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Glossary of Shipping Terms


A.I.D. – Agency for International Development.

A.T.A. – American Trucking Association.

AAR – Abbreviation for: - Against All Risks (insurance clause). - Association of American Railroads.

AA – Always Afloat. A contract term requiring that the vessel not rest on the ground. In some ports the ship is aground when approaching or at berth.

ABI – U.S. Customs' "Automated Broker Interface," by which brokers file importers' entries electronically.

ACS (A.C.S.) or ACE – U.S. Customs' master computer system, "Automated Commercial Systems." Now being replaced by the Automated Commercial Environment system.

AMS – The U.S. Customs' "Automated Manifest System."

ASC X12 – American Standards Committee X12 responsible for developing EDI standards for the United States.

ATDNSHINC – Any time Day or Night Sundays & Holidays Included. A chartering term referring to when a vessel will work.

AWWL – Always within Institute Warranties Limits (Insurance purpose).

Abaft – A point beyond the midpoint of a ship's length, towards the rear or stern.

Abandon – A proceeding wherein a shipper/consignee seeks authority to abandon all or parts of their cargo.

Abatement – A discount allowed for damage or overcharge in the payment of a bill.

Aboard – Referring to cargo being put, or laden, onto a means of conveyance.

Absorption – One carrier assumes the charges of another without any increase in charges to the shipper.

Acceptance – - A time draft (or bill of exchange) that the drawee (payer) has accepted and is unconditionally obligated to pay at maturity. - Broadly speaking, any agreement to purchase goods under specified terms.

Accessorial Charges – Charges that are applied to the base tariff rate or base contract rate, e.g., bunkers, container, currency, destination/delivery.

Acquiescence – When a bill of lading is accepted or signed by a shipper or shipper's agent without protest, the shipper is said to acquiesce to the terms, giving a silent form of consent.

Acquittance – A written receipt in full, in discharge from all claims.

Act of God – An act beyond human control, such as lightning, flood or earthquake.

Ad Valorem – A term from Latin meaning, "according to value." Import duty applied as a percentage of the cargo's dutiable value.

Administrative Law Judge – A representative of a government commission or agency vested with power to administer oaths, examine witnesses, take testimony, and conduct hearings of cases submitted to, or initiated by, that agency. Also called Hearing Examiner.

Admiralty (Adm.) – Refers to marine matters such as an Admiralty Court.

Advanced Charge – Transportation charge advanced by one carrier to another to be collected by the later carrier from the consignor or consignee.

Advanced Notice of Arrival (ANOA) – Any vessel entering United States waters from a foreign port is required to give a 96-hour ANOV. Any vessel of 300 gross registered tonnage and greater is required to give the ANOA to the U.S. Coast Guard's National Vessel Movement Center. Any vessel under 300 gross registered tons is required to give the ANOA to the appropriate Captain of the Port.

Advance – To move cargo up line to a vessel leaving sooner than the one booked. See also Roll.

Adventure – Shipment of goods on shipper's own account. A bill of adventure is a document signed by the master of the ship that carries goods at owner's risk. Also, a term used in some insurance policies to mean a voyage or a shipment.

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.

Advising Bank – A bank operating in the seller's country that handles letters of credit on behalf of a foreign bank.

Affreightment, Contract of – An agreement by an ocean carrier to provide cargo space on a vessel at a specified time and for a specified price to accommodate an exporter or importer.

Aframax Tanker – A vessel of 70,000 to 119,000 DWT capacity. The largest tanker size in the AFRA (average freight rate assessment) tanker rate system.

Aft – Movement toward the stern (back end) of a ship.

Agency Tariff – A tariff published by an agent on behalf of several carriers.

Agent (Agt.) – A person authorized to transact business for and in the name of another person or company. Types of agents are: (1) brokers, (2) commission merchants, (3) resident buyers, (4) sales agents, (5) manufacturer's representatives.

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

Agreed Weight – The weight prescribed by agreement between carrier and shipper for goods shipped in certain packages or in a certain number.

Agreed valuation – The value of a shipment agreed upon in order to secure a specific freight rate.

Air Waybill – The forwarding agreement or carrying agreement between shipper and air carrier and is issued only in nonnegotiable form.

All In – The total price to move cargo from origin to destination, inclusive of all charges.

Allision – The striking by a moving vessel against a stationary object.

Alongside – A phrase referring to the side of a ship. Goods 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.

Alternative Rates – Privilege to use the rate producing the lowest charge.

Ambient Temperature – The temperature of a surrounding body. The ambient temperature of a container is the atmospheric temperature to which it is exposed,

American Bureau of Shipping – U.S. classification society which certifies seagoing vessels for compliance to standardized rules regarding construction and maintenance.

Anti-Dumping Duty – A tariff imposed to discourage sale of foreign goods, subsidized to sell at low prices detrimental to local manufacturers.

Any Quantity (A.Q.) – Usually refers to a rating that applies to an article regardless of size or quantity.

Apparent Good Order – When freight appears to be free of damage so far as a general survey can determine.

Appraisement – Determination of the dutiable value of imported merchandise by a Customs official who follows procedures outlined in their country's tariff, such as the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930.

Appraiser's Stores – The warehouse or public stores to which samples of imported goods are taken to be inspected, analyzed, weighed, etc. by examiners or appraisers.

Arbitrary – A stated amount over a fixed rate to one point to make a rate to another point.

Arrival Notice – A notification by carrier of ship's arrival to the consignee, the "Notify Party," and - when applicable - the "Also Notify Party." These parties in interest are listed in blocks 3, 4 and 10, respectively, of the Bill of Lading.

Assignment – A term commonly used in connection with a bill of lading. It involves the transfer of rights, title and interest in order to assign goods by endorsing the bill of lading.

Astern – - Behind a vessel - Move in a reverse direction.

Athwartships – A direction across the width of a vessel.

Automated Identification System (AIS) – It is a system used by ships and Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) principally for the identification and the locating of vessels. AIS provides a means for ships to electronically exchange ship data including: identification, position, course, and speed, with other nearby ships and VTS stations.

Average – See Insurance.

Avoirdupois Pound – Same as 0.4535924277 kilograms.