shipper or consignee.

Free In and Out

Abbreviation: FIO
Transport condition denoting that the freight rate excludes the costs of loading and discharging.

Free In Liner Out

Abbreviation: FILO
Transport condition denoting that the freight rate is inclusive of the sea carriage and the cost of discharging, the latter as per the custom of the port. It excludes the cost of loading.

Free Port

An international port or an area within an international port at which, crew, passengers, baggage, cargo, mail and stores may be disembarked or unloaded, may remain and may be transhipped, without being subjected to any customs charges or duties. (Examination is possible for instance to meet security or narcotics control requirements.) Source: IMO.

Free Trade Zone

A part of the territory of a state where any goods introduced are generally regarded, in so far as import duties and taxes are concerned, as being exempted (Kyoto Convention.)

Freight All Kinds

Abbreviation: FAK
Single freight which is charged irrespective if the commodity.

Freight Collect

Freight and charges to be paid by the consignee, receiver of the good.

Freight Manifest

Document which lists all amounts of money due for the carriage of the goods on a vessel.

Freight Prepaid

Freight and charges to be paid by the shipper.

Full Container Load

Abbreviation: FCL
A container stuffed or stripped under risk and for account of the shipper and/or the consignee.

Full Liner Terms ( Liner in Liner out)

Condition of carriage denoting that costs for loading and unloading are borne by the carrier subject the custom of the port concerned.

Fully Cellular Containership

Abbreviation: FCC
A vessel specifically designed to carry containers, with cell-guides under deck and necessary fittings and equipment on deck.

General Average

Abbreviation: G/A
Intentional and successful act or sacrifice which is carried out to safeguard vessel and cargo. When a vessel is in danger, the master has the right to sacrifice property and/or to incur reasonable expenditure. Measures taken for the sole benefit of any particular interest are not considered general average.

General Average Act (York-Antwerp Rules)

There is a general average act when, and only when any extraordinary sacrifice or expenditure is intentionally and reasonably made or incurred for the common safety for the purpose of preserving from peril the property involved in a common maritime adventure.

General Cargo

Cargo, consisting of goods, unpacked or packed, for example in cartons, crates, bags or bales, often palletised. General cargo can be shipped either in breakbulk or containerised.

Gross Weight

Weight (mass) of goods including packing, and including the carrier’s equipment expressed in whole kilograms on tons.

Hague Rules

Rules governing the carriage of goods by sea and identifying the rights and responsibilities of carriers and owners of cargo. These rules were published in 1924 following an international convention and were subsequently given the force of law by many maritime nations.


The inland carriage of cargo or containers between named locations/points.

Intermodal Transport

The movement of goods (containers) in one and the same loading unit or vehicle which uses successively several modes of transport without handling of the goods themselves in changing modes.

International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code

Abbreviation: IMDG Code
A code, representing the classification of dangerous goods as defined by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in compliance with international legal requirements.

International Maritime Organisation

Abbreviation: IMO
A United Nations agency concerned with safety at sea. Its work includes codes and rules relating to tonnage measurement of vessels, load lines, pollution and the carriage of dangerous goods.
Its previous name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation (IMCO).


The act of intentionally throwing cargo overboard, e.g. with the objective of lightening a vessel, which has run aground, such for the common good of all interests: vessel, crew and remaining cargo (see GA).

Less than Container Load

Abbreviation: LCL
A general reference for identifying cargo in any quantity intended for carriage in a container, where the Carrier is responsible for packing and/or unpacking the container.
For operational purposes a LCL (less than full container load) container is considered a container in which multiple consign

Letter of Credit

Abbreviation: L/C
A written undertaking by a bank (issuing bank) given to the seller (beneficiary) at the request, and on the instructions of the buyer (applicant) to pay at sight or at a determinable future date up to a stated sum of money, within a prescribed time limit and against stipulated documents.

Letter of Indemnity

Document in which one party undertakes to compensate and protect another from liability for the performance and for the costs and consequences of carrying out a certain act. The issue of a letter of indemnity is sometimes used in order to allow consignee to take delivery of goods without surrendering Original Bill of Lading which has been delayed or become lost.


