Fees and/or surcharges that go beyond the dock-to-dock transportation fee. Accessorials can be predictable, fuel charge is one or unpredictable, emergency surcharge (like during Covid).

ACE – Automated Commercial Environment

The system through which the trade community reports imports and exports and the government determines admissibility.

Ad Valorem

An import duty based on the value of the cargo that is being transported.

Additional Handling

An accessorial for oversized or heavy parcels. This type of surcharge is zone based.

Air Waybill (AWB)

A non-negotiable document that accompanies goods shipped by an international air courier. It is a means of receipt. It provides detailed information about the shipment and can be used to track its progress.

Automated Export System

Used by the U.S. government for calculating trade statistics and ensuring exporters adhere to local trade regulations.

Actual Weight/Actual Gross Weight

The Actual Weight is entered by the shipper, the Actual Gross Weight is the weight of the package when shipped and weighed by the carrier

Aggregation (shipment aggregation)

Allows customers to pay one base charge per invoice instead of one base charge per package. To utilize this feature, withhold payment until all the packages are available to check out.

Air Freight

Air cargo is used by global importers and exporters when they need to get goods somewhere quickly and reliably. Faster than ocean freight which is how an overall majority of shipping is done, air freight offers International Air Freight for larger shipments and Express Air Freight for smaller parcels usually handled by FedEx, UPS or DHL.

AMS – Automated Manifest System

The system used by US customs for submitting documents required to process shipments coming into the US from abroad. This system requires carriers to submit precise details of cargo arriving at US ports and airports. In most cases, this is completed by the freight forwarder.

Ancillary Fees

Extra fees for shipments requiring special clearance to enter a country. This fee may differ depending on additional processing required by local customs agents.

AES – Automated Export System

The system U.S. exporters use to electronically declare their international exports, known as Electronic Export Information (EEI), to the Census Bureau to help compile U.S. export and trade statistics.

Apparent Good Order

A request from the shipper to the buyer to acknowledge that the shipment arrived in good condition and order.

Arrival Notice

Like it sounds, a notice from the carrier that the shipment has arrived and will arrive at the specified location by a certain date.

Audit Trail

Manual or computerized tracing of the transactions affecting the contents or origin of a record. It is strongly recommended to maintain an audit trail documenting compliance check-ups to demonstrate due diligence in case an audit occurs. It may also help prevent fines in case of export compliance infringement.

Authorized Shipping Outlet

Independent shipping provider. Similar to a retail location where you can drop off packages to be picked up by UPS or FedEx.


Balloon Freight

This includes any freight that is light but takes up a lot of space.

BCO – Beneficial Cargo Owner

An importer that takes control of a shipment at the destination using their own logistics assets instead of utilizing a third-party source like a freight forwarder.

Bill of Lading

A legal document that details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried in a shipment.

Billable Weight

A pricing technique used by carriers to calculate shipping rates. The Billable weight is the greater of dimensional weight or actual weight.

Blind Shipping

A shipment sent directly from the supplier to the customer hiding the name of the supplier.

Bonded Goods/Warehouse

Bonded Goods are imported shipments on which customs charges, including duties, taxes, and any penalties are still owing. Bonded goods are kept in an area of a warehouse controlled by customs authorities, called a bonded warehouse. When the bonded warehouse is managed by a third party, as in the US, importers are required to pay a customs bond in advance of import.

Broker/Shipping Broker

Acts as an agent for the exporter or importer. handles customs clearance, navigates delays and any shipping issues.

Bureau of Industry Security

An agency of the United States Department of Commerce that deals with issues involving national security and high technology in shipping.

Bulk Cargo

Loosely-shipped cargo not stored in containers for example oil, grain or coal.



Goods or produce being transported from one place to another – by water, air or land.

Cargo Declaration

Information submitted prior to or on arrival or departure of a means of transport for commercial use that provides the particulars required by the local customs authority.

Cargo Insurance

Purchased to protect against damages, loss or theft in transit.

