Freight Glossary

Find definitions to over 300 freight industry words and acronyms.


A natural event beyond human control which may result in the damage of property or loss of life, such as flooding, earthquake, lightning, etc.

American Bureau of Shipping. US based classification society for merchant ships and marine systems.

Please refer Agency Fee.

Please refer Amendment.

Meaning ‘according to value’, it is the chargeable tax based on the value of goods or property.

Sometimes referred to as an Attendance Fee, the Agency Fee represents freight related charges while the ship is at port.

Short for Freight Agent, it is a person, company or business that acts for or represents another with authority to direct the transport of goods and submit associated paperwork.

Varieties of coal blended together.

American Institute of Merchant Shipping.

An amendment or addendum, is an additional requirement or modification made to a document (i.e. a Booking Confirmation), following publication or printing.

Arrival Notification Form abbreviation, advising consignees of goods that are due to arrive soon.

Association of Ships’ Agents & Brokers.

Association of Shipping Lines.

International customs documentation granting temporary importation of goods without payment of otherwise applicable duties and taxes.

Approved Transitional Facilities – Containment areas or warehouses approved by New Zealand MPI to hold and manage imported goods that are considered a biosecurity risk or hazard, such as plant materials, used machinery, sea containers, etc.

An international convention governing the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea including liability.


Bunker Adjustment Factor. Floating sea freight charges accounting for oil price fluctuations.

Also called a breakbulk, bagged cargo refers to various commodities that are commonly packed in sacks or bags, such as grain, sugar, cement, etc.

A series of bars and spaced which represent data relating to an object, product or freight consignment.

A hired or chartered vessel agreement which excludes running expenses (ie crew and provisions).

A flat-bottom boat commonly used to transport cargo and goods across rivers, canals or other protected waterways.

A measurement of petroleum output, B/D or BPD refers to the number of barrels produced per day (barrels per day).

Also referred to as breadth, the beam is the width of a vessel at its widest point.

Allotted wharf docking area for a vessel.

The Bill of Lading is a legal document and receipt cataloguing goods for shipment and carriage contract terms.

Baltic and International Maritime Council.

Abbreviation for Bill Of Lading. Please refer Bill Of Lading.

Also referred to as Freight Ton, B/L Ton is the greater measurement or weight of cargo where one tonne is either 1,000 kg or one cubic metre.

Also referred to as a Booking Request, a booking is a schedule order made in advance to transport goods and cargo.

Document confirming freight is reserved for shipment at appointed place and date.

Also referred to as BOP, B/P is an acronym for balance of payments.

Also referred to as Freight Ton, B/L Ton is the greater measurement or weight of cargo where one tonne is either 1,000 kg or one cubic metre.

Cargo that is not shipped in shipping containers.

A general or multipurpose cargo ship which typically carries freight of various or non-uniform sizes.

The front end of a ship.

Cargo commodities transported in loose, unpacked or large quantities and stored in the hull of a vessel (or cargo hold), such as gravel, grain ore or oils.

Also referred to as bulk freighter or bulker, a bulk carrier is a ship specifically designed to transport bulk commodity cargoes such as coal, cement, diesel, etc. Such goods are stored in the vessel’s cargo hold.

A wall within the hull of a ship used to partition compartments for functional, safety and structural purposes.

Please refer BAF.


Passengers or goods transported between two points by sea or air within the same country.

New Zealand slang for shipping containers.

When a vessel has turned on its side or is positioned upside-down (bottom up).

Goods and merchandise stowed on a ship, truck, train, aircraft or other vehicle for transport.

Facility or warehouse loading dock, where vehicles are loaded/unloaded.

The area within an aircraft or ship assigned to storing cargo.

A transport document finalised at departure, listing all cargo (including quantities and descriptions), crew and passengers on board, for destination port authorities including customs.

The process of loading shipping containers and pallets with goods in preparation for transport and storage.

Vessel loading plan, based on commodity types, quantities, weights, scheduled unloading ports and other key considerations to ensure the ship is seaworthy, efficiently loaded, and ready for departure on time.

A portion of a nation’s imports and exports reserved to national-flag ships.

Also referred to as a freighter, a cargo ship is any vessel that primarily carries cargo.

New Zealand legislation governing the transport of goods (responsibilities and liabilities) and covered under Champion Freight’s terms of service (section 19.2).

1. Carriers are transport companies that move cargo by land, sea or air.
2. Vessel types, ie bulk carrier.

A document specifying cargo particulars, issued by the carrier and presented to customs authorities.

