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Glossary of Shipping Terms


C&F Terms of Sale, or INCOTERMS – Obsolete, although heavily used, term of sale meaning "cargo and freight" whereby Seller pays for cost of goods and freight charges up to destination port. In July, 1990 the International Chamber of Commerce replaced C&F with CFR.

C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) – A voluntary supply chain security partnership established by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in November 2001. Meeting the C-TPAT standards allows cargo owners faster processing through customs formalities and inspections.

CAF – Abbreviation for "Currency Adjustment Factor." A charge, expressed as a percentage of a base rate, that is applied to compensate ocean carriers of currency fluctuations.

CBM (CM) – Abbreviation for "Cubic Meter."

CCC Mark – A mark or label indicating the cargo conforms to standards required by China for certain products.

CE Mark – A mark or label indicating the cargo conforms to standards required by the European Union for certain products.

CE – Abbreviation for "Consumption Entry." The process of declaring the importation of foreign-made goods for use in the United States.

CFS – Abbreviation for "Container Freight Station." A shipping dock where cargo is loaded ("stuffed") into or unloaded ("stripped") from containers. Generally, this involves less than containerload shipments, although small shipments destined to same consignee are often consolidated. Container reloading from/to rail or motor carrier equipment is a typical activity. These facilities can be located in container yards, or off dock.

CI – Abbreviation for "Cost and Insurance." A price that includes the cost of the goods, the marine insurance and all transportation charges except the ocean freight to the named point of destination.

CIF (Named Port) – Abbreviation for "Cost, Insurance, Freight." (Named Port) Same as C&F or CFR except seller also provides insurance to named destination.

CIF&C – Price includes commission as well as CIF.

CIF&E – Abbreviation for "Cost, Insurance, Freight and Exchange."

CIFCI – Abbreviation for "Cost, Insurance, Freight, Collection and Interest."

CIFI&E – Abbreviation for "Cost, Insurance, Freight, Interest and Exchange."

CIP (Carriage and Insurance Paid To) (...Named Place of Destination): – - A Term of Sale which means the seller has the same obligations as under CPT, but with the addition that the seller has to procure cargo insurance against the buyer's risk of loss of or damage to the goods during the carriage. The seller contracts for insurance and pays the insurance premium. The buyer should note that under the CIP term the seller is required to obtain insurance only on minimum coverage. The CIP term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.

CKD – Abbreviation for "Completely Knocked Down." Parts and subassemblies being transported to an assembly plant.

CL – Abbreviation for "Carload" and "Containerload".

CM – Abbreviation for "Cubic Meter" (capital letters).

COD – Abbreviation for: - Collect (cash) on Delivery. - Carried on Docket (pricing).

COFC – Abbreviation for the Railway Service "Container On Flat Car."

COGSA – Carriage of Goods by Sea Act. U.S. federal codification passed in 1936 which standardizes carrier's liability under carrier's bill of lading. U.S. enactment of The Hague Rules.

CPT (Carriage Paid To) (...Named Place of Destination): – - A Term of Sale which means the seller pays the freight for the carriage of the goods to the named destination. The risk of loss of or damage to the goods, as well as any additional costs due to events occurring after the time the goods have been delivered to the carrier, is transferred from the seller to the buyer when the goods have been delivered into the custody of the carrier. If subsequent carriers are used for the carriage to the agreed upon destination, the risk passes when the goods have been delivered to the first carrier. The CPT term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.

CY – Abbreviation for: - Container Yard. - The designation for full container receipt/delivery.

Cabotage – Water transportation term applicable to shipments between ports of a nation; commonly refers to Coastwise or intercoastal navigation or trade. Many nations, including the United States, have cabotage laws which require national flag vessels to provide domestic interport service.

Canceled B/L: – - B/L status; used to cancel a processed B/L; usually per shipper's request; different from voided B/L.

Capesize Vessel – A dry bulk vessel above 80,000dwt or whose beam precludes passage via the Panama Canal and thus forces them to pass around Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope.

Captain's Protest – A document prepared by the captain of a vessel on arriving at port; shows conditions encountered during voyage, generally for the purpose of relieving ship owner of any loss to cargo and shifting responsibility for reimbursement to the insurance company.

Car Pooling – Use of individual carrier/rail equipment through a central agency for the benefit of carriers and shippers.

Car Seal – Metal strip and lead fastener used for locking freight car or truck doors. Seals are numbered for record purposes.

Cargo Manifest – A manifest that lists all cargo carried on a specific vessel voyage.