Cargo Manifest

Provides the commercial details of items in a package, such as: package type and quantity, transport documents, and description.


Refers to the vehicle, vessel or aircraft transporting products.

COD – Cash on Delivery

Payment for a shipment made upon delivery.

Customs and Border Protection

United States Customs and Border Protection is the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, and is the country’s primary border control organization. Is responsible for controlling the flow of people and products in and out of the U.S. as well as enforcing import and export regulations.

Certificate of Free Sale

Document indicating that a product is eligible to be sold within the U.S. or confirms to export standards. Generally relates to highly regulated items like medicines or medical devices that need FDA approval.

Certificate of Origin (CoO)

Evidence that the goods in a shipment were produced, manufactured, or processed in a particular country.

Certificate of Inspection

Indicates that a product is in adequate condition prior to shipment.


A legal demand by a shipper or consignee against a carrier for loss or damage to a shipment.

Commercial Invoice

Serves as a proof of sale and includes vital information like description of goods, information on buyer and seller, the value of the shipment and information where it is being delivered to.

Concealed loss/Concealed Damage

Damaged or missing goods that fail to be noticed upon delivery.


Container with strength suitable to withstand shipment, storage, and handling, typically 20,000 LBS and above.


Exporter of record on a shipment. Can be an agent, factory or warehouse.


Importer of record on a shipment. Can be buyer of goods or agent to the buyer of goods.


Government agency responsible for collecting duty fees and enforcing import and export regulations.

Customs Bond

Issued to insure payment of all duties and fees to customs authority, aids in speeding up import process.

Customs Broker

Licensed logistics expert responsible for making sure all customs requirements, paperwork, regulations and fees are taken care of.

Custom Clearance Fee

Covers the cost of preparing documents to clear a shipment through customs.

Customs Value

Total invoice amount of international shipments.

Cutoff Time

Latest time cargo may be delivered to a terminal for loading.



Dangerous and Hazardous declaration that cargo is dangerous or hazardous

Dangerous Goods Declaration

Document providing information regarding dangerous and hazardous goods such as: corrosive, flammable, poisonous, toxic, or explosive.

Delivery Fee

Fee for delivery from a warehouse at the port of entry to your requested delivery point.

Demurrage/Detention Fees

Incurred after free grace period for holding shipment at port of entry or for returning empty container after delivery of goods to warehouse.

Destination Control Statement

A legal document stating that the goods you are exporting are destined to the country indicated in all the shipping documents.

DIM Divisor

Number used to divide results of the calculation length x height x width of a parcel. Current standard DIM Divisor is 139. The higher the DIM Divisor the lower the DIM Weight attributed to a parcel. (link to page on DIM Weight).

Dimensional Weight ( DIM weight)

The amount of space a parcel occupies in relation to its weight. (link to page on DIM Weight)

Dimension Range

Minimum to maximum height, length, and width of a parcel for shipment.


The transport of freight from an ocean port to a destination, most likely a warehouse. It’s also known as the process of First Mile Transport.


Helps secure and support packages throughout the shipping process for example bubble wrap or styrofoam filler.


Taxes on imported goods.


ECCN – Electronic Control Classification Number

The ECCN is a five character identifier issued by the Department of Commerce (DoC) for certain items set to be exported. (link to page on ECCN).

ECO – Electronic Certificate of Origin

Digital customs document needed for export certification. Verifies where product being shipped originated from.

EDI – Electronic Data Interchange

The electronic exchange of business documents between two parties (companies) for the purposes of sending and receiving a shipment.

EEI – Electronic Export Information

Electronic declaration of merchandise leaving the U.S. for export to a foreign country.

End User

The ultimate recipient of a shipment, possibly the consignee.

Export Broker

An individual or firm assisting buyers and sellers navigate the process of shipping goods from one country to another.

Expedited Freight

Premium service to shorten the time of a shipment from Point A to Point B.

Export Declaration

Formal declaration to Customs listing items before being shipped out. Provides information about the goods being shipped, including type, number, and value.

