Shipping Terms

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Amylee Silva

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Are you ready to embark on a journey through the intricate world of international trade and shipping?

The global marketplace is a vast and interconnected web of opportunities. Navigating it requires a profound understanding of the shipping terms that drive the movement of goods worldwide.

Each concept is critical to unlocking smoother operations for your chosen transportation company, from freight forwarder and container loads to shipping instructions. We all want a cost-effective solution for our businesses.  

This guide delves into the heart of shipping terms, empowering you to thrive in the competitive world of supply chain management. We cover the standard shipping terms glossary you will come across before your goods reach their final destination.

Freight Forwarder

A freight forwarder is a company that specializes in managing the transportation of goods from one location to another. They serve as intermediaries between the shipper and carrier, arranging the logistics of getting the goods from the point of origin to their final destination.

Freight forwarders handle all aspects of the shipping process, including:

  • Documentation
  • Customs brokerage and clearance
  • Warehousing (if necessary)

Container Load

As the name suggests, container load determines the maximum capacity of goods accommodated within a standard shipping container. 

The two most prevalent container sizes, 20 feet (TEU) and 40 feet (FEU), have become industry standards for streamlining logistics and enabling efficient stacking and transportation on various modes like ships, trains, and trucks.

International Commercial Terms (Incoterms)

Incoterms are rules that define the obligations of buyers and sellers in international trade. They provide a standardized framework for determining the transport costs, risks, and delivery terms of goods during shipment.

Incoterms help clarify the division of responsibilities between parties involved in a transaction, such as who is responsible for arranging transportation, insurance, customs clearance, and delivery for goods shipped. 

These terms are regularly updated by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to reflect changes in global trade practices. 

Freight Shipping

It’s the lifeline for businesses. Freight shipping connects goods to customers across land, sea, and air. It’s the backbone of global trade with myriad services like freight forwarding, customs clearance, and tracking. 

Whether speedy air freight or cost-effective sea shipping, freight providers ensure seamless logistics and supply chain mastery.

Supply Chain

The supply chain is a dynamic web connecting goods from origin to consumption. It encompasses:

  • Sourcing
  • Procurement
  • Transportation costs
  • Warehousing
  • Delivery. 

Suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and customers unite to ensure efficient and timely deliveries. 

International Trade

Through international trade in shipping, countries can access a wide range of products and services that may not be available domestically. It allows for more excellent consumer choices and promotes economic growth. 

International shipping allows countries to export goods and expand their markets, stimulating their economies. 

Freight Costs

Freight charges, or shipping costs, represent the payment made to a carrier company for transporting products from their origin to a mutually agreed destination. 

Multiple factors influence the shape of shipping costs in shipping, such as:

  • Distance; longer routes entail higher fuel consumption and resources. 
  • Cargo type and weight matter, too; a full container load raises costs. 
  • Modes of transportation. Planes cost more than boats or trucks. 
  • Market conditions
  • Fuel prices
  • Regulations

Bill of Lading

A bill of lading (BOL) is a legal document issued by the carrier. It serves as evidence of the contract of carriage between the shipper, transportation, and consignee.

The bill of lading includes all the necessary information related to the shipment, such as:

  • The names and addresses of the shipper and consignee
  • Description of the goods
  • Quantity, weight
  • Special handling instructions for a container loaded. 

It also contains the terms and conditions of the contract, including liability and delivery instructions. It acts as a receipt, acknowledging that the carrier has taken possession of the goods. 

Container Yard and Container Freight Station

In the shipping world, a container yard is a bustling hub where containers await their global journeys, strategically stored before loading onto ships or trucks. 

On the other hand, a container freight station buzzes with activity as cargo is skillfully loaded into or unloaded from these sturdy steel giants. 

These essential facilities ensure smooth logistics operations, optimizing the flow of goods and keeping the global supply chain in motion.

Freight Broker

A freight broker connects shippers with carriers. They act as intermediaries, arranging the transportation of goods from the shipper to the page. 

By utilizing their extensive network of reliable carriers, freight brokers ensure that goods are delivered safely and efficiently. They handle various responsibilities, including:

  • Negotiating shipping rates
  • Coordinating pickups and deliveries
  • Tracking shipments. 
  • Handle all the necessary paperwork, such as Bills of Lading and shipping invoices. 

Shippers can focus on their core business while leaving the logistics to the experts.

Ocean Freight Forwarder

An ocean freight forwarder is a company that helps facilitate the transportation of goods via sea freight. They act as an intermediary between shippers and carriers, coordinating smooth and efficient cargo movement. Ocean freight forwarders offer a range of services, including:

  • Arranging for the pickup
  • Packaging
  • Documentation of goods, as well as negotiating rates with shipping lines and customs clearance.
  • They assist in tracking shipments
  • Managing any necessary paperwork or documentation.

Ocean freight forwarders have expert knowledge of the logistics and regulations of shipping goods across different countries and continents. 

Less Than Container Load (LCL)

LCL is a mode of transporting goods where the cargo does not fill a standard shipping container. Instead, multiple shipments from different customers are combined to fill a container, thus reducing costs for each shipment. 

LCL is a cost-effective option for businesses shipping smaller quantities of goods, allowing them to share the shipping cost with other companies.

In LCL shipping, the goods are consolidated at a warehouse or container freight station before being loaded onto a container for transportation. LCL involves careful sorting and packaging to ensure the safety and integrity of each shipment. 

Free on Board (FOB) and Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) 

FOB and DDP are like seasoned dance partners when shipping, gracefully dictating the moment of ownership and risk transition. 

FOB’s spotlight shines on the seller, who leads until the goods sway onto the vessel. At the same time, DDP’s allure places the seller at the center of responsibility for delivering goods right to the buyer’s doorstep, expertly maneuvering through customs. 

Air Freight

Air freight is the transportation of goods via aircraft. The main advantage of air freight is speed, as goods can be delivered to their destination in a matter of hours or days, depending on the distance. It benefits time-sensitive shipments that must be transported over long distances.

Free Trade Zone

A free trade zone is where goods can be imported, exported, and stored without being subject to specific trade barriers, such as customs duties or taxes. This concept encourages international trade and facilitates the movement of goods across different countries.

Companies operating within these zones can benefit from the following:

  • Streamlined customs procedures
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved logistics, thus enhancing their competitiveness in the global market.

A free trade zone in shipping encourages collaboration among nations, as it fosters open trade and cooperation.

Customs Clearance

Customs clearance are procedures and documentation required to allow goods to enter or leave a country. During customs clearance, the customs authority verifies that the shipped goods comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

The process involves several steps, including:

  1. Submitting the necessary documents, such as invoices, packing lists, and customs declaration forms for international transactions. 
  2. The shipping documents will get reviewed by customs authorities to ensure the goods are correctly classified and valued for customs purposes.
  3. The customs authorities can also conduct physical inspections or x-ray scans to confirm the accuracy of the delivery service. 

Final Thoughts

You’re now equipped to navigate freight shipping with confidence. Each concept plays a vital role in your supply chain’s success, from freight forwarders to customs clearance. 

Embrace the power of Incoterms, optimize your logistics, and sail toward growth and profitability in the dynamic world of transportation services. 

Bon voyage!

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