Cargo NOS – Cargo Not Otherwise Specified. Usually the rate entry in a tariff that can apply to commodities not covered under a specific item or sub- item in the applicable tariff.

Cargo Preference – Cargo reserved by a Nation's laws for transportation only on vessels registered in that Nation.Typically the cargo is moving due to a direct or indirect support or activity of the Government.

Cargo Tonnage – Most ocean freight is billed on the basis of weight or measurement tons (W/M). Weight tons can be expressed in short tons of 2000 pounds, long tons of 2240 pounds or metric tons of 1000 kilos (2204.62 pounds). Measurement tons are usually expressed as cargo measurement of 40 cubic feet (1.12 meters) or cubic meters (35.3 cubic feet.)

Cargo – Freight loaded into a ship.

Carload Rate – A rate applicable to a carload of goods.

Carnet – A customs document permitting the holder to temporarily carry or send merchandise into certain foreign countries (for display, demonstration or similar purposes) without paying duties or posting bonds. Any of various Customs documents required for crossing some international borders.

Carrier's Certificate – A certificate required by U.S. Customs to release cargo properly to the correct party.

Carrier – Any person or entity who, in a contract of carriage, undertakes to perform or to procure the performance of carriage by rail, road, sea, air, inland waterway or by a combination of such modes.

Cartage – Usually refers to intra-city hauling on drays or trucks. Same as drayage.

Cartment – Customs form permitting in-bond cargo to be moved from one location to another under Customs control, within the same Customs district. Usually in motor carrier's possession while draying cargo.

Carfloat – A barge equipped with tracks on which up to approximately 12 railroad cars are moved in harbors or inland waterways.

Cash Against Documents (CAD) – Method of payment for goods in which documents transferring title are given the buyer upon payment of cash to an intermediary acting for the seller, usually a commission house.

Cash With Order (CWO) – A method of payment for goods in which cash is paid at the time of order and the transaction becomes binding on both buyer and seller.

Cash in Advance (CIA) – A method of payment for goods in which the buyer pays the seller in advance of the shipment of goods. Usually employed when the goods, such as specialized machinery, are built to order.

Cells – The construction system employed in container vessels; permits ship containers to be stowed in a vertical line with each container supporting the one above it

Center of Gravity – The point of equilibrium of the total weight of a containership, truck, train or a piece of cargo.

Certificate of Inspection – - A document certifying that merchandise (such as perishable goods) was in good condition immediately prior to its shipment. - The document issued by the U.S. Coast Guard certifying an American - Flag vessel's compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Certificate of Origin – A certified document showing the origin of goods; used in international commerce.

Charter Party – A written contract between the owner of a vessel and the person desiring to employ the vessel (charterer); sets forth the terms of the arrangement, such as duration of agreement, freight rate and ports involved in the trip.

Chassis – A frame with wheels and container locking devices in order to secure the container for movement.

Chock – A piece of wood or other material placed at the side of cargo to prevent rolling or moving sideways.

Claim – A demand made upon a transportation line for payment on account of a loss sustained through its alleged negligence.

Classification Rating – The designation provided in a classification by which a class rate is determined.

Classification Society – An organization maintained for the surveying and classing of ships so that insurance underwriters and others may know the quality and condition of the vessels offered for insurance or employment. See also ABS, BV, DNV, LR and NK.

Classification Yard – A railroad yard with many tracks used for assembling freight trains.

Classification – A publication, such as Uniform Freight Classification (railroad) or the National Motor Freight Classification (motor carrier), that assigns ratings to various articles and provides bill of lading descriptions and rules.

Clayton Act – An anti-trust act of the U.S. Congress making price discrimination unlawful.

Clean B/L: – - A B/L which bears no superimposed clause or notation which declares a defective condition of the goods and/or the packaging.

Clean Bill of Lading – A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were received in "apparent good order and condition," without damage or other irregularities. If no notation or exception is made, the B/L is assumed to be "cleaned."

Clean: – - A letter of credit that requires the beneficiary to present only a draft or a receipt for specified funds before receiving payment.

Cleaning in Transit – The stopping of articles, such as peanuts, etc., for cleaning at a point between the point of origin and destination.

Clearance Limits – The size beyond which cars or loads cannot use bridges, tunnels, etc.

Cleat – A strip of wood or metal used to afford additional strength, to prevent warping, or to hold in place.

Clip-On – Refrigeration equipment attachable to an insulated container that does not have its own refrigeration unit.

