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Quality Freight Services Int’l Quality Customs Broker, Inc. QCB Shipping Milwaukee Office
4464 South Whitnall Avenue
St. Francis, WI 53235
Telephone: 414-482-9447
Fax: 414-482-9448
Toll Free: 888-813-4647


Chicago Office
615 North Edgewood
Wood Dale, IL 60191
Telephone: 630-766-9447
Fax: 630-766-9448

Glossary of Terms


ABOARD: (a) The placement or lading of cargo on any conveyance. (b) Cargo that has been placed or laden on any means of conveyance.

ACCESSORIAL CHARGES: Charges made for additional, special, or supplemental services, normally over and above the line haul services.

ACT OF GOD: An act of nature beyond man’s control such as lightning, flood, earthquake, or hurricane.

AD VALOREM: According to value. Any charge, tax, or duty that is applied as a percentage of value.

ADVANCE SHIPMENT NOTICE: A document transmitted to a consignee in advance of delivery detailing the contents and particulars of a shipment.

AMENDMENT: An addition, deletion, or change in a legal document.

AMS: Advance Manifest Surcharge

ANTIDUMPING DUTIES: Duties assessed on imported merchandise of a class or kind that is sold at a price less than the fair market value. Fair market value of merchandise is defined as the price at which it is normally sold in the manufacturer’s home market.

ARRIVAL NOTICE: A notice furnished to consignee and shipping broker alerting them to the projected arrival of freight and availability of freight for pickup.

AUTOMATED CLEARINGHOUSE (ACH): ACH is a feature of the automated broker interface which is part of Customs’ Automated Commercial System. The ACH combines elements of bank lock ox arrangements with electronic funds transfer services to replace cash or check for payment of estimated duties, taxes, and fees on imported merchandise.

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BANK DRAFT: A check drawn by one bank against funds deposited to its account in another bank.

BARGE: A flat bottomed inland cargo vessel with or without propulsion usually used on rivers and canals.

BERTH: (a) The place where a ship lies secured to a wharf, pier or quay and can be loaded or unloaded of its cargo. (b) The distance or space required to safely maneuver a ship. (c) The place where a truck or motor vehicle is loaded or unloaded.

BILL OF LADING: A document issued by a carrier to a shipper, signed by the captain, agent or owner of a vessel, furnishing written evidence regarding receipt of the goods (cargo)

BLOCKING & BRACING: Wood or metal supports to keep shipments in place in or on containers.

BONDED: (US Customs) Goods stored under supervision of customs until the import duties are paid or the goods are exported.

BREAKBULK CARGO: Cargo which is shipped as a unit but which is not containerized.

BUNKER ADJUSTMENT FACTOR: An adjustment in shipping charges to off-set price fluctuations in the cost of bunker fuel.

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CAF: Currency Adjustment Factor

CARGO: Merchandise hauled by transportation lines.

CARRIAGE OF GOODS BY SEA ACT OF 1936: A US law, which among other provisions, establishes statutory responsibility for the carrier’s liability for certain types of damage. Where COGSA applies, generally speaking the vessel or carrier is responsible for damage resulting from negligence in loading, stowing and discharge of cargo.

CARRIER: An individual or legal entity that is in the business of transporting passengers or goods for hire. Shipping Lines, airlines, trucking companies, and railroad companies are all carriers.

CARTAGE: The movement of goods for short distances, usually by truck

CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN: A document attesting to the country of origin of goods.

CHARGEABLE WEIGHT: The weight of a shipment used in determining air or ocean charges. The chargeable weight may be dimensional weight or on the container shipments the gross weight of the shipment less the tare weight of the container.

CLAIM: A demand made upon a transportation line for payment on account of a loss sustained through negligence.

CLEAN BILL OF LADING: A bill of lading receipted by the carrier for goods received in apparent good order and condition without damages or other irregularities.

CLEARANCE: The completion of customs entry formalities resulting in the release of goods from customs custody to the importer.

