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Terms and Definitions



Transportation to final destination beyond base port by feeder vessel or other methods.


Acronym for Asia North America Eastbound Rate Agreement conference of ocean carriers that agree to sell at same rate.

All Risk
Refers to freight insurance coverage, but it does not cover war, strikes, and riots.  See War Coverage.


Freight delivered "alongside" the ship and closes enough to the ship’s cranes, if any.

Automated Broker Interface (ABI)
Part of ACS that permits transmission of data pertaining to merchandise being imported into the United States. Qualified participants include brokers, importers, carriers, port authorities, and independent data processing companies referred to as service centers.


Automated Clearinghouse (ACH)
Part of ACS and paperless program that allows electronic funds transfer for payment of estimated duties, taxes, and fees on imported merchandise.

Automated Commercial System (ACS)
A system of software programs between Customs and brokers to communicate.   These programs are design with the ultimate goal of paperless transaction between Customs and brokers, i.e. ACH and ABI.


Acronym for Bunker Adjustment Factor, which is the fluctuation of fuel cost.

Bill of Lading (B/L)
Serves as receipt, evidence and contract of transportation between the shipper and the carrier.   Carrier will not release freight without payment of freight.


Bonded Warehouse
Customs approved warehouse for storage and/or manufacture of goods.  Duties assessed and due when goods enter the U.S. for consumption.  No duties due if re-exported.

Incoterm for Cost of goods and Freight   See Incoterms


Shipping term meaning from Container Yard to Container Yard. A Shipping term for Container Yard, which is a storage or transfer station for ocean containers before or after loading vessels.

Container Yard/DOOR Shipping from origin CY point to consignee’s door point


Acronym for Currency Adjustment Factor, which is the fluctuation of currency exchange.

Acronym for Container Freight Station, which is a facility for cargo loading and unloading of ocean containers.


Acronym for Customs House Broker, which is a company or individual licensed by U.S. Customs to do business as an agent with U.S. Customs.

Acronym for Cost, Insurance, and Freight   See Incoterms


Stored at bonded warehouse

Cargo Selectivity System (CSS)
It is how Customs selects freight or documentation to be examined.  Examinations are chosen by the risk of importer and manufacturer or activities with certain tariff numbers. 


Customs document, valid for one year, used for merchandise imported for temporary basis.

Commercial Invoice
A document between the sellers to the buyer indicating description of goods, price sold and country of origin.


To whom goods have been consigned on the bill of lading.

A company that consolidates freight owned by varies parties into one container.


Consular Invoice
Certified by a foreign country via embassy or consular office in the U.S.

Customs Broker
An individual or company licensed by U.S. Customs as a broker between Customs and an importer.


Customs Clearance
The process to obtain Customs authorizes to release freight and pay duties.  Customs is required to follow the laws of other agencies, i.e. FCC, FDA and ATF.

Customs Import Value
Customs, not the importer or exporter, determines the transaction value of the goods.


Deliver Duty Paid   See Incoterms

Deliver Duty Unpaid   See Incoterms


A penalty for exceeding free time allowed for loading or unloading at a pier or freight terminal.

Deposit of Estimated Duties
Applies in antidumping duties entries which duties must be paid to Customs upon entry. 


Documents Against Acceptance (D/A)
Shipper releases all documents to the bank for control and releasement of payment for goods.   The bank releases documents when the consignee accepts of attached draft.  Usually a deferred payment date is involved.  

Documents Against Payment (D/P)
Shipper releases all documents to the bank for control and releasement of payment for goods.   The bank releases documents when the consignee pays the value of the draft.  No deferred payment date is involved.  


Duties payment refunded because freight is re-exported or for similar circumstances. 

A tax applied to goods imported. 


Entry Summary System
Summary of merchandise categorize by HTS and monies due U.S. Customs.

See Shipper’s Export Declaration


Indicates that the buyer responsible for transportation from door of factory. 

Ex Works
The buyer responsible for transportation from door of the agreed location, i.e. warehouse or distribution center.  


Federal Maritime Commission
Federal Maritime Commission is a U.S. government agency that regulates the prices for import and export of ocean containers.  

Forty-Foot Equivalent Unit (FEU)
Forty-Foot Equivalent Unit is the value of one forty-foot container.  Two twenty-foot containers equal one forty-foot equivalent.  


Free On Board (FOB)
Seller is responsible for inland freight and all other costs until the cargo has been loaded on the vessel/aircraft. Buyer is responsible for ocean/air freight and marine/air insurance.

Freight for All Kinds (FAK)

terms for consolidated freight and require three or more commodities.


Freight Forwarder
A licensed business under FMC and/or IATA to coordinate the traffic of freight and related business. 

Gross Weight
Total weight of containers with inner packing included.


Harmonized Tariff Schedule  (HTS)
Harmonized Tariff Schedule is the international coding system for commodities.

International freight terms used to specify the responsibility of cost between a seller and a buyer.


Insurance Certificate
Proof of insurance and coverage

Integrated Carriers
Carriers that have a combination of transportation methods, i.e. sea, rail, and truck. 


Intermediate Consignee
It can be a bank or forwarding agent.

Shipping containers by more than one mode of transport, ie. rail and ocean vessel.


Letter of Credit
Bank guarantees payments to shipper/seller if all terms are sufficed.

Non-Vessel Operating acts as a carrier by buying space with carriers that have vessels and licensed by FMC.



Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier acts as a carrier by buying space with carriers that have vessels and licensed by FMC.

Packing List
Document listing breakdown of packing and/or piece count.


Political Risk
Refers to freight insurance coverage and/or currency fluxuation.

Pro Forma Invoice
An invoice composed in lieu of original invoice. 


Quantity of one HTS item allowed into the U.S. at either higher or lower rate of duties. 

Shipper's Export Declaration (SED or Ex-Dec)
Shipper’s Export Declaration is a form required by Census bureau for export statistical purposes.  It consist mainly of shipper name, IRS number, consignee name, HTS, value and shipping details.  


Shipper Letter of Instructions (SLI)
Shipper Letter of Instruction is a carbon form that services as Ex-Dec and/or bill of lading instructions.  It consists mainly of shipper name, IRS number, consignee name, HTS, value and shipping details plus freight terms.

Tare Weight
The weight of an empty container.


A tax and/or duty assessed by Customs based on origin and commodity. 

Temporary Importation Bond (TIB)
Temporary Importation Bond is for shipments entering the U.S. on temporary basis.


Through Bill of Lading
One bill of lading that covers receipt of the container from all points, i.e. rail transit and ocean transit.

A port of call for an ocean vessel or airplane before final destination of containers.  Sometimes the containers are transloaded onto another vessel or airplane.


Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU)
Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit is the value of one twenty-foot container.  Two twenty-foot containers equal one forty-foot equivalent.  

War/Strike Clause
Freight insurance coverage for risks of war, strikes, and riots.  See All Risks


With Average
A freight insurance term meaning that a shipment is protected from partial damage whenever the damage exceeds 3 percent (or some other percentage). If the ship is involved in a major catastrophe, such as a collision, fire or stranding, the minimum percentage requirement is waived and the insurance company pays for all of the damage.



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