Container Weight Declaration. Subject to country, federal or state legislation, a CWD may be required in order to transport international sea freight containers by road or rail.

Abbreviation for Customs Electronic Delivery Order, a CEDO is a Customs export entry which must be completed, submitted and approved by Customs prior to cargo export and loading to vessel.

When a shipping line urgently requests CEDO documentation and Customs approval prior to cargo loading for export.

A slot aboard a cellular vessel used to secure containerised freight.

Please refer Container Ship.

Used in foreign trade, a certificate of origin documents the country in which goods were manufactured, produced, or processed amongst other important shipment details including destination, commodity, etc.

Cost and Freight – terms of sale quoting the cost of goods and delivery.

Container Freight Station. Also referred to as a container terminal or container yard, the CFS is the designated port location assigned to the storage, loading and unloading of containerised freight to and from vessels.

The leasing of a vessel and/or crew for a voyage.

The person or party who charters a ship.

Legal agreement specifying contact terms relating to the hiring of a charter vessel for a particular voyage or defined period of time.

Trade tariffs applied for chartering tonnage.

A transport ship specially designed to carry chemicals in bulk.

Cost, Insurance, Freight – terms of sale quoting the cost of goods, transport insurance and delivery.

An oil tanker which has removed all traces of crude and heavy fuel oils from cargo areas which can remain following transportation and delivery.

Centimetres. 1cm = 0.39370078740157477in.

Compagnie Maritime d’Affretement, Compagnie Generale Maritime (shipping line).

Additionally referred to as coastwise, a coastal service is a domestic shipping route that follows a single coast.

The regulation of shipping traffic in terms of shipment quantities between two foreign countries – 20% for owners of the country which is neither the origin nor the destination, 40% for owners of the country of destination and 40% for owners of the country of origin, as drafted under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act – United States legislation governing the rights and responsibilities between shippers and owners for all US sea freight imports and exports.

A ship used for the transportation of coal.

Used in international trade, a commercial invoice is used for customs declaration purposes detailing the value of goods.

A commodity is a specification of products and goods, such as food, machinery, oil, etc

Intersection of multiple transit routes.

The consignee is a person or party who is considered to be the owner or purchaser of a consignment.

The consignor is the person or party sending a consignment.

The merging and optimisation of freight consignments into one shipment to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Required by some foreign countries, the consular invoice is a document used in international trade to certify a shipment of goods and details relative cargo particulars including commodity, consignee, consignor, etc.

A container, or shipping container, is a steel rectangular box or collapsible platform typically measuring 10ft, 20ft and 40ft in length. They are used for storage and modular transportation by road, rail and sea.

When a shipping line urgently requests container numbers for shipments that are yet to be gated in for loading. Such information is used by the shipping line to finalise cargo manifests and loading placement/order.

Also known as a ship-to-shore crane, or container handling gantry crane, the container crane is a specially designed dockside gantry crane used to load and unload shipping containers to and from vessels.

Also referred to as containerised cargo, containerised freight are goods packed into standardised shipping containers measuring 20ft and 40ft in length, ready for shipment and transportation.

Containerised freight terminal handling and storage fee.

Additionally referred to as a cellular vessel, a container ship is a type of freighter or cargo ship designed to transport containerised freight.

List of goods and how they are stowed within a shipping container.

Please refer CFS.

Please refer CFS.

The transport of freight from one location to another or the means by which cargo is transported (ie vehicle).

The physical delivery of inbound cargo for immediate outbound transport, with an aim to eliminate or minimise storage time and costs.

Measured in cubic metres and feet, the cubic capacity is the cargo carrying capacity of a ship, or shipping container.

A fee which accounts for fluctuations in international currency exchange rates.

An individual or company who is licensed by the government to submit and clear goods or merchandise through customs.

The act of passing imported or exported goods through customs, subject to documentation and physical inspection approval (where applicable), permitting cargo to enter or leave the country.

A cut and run can refer to the late arrival of a vessel at port, requiring the ship to depart prematurely without loading all reserved cargo and shipping containers in order to maintain sailing schedule. Original use of the term related to the hasty departure of a vessel requiring the ship’s anchor cable to be cut in order to make sail at once.


Also referred to as hazardous material, dangerous goods are potentially harmful substances such as petroleum, acid, radioactive material, explosives, biohazardous medical waste, etc that pose a high or unreasonable risk to the health and safety of people, property, flora and fauna.

Deliver Duty Paid.

Deliver Duty Unpaid.