COMMERCIAL INVOICE: A document identifying the seller and buyer of goods or services, identifying numbers such as invoice number, date, shipping date, mode of transport, delivery and payment terms, and a complete listing of and description of the goods or services being sold including price, discounts and quantities.

CONSIGNEE: The person or firm named in a freight contract to whom the goods have been shipped or turned over for care.

CONSOLIDATED CONTAINER: A shipping container containing cargo from a number of shippers for delivery to a number of different consignees.

CONTRACT OF CARRIAGE: The contract between the shipper and carrier for the transport of freight, including the terms and conditions of carriage and costs to the shipper.

CUSTOMS BONDED WAREHOUSE: A federal warehouse where goods remain until duty has been collected from the importer

CUSTOMS BROKER: An individual or firm licensed by the U.S. Customs Service to act for importers in handling the sequence of customs formalities and other details critical to the legal and speedy exporting and importing of goods.

CUSTOMS DUTY: A tax levied and collected by custom officials in discharging the tariff regulations on imports.

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DANGEROUS GOODS: Articles or substances which are capable of posing significant risk to health, safety or property when transported by air or ocean.

DECLARED VALUE FOR CARRIAGE: The value of goods declared to the carrier by the shipper for the purpose of determining the charges or of establishing the limit of the carrier’s liability for loss damage or delay.

DELIVERY ORDER: A document from the consignee, shipper or owner of freight ordering a terminal operator, carrier or trucker to deliver freight to another party.

DEMURRAGE: (a) The detention of a freight car or ship by the shipper beyond time permitted for loading or unloading. (b) the extra charges a shipper pays for detaining a freight car or ship beyond time permitted for loading or unloading.

DESTINATION: The place to which a shipment is consigned.

DETENTION: (a) Holding a carriers driver and or trailer beyond a certain stated period of free time often resulting in the assessment of detention charges. (b) The delay in clearing goods through customs resulting in storage and other demurrage.

DEVANNING: Unloading of cargo from a container. Also called stripping.

DISCHARGE: The unloading of passengers or cargo from a vessel or aircraft.

DOCK RECEIPT: A receipt issued by a warehouse supervisor or port officer certifying that the goods have been received by the shipping company. The dock receipt is used to transfer accountability when an export item is moved by domestic carrier to the port of embarkation and left with the international carriers for movement to its final destination.

DRAWBACK: The refund of all or part of customs duties, or domestic tax paid on imported merchandise which was subsequently either manufactured into a different article of re-exported.

DRAYAGE: The charge made for hauling freight.

DUTY: A tax levied by a government on the import, export or consumption of goods. Usually a tax imposed on imports by the customs authority of a country.

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EDI: Electronic Data Interchange

ELECTRONIC FUNDS TRANSFER: System of transferring funds from one account to another by electronic impulses rather than transfer of paper.

EMBARGO: A prohibition upon exports or imports, either with respect to specific products or specific countries.

ETA: Estimated time of arrival

ETD: Estimated time of delivery

EXCHANGE RATE: The price of one currency expressed in terms of another, i.e. the number of units of one currency that may be exchanged for one unit of another currency.

EXCISE TAX: A selective tax-sometimes called a consumption tax- on certain goods produced within or imported into a country

EXPORT: To ship an item away from a country for sale to another country.

EXPORT DECLARATION: a document required of the exporter by the export authority of a country identifying the particulars of a specific export shipment including the seller, buyer, goods shipped, quantities and description of goods and other details.

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FAK: Freight all kinds

FCL: Full container load

FMC: Federal Maritime Commission. The US federal agency responsible for overseeing rates and practices of ocean carriers who handle cargo to and from US ports.

FEU: Forty foot equivalent unit

FORCE MAJEURE: Any condition or set of circumstances, such as earthquakes, floods, or war beyond the carrier’s control that prevents the carrier from performing fulfillment of their obligations.

FREE IN: A pricing term indicating that the loading charges are for the account of the supplier

FREE IN AND OUT: A pricing term that the charterer of a vessel is responsible for the cost of loading and unloading goods from a vessel.

