Glossary of Common Shipping Terms

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


A document that lists in detail all the bills of lading issued by a vessel or its agent or master, i.e., a detailed summary of the total cargoes or containers loaded in a vessel. Used principally for customs purposes. It is also called summary of Bills of Lading.

Maquiladoras (ma

Duty-free (for U. S. import) manufacturing plants located in Mexico.

Marine Insurance

Broadly, insurance covering loss or damage of goods at sea. Marine insurance typically compensates the owner of merchandise for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, piracy and various other causes but excludes losses that can be legally recovered.


Business pertaining to commerce or navigation transacted upon the sea or in seaports in such matters as the court of admiralty has jurisdiction over.

Maximum Payload

Maximum cargo that can be loaded into a container either by weight or volume.

Maximum Rate

The highest freight rate permitted by a regulatory body to apply between points.

Measurement Ton

1 cubic metre. One of the alternative bases of Freight Tariff.

Minimum Charge

The lowest charge that can be assessed to transport a shipment.

N.M.F.C. (National Motor Freight Classification)

A listing of items used to determine the “class” of a particular item shipped. The class of the item along with the weight and distance traveled, is a determinator of the freight charge.

NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement )

The joint Canada, Mexico and United States treaty to reduce tariffs and trade barriers to promote cross-border economic activity.

Net Weight (Actual Net Weight)

Weight of the goods alone without any immediate wrappings; e.g., the weight of the contents of a tin can excluding the can’s weight.

Non-vessel Owning / Operating Common Carrier (N.V.O.C.C.)

(a) A cargo consolidator of small shipments in ocean trade, generally soliciting business and arranging for or performing containerization functions at the port. (b) A carrier issuing bill of lading for carriage of goods on vessel which he neither owns nor operates.


Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier. Cargo consolidator of small shipments in ocean trade into containers at the port.

O.B.L. (Ocean Bill of Lading or Original Bill of Lading)

Document that indicates that the exporter will consign a shipment to an international carrier for transportation to a specified foreign market and defines the terms of the contract of carriage. It serves as a collection document. If it is a straight B/L, the foreign buyer can obtain the shipment from the carrier by simply showing proof of identity. If a negotiable B/L is used, the buyer must first pay for the goods, post a bond, surrender the original B/L, or meet other conditions agreed upon by the seller.


Outward bound. Direction of vessel or cargo going out from port of loading or point/place of receipt.

Overheight Cargo

Cargoes which exceed 9-1/2 ft. in height. They have to be stowed normally in an open-top container.

Packing List

A document provided by the shipper detailing the packaging of the goods, including their weight and measurement, and assortment, etc.

Packing List

Itemized list of commodities with marks/numbers but no cost values indicated.


A platform (usually two-deck), with or without sides, on which a number of packages or pieces may be loaded to facilitate handling by a lift-truck.


A flat metal or wood bottom for cargo.

PAPS (Pre-Arrival Processing System)

An electronic system that allows U.S. Customs to review and pre-release shipments for import into the U.S.

PARS/INPARS (Pre-Arrival Review System)

Available both at the border and inland (INPARS). An electronic system that allows CCRA to review and pre-release shipments for import into Canada.


A party named as the beneficiary of funds. Under letters of credit, the payee is either the drawer of the draft or a bank.


A party responsible for the payment as evidenced by the given instrument. Under letters of credit, the payer is the party on whom the draft is drawn, usually the drawee bank.

PIP (Partners in Protection)

A CCRA initiative designed to enlist the cooperation of private industry in efforts to enhance border security and increase awareness of customs compliance issues.

Port of Entry

At this port foreign goods are admitted into the receiving country. The Customs authority designated this point where goods are examined and go through clearance.

Power of Attorney

A method a company uses to assign authority to another company or person to perform a certain function on the behalf of the first company.