A legal claim upon real or personal property to pay a debt or duty.

Liner In Free Out

Abbreviation: LIFO
Transport condition denoting that the freight rate is inclusive of the sea carriage and the cost of loading, the latter as per the custom of the port. It excludes the cost of discharging.

Mate’s Receipt

A document signed by the chief officer of a vessel acknowledging the receipt of a certain consignment on board of that vessel. On this document, remarks can be made as to the order and condition of the consignment.

Merchant Haulage

Inland transport of cargo in shipping containers arranged by the Merchant. It includes empty container-moves to and from hand-over points in respect of containers released by the Carrier to Merchants.
Note: Carrier’s responsibility under the Bill of Lading does not include the inland transport stretch under Merchant Haulage.

Net Weight

The weight of the goods, including all packing but excluding the carrier’s equipment.

Non Vessel Operating Common Carrier

Abbreviation: NVOCC
A party who undertakes to carry goods and issues his own name Bill of Lading for such carriage, without having the availability of any own means of transport.

Notify Party

The party to be notified of arrival of goods

On carriage

The carriage of containers by any mode of transport to the place of delivery after the discharge from the ocean vessel at the port of discharge.

Open Top Container

A freight container similar in all respect to a general purpose container except that it has no rigid roof but may have a flexible and movable or removable cover, for example one made of canvas or plastic or reinforced plastic material normally supported on movable or removable roof bows.

Out of Gauge Cargo

Cargo which dimensions are exceeding the normal dimensions of a 20 or 40 feet container, e.g. overlength, overwidth, overheight, or combinations thereof.


A carrier, which operates on a route served by a liner conference but which is not a member of that conference.

Panamax Size

The maximum measurements and dimensions of a vessel capable to pass the Panama Canal (33 metres).


Local expert advising a vessel’s captain on safe navigation in those areas where the captain is ignorant of local circumstances or where it is obligatory to take a pilot.

Place of Delivery

The location where a consignment (shipment) is delivered to the consignee viz. the place where the carrier’s liability ends for the transport venture.

Place of Receipt

The location where a consignment (shipment) is received by the carrier from the shipper viz. the place where the carrier’s liability the transport venture commences.


The shared use of an equipment by a number of companies, which make together the investments in the equipment mentioned.

Port of Call

Place where a vessel actually drops anchor or moors during a certain voyage.

Port of Discharge

The port where the cargo is actually unloaded from the vessel.

Port of Loading

The port where the cargo is actually loaded on the vessel.

Pre-trip Inspection

Abbreviation: PTI
A technical inspection of Reefer containers prior to positioning for stuffing.


The carriage of containers by any mode of transport from the place of receipt to the port of loading on the ocean vessel.


Person for whom another person acts as agent.

Project Cargo

Quantity of goods connected to the same project and often carried on different moments and from various places.


The period during which an arriving vessel, including its equipment, cargo, crew or passengers, suspected to carry or carrying a contagious disease is detained in strict isolation to prevent the spread of such a disease.

Quay (= Pier)

Part of a wharf which is intended for the mooring of vessels.


Amount stated as the price according to tariff for certain services to be provided or issued to a customer with specification on conditions for carriage.


An artificial inclined path, road or track along which wheeled vehicles, cargo and trailers may pass for the purpose of changing their elevation and facilitating the loading and unloading operation (e.g. an entrance way into a roll-on Roll-off vessel).

Reefer Cargo

Cargo requiring temperature control.

Reefer Container

A thermal container with refrigerating appliances (mechanical compressor unit, absorption unit etc.) to control the temperature of cargo.

Roll-on Roll-off

Abbreviation: RoRo
System of loading and discharging a vessel whereby the cargo is driven on and off by means of a ramp.


The determination of the most efficient route(s) that people, goods, materials and or means of transport have to follow.

Said to Contain

Abbreviation: STC
Term in a Bill of Lading signifying that the master and the carrier are unaware of the nature or quantity of the contents of e.g. a container and are relying on the description furnished by the shipper.


The saving or rescue of a vessel and/or the cargo from loss and/or damage at sea.