Coastwise – Water transportation along the coast.

Collecting – A bank that acts as an agent to the seller's bank (the presenting bank). The collecting bank assumes no responsibility for either the documents or the merchandise.

Collection – A draft drawn on the buyer, usually accompanied by documents, with complete instructions concerning processing for payment or acceptance.

Combination Export Mgr. – A firm that acts as an export sales agent for more than one non-competing manufacturer.

Combination Passenger and Cargo Vessels: – - Ships with a capacity for 13 or more passengers and any form of cargo or freight.

Combination Rate – A rate made up of two or more factors, separately published.

Commercial Invoice – Represents a complete record of the transaction between exporter and importer with regard to the goods sold. Also reports the content of the shipment and serves as the basis for all other documents relating to the shipment.

Commercial Transport Vessel – Any ship which is used primarily in commerce (1) For transporting persons or goods to or from any harbor(s) or port(s) or between places within a harbor area; (2) In connection with the construction, change in construction, servicing, maintenance, repair, loading, unloading, movement, piloting, or salvaging of any other ship or vessel.

Commodity Rate – A rate published to apply to a specific article or articles.

Commodity – Article shipped. For dangerous and hazardous cargo, the correct commodity identification is critical.

Common Carrier – A transportation company which provides service to the general public at published rates.

Common Law – Law that derives its force and authority from precedent, custom and usage rather than from statutes, particularly with reference to the laws of England and the United States.

Company Security Officer – Is the person designated by the company for ensuring that a ship security assessment is carried out and that a ship security plan is developed, submitted for approval and thereafter implemented and maintained for liaison with port facility security officers and the ship security officer.

Compulsory Ship – Any ship which is required to be equipped with radiotelecommunication equipment in order to comply with the radio or radio-navigation provisions of a treaty or statute to which the vessel is subject.

Concealed Damage – Damage that is not evident from viewing the unopened package.

Conference – An association of ship owners operating in the same trade route who operate under collective conditions and agree on tariff rates.

Connecting Carrier Agreement – A connecting carrier agreement is a contract between the originating carrier and a second party, where the second party agrees to carry goods to a final destination on a through Billof Lading.

Connecting Carrier – A carrier which has a direct physical connection with, or forms a link between two or more carriers.

Consignee Mark – A symbol placed on packages for identification purposes; generally a triangle, square, circle, etc. with letters and/or numbers and port of discharge.

Consignee – A person or company to whom commodities are shipped.

Consignment – (1) A stock of merchandise advanced to a dealer and located at his place of business, but with title remaining in the source of supply. (2) A shipment of goods to a consignee.

Consignor – A person or company shown on the bill of lading as the shipper.

Consolidated B/L: – - B/L combined or consolidated from two or more B/L's.

Consolidation – Cargo containing shipments of two or more shippers or suppliers. Containerload shipments may be consolidated for one or more consignees, often in containerload quantities.

Consolidator – A person or firm performing a consolidation service for others. The consolidator takes advantage of lower full carload (FCL) rates, and passes on the savings to shippers.

Construction Differential Subsidy – A program whereby the U.S. government attempted to offset the higher shipbuilding cost in the U.S. by paying up to 50% of the difference between cost of U.S. and non-U.S. construction. The difference went to the U.S. shipyard. It is unfunded since 1982.

Consular Declaration – A formal statement describing goods to be shipped; filed with and approved by the consul of the country of destination prior to shipment.

Consular Invoice – A document, certified by a consular official, is required by some countries to describe a shipment. Used by Customs of the foreign country, to verify the value, quantity and nature of the cargo.

Consular Visa – An official signature or seal affixed to certain documents by the consul of the country of destination.

Consul – A government official residing in a foreign country who represents the interests of her or his country and its nationals.

Consumption Entry (CE) – The process of declaring the importation of foreign-made goods into the United States for use in the United States.

Container Booking – Arrangements with a steamship line to transport containerized cargo.

Container Freight Station – See CFS.

Container Load – A load sufficient in size to fill a container either by cubic measurement or by weight.

Container Manifest – Document showing contents and loading sequence, point of origin, and point of destination for a container. Vessels are required by law to carry such a document for each container carried.

Container Pool – An agreement between parties that allows the efficient use and supply of containers. A common supply of containers available to the shipper as required.

Container Security Initiative (CSI) – A U.S. cargo security program whereby containerized cargoes destined for the United States may be inspected on a selective basis at many foreign ports before loading on a vessel. As of October 2007, there were 51 approved ports. A multinational program, aligned with the President's "Strategy for Homeland Security", that extends the United States' zone of security by pre-screening containers that pose a potential security risk before they leave foreign ports for U.S. seaports.

