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Act of God
An act beyond human control, such as lightning, flood or earthquake.

Arrival Notice
A notification by carrier of ship's arrival to the consignee, the "Notify Party," and - when applicable - the "Also Notify Party." These parties in interest are listed in blocks 3, 4 and 10, respectively, of the Bill of Lading.


  • Entity to whom money is payable.

  • The entity for whom a letter of credit is issued.

  • The seller and the drawer of a draft.

Bill of Lading (B/L)
A document that establishes the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company. It serves as a document of title, a contract of carriage and a receipt for goods.

CFR or C&F (Cost and Freight)
A Term of Sale where the seller pays the costs and freight necessary to bring the goods to the named port of destination, Terms of Sale but the risk of loss of or damage to the goods, as (continued) well as any additional costs due to events occurring after the time the goods have been delivered on board the vessel, is transferred from the seller to the buyer when the goods pass the ship's rail in the port of shipment. The CFR term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.

CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight)
A Term of Sale where the seller has the same obligations as under the CFR but also has to procure marine insurance against the buyer's risk of loss or damage to the goods during the carriage. The seller contracts for insurance and pays the insurance premium. The CIF term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.

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

Confirmed Letter of Credit
A letter of credit, issued by a foreign bank, whose validity has been confirmed by a domestic bank. An exporter with a confirmed letter of credit is assured of payment even if the foreign buyer or the foreign bank defaults.

Confirming Bank
The bank that adds its confirmation to another bank's (the issuing bank's) letter of credit and promises to pay the beneficiary upon presentation of documents specified in the letter of credit.

A person or company to whom commodities are shipped.

(1) A stock of merchandise advanced to a dealer and located at his place of business, but with title remaining in the source of supply.
(2) A shipment of goods to a consignee.

A person or company shown on the bill of lading as the shipper.

A truck trailer body that can be detached from the chassis for loading into a vessel, a rail car or stacked in a container depot. Containers may be ventilated, insulated, refrigerated, flat rack, vehicle rack, open top, bulk liquid or equipped with interior devices. A container may be 20 feet, 40 feet, 45 feet, 48 feet or 53 feet in length, 8'0" or 8'6" in width, and 8'6" or 9'6" in height.

Correspondent Bank
A bank that, in its own country, handles the business of a foreign bank.

Government agency charged with enforcing the rules passed to protect the country's import and export revenues.

A penalty charge against shippers or consignees for delaying the carrier's equipment beyond the allowed free time. The free time and demurrage charges are set forth in the charter party or freight tariff.

Through transportation of a container and its contents from consignor to consignee. Also known as House to House. Not necessarily a through rate.

Draft, Bank
An order issued by a seller against a purchaser; directs payment, usually through an intermediary bank. Typical bank drafts are negotiable instruments and are similar in many ways to checks on checking accounts in a bank.

Shipment of goods to a foreign country.

FOB (Free On Board)
An International Term of Sale that means the seller fulfills his or her obligation to deliver when the goods have passed over the ship's rail at the named port of shipment. This means that the buyer has to bear all costs and risks to loss of or damage to the goods from that point. The FOB term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.

Freight Forwarder
A person whose business is to act as an agent on behalf of the shipper. A freight forwarder frequently makes the booking reservation.

To receive goods from a foreign country.

Import License
A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods.

An itemized list of goods shipped to a buyer, stating quantities, prices, shipping charges, etc.

Irrevocable Letter of Credit
Letter of credit in which the specified payment is guaranteed by the bank if all terms and conditions are met by the drawee and which cannot be revoked without joint agreement of both the buyer and the seller.

Letter of Credit (LC)
A document, issued by a bank per instructions by a buyer of goods, authorizing the seller to draw a specified sum of money under specified terms, usually the receipt by the bank of certain documents within a given time.

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, etc., but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier.

Pro Forma Invoice
An invoice provided by a supplier prior to the shipment of merchandise, informing the buyer of the kinds and quantities of goods to be sent, their value, and specifications (weight, size, etc.).

An offer to sell goods at a stated price and under stated terms.

A shortening of the term, "Roll On/Roll Off." A method of ocean cargo service using a vessel with ramps which allows wheeled vehicles to be loaded and discharged without cranes.

Roll-on/Roll-off vessels
Ships specially designed to carry wheeled containers or trailers using interior ramps.

The person or company who is usually the supplier or owner of commodities shipped. Also called Consignor. A classification, storage or switching area.