Service Bill

A service Bill (of Lading) is a document issued by one carrier to another for documentary and internal control purposes
No freight details will be mentioned and the service Bill of Lading is not a contract of carriage.

Ship operator

A ship operator is the (legal) person making decision about the daily operation and employment of the ship and crew.

Ship owner

The legal person officially registered as such in the certificate of registry of the vessel.


The merchant (person) by whom, in whose name or on whose behalf a contract of carriage of goods has been concluded with a carrier or any party by whom, in whose name or on whose behalf the goods are actually delivered to the carrier in relation to the contract of carriage.
1. One who transports goods for a charge, in normal usage, such a person would be called a carrier, but carriers are also called "shippers"
2. One who tenders goods to a carrier for transportation.
3. The sender of goods to be transported as distinct from the receiver or the consignee.

Shipping Marks

The identification shown on individual packages to facilitate moving the packages without delay or confusion to their final destination and to enable the checking of cargo against documents.

Shipping Note

Document provided by the shipper or his agent to the carrier, multimodal transport operator, terminal or other receiving authority, giving information about export consignments offered for transport, and providing the necessary receipts and declarations of liability.


Special chain, wire rope, synthetic fibre strap or ropes used for cargo handling purposes.


The space on board a vessel, required by one TEU.

Spontaneous Ignition Temperature

The lowest temperature at which a substance will start burning spontaneously without an external source of ignition.


Device used for lifting containers and unitised cargo.


An identifiable amount of containers stowed in a orderly way in one specified place on an (ocean) terminal, container freight station, container yard or depot.


The total weight of the containers in a certain row.


A person or company working on the Terminal, loading, stowing, discharging vessels, etc…


The placing and securing of containers on board a vessel.

Stowage Factor

Ratio of a cargo’s cubic measurement to its weight, expressed in cubic feet or cubic metres per ton, used in order to assess the total quantity of cargo which can be loaded in a certain space.

Stowage Plan

A plan indicating the locations of all the containers on a container vessel (synonym Bayplan)


The unloading of cargo out of a container.


The loading of cargo into a container.


An additional charge added to the net ocean freight.

Tank Container

A tank, surrounded by a framework with the overall dimensions of a container for the transport of liquids or gasses in bulk.

Tare Weight of Container

Mass of an empty container including all fittings and appliances associated with that particular type of container on its normal operating condition.

Terms of Delivery

All the conditions agreed upon between trading partners regarding the delivery of goods and the related services.
Note: Under normal circumstances the INCO terms are used to prevent any misunderstandings.

TEU - Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit.

Unit of measurement equivalent to one twenty foot shipping container.


A horizontal division of a vessel from bottom to top. The numbers run from bottom to deck and from deck upwards and are used as a part of the indication of a stowage place for containers.

Time Charter

A contract whereby a vessel is let to a charterer for a stipulated period of time or voyage, for a remuneration known as hire, generally a daily rate per ton deadweight. The shipowner continues to manage the vessel through the master and crew who remain his servants.


A shipment under one Bill of Lading, whereby sea (ocean) transport is ‘broken’ into two or more parts. The port where the sea (ocean) transport is ‘broken’ is the transhipment port.


Device which has to be inserted into the corner fittings of a shipping container and is turned or twisted, thus locking the container for the purpose of securing or lifting.

United Nations Dangerous Goods Number / United Nations Number

Abbreviation: UNDG Number or UN No
The four-digit number assigned by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods to classify a substance or a particular group of substances.
Note: The prefix ‘UN’ must always be used in conjunction with these numbers.

Voyage Number

Reference number assigned by the carrier to the voyage of the vessel.

War Risk

War risks must be covered under a separate policy for war risks.


Non-negotiable document evidencing the contract for the transport of cargo.


A place for berthing vessels.


The fee charged for the use of a wharf for mooring, loading or discharging a vessel.

Yield Management

The process of maximising the contribution of every slot or vessel. Basically it should be seen as the process of allocating the right type of capacity to the right kind of customer at the right price as to maximise revenue or yield.
The concept should be used in combination wit.

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