Horizontal ship platform.

The transport of goods to final destination.

Abbreviated DO, the Delivery Order grants the consignee title of goods following payment for services received.

Also referred to as a detention charge, demurrage is a penalty fee relating to the late detention of a ship or freight transportation vehicle, during loading or unloading, beyond allowable specified timeframes (Free Time).

The name place in which a journey or consignment is intended to end.

Please refer Demurrage.

To unload or unpack goods from a shipping container.

Additionally referred to as the DIM weight, volume weight, cubed weight and measurement weight, the dimensional weight is a method of calculating freight transportation fees with consideration to cargo height, width and length.

Cargo pickup and delivery to final specified address location.

Please refer Draught.

The vertical distances between the waterline and a ship or boat’s lowest point underwater.

Government tax or duty rebate applied to imported goods which are subsequently exported.

A dock at port which can be flooded or drained of water to allow vessels to enter or exit, and rest on a dry platform for hull repairs and maintenance.

10ft, 20ft to 40ft shipping containers used to stow general cargo commodities (non-refrigerated).

An abbreviation for Destination Terminal Handling Charges.

A tax or tariff imposed on imports by local customs authorities.


Electronic Data Interchange – used in the transfer of data between different computer networks and systems.

Official ban or restriction of trade or commercial activity to a country.

Estimated Time of Arrival.

Estimated Time of Departure.

Terms of trade which places greater responsibility on the buyer, allowing goods to be picked up (without loading) at the seller’s place of business, warehouse, depot, etc.

Tax imposed on exported goods.

The shipment of goods to another country.


Freight All Kinds or Freight Of All Kinds is a shipping classification term, which refers to a consolidated full container load shipment consisting of mixed goods.

Free Alongside Ship or Free Along Side. Transport quote which includes physical delivery of goods to port alongside a vessel.

Meaning Free Carrier, the FCA is a named place of cargo delivery which may be an airport, container freight station, terminal, etc.

Full Container Load. A shipping container carrying one consignment of goods, commonly filled or near space or weight capacity.

A port fendering system is designed to facilitate safe mooring of vessels, acting as a shock absorber to protect both the wharf and ship from damage during berthing.

An open platform trailer without sides for the transport of heavy or oversized cargo and containerised freight.

Shipping containers especially designed without sides or top, for the transport of oversized cargo which is too large to fit inside standard sea freight containers.

Free On Board. Terms of trade defining seller’s and buyer’s transport responsibilities (including costs and liabilities) to port and loading.

1ft = 0.3048m.

Free On Rail. Charge exclusion for the transport and loading of goods to rail at a designated point.

Specified timeframe allowing freight to be loaded or unloaded before demurrage and detention fees commence and accrue.

Government economic policy which reduces or eliminates import & export tariffs.

The transport of goods and merchandise by train, truck, plane and ship.

Additionally referred to as a forwarder, forwarding agent or third party logistics provider (3PL), a freight forwarder is a business that specialises in the shipping and storage of goods on behalf of a shipper. Other common freight forwarding services include cargo tracking, containerised freight packing and devanning, insurance, customs clearances, etc. For more information please see what is a freight forwarder and why do I need one?

A cargo ship or plane designed to carry freight.


Positioned on rails for parallel manoeuvring alongside vessels, a gantry crane is a large port crane commonly used to load and unload containerised freight from cargo ships.

The primary entry point (seaport or airport) to a country, territory or region.

General Order. A Customs mandate for imported goods and merchandise which remains uncleared.

General Purpose. A common type of shipping container designed to stow nonspecific goods and merchandise.

1g = 0.035274oz.

The consolidation of smaller freight consignments into one single shipment.

Goods and Services Tax

Gross Vehicle Weight. The total weight of a vehicle and its load including trailers, cargo, fuel, driver, passengers, etc.


Specialised shipping container designed to stow clothing on hangers.

The transport of goods by road in a truck.

To transport freight by road in a truck.

House Airwaybill.

Please refer Dangerous Goods.

Abbreviation for Hazardous Material. Please refer Dangerous Goods.

An acronym for High Cube. Please see High Cube.

A shipping container which exceeds 8 foot 6 inches or 2.6213 metres in height.

Compression of a cotton bale to approximately 32 pounds (14.5 kgs) per cubic foot.

The merging of two or more consignments from different originating geographical locations under one shipment and bill of lading for joint delivery.

Also referred to as a cargo hold, it is the section within a ship or aircraft designed to stow cargo.