FREE OUT: A pricing term indicating that unloading charges are for the account of the receiver.

FREE PORT: An area such as a port city, into which imported merchandise may legally be moved without payment of duties.

FTL: Full Truck Load

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GANTRY CRANE: A specialized machine for raising or lowering of cargo mounted on a structure spanning an open space on a ship.

GENERAL AVERAGE: A loss that affects all cargo interests on board a vessel as well as the ship herself. These include the owner of the hull and the owners of all the cargos on board for their respective values plus the owner or charter party who stands to earn a specific income from freight charges for the voyage.

GENERAL ORDER: Merchandise not entered within 5 working days after arrival of the carrier and then stored at the risk and expense of the importer.

GROSS TON: Unit of measure equal to 2,240 pounds.

GRI: General rate increase.

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HANDLING COSTS: Costs related to moving transferring and preparing inventory for shipment, but not the shipping charges themselves.

HARMONIZED TARIFF SCHEDULE: An organized listing of goods and their duty rates which is used by U.S. Customs as the basis for classifying imported products and therefore establishing the duty to be charged and providing the U.S. Census with statistical information about imports and exports.

HAULAGE: Local transportation of goods.

HAZMAT: An abbreviation for hazardous materials

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IMPORT: To receive goods and services from abroad. An imported item

IMPORT LICENSE: A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods.

IMPORT QUOTA: A protective ruling establishing limits on the quantity of a particular product that can be imported.

IMPORTER: The individual, firm or legal entity that brings articles of trade from a foreign source into a domestic market in the course of trade.

IMPORTER NUMBER: An identification number assigned by the US Customs service to each importer, used to track entries and other transactions.

IN BOND: A procedure under which goods are transported or warehoused under customs supervision until they are either formally entered into the customs territory of the United States and duties paid, or until they are exported from the United States.

INTERCHANGE AGREEMENT: An agreement which fixes specific accountability for use and maintenance of carrier-owned equipment. It formalizes terms and conditions under which equipment will be leased, in order to protect the carrier’s financial and legal interest in the operation of the leased equipment.

INTERCHANGE RECEIPT: A document that states the condition of the equipment at the time of the interchange.

INTERMODAL MARKETING COMPANY: A shipping intermediary that acts as a broker by arranging, buying and selling intermodal freight services.

INVOICE: A document identifying the seller and buyer of goods or services, identifying numbers such as invoice number, date, shipping date, mode of transport, delivery and payment terms and a complete listing and description of goods or services being sold including prices, discounts and quantities.

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JOINT AGENT: A person having authority to transact business for two or more transportation lines.

JOINT VENTURE: (a) A combination of two or more individuals or legal entities who undertake together a transaction for mutual gain or to engage in a commercial enterprise together with mutual sharing of profits and losses. (b) A form of business partnership involving joint management and the sharing of risks and profits as between enterprises based in different countries. If joint ownership of capital is involved the partnership is known as an equity joint venture.

JUST IN TIME: The principle of production and inventory control that prescribes precise control for the movements of raw materials, component parts and work in progress. Goods arrive when needed for production rather than becoming expensive inventory that occupies warehouse space.

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KILOGRAM: Unit of measurement equal to 2.204.6 Lbs.

KITTING: The assembly or packaging of components, parts or finished products into a new single item.

KNOCKED DOWN (KD): A article taken apart and folded or telescoped in such a manner as to reduce its bulk at least 66 2/3 % from its normal shipping cubage when set up or assembled.

KNOWN LOSS: A loss discovered before or at the time of delivery of a shipment.

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LADING: The act of loading cargo or freight onto a conveyance.

LANDBRIDGE: The movement of containers from a foreign country by vessel, transiting a country by rail or truck and then being loaded aboard another vessel for delivery to a second foreign country.

LANDED COST: The total cost of a shipment delivered to a named location. Specifically, the cost of goods plus the cost of transportation.

