Shipping Terms

Detailed below is the non-exhaustive list of some of the most frequently used abbreviations and their definitions that you may come across from time to time. We hope that you will find this information both helpful and informative.


It is most important to remember that the “Free” reference is viewed from the Ship Owners point of view – not the Shipper’s. Some Shippers get caught out when they read the word “Free” as they incorrectly believe that it refers to them.

Freight rates quoted on a FIOS basis specifically exclude all aspects relating to cargo handling operations. The ship is only responsible for expenses arising as a result of the ship calling into the port, i.e. tugs, pilots and light dues etc. Another very important consideration when booking cargo on FIOS terms is that the ship does not bear any responsibility for the speed of loading or discharging.

Usually the rate agreed includes a fixed “free” period of time for loading/discharging operations, after which time a daily demurrage is incurred. Obviously this is of paramount importance where port congestion or stevedoring performance is uncertain. There are many overseas ports which fall into this category and particularly where vessel demurrage rates can vary significantly, depending on the size and type of ship nominated to undertake the particular project.


Liner Terms is a very ambiguous statement and can be interpreted in a variety of ways in different ports of the world and by different Ship Owners/Agents. Personally we would prefer to clearly define the extent of responsibility when quoting on this basis.


Given that this is a notional point in chartering terms, this is best described as the Shipper/Receiver arranging for delivery/receival of cargo to/from directly under ships hook and the ship paying for the labour to stow the cargo in the vessels cargo holds, as well as on-board lashing & securing and provision of dunnage materials, and to discharge again over the ship’s side. Shore based stevedoring aspects remain the responsibility of the shipper/receiver, however, there are some Owners that may incorporate these costs into their LTHH rate. Once again, ask Owners to clearly define this aspect.

Wharfage charges/dues/taxes can be a contentious issue but are usually considered to be for the Shippers/Receivers account and there may also be many other statutory levies on cargo or freight that may apply. Many Shippers/Receivers are unaware of these additional costs and do not include them into their costing and consequently may be left with an unexpected considerable expense at the completion of a project.


This is somewhat a vaguer term given different port practices. However, it generally implies that the freight amount provided includes both shore based and on-board stevedoring, lashing/unlashing, dunnage materials, securing/unsecuring and all costs of presenting to/receiving the cargo from the ship’s side; with the shippers/receivers just bearing the cost of discharging from/reloading to the transport, along with the usual port charges/levies/taxes etc.

Frequently the terms are varied at different ends of the voyage i.e. FILO (Free In/Liner Out), LIFO (Liner In Free Out) or FIFO (Free In/Free Out) etc. To be absolutely sure of all liabilities, it is always advisable to request that terms clearly and concisely indicate what is/isn’t included in your particular contract – in layman’s terms.



AAAlways Afloat
AAAAAlways Accessible Always Afloat
AAOSAAlways Afloat or Safe Aground. Condition for a vessel whilst in port
AARAAmsterdam-Antwerp-Rotterdam Area
ABAFTToward the rear (stern) of the ship. Behind.
ABOARDOn or within the ship
ABOVE DECKOn the deck (not over it - see ALOFT)
ADCOMAddress Commission
ADDENDUMAdditional chartering terms at the end of a charter party
AFSPSArrival First Sea Pilot Station (Norway)
AFFREIGHTMENTThe hiring of a ship in whole or part
AFTAt or towards the stern or rear of a ship
AGROUNDTouching or fast to the bottom
AGWAll Going Well
AHLAustralian Hold Ladders
AIDS TO NAVIGATIONArtificial objects to supplement natural landmarks indicating safe and unsafe waters
ALOFTAbove the deck of the ship
AMIDSHIPSIn or toward the centre of the ship
ANCHORAGEA place suitable for anchorage in relation to the wind, seas and bottom
ANTHAMAntwerp-Hamburg Range
APSArrival Pilot Station
ARAG  >Amsterdam-Rotterdam--Antwerp-Gent Range >
ARBITRATIONMethod of settling disputes which is usually binding on parties. A clause usually in a charter party
ASBAAmerican Shipbrokers Association
ASPWAny Safe Port in the World
ASTERNIn the back of the ship, opposite of ahead
ATDNSHINCAny Time Day/Night Sundays and Holidays Included
ATHWARTSHIPSAt right angles to the centreline of the ship
ATUTCActual Times Used to Count


