Comman TermFull FormMeaning
IMOInternational Maritime Organization (Mandate)Under IMO 2020 regulations, starting 1 Jan 2020, the sulfur content in marine fuels will be capped at 0.5%, down from the current 3.5%.
ELDElectronic Logging DeviceThe ELD mandate is US regulation requiring drivers of commercial motor vehicles to log their hours of service electronically.
SOLASSafety of Life at SeaAn international maritime treaty that sets basic measures for the safe construction, equipment, and operation of merchant vessels.
VGMVerified Gross Mass The total gross weight of a shipping container (including dunnage, bracing, and tare). Under SOLAS, shippers are required to declare the VGM of their shipping containers.
P2PPort to Port In port-to-port shipping, cargo is shipped from the port of origin to the port of destination. This excludes transportation services before and after loading.
D2DDoor to Door In door-to-door shipping, cargo is shipped from the indicated pick-up location at origin (eg. seller’s warehouse) to the indicated drop-off location (eg. buyer’s warehouse) at destination.
FCLFull Container LoadA container shipment that utilizes an entire container. Merchandise shipped under FCL does not share container space with other merchandise.
LCLLess than Container LoadAlso known as groupage or a shared container, LCL shipments are shipped alongside other cargo in one single shipping container.
LTLLess than Trucking LoadSimilar to LCL but for land transportation. Various LTL cargoes are grouped and transported together to lower transportation costs.
TEUTwenty-Foot Equivalent UnitA unit of measurement in maritime transport that is equivalent to the capacity of a 20-foot container.
ETDEstimated Time of DepartureThe day an international shipment is estimated to depart the port of origin and begin its maritime transit.
ETAEstimated Time of ArrivalThe day an international shipment is estimated to arrive at the port of destination.
POLPort of LoadingThe port of origin from which the container is first loaded onto the vessel.
PODPort of DischargeThe port of destination where the container is unloaded from the vessel and picked up by the consignee.
GRIGeneral Rate Increase Also known as GRR (General Rate Restoration), a GRI is an increase in maritime freight rates applied by shipping lines when prices are low.
GRIGeneral Rate Increase Also known as GRR (General Rate Restoration), a GRI is an increase in maritime freight rates applied by shipping lines when prices are low.
BLBill of Lading The Bill of Lading is a document that serves as evidence of a contract of carriage between the shipper and carrier.
ISFImporter Security Filing A regulation that requires maritime cargo imported into the US to be declared 72 hours before vessel departure. Importer, exporter, and cargo information must be included.
EEIElectronic Export Information Electronic declaration of goods valued at above $2,500 that are exported from the US. Formerly known as the SED (Shipper’s Export Declaration).
HSHarmonized System HS codes are six-digit codes that classify goods according to their nature to determine the amount of taxes and duties that need to be paid.
HTSHarmonized Tariff System Seven- to ten-digit codes that classify products into more specific categories than HS codes.
Common TermAbbreviation
3PL3rd Party Logistics
4PL4th Party Logistics
4SC4-High Straddle Carrier
AMSAutomated Manifest System
APIApplication Programming Interface
AS/RSAutomated Storage and Retrieval System
AWBAir Waybill
B2BBusiness to Business
B2BBusiness to Customer
BAFBunker Adjustment Factor
B/BBreak Bulk
BCOBeneficial Cargo Owner
BIMCOThe Baltic and International Maritime Council
B/LBill of Lading
BPOBusiness Process Outsourcing
CAFCurrency Adjustment Factor
CBMCubic Metre
CCCarbon Copy
CDMACode Division Multiple Access
CEPCourier, Express, Parcel
CEPACloser Economic Partnership Arrangement
C&FCost and Freight
CFSContainer Freight Station
CGICommon Gateway Interface
CIFCost,Insurance and Freight
CILTThe Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
CIMThe Chartered Institute of Marketing
CIPCarriage and Insurance Paid To
CLPContainer Load Plan
C/OCertificate of Origin
C.O.C.Carrier’s Own Container
C.O.D.Cash On Delivery
CPTCarriage Paid To
CSCInternational Convention for Safe Container
CSIContainer Securtiy Intiative
CYContainer Yard
D/ADocument Against Acceptance
DAFDelivered at Frontier
DDCDestination Delivery Charge
DDUDelivered Duty Unpaid
DDPDelivered Duty Paid
DDUDelivered Duty Unpaid
DEQDelivered Ex-Quay
DESDelivered Ex-Ship
D.G.Dangerous Goods
D/ODelivery Order
D/PDocument Against Payment
DPPDamage Protection Plan
D/RDock Receipt
DRPDistribution Resources Planning
EDIElectronic Data Interchange
E & O EErrors and Omissions Excepted
ERMEnterprise Resources Management
ERPEnterprise Resources Planning
ETAEstimated Time of Arrival
ETDEstimated Time of Departure
FAFFuel Adjustment Factor
FAKFreight All Kinds
FAKFreight All Kinds
FASFree Alongside Ship
FASFree Alongside Ship
FB/LFIATA Combined Transport Bill of Lading
FCLFull Container Load
FCRForwarder’s Cargo Receipt
FEUForty Feet Equivalent Unit
FEUForty Feet Equivalent Unit
F.I.Free In
FIATAInternational Federation of Forwarding Agent Associations
FIFOFirst-in, First-out
F.I.O.Free In and Out
FIOSTFree In, Out, Stowed & Trimmed
FMCFederal Maritime Commission
F.O.Free Out
FOBFree On Board
F.O.R.Free On Rail
F.O.T.Free On Truck
F/RFlat Rack Container
FRCFlat Rack Container
FTPFile Transfer Protocol
FTZFree Trade Zones
GDPGross Domestic Product
GRIGeneral Rate Increase
GSAGeneral Sales Agent
GSCGlobal Supply Chain
G.WTGross Weight
HAFFAHAFFAHong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics Ltd.