Please refer Bill Of Lading.

Additionally referred to as a hostler or yard hustler, a hustler is a tractor which is used to move shipping containers within a CFS or port.


Importing Countries Phytosanitary Requirements.

Additionally referred to as an import permit, an import licence is a government document required in some countries authorising the importation of goods and merchandise.

Additionally referred to as import controls, import restrictions are any method employed by a country to limited the import of goods and merchandise such as quota, tariff, etc.

A term used in customs law, the importer of record (IOR) is an individual or entity who is responsible for the import of goods in accordance with all local laws.

The shipment of goods into a country from abroad.

An import delivery or shipment.

1in = 2.54cm.

Incoterms or International Commerce Terms are a standardisation of international trade terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce and accepted by legal authorises, governments, and agencies all over the world. They are primarily used for the authoritative and uniformed interpretation of common international trade terms to define costs and liabilities between parities.

Please see Incoterms Explained for more information.

A transport company that hauls freight inland from port.

Specified terms of compensation should goods be damaged, lost, destroyed or adversely delayed in transit.

Official insurance document issued by an insurance company to the consignee, assuring freight is covered for loss and damage whilst in transit.

A transport company which has hauling fleets across two or more modes of transportation, such as air and ground fleets.

The hauling of goods and merchandise by two or more different modes of transport.

A comprehensive stock list.

A bill summarising goods and services purchased and associated costs due.

Abbreviation for importer of record. Please see importer of record.

The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. Minimum security measures and responsibilities governing international trade ports and agencies to ensure security threats are identified and prevented.


Just-in-time. A method of inventory control designed to increase efficiency, decrease waste and warehousing costs, by receiving goods and merchandise JIT – as they are required.


Abbreviation for kilogram. 1,000 grams = 1kg, or 2.20462lbs.

Also referred to as a kingbolt, a king pin is a vertical bot which securely connects the body of a vehicle (such as a tractor) to a trailer.

Kilometre. 1km = 0mi 1093.6yd.

Shipment loss discovered at the time of delivery.


Burdened, carried or loaded (usually heavily).

Refers to freight transported by road or rail.

To secure or fasten cargo with rope, cord or wire.

Please refer pounds.

Abbreviation for Letter of Credit. Please refer Letter of Credit.

Less Than Container Load. Consolidated containerised sea freight.

Long Ton. 1lt = 2,239.9999999978495lbs.

Lower Deck Type 3 freight container commonly used in passenger planes.

An official bank document authorising freight payment (in credit) if specified terms and conditions are fulfilled.

The transport of cargo between two major long distance ports or cities.

A plane or ship owned and operated by an airline or shipping line.

1 litre = 0.2641724155846 gallons.

Length Overall. Total length of a ship’s hull.

End to end transport management, from origin to final destination.

An abbreviation for Lift-On/Lift-Off, LOLO ships are equipped with onboard cranes designed to load and unload cargo (including shipping containers).

The deck or compartment below the main deck, within the hull of the ship or vessel.

Sawed timber prepared for use and market.


Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (New Zealand). MAF is now a part of the MPI.

Running the full length of a large ship, the main deck is the uppermost platform immediately above the hull.

Please refer Cargo Manifest.

Issued by an Insurance Company, Marine Cargo Insurance is a guarantee of compensation for goods should they be lost, damaged or adversely delayed while at sea, subject to specified criteria, terms and conditions.

Numbers identifying a package or sea container.

Master Airway Bill.

1m = 39.36in, or 3.28ft.

1mi = 1.609344km.

A shipment of goods and merchandise consisting of two or more commodities and charged separate tariff rates.

Metric Ton. 1mt = 1t, or 1,000 kgs.

Mediterranean Shipping Company (shipping line).


In shipping, navigation is the act of planning or plotting of a vessel’s route including chart, tidal, current, weather, and draught considerations.

Not Otherwise Enumerated.

Not Otherwise Indexed By Name.

Not Otherwise Stated.

Appearing on the bill of lading or waybill, the notify party is the person or company who is to be notified when freight arrives at destination.

No Value Declared.


Refer sea freight.

Cargo loaded aboard a train, ship, vehicle, or aircraft.

Cargo that is stowed on the deck of a ship.

Schedule adherence success rate.

A shipping container with a removable top or canopy for overhead loading and unloading.

The process and duration of an order, from placement to receipt of goods.

Additionally referred to as ‘place of origin’, the origin is a shipment’s commencement location (i.e. specific address, port, city or country).

1oz = 28.3495g.