Export License

Legal document granted by a government that permits the exports of specific items. Not every item requires a license.


FAK – Freight of all Kinds

Cargo that contains different kinds of goods but it is charged at one rate. A group of goods pooled together for shipping purposes with no regard to their class.

FCL – Full Container Load

Shipment mode where only one shipment, or part of a shipment, is included in a container. Its opposite is LCL – Less than a Container Load.

FCR – Forwarder’s Cargo Receipt

Document issued by a freight forwarder to the shipper that serves as certification of the receipt of cargo.

Federal Register

(US) Daily publication of the US government containing updated US government agency regulations and proposed rules and notices of interest to the public.

FTA – Free Trade Agreement

Trade deals between countries simplifying trade process and making it more efficient.

FTZ – Free Trade Zone

Area designated as being outside a country’s customs territory allowing goods to be imported without the requirement to pay customs or taxes.

FTR – Foreign Trade Regulations

Regulations placed on international trade.

Freight Carriers

Freight companies that physically transport freight on behalf of shippers.

Freight Class

Freight classification system. The three factors that determine freight class are stowability, handling and liability.

Freight Forwarder

Licensed experts who understand and execute the end to end shipping process and execute it on behalf of clients.

FTL – Full Truck Load

A truck carrying one dedicated shipment. For shipments that are large enough to fill or nearly fill an entire shipping container.

Fuel Surcharge

A fee that carrier companies charge to cover the fluctuating cost of fuel.


Ground Freight

Goods shipped in trucks.

Ground Shipping

Goods generally forwarded through carrier services such as FedEx and UPS and the like.


HazMat – Hazardous Material

Material that is in whole or contains anything with the following; Flammable liquid, flammable gas, flammable solids, explosives, poisonous, oxidized, radioactive, corrosive or other hazardous material.

HS – Harmonized System

HS Codes (or HTS Codes), also known as the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, or simply the Harmonized System, are a standardized international system to classify globally traded products.


Import Duty

Levied on imported goods when they first enter the country. When a shipment of goods reaches the border, the owner, purchaser or a Customs broker (the importer of record) must file entry documents at the port of entry and pay the estimated duties to Customs.

Incoterms – International Commercial Terms

Freight incoterms (International Commercial Terms) are the standard terms used in sales contracts for importing and exporting. They spell out when responsibility for the goods transfers from the supplier to the buyer and also define who pays which costs for the goods and their transport.

Inland Haulage Charges

Transportation costs incurred when moving freight from a seaport to an inland container freight station, and vice versa.

Intended Returns

Shipments received by the customer and intended to be returned.

Inspection Certificate

Document used to signify that shipped goods have been inspected in order to certify that they conform with the terms stated on the sales contract. Not required for all goods.

Intermodal Shipping

Transportation by more than one form of carrier during a single journey, for example, a truck picking up a container from a warehouse, driving it to a railyard where it is loaded on a train for delivery.

International Courier Express

Most popular companies providing this service; UPS, FedEx, and DHL. For forwarders and carriers, these are the leaders in Express Freight. Most shippers (consignees and consignors) would refer to these companies as being international couriers.

International Mail Processing Center

Mail terminal responsible for processing and overseeing cross-border postal items.

IOR – Importer of Record

Term used in customs law, referring to an importer (entities and/or individuals), who are responsible to ensure that goods are imported in accordance with local laws. The IOR who can be the principal, broker or forwarder is also responsible for filing all legally required documents.


A list of goods sent or services provided alongside a statement of the due payment.

ISF – Importer Security Filing

Document includes importing information from each point in the transit process.


Last Mile

The process when a carrier hands off the delivery of a parcel to a local courier fr efficiency and speed purposes.

Legal Weight

Total shipment weight (in kilograms) including all parts of the package and containers transporting the shipment.

Letter of Credit

An advance instruction by a bank to an overseas bank to guarantee payment to the seller once certain delivery conditions have been met.

LCL – Less than a Container Load

Shipment that does not take up the full capacity of a shipping container.