HAWBHouse Air Waybill
H/HHalf Height Container
IADAIntra Asia Discussion Agreement
I.A. RatesIndependent Action Rates
IATAInternational Air Transport Association
IBCIntermediate Bulk Container
ICAOInternational Civil Aviation Organization
ICCInternational Chamber of Commerce
ICTInformation and Communications Technology
IMDGInternational Maritime Dangerous Goods Code
IMOInternational Maritime Organization
IncotermsInternational Commercial Terms
IPInternet Protocol
IPInternet Protocol
IPIInterior Point Intermodal
IRAInformal Rate Agreement
ISDNIntegrated Server Digital Network
ISDNIntegrated Server Digital Network
ISOInternational Standard Organization
ISPInternet Service Provider
ISPSInternational Ship and Port Facility Security
LANLocal Area Networking
LASHLigther Aboard Ship
L/CLetter of Credit
LCLLess (than) Container Load
L/GLetter of Guarantee
L.I.Liner Inward
LILOLast-In, Last-Out
L.I.O.Liner In and Out
LNGLiquefied Natural Gas
L.O.A.Length Overall
Lo-Lo shipLift-on Lift-off Ship
LPGLiquefied Petroleum Gas
LT(Lead Time) Time between placing and receiving an order
MAWBMaster Air Waybill
MLOMain Line Operators
MRPMaterial Requirements Planning
M/SMotor Ship
MSDSMaterial Safety Data Sheet
MTOMultimode Transport Operator
N/ANot Applicable/Not Available
NAPNetwork Access Point
NAPNetwork Access Point
N.O.E.Not Otherwise Enumerated
N.O.S.Not Otherwise Specified
NVOCCNon Vessel Operating Common Carrier
OCPOverland Common Point
OEMOriginal Equipment Manufacturer
O/HOver Height
ORCOrigin Receiving Charge
O/SOpen Side Container
O/TOpen Top Containerr
O/WOver Width
PCSPort Congestion Surcharge
P & I ClubProtection and Indemnity Club
PODPort of Discharge
POLPort of Loading
POPPoint of Presence
PPPPoint-to-Point Protocol
PRDPearl River Delta
PSSPeak Season Surcharge
RFReefer Container
RFPRequest for Proposal
RFQRequest for Quotation
RFRCRail Fuel Recovery Charge
Ro-Ro shipRoll-on Roll-off Ship
RRSRate Restoration Surcharge
R/TRevenue Tons
SANStorage Area Network
SETSecure Electronic Transaction
SKUStock Keeping Unit
SMESmall and Medium-size Enterprises
SMESmall and Medium-size Enterprises
S/O / S/IShipping Order / Shipping Instruction
S.O.C.Shipper’s Own Container
SQLStructure Query Language
SSLSecure Socket Layer
S.T.C.Said To Contain
TACATransatlantic Conference Agreement
TCPTransmission Control Protocol
TEUTwenty-foot Equivalent Unit
T.H.C.Terminal Handling Charge
TMSTransportation Management System
TQCTotal Quality Control
TQMTotal Quality Management
T.R.S.Terminal Receiving Station
TSATranspacific Stabilization Agreement
TTTelegraphic Transfer
TVCTime Volume Contract
TWRATranspacific Westbound Rate Agreement
UCP500Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits
ULCCUltra Large Crude Carrier
UNCTADUnited Nations Conference of Trade and Development
V.A.T.Very Large Crude Carrier
VLCCValue Added Tax
VMIValue Added Tax
VOCValue Added Tax
V.O.W.Vehicle On Wheel
VPNVirtual Private Network
WAPWireless Application Protocol
WCSWireless Communications Service
WMSWarehouse Management System
W.R.War Risks
WTOWorld Trade Organization
W.W.Warehouse Warrant

Even though basic, it’s extremely important to fully understand these terms and how they apply to your shipment. Familiarize yourself with them right from the beginning so you get accustomed to seeing and hearing about them throughout your shipping process.