Definitions of Common Terms
When exporting, one can ship either FCL (full container load) or LCL (less than a container load) depending on the volume of the shipment. Most exporters ship FCL to better control the time frame of the shipment and to guarantee that their cargo will not be contaminated or damaged by other cargo.
The Container Yard (CY) and Container Freight Station (CFS) apply to the manner and the location of the cargo delivery and receipt in a container service. The CY is the delivery (or receipt) of a whole container from (or at) the shipper's or the forwarder's (or the consignee's) cargo yard or premises. The CFS is a warehouse that will handle consolidation, which is the act of combining loose cargo into one full container.
ETD: Estimated Time of Departure. Generally used for the time and date that the vessel or plane is due to leave its port of origin and begin its journey.
ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival. Generally used for the date that the vessel or plane is due to arrive at its destination port.
POL: Port of Loading (sometimes referred to as Port of Origin). The port at which the goods are loaded onto the vessel.
POD: Port of Discharge. The port at which the goods are unloaded from vessel. Example: Port of Long Beach, California.
Bill of Lading (B/L)
A bill of lading is a legal document between the shipper and carrier. It is a contract detailing the type, quantity and destination of goods being carried. The bill of lading serves as a receipt of shipment when the goods are delivered at the predetermined destination. There are many different kinds of bills of lading, each with unique stipulations and conditions.
A Sea Waybill is a transport contract (contract of carriage), the same as a bill of lading. The main difference is that a Sea Waybill is not needed for cargo delivery and is only issued as a receipt of cargo.
Automated Export System (AES)
The Automated Export System (AES) is the central system U.S. exporters are required to use to electronically declare their international exports, known as Electronic Export Information (EEI), to numerous entities to help compile U.S. export and trade information and statistics. It is also used by various government agencies for trade enforcement, promotion, and other purposes.
Export Power of Attorney (POA)
Export Power of Attorney (POA) is a written authorization that a shipper (consignor) provides to a freight forwarder. This document contains a provision appointing the freight forwarder as an agent to prepare documentations and grants the power of attorney for that purpose.
SSL is a shipping line - COSCO is one example. Specifically, SSL is the trade name of the carrier. The abbreviation is for "steam ship line" and comes from a time when ships were steam-powered.
Incoterms (International Commercial Terms)
EXW - Ex Works
This term represents a minimum obligation arrangement for the seller, who only needs to transfer ownership of the goods to the buyer. In an Ex Works arrangement, the buyer must bear all shipping and regulatory responsibilities such as export & import clearances, shipping and transport costs, cargo insurance and others.
FOB - Free On Board
This term refers to an arrangement where the seller delivers the goods, which are cleared for export, by loading them on board a designated vessel at the named port of the buyer. Once the goods have been loaded on board, risk transfers to the buyer, who bears all costs thereafter. This term can only be used for sea transport. If the parties do not intend to deliver the goods via sea transport, the FCA term should be used. FOB should be used for situations where the seller has direct access to the vessel for loading, e.g., bulk cargos or non-containerized goods.
CIF - Cost, Insurance, and Freight
This term refers to an arrangement where the seller is responsible for delivering the goods that are cleared to export to the named ship and port designated by the buyer. The seller is responsible for the transport costs necessary to bring the goods to the named port and vessel and arranges for insurance of the goods until it is delivered. Aspects of risk of loss & damages is the same as CFR (Cost and Freight). This term can only be used for sea transport.
FCA - Free Carrier
This term represents an arrangement where the seller is responsible for pre-carriage from the initial location to a named place (a destination specified by the buyer). From there, the buyer assumes all further responsibilities. Where the named place is the seller’s premises, then the seller is responsible for loading the goods onto the truck etc., an important difference from Ex Works.
DDU - Delivered Duty Unpaid
In this arrangement, the seller is responsible for ensuring goods arrive safely to a destination; the buyer is responsible for import duties. The seller bears all costs & risks involved in bringing the goods to the named place for import into the country of destination, but not "duty" (which includes the responsibility for customs procedures & cost of those procedures, duties & taxes and others). In a DDU arrangement, the buyer is responsible for all customs, duties, and taxes.
DDP - Delivered Duty Paid
This term represents a maximum obligation arrangement for the seller. This term should not be used if the seller is unable to obtain necessary import licenses and authorization directly or indirectly. The term refers to a similar arrangement as DDU, with the exception that the seller also bears all costs & risks associated with carrying out customs clearance procedures, including the payment of duties, taxes, customs fees, and other fees.