Glossary of Common Shipping Terms

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


To bring in goods from a foreign country.

Import Licence

A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods into their individual countries.

Import Permit

Usually required for items that might affect the public health, morals, animal life, vegetation, etc. Examples include foodstuffs, feedstuffs, pharmaceuticals (human and veterinary), medical equipment, seeds, plants and various written material (including tapes, cassettes, movies, TV tapes or TV movies). In some countries an import permit is the same as an import licence.

In Bond

A term, which indicates that an imported shipment was not cleared by Customs at the border, and is moving under a surety bond.


Inward bound. Direction of vessel or cargo going to port of discharge or final destination.


Incoterms are a set of uniform rules codifying the interpretation of trade terms defining the rights and obligation of both buyer and seller in an international transaction, thereby enabling an otherwise complex basis for a sale contract to be accomplished in three letters. Incoterms are drafted by the International Chamber of Commerce.


Pertaining to transportation involving more than one form of carrier: truck, ship and rail.

Intermodal Transport

Moving ocean freight containers by various transportation modes. The fact that the containers are of the same size and have common handling characteristics permits them to be transferred from truck to railroad to air carrier to ocean carrier.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

ISO is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from some 130 countries, one from each country. It is a non-governmental organization established in 1947 to promote the development of standardization facilitating international trade. ISO’s work results in international agreements which are published as International Standards.

In Transit

In passage from one place to another.


Documentation supplying Customs with the type of goods, quantity, price of each type and terms of sale. The type of invoice required is determined by the shipment’s value.

LCL (Less than Container Load)

The quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a container load rate. Loose Freight.

Letter of Indemnity

Guarantee from the shipper or consignee to indemnify carriers or forwarders for costs and/or loss, if any, in order to obtain favourable action by carriers or forwarders. It is customary practice for carries and forwarders to demand letters of indemnity from consignees for taking delivery of cargoes without surrendering bill of lading which has been delayed or is lost.

Load Factor

Percent of loaded containers against total capacity of vessel or allocation.

Locking Bar

Device that secures container doors at top and bottom.

LTL (Less than truckload)

This term typically refers to shipments of 150 – 10,000 pounds, not requiring the full use of a trailor.