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Understanding Shipping Terminology

With most things in life, the Devil is always in the detail – and when agreeing terms with your relocation provider, it pays to thoroughly read and understand the terms and conditions so you know the exact scope of service you’ll receive – and avoid the dreaded last minute surprise costs!

The shipping industry is a complex beast and uses more abbreviations and technical terms than most. For all those looking to really understand exactly what these abbreviations stand for, here is a useful list of the most commonly used.

Bill of Lading: A document that establishes the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company under which freight is to be moved between specified points for a specified charge. Usually prepared by the shipper on forms issued by the carrier, it serves as a document of title, contract of carriage, and a receipt for goods. Also see Air Waybill and Ocean Bill of Lading

CFS charge (Container Freight Station): The term CFS at loading port means the location designated by carriers for the receiving of cargo to be packed into containers by the carrier. At discharge ports, the term CFS means the bonded location designated by carriers in the port area for unpacking and delivery of cargo.

CIA: The acronym meaning "cash in advance," a method of payment for goods whereby buyer pays seller in advance of shipment of goods.

Demurrage: A penalty for exceeding free time allowed for loading or unloading at a pier or freight terminal. Also a charge for undue detention of transportation equipment or carriers in port while loading or unloading.

DTHC: Destination Terminal Handling Charge

F.C.L: Full container load

Gross Weight: Entire weight of goods, packing, and container,, ready for shipment.

L.C.L: Less than container load

Manifest: A list of the goods being transported by a carrier.

NVOCC: Non Vessel Owning Common Carrier. NVOCC operation comprises of sales, stuffing and transport of the containers to gateway ports.

Port of Entry: A port at which foreign goods are re-admitted into the receiving country.

RORO (ROLL ON-ROLL OFF): Direct drive on/drive off wheeled vehicles on specially-designed ocean-going vessels.

Shuttling: Delivery of effects via small truck when access is impossible for container

Wharfage: A charge assessed by a pier or dock owner against the cargo or a steamship company for use of the pier or dock.

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