Cargo that does not match standard dimensions.

An export of goods.

Hired third-party service provider.

Cargo transported by road or rail.

Charges exceeding published and agreed rates.

1. Large cargo which exceeds standard dimensions and may require specialised equipment for transport, loading and unloading.

2. A laden road vehicle that exceeds regular maximum width, height or length limits which may require special government permits, licensing, signage (ie marked ‘oversize’) and escort pilot vehicle in order to transport.


Can refer to the loading of goods inside a shipping container.

Itemised list of packages documenting commodity, quantity, weights and measurements.

A square portable wooden platform used in the transport and storage of goods, and easily maneuvered into position using a forklift.

Freight that has been loaded and packed onto pallets for transport.

An inclined plane which allows sea vessels to be hauled from the water onto a wooden cradle to facilitate external dry hull access for repairs and maintenance.

Abbreviation for a Phytosanitary Certificate. Please refer Phytosanitary Certificate.

A government document used for the import of plant materials verifying the absents of pests and disease following heat treatment.

Additionally referred to as a wharf or quay, a pier is a platform which extends from land out over water and is commonly used for docking vessels or recreational activities such as handline fishing.

Pacific International Lines (shipping line).

Cargo theft.

Proof Of Delivery. Document receipt of cargo received requiring signature authentication.

1. The side of a ship to the left of the bow.
2. A town or city where ships dock for loading and unloading.

Cargo delivery from port of origin to port of destination.

1lbs = 0.453592kgs.

The domestic and international transportation of freight that is heavy, large, out of gauge, high value or significant (in terms of importance to the project they are intended for). Project freight can present a number of logistical challenges that are often unique or specific to the transport item, requiring specialised equipment or machinery to move, load, government permits and licencing, etc.

A business or person who supplies food and beverages to ships.


Process and planning which aims to produce and sell manufactured goods of a high standard.

Please refer Pier.


Refers to freight transported by railway.

Receival and Delivery. Cargo received or delivered out of port.

A deduction or partial refund to a chargeable amount.

Please refer refrigerated container.

Available in 20ft and 40ft length measurements, a refrigerated container (or reefer), is a cooled shipping container used in the transport of perishable or temperature sensitive goods such as meat, fish, milk, etc.

Ships designed to load, stow and discharge cargo on wheels, such as vehicles

When a shipment is delayed and moved to an alternative vessel for shipping.

The planned course from origin to destination a ship, vehicle, train or aircraft journeys.


A trade embargo or restriction imposed following political opposition between two or more countries.

A shipping schedule, or schedule, is a planned list or order of ships, their port of call, departure dates, etc.

Abbreviation for sea damage.

The transportation of cargo by sea. Additionally referred to as ocean freight. See Sea Freight 101 for more information.

A consignment of goods shipped.

A person or company that transports freight by land, air or sea.

A person or company who prepares documents, insurance and other shipping related services

Rectangular in shape, a shipping container is a steel container commonly measuring 10ft, 20ft and 40ft in length. They are primarily designed for the modular transport and storage of goods.

Please refer carriers.

Freight identification symbols, letters or numbers.

The total gross weight of a shipment.

Shipper’s Letter of Instruction. A form used by the shipper to authorise a carrier to issue shipping documents (i.e. bill of lading) on their behalf.

The side of a ship to the right of the bow.

The back end of a vessel.

To store goods or packages.

The act of loading freight into a shipping container.

The end to end logistical management of products, from raw materials and manufacture to final consumer.

Additional fees and charges.


The Air Cargo Tariff.

The weight of an empty shipping container.

Marked ‘Tax Invoice’ it is a receipt of payment which includes taxation values such as GST or VAT.

Abbreviation for Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, the TEU is an international measure of cargo capacity aboard a ship.

Sometimes abbreviated 3PL or TPL, a third-party logistics provider is an outsourced business providing freight services such as transport, warehousing, cargo packing, etc.

An abbreviation for Telegraphic Transfer.

Transit Time.

The duration of a ship at port, from arrival to departure.


Unit Load Device. A type of container or aircraft pallet.


The loading of cargo into a shipping container.

A person or company who supplies and sells goods.


The storage of goods within a warehouse facility.

Documenting shipment details and instructions, a waybill is a common freight document used in the transport of goods.

Please refer Pier.

Fees and charges relating to the use of port facilities including the loading, unloading and handling of cargo.


Dry. Containing little to no moisture.


1yd = 0.91440m.

Year To Date.


Marked and divided into zones.