LEAD INVENTORY: The volume of inventory necessary to satisfy demand during the cycle time required to obtain a new shipment from a supplier.

LCL: Less than container load

LTL: Less than truck load

LETTER OF CREDIT: A letter of credit is a document issued by a bank stating its commitment to pay someone a stated amount of money on behalf of a buyer so long as the seller meets very specific terms and conditions.

LICENSING AGREEMENT: A contract whereby the holder of a trademark, patent or copyright transfers a limited right to use a process, sell or manufacture an article, or furnish specialized services covered by the trademark, patent or copyright to another firm.

LIQUIDATED DAMAGES: A sum of money that a contract party agrees to pay to the other for breaching an agreement, particularly important in a contract in which damages for breach may be difficult to assess.

LOGISTICS: The process of planning, implementing and controlling the flow of personnel, materials and information from the point of origin to the final destination at the required time and in the desired condition.

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MANIFEST: A document giving the description of a ship’s cargo.

MARITIME: Business pertaining to commerce or navigation transacted upon the sea or in such matters as the court of admiralty have jurisdiction over, concurrently with the courts of common law.

METER: A unit of measure equal 39.37 inches.

METRIC TON: A unit of mass or weight measure equal to 2,204.6 pounds or 1,000 kilograms preferably called a kiloton.

MINIBRIDGE: Movement of cargo from a port over water, then over land to a port on an opposite coast.

MOOR: To secure a vessel to an anchor, buoy or pier.

MULTIMODAL: Shipping which includes at least two modes of transport, such as shipping by rail and by sea.

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NAFTA: North American free trade agreement

NEGOTIABLE: Anything that can be sold or transferred to another for money or as payments of debt.

NET WEIGHT: The weight of goods without packaging. The weight of merchandise without the shipping container. Also the weight of the contents of a freight car.

NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT: An agreement between two or more parties not to disclose trade secrets, trade practices, business or marketing plans or other proprietary or confidential information.

NVOCC: Non-Vessel operating common carrier.

NOTIFY PARTY: Name and address of a party in the transport document (bill of lading or airway bill) to which the carrier is to give notice when goods are due to arrive.

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OCEAN BILL OF LADING: A receipt for the cargo and a contract for transportation between a shipper and the ocean carrier. It may also be used as an instrument of ownership (non negotiable) which can be bought, sold or traded while the goods are in transit.

OCEAN TRANSPORT INTERMEDIARY (OTI): An ocean freight forwarders and NVOCC that acts as an intermediary between shippers and shipping lines.

ONBOARD: Notation on a bill of lading indicating that the goods have been loaded on board or shipped on a named ship.

OPEN-TOP CONTAINER: A shipping container that is designed to open from the top so that cargo too large to be loaded from the side can be lowered in through the roof.

ORDER CYCLE: The total time and process required for the placement of an order and its final receipt by a customer. This includes order placement, order processing, production and transportation to the final destination.

OCP/ OVERLAND COMMON POINT: A special rate concession made by shipping lines, rail carriers, and truckers serving the US West Coast for export and import traffic intended to benefit Midwest shippers and importers by equalizing rates to and from other coastal area and offering Midwest companies a comparable alternative.

OSD/ OVER, SHORT, DAMAGED: A report that details the discrepancies between a bill of lading and a shipment at hand.

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PACKING LIST: A document prepared by the shipper listing the kinds and quantities of merchandise in a particular shipment.

PER DIEM: Latin for “per day”. A charge or allowance based upon a rate or cost per day.

PICK/PACK: The selection of component parts or finished products from inventory and their subsequent packing for shipment.

PICKUP ORDER: An order from a broker to a carrier to pick up freight at a location

POINT OF ORIGIN: The location at which a shipment is received by a transportation line from the shipper.

POD: Port of discharge. The port at which a shipment is off-loaded by a transportation line, not to be confused with destination which may be a point further inland.

POE: Port of Entry. A port at which foreign goods are admitted into the receiving country

POWER OF ATTORNEY: A written legal document by which one person authorizes another person to perform stated acts on the principal’s behalf.