LTL – Less Than Truckload

Shipment weighing below that of one required to fill a whole truck.


Multicarrier Shipping

The use of more than one carrier, a frequently employed strategy during peak seasons to avoid delays, provide agility, or handle large volumes.

Multimodal Shipping

The movement of cargo from origin to destination by several modes of transport where each of these types have a different transport carrier responsible, However under a single contract or bill of lading.


NAFTA Certificate of Origin

Documentation used by the governments of the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Puerto Rico to decide if imports qualify for price reductions or duty-free exemptions offered through the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

Next Day Delivery

Delivery of a shipment the day following the initial purchase.


Ocean Freight

Ocean freight transport is the shipping of goods by sea via shipping containers.

Onboard Bill of Lading

Receipt given by the carrier when the shipment has been physically loaded onto a container ship (for ocean freight) or airplane (for air freight).

Order Bill of Lading

Where delivery is dependent on the seller being paid.


Packing List

Shows how the goods were packed for inspection and shipping purposes. Includes; Shipper, consignee, equipment, packing details, description of goods, HazMat details.

Packing Slip

Shows information like shipping and billing addresses, weight, dimensions and quantity.


A small wooden, paper, or metal platform used for storing packages during freight shipments.

Pitney Bowes Shipping Index

Measures parcel volume and spend for business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-business and consumer consigned shipments with weight up to 70 pounds across Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

POD – Proof of Delivery

Signature upon delivery, can be an e-signature.

Postal Service Tracking ID

Unique number used to identify shipments. This number is assigned to each package and can be used to track it down on its way to the destination.

POA – Power of Attorney

Legal document used in shipping to grant a customs broker the authority to process Customs clearance on your behalf.



Amount of goods that may be imported without the requirement to pay additional taxes.


An offer for the sale of goods at a specific price in stated conditions (usually referred to as a “quote”).


Reverse Logistics

Set of activities that is conducted after the sale of a product. It typically involves returning a product to the seller.


Shipping Zones (Small Parcel Zones)

Used by the carriers to measure the distance a package is traveling so they can bill accordingly (Distance is only one factor in billing; size and weight also influence pricing). Zones differ by carrier. One might measure by mile, another by clustering together zip codes. Here is the current FedEx zone structure:

Zone 1: 0-50 miles.
Zone 2: 51-150 miles.
Zone 3: 151-300 miles.
Zone 4: 301-600 miles.
Zone 5: 601-1,000 miles.
Zone 6: 1,001-1,400 miles.
Zone 7: 1,401-1,800 miles.
Zone 8: 1,801+ miles.

SLI – Shipper’s Letter of Instruction

Note from the exporter to the freight forwarder with instructions on how a shipment is being sent and where it is going.

Supply Chain

An interlinked system of companies partaking in the movement of goods from retailers to their customer base.


Charges in addition to transportation and fuel charges.


Terms of Sale

Document outlining the rights and responsibilities of both the retailer and customer during the transport of goods.

Tracking Number

Carrier service that enables identification of packages en-route to their destination. Allows you to locate and verify arrival of your parcel along with other shipment details.

TMF – Traffic Mitigation Fee

Fee paid when a terminal becomes congested. It covers the added cost of workers to operate outside of normal hours to avoid delays and loss of business.

TMS – Traffic Management Software

Logistics software technology used to help businesses plan, execute, and optimize the physical movement of goods


Ultimate Consignee

Final destination of a shipment.

Unclaimed Freight

Goods that have arrived at their destination but have yet to be picked up by the individual/company responsible for the order.


Items that can’t be delivered.

US CBP – US Customs and Border Protection

Law enforcement agency that regulates all goods shipped to the United States. The CBP facilitates lawful trade by inspecting cargo and collecting import duties when necessary.


Value Added Service

A service rendered to a shipment that can be charged back to the customer.


Weight Certificate

Document used during the shipping process that contains the package weight and other measurements.

Weight Threshold

The maximum weight of a shipment designated by a carrier. Packages exceeding this weight limit are billed an additional excess fee.

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