Container Terminal – An area designated for the stowage of cargoes in container; usually accessible by truck, railroad and marine transportation. Here containers are picked up, dropped off, maintained and housed.

Container Yard (CY) – A materials-handling/storage facility used for completely unitized loads in containers and/or empty containers. Commonly referred to as CY.

Containerizable Cargo – Cargo that will fit into a container and result in an economical shipment.

Containerization – Stowage of general or special cargoes in a container for transport in the various modes.

Container – A truck trailer body that can be detached from the chassis for loading into a vessel, a rail car or stacked in a container depot. Containers may be ventilated, insulated, refrigerated, flat rack, vehicle rack, open top, bulk liquid or equipped with interior devices. A container may be 20 feet, 40 feet, 45 feet, 48 feet or 53 feet in length, 8'0" or 8'6" in width, and 8'6" or 9'6" in height.

Contraband – Cargo that is prohibited.

Contract Carrier – Any person not a common carrier who, under special and individual contracts or agreements, transports passengers or property for compensation.

Contract – A legally binding agreement between two or more persons/organizations to carry out reciprocal obligations or value.

Controlled Atmosphere – Sophisticated, computer-controlled systems that manage the mixtures of gases within a container throughout an intermodal journey reducing decay.

Confirmed Letter of Credit – A letter of credit, issued by a foreign bank, whose validity has been confirmed by a domestic bank. An exporter with a confirmed letter of credit is assured of payment even if the foreign buyer or the foreign bank defaults

Confirmed: – - An L/C guaranteed by both the issuing and advising banks of payment so long as seller's documents are in order, and the L/C terms are met. Only applied to irrevocable L/C's. The confirming bank assumes the credit risk of the issuing bank.

Confirming Bank – The bank that adds its confirmation to another bank's (the issuing bank's) letter of credit and promises to pay the beneficiary upon presentation of documents specified in the letter of credit.

Corner Posts – Vertical frame components fitted at the corners of the container, integral to the corner fittings and connecting the roof and floor structures. Containers are lifted and secured in a stack using the castings at the ends.

Corrected B/L: – - B/L requiring any update which results in money -or other financially related changes.

Correspondent Bank – A bank that, in its own country, handles the business of a foreign bank.

Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) – Cost of goods, marine insurance and all transportation (freight) charges are paid to the foreign point of delivery by the seller.

Countervailing Duty – An additional duty imposed to offset export grants, bounties or subsidies paid to foreign suppliers in certain countries by the government of that country for the purpose of promoting export.

Cross Member – Transverse members fitted to the bottom side rails of a container, which support the floor.

Cu. – An abbreviation for "Cubic." A unit of volume measurement.

Cube Out – When a container or vessel has reached its volumetric capacity before its permitted weight limit.

Cubic Foot – 1,728 cubic inches.A volume contained in a space measuring one foot high, one foot wide and one foot long

Customhouse Broker – A person or firm, licensed by the treasury department of their country when required, engaged in entering and clearing goods through Customs for a client (importer).

Customhouse – A government office where duties are paid, import documents filed, etc., on foreign shipments.

Customs Bonded Warehouse – A warehouse authorized by Customs to receive duty-free merchandise.

Customs Entry – All countries require that the importer make a declaration on incoming foreign goods. The importer then normally pays a duty on the imported merchandise. The importer's statement is compared against the carrier's vessel manifest to ensure that all foreign goods are properly declared.

Customs Invoice – A form requiring all data in a commercial invoice along with a certificate of value and/or a certificate of origin. Required in a few countries (usually former British territories) and usually serves as a seller's commercial invoice.

Customs of the Port (COP) – A phrase often included in charter parties and freight contracts referring to local rules and practices which may impact upon the costs borne by the various parties.

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) – It is a voluntary supply chain security program, launched in November 2001 and led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which focuses on improving the security of private companies' supply chains with respect to terrorism. In exchange for companies participation CBP will provide reduced inspections at the port of arrival, expedited processing at the border and penalty mitigation.

Customs – Government agency charged with enforcing the rules passed to protect the country's import and export revenues.

Cut-Off Time – The latest time cargo may be delivered to a terminal for loading to a scheduled train or ship.

Cwt. – Hundred weight (United States, 100 pounds; U.K.,112)

cm – Abbreviation for "centimeter."