PREMIUM: The amount above the regular price, paid as an incentive to do something.

PREPAID: Freight for which transportation charges have been paid by the consignor at the time of shipment.

PROCUREMENT AND LEAD TIME: The tie required by the buyer to select a supplier and to place and obtain a commitment for specific quantities of material at specified times.

PROFORMA INVOICE: An invoice provided by the supplier prior to sales or shipment of merchandise, informing the buyer of the kinds and quantities of goods to be sent, their value, and important specifications (weight, size and similar characteristics.) A proforma invoice is used (1) as a preliminary invoice together with quotation; (2) for customs purposes in connection with shipments of samples, advertising material etc.

PROOF OF DELIVERY: Information provided to paying party containing the name of the person who signed for the package with the date and time of delivery.

PURCHASE ORDER: A purchasers written offer to a supplier formally stating all terms and conditions of a proposed transaction.

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QUAY: A structure built for the purpose of mooring a vessel.

QUOTA: A limitation on quantity of goods that may be imported into a country from all countries or from specific countries during a set period of time.

QUOTATION: The price offered to provide a service to a customer.

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RECONSIGNMENT: A change in the name of the consignor or consignee; a change in the place of delivery; a change in the destination point; or the relinquishment of shipment at pint of origin.

REEFER CONTAINER: A controlled temperature refrigerated shipping container.

REEFER VESSEL: A vessel with refrigerated cargo holds.

RE-EXPORT: The export of imported goods without added value.

RFQ: Request for quotation

RORO: A type of vessel that transports wheeled vehicles.

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SEAL NUMBER: A number located on the plastic or metal tamper seal or tag affixed to a loaded container or truck.

SEAWAY BILL: Sometimes referred to as an express bill of lading. A transport document which is not a document of title/negotiable document.

SHIPPERS EXPORT DECLARATION: A form required by the export authorities of many countries to document an export of goods. A form required for all US export shipments by mail valued at more than $500 dollars and for non-mailed shipments with declared value greater than $2500.00 The shipper’s export declaration is used to control exports and compile trade statistics.

SHIPPING INSTRUCTIONS: Information supplied by the shipper/exporter providing detailed instructions pertaining to the shipment (e.g. Shipper, consignee, bill to party, commodity, pieces, weight, cube etc)

SHORT TON: A unit of measure equal to 2,000 lbs.

STOWAGE: Arranging and packing of cargo in a vessel for shipment.

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THC: Terminal handling charge A charge made to a shipper for moving a container from within a terminal to an ocean vessel.

THIRD PARTY BILLING: The designated payer of an invoice other then the shipper or consignee.

TEU: 20’ FT equivalent unit

TRANSSHIP: The transfer of freight from one conveyance or carrier to another, or from one ship to another of different ownership.

TRIANGULAR TRADE: Trade between three countries, in which an attempt is made to create a favorable balance for each.

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ULD: Unit Load Device

UNIT COST: The total of all costs associated with the production of a single unit of a product or service.

UNLOADING: The physical removal of cargo from carrier’s container.

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VALIDATED EXPORT LICENSE: A document issued by the US government authorizing the export of commodities for which written export authorization is required.

VAT: Value added tax.

VOLUME RATE: A rate applicable in connection with a specified volume of freight.

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WAR RISK: The risk to a vessel, its cargo and passengers by aggressive actions of a hostile nation or group.

W/M: Weight measure

WHARFAGE: (a) A charge assessed by a pier or dock owner for handling incoming or outgoing cargo, (b) the charge made for docking vessels at the wharf.

WTO: World Trade organization. The premier international organization seeking to deal with the global rules of trade between nations.

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YEN: Currency of Japan

YUAN: Currency of China

ZIP CODE: A numerical code, established by the US Postal Service, used for the purpose o routing and to identify delivery zones.

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Copyright © 2014, All Rights Reserved, Quality Global Logistics
Revised -- October 23, 2014