Terms and Abbreviations

As with most industries, shipping, including importing and exporting, has a language all its own. This guide to our terms and abbreviations should get you started.


A person authorised to transact business for and in the name of another person or company.


Bill of Lading – acts as a receipt for the cargo and contains the terms of the contract of carriage and is a document of title to the goods.

Bonded warehouse

A place of security approved by the custom authorities for the deposit, keeping and securing of goods liable to excise duty, without payment of this duty.


A colloquial name for a shipping container.

Break bulk

Goods shipped loose in the vessel’s hold and not in containers.


Customs Authority Number. It’s the number given by customs upon the clearance of export goods.


Refers to the intra-city haulage of goods on trucks.

Certificate of Origin

A document certifying the country of origin of goods which is normally issued or signed by a Chamber of Commerce or Embassy.

Commercial invoice

Represents a complete record of a transaction between exporter and importer about the goods sold. Also reports the content of the shipment and serves as the basis for all other documents about the shipment.


Customs Register Number – the number allocated by customs to an export, agent or freight forwarder for use when exporting goods on the same shipment from more than one shipper.

Cut-off date

The last date for which goods can be accepted for a nominated vessel’s sailing.

Consignee (CNEE)

The party to whom a consignment is dispatched, having legal title to the goods.

Consignor (CNOR)

The sender of the goods.

Consignment note

A document that describes a consignment moving from one point to another, also known as ‘advice’, or ‘dispatch note’, or ‘con note’.


A charge raised for detaining cargo, containers or trailers for a longer period than provided for in the tariff.


Electronic Delivery Order – a document given to the party surrendering the original Bill of Lading, authorising them to take delivery of the goods.


Is a particular percentage (depending on commodity) of the FOB value, which is paid to the government. The FOB value is the cost of the goods, plus any other charges to get those goods onto a vessel.


Estimated Time of Arrival – indicates the estimation of the date/hour, the carrier believes the cargo, vessel or container will arrive at a nominated point/port.


Estimated Time of Departure – see above.


Freight All Kinds – refers to full container loads of mixed shipments for different consignees.


Full Container Load – an arrangement whereby the shipper uses all the space in a container which is packed by them.


Full container shipments from multiple suppliers for one consignee.


The amount of money payable for the carriage of goods. Sometimes erroneously used to describe the goods, which are more correctly described as ‘cargo’ in marine transportation.


General Purpose – a closed steel container for the carriage of all types of general, non-hazardous cargo. GP is available in 20ft and 40ft.


Is a container which is slightly (bigger) higher than a General Purpose container. Available in both 20ft and 40ft.

House Bill of Lading

Issued by a freight forwarder or consolidator covering a single shipment containing the names, addresses and specific description of the goods shipped.


A list of standard terms stated by the ICC for all foreign trade contracts, which lists the respective responsibilities of the buyer and seller.


Letter of Credit – a document in which the terms of documentary credit transactions are set out.


Less than Container Load – when a parcel is too small to fill a container, it is grouped by the carrier at a CFS depot with other compatible cargo, bound for the same destination.


List of goods or passengers on a vessel/aircraft.

Notify Party

The party to whom the cargo arrival notice is sent.

Packing List

Document required by the buyer and customs, indicating content being shipped, or contents of each package.


Place of Discharge – the place where the goods are discharged and carriers liability ends. It can also mean Proof of Delivery – a signed receipt acknowledging delivery.


Pre Receival-Advice – the electronic lodgment to the wharf for notification of a container coming in for export.


A refrigerated container.


The person who tenders the goods for carriage. Not to be confused with the party issuing the bill of lading or the vessel operator, who is the carrier.


Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit – i.e., 1 x 20ft = 1 TEU, 1 x 40ft = 2 TEU.


When cargo is discharged from one ship and loaded onto another to reach a port of no direct service or as a cheaper alternative to the direct service.

A bill of lading that acts as receipt for the goods and evidence of the contract for carriage. A waybill is a bill of lading that is not a document and can be
defined as:
  • a receipt for goods;
  • is evidence of the contract; or
  • is a non-negotiable document.

Under a waybill, delivery will be affected to a nominated consignee upon proof of identity. As a title, it presents a personal contract between the shipper and the carrier only. There is at present, no mandatory law or convention and the parties have absolute freedom of contract.