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Freight Terms & Glossary

The multi-billion dollar freight industry has a large variety of terms and abbreviations. Below is a list of a few terms you will often come across in the international world of freight. Once you're clear on the industry lingo, use our convenient form to begin your search and receive up to 5 free quotes from freight companies around the globe!

Accompanied CT: Also known as rolling road, enables the vehicle and its motorist to drive onto a special wagon which is then transported further via rail or ferry.

Air Waybill: A term for the bill of lading in the air freight industry.

Bill of Lading: Serves as a formal contract that announces the parties involved in the transportation of goods (indicates the consignor and consignee). This standard document lists the contents of the shipment, fees, and outlines limits of liability and procedures concerning transfer instructions and claims.

Bulk Cargo: Items that are poured or dropped into the bulk carrier's hold. This can be liquid (oil, petrol) or dry (coal, steel, iron ore, timber, grain, bauxite, alumina and phosphates).

Consignment: Shipment or freight that must be commercial in nature (company-to-company shipments or company-to-individual shipments).

Consignee: The person or company receiving the goods.

Consignor: A shipper (individual or company) who places their goods in the care of another (forwarding agent / freight forwarder or carrier / transport operator) to be delivered to the consignee.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): New technology that uses freight forwarding software to track and trace goods, scan consignments, handle documents online, etc.

First Flight Out (FFO): A term used in the air freight industry implying that your cargo will be placed on the first flight of the day.

Foreign Trade Zones: Also known as Free Trade Zones, this is a duty-free port where goods can be stored and raw materials can even be manufactured. When the shipper is ready, the items can be re-exported. Taxes are paid only later on when the consignment enters another zone where duties and customs must be paid.

Forty-foot Equivalent Unit (FEU): Two TEUs.

Freight Brokers: Similar to freight forwarders except they never take possession of or responsibility for the items being transported.

Freight Forwarder: An individual or company who acts as a middle man, arranging shipments and schedules and taking care of all the documentation needed.

Full Container Loads (FCL): Goods that occupy an entire container.

Gantry Crane: Used to load containers onto ships. They can be moved up, down, or side-to-side.

Independent Cartage Carrier (ICC): Individuals or companies that provide PU&D service.

Indirect Air Carrier (IAC): An air freight forwarder.

Intermodal Transport: Combines air, road, rail, ocean and/or sea transit methods. Containers are loaded from one transport mode to another without disturbing the cargo inside.

International Maritime Organization (IMO): An arm of the United Nations. The shipping industry's principle governing agency that control safety procedures, security measures and environmental regulations.

Interstate: Goods are transferred from one state to another, or from one state out of the country, or passing through another state to move items within that one state.

Intrastate: Aoves within one state.

Just In Time (JIT): Cargo deliveries for manufacturers who need to keep inventories low which in turn saves them valuable warehouse space and money.

Less Than a Container Load (LCL): Items on pallets are combined into one or more containers.

Less Than Truck Load (LTL): Items on pallets are combined into one or more trucks.

Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV): These are vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes.

Manifest: A list of items to be shipped.

Next Flight Out (NFO): A term used in the air freight industry implying that your cargo will be placed on the next flight.

Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC): Third-party logistics providers in the ocean freight industry. Also known as Ocean Transportation Intermediary (OTI).

Pick-up and Deliveries (PU&D): Guarantees that goods will be transported to and from any location such as an air terminal, warehouse door, shipping dock, etc.

Reefer: A controlled-environment container with adjustable levels of humidity, ventilation, gas and temperatures for speciality items like food, plants, artwork, ancient artefacts, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. Some can get as cold as -60 degrees Celsius, while others can maintain very warm interior conditions.

Shipper's Exportation Declaration (SED): A document needed if a shipper is exporting goods worth over $1500 from the United States.

Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU): A container that meets International Organisation for Standardisation's requirements and measures 20 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8.5 feet high.

Unaccompanied Combined Transport (CT): Allows goods to be transferred in intermodal loading units (swap bodies, standard containers or semi-trailers) from one freight transport method to another without disturbing the goods inside.

Unit Loading Devices (ULD): Pallets or containers.

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