Glossary of Common Shipping Terms

  1. A-D
  2. E-H
  3. I-L
  4. M-P
  5. Q-T
  6. U-Z

En route

Along the route of movement.


Estimated time of arrival of carriers.


Estimated time of departure of carriers.

Exchange Rate

The ratio of prices at which the currencies of nations are exchanged at a particular time.


Shipment of goods to another country.

Export Declaration

A government document permitting designated goods to be shipped out of the country.

Ex Works

An INCOTERMS term of sale in which the buyer is responsible for taking delivery of the goods at the premises of the factory. Also known as “F.C.A.”

F.O.B. Destination

“F.O.B. Destination” changes the location where title and risk pass. Under this arrangement, title and risk remain with the seller until they have delivered the freight to the delivery location specified in the contract.

F.O.B Origin

“F.O.B. Origin” means that title and risk pass to the buyer at the moment of the seller’s delivery to the carrier. The parties may agree to have title and risk pass at a different time or to allocate freight charges by a written agreement.


Fuel Adjustment Factor. An ancillary charge on ocean freight shipments to account for fluctuations in fuel costs.


Freight All Kind. A system whereby freight is charged per container, irrespective of the nature of the cargoes, and not according to a Tariff. FAS Free Alongside Ship. An INCOTERMS term of sale in which the buyer is responsible for all charges of the transportation of the cargoes after they arrive at the side of the ship. It is not a commonly-used term of sale in international trade today.

FAST (Free and Secure Trade)

A joint Canada/US border security agreement, of which C-TPAT and PIP are the main initiatives.


Full Container Load. It is an arrangement whereby the shipper packs cargoes into a container provided by the carrier or the forwarder before delivering to the container terminal.


Forty foot (40’) Equivalent Unit. Commonly describes a 40- foot container.


Free In and Out. It is a term used in ship-chartering whereby the owner of the ship is not responsible for any charges incurred in the ports of loading or unloading.


Free On Board. It is an INCOTERMS term of sale where the seller of the cargoes are responsible for all charges of the transportation of the cargoes all the way up to their arrival on board the ship. It includes all charges of carriers or forwarders levied at the port of loading.

Force Majeure

The title of a standard clause in marine contract that relieves the parties for responsibility upon non-fulfillment of their obligations resulting from conditions beyond their control (such as earthquakes, floods, or war).

Free Along Side (FAS)

A basis of pricing meaning the price of goods alongside a transport vessel at a specified location. The buyer is responsible for loading the goods onto the transport vessel and paying all the cost of shipping beyond that location.

Free On Board (FOB)

An acronym for “free on board” when used in a sales contract. The seller agrees to deliver merchandise, free of all transportation expense, to the place specified by the contract. Once delivery is complete, the title to all the goods and the risk of damage become the buyer’s.

Free Trade Zone

A country’s government designates this area, where any non-prohibited merchandise may enter duty-free. In this zone goods may be used in manufacturing, put on display, warehoused, etc., and re-exportation is also duty-free if the merchandise should pass from the zone into another area of the country.

Freight Forwarder

A freight forwarder combines less-than-truckload (LTL) or less-than-carload (LCL) shipments into carload or truckload lots. Freight forwarders are designated as common carriers. They also issue bills of lading and accept responsibility for cargo. The term may also refer to the company that fills railroad trains with trailers.

General Tariff

A tariff that applies to countries that do not enjoy either preferential or most-favored-nation tariff treatment. When the general tariff rate differs from the most-favored-nation rate, the general rate is usually the higher rate.

Genset (Generator Set)

A portable power generator, which converts fuel into electrical power by mechanical means, and from which a reefer draws power. A clip-on generator set is mounted to the front of the refrigeration unit. An underslung generator set is mounted to the chassis upon which the reefer is mounted for handling and transport. The underslung generator set can be either side-mounted or center-mounted on the chassis.


The front rails of the chassis that raise above the plane of the chassis and engage in the tunnel of a container.

Gross Tonnage

Applies to vessels, not to cargo. Determined by dividing by 100 the contents, in cubic feet, of the vessel’s closed-in spaces. A vessel ton is 100 cubic feet.

Gross Weight

Entire weight of goods, packaging and container, ready for shipment.

Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System

A multi-purpose international goods-classification for manufacturers. Transporters, exporters, importers, customs officials, statisticians, and others in classifying goods moving in international trade under a single commodity code. Developed under the auspices of the Customs Cooperations Council (CCC), an international customs organization in Brussels, this code is a hierarchically structured product nomenclature containing approximately 5,000 headings and subheadings describing the articles moving in international trade. It is organized into 99 chapters arranged in 22 sections. Sections encompass an industry [ (e.g., Section XI, Textiles and Textile Articles); chapters encompass the various materials and products of the industry (e.g.: Chapter 50, Silk; Chapter 55, Manmade Staple Fibres; Chapter 57, Carpets).] The basic code contains four-digit headings and six-digit subheadings. (The U.S. will add digits for tariff and statistical purposes. In the U.S., duty rates will be the 8-digit level; statistical suffixes will be at the 10-digit level.