This glossary contains commonly used terms for the shipping industry, parcel forwarding and international trade. We hope that this resource helps you navigate the logistics of global eCommerce. For expert help, consider our Checkout Solution and let us take the risk and worry out of international eCommerce.
Advice of Shipment – The notice sent to a local or foreign buyer advising that shipment has gone forward and containing details of packing, routing, etc.
Agent – A person authorized to transact business for and in the name of another person or company.
Air Waybill – The forwarding agreement or carrying agreement between shipper and air carrier and is issued only in nonnegotiable form.
Airbill – Is a receipt issued by an international courier company for goods and an evident of the contract of carriage. It should include the weight, description, value, number of pieces, service level, the international exporter of record, destination, and the dimensions of the package.
Ambient Temperature – The temperature of the surrounding environment. The ambient temperature of a container is the temperature to which it is exposed.
Assignment – A term commonly used in connection with a bill of lading. It involves the transfer of rights, title and interest in order to assign goods by endorsing the bill of lading.
Bill of Lading (BL) – 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.
Bonded Warehouse – A warehouse authorized by Customs authorities for storage of goods on which payment of duties is deferred until the goods are removed.
Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) – The Bureau of Industry and Security is a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce that is concerned with the advancement of U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic interests. The BIS is responsible for regulating the export of sensitive goods and technologies; enforcing export control, anti-boycott, and public safety laws; cooperating with and assisting other countries on export control and strategic trade issues; and assisting U.S. industry to comply with international arms control agreements.
Call Tags – An air bill/waybill that is provided by the carrier upon picking up a return from the end consumer.
Certificate of Origin – A certified document showing the origin of goods; used in international commerce. It is primarily important for classifying the goods in the customs regulations of the importing country, thus defining how much duty shall be paid.
Charge Back – Is when the credit card company withdraws the money for a transaction from a merchant’s account and deposits into a consumers account following a dispute.
Clean Bill of Lading – A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were received in apparent good order and condition, without damage or other irregularities. If no notation or exception is made, the B/L is assumed to be cleaned.
Commerce Export License – A relatively small percentage of total U.S. exports require a license from the BIS. License requirements are dependent on the items technical characteristics, the destination, the end-user, etc.
Commercial Invoice – Is a document used in foreign trade and primarily to calculate tariffs.
Consolidation – The combining or merging of items to be shipped. To learn about how Bongo can consolidate shipments, please refer to our International Shoppers page.
Cubic Foot – 1,728 cubic inches. A volume contained in a space measuring one foot high, one foot wide and one foot long
Customs – A government agency/authority in a country that has the responsibility for preventing and collecting “duties” before they enter the country. Customs is in charge of controlling the flow of goods in and out of a country.
Denied Party Screening – A list of persons whose export privileges are currently denied. These individuals have been found by the U.S. Government to engage in terrorist activities, drug smuggling, and other elicit activities.
Density – The weight of cargo per cubic foot or other unit
Destination – The place to which a shipment is consigned. The place where carrier actually turns over cargo to consignee or his agent.
Dimensional Weight – Dimensional weight is calculated by multiplying the length x width x height. That provides the cubic inches. The cubic inches is then divided by 194 (for domestic shipments) and 139 (for international shipments.) Use FedEx’s Dimensional Weight Calculator
Domestic Shipping – Domestic, as it relates to commerce, means “not foreign, not originating abroad,” and thus domestic goods refer to those which are produced, distributed and sold within a country. Most domestic shipments in the United States are sent via the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Duties and Taxes – Are imposed to generate revenue and protect local industries against foreign competition. The duties and taxes normally must be paid before the goods are released from Customs. A shipments duty and tax amount will be based on the following: product value, trade agreements, country of manufacture, use of the product, and the product’s Harmonized System (HS) Code.
End Consumer – The intended recipient of a package or delivery.
Expedited Shipping – “Expedited shipping,” by definition, is the process of shipping at a faster rate than would normally be customary. Therefore, what is deemed “expedited” will depend on the company policy of the shipper.
Export – A commodity, article, or service sold abroad
Export Administration Regulations (EAR) – The Export Administration Regulations are a set of federal regulations that regulate the export and re- export of most commercial items.
Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) – The ECCN consists of a set of digits and a letter. Items that are not classified under an ECCN are designated “EAR99.” The number used to identify items on the Commerce Control List.
Export Declaration – An Export Declaration is a government document declaring designated goods to be shipped out of the country. To be completed by the exporter and filed with the U.S. Government.
Export License – A government document which permits the Licensee to engage in the export of designated goods to certain destinations
Exporter of Record – This is the “shipper.” They are solely responsible for declaring the correct value of each package for the purpose of excise, duty and tax payments.
False Billing – Misrepresenting freight or weight on shipping documents
Free Port – A restricted area at a seaport for the handling of duty exempted import goods. Also called a Foreign Trade Zone
Freight Forwarder – A person or company whose business is to act as an agent on behalf of the shipper. A freight forwarder frequently makes the booking reservation.
Harmonized System (HS) Code – Harmonized codes or HS codes are the numerical language used for reporting goods to Customs.
Import – A commodity, article, or service brought in from abroad for sale.
In Transit – On its way, en route, or in passage.
International Shipping – International, as it relates to commerce, indicates “foreign and abroad,” and thus refers to goods that are shipped, distributed, and sold outside of a country.
Invoice – An itemized list of goods shipped to a buyer, stating quantities, prices, shipping charges, etc.
In-Wallet, Out of Wallet – This verification process credits or withdraws a small amount from a customer’s account. The customer must then report the exact amount. Example: Paypal
Landed Cost – The total cost of goods to a buyer, including the cost of shipping, duties, and taxes.
Logistics – The detailed coordination of a complex operation, many people, facilities, or supplies. This is generally done through a shipping company like FedEx.
NAFTA – NAFTA is a treaty between Canada, Mexico, and the United States that was designed to foster greater trade between the 3 countries.
Packing List – Itemized list of what is contained in a shipment. This list does not contain prices.
Passive Screening – This process manually reviews every customer registration to see if there any inconsistencies with their registration
Point of Origin – The place at which a shipment is received by a carrier from the shipper
Prohibited – These are items that are not permitted to be imported or exported under any circumstances. See prohibited items per country.
Restricted – These are items that are permitted with specific paperwork and/or classifications. See restricted items per country.
Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) – An RMA is a numbered authorization provided by a retail merchant to permit the return of a product.
Sanction – An embargo imposed by a Government against another country.
Schedule B – The 10-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code used by the U.S. to define products. Every item that is exported is assigned a unique 10-digit identification code. Every 10-digit item is part of a series of progressively broader product categories.
Shippers Export Declaration (SED or form 7525-V) - The SED must be filled out for any shipment valued at $2,500 or above.
Tariff – A tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports and exports.
Third Party Logistics (3PL) – A company that provides logistics services to other companies for some or all of their logistics needs. It typically includes warehousing and transportation services. Most 3PL’s also have freight forwarding licenses.
Tracking – Knowledge of where the package is located at all times
Transport – To move items from one place to another.
Unclaimed Freight – Freight that has not been called for or picked up by the consignee or owner.
Validated Export License – A document issued by the U.S. government; authorizes the export of commodities for which written authorization is required by law.
Value Added Taxes (VAT) – A VAT is a general consumption tax assessed on the value added to goods and services.
Vendor – A person or company offering something for sale.
Warehousing – The storing of goods/cargo.