BACKLETTERWhere a seller/shipper issues a 'letter of indemnity' in favour of the carrier in exchange for a clean bill of lading
BAFBunker Adjustment Factor. A Fuel Surcharge expressed as a percentage added or subtracted from the freight amount, reflecting the movement in the market place price for bunkers.
BALE CAP.Cubic capacity of a vessels holds to carry packaged dry cargo such as bales/pallets
BALLASTHeavy weight, often sea water, necessary for the stability and safety of a ship which is not carrying cargo
BALLAST BONUSCompensation for relatively long ballast voyage
BAREBOAT CHTR.Bareboat Charter - Owners lease a specific ship and control its technical management and commercial operations only. Charterers take over all responsibility for the operation of the vessel and expenses for the duration.
BBBBefore Breaking Bulk. Refers to freight payments that must be received before discharge of a vessel commences
BDIBoth Dates Inclusive
BEAMThe maximum breadth or the greatest width of a ship
BELOWBeneath the deck
BENDSBoth Ends (Load & Discharge Ports)
BIBoth Inclusive
BIMCOThe Baltic and International Maritime Council
BL 1Bale
BL 2(Bill of Lading) A document signed by the carrier which acts as a Contract of Affreightment, a receipt and evidence of title to the cargo.
BNBooking Note
BOBBunker on Board
BOFFERBest Offer
BOWThe forward part of a ship
BROBBunkers Remaining on Board
BROKERAGEPercentage of freight payable to broker (by owners in c/p's) or applicable to sale or purchase
BSS 1/1Basis 1 Port to 1 Port
BTBerth Terms
BULKHEADA vertical partition separating compartments
BUNDLINGThis is the assembly of pieces of cargo, secured into one manageable unit. This is relevant to items such as Structural Steel, Handrails, Stairways etc. Whilst this is a very flexible description, a rule of thumb is to present cargo at a size easily handled by a large (20 tonne) fork lift.
BUNKERSName given for vessels Fuel and Diesel Oil supplies (Originates from coal bunkers)
BUOYAn anchored float used for marking a position on the water or a hazard or a shoal and for mooring
BWADBrackish Water Arrival Draft


CAFCurrency Adjustment Factor
CBMCubic Metres
CBFT (or CFT)Cubic Feet
CFR (or C&F)Cost and Freight (name port of destination). The seller must pay the costs of freight necessary to bring the goods to the name port of destination.
CHARTA map used by navigators
CHOPTCharterers Option
CIFCost, Insurance and Freight (name port of destination). The sellers must pay the cots of freight necessary to bring the goods to the named port of destination as in CFR and also must arrange marine insurance for the goods.
CKDCompletely knocked down
COAContract of Affreightment - Owners agree to accept a cost per revenue tonne for cargo carried on a specific number of voyages.
CIPCarriage & Insurance Paid To (name place of destination). The seller has the same obligations as under CPT, but is also responsible for obtaining cargo insurance.
COACPContract of Affreightment Charter Party
COBClosing of Business
COBLDNClosing of Business London
CODCash On Delivery
COGSACarriage of Goods by Sea Act
CONGESTIONPort/berth delays
C/SNEECONSIGNEE. Name of agent, company or person receiving consignment
COPCustom Of Port
CP (or C/P)Charter Party
CPDCharterers Pay Dues
CPTCarriage Paid To (name place of destination). The seller must pay for any freight costs involved in getting the goods to the name destination. (but does not have to obtain insurance for the goods). The seller fulfils its obligation to deliver when it hands the goods over to the carrier and not when the goods reach the place of destination.
CQDCustomary Quick Despatch
CRCurrent Rate
CROBCargo Remaining on Board
CRTCargo Retention Clauses, introduced by charterers based on shortage of delivered cargo because of increased oil prices
CTRContainer Fitted


DADisbursement Account
DAFDeliver At Frontier
DAPSDelivered at Place (name place of destination).
The seller delivers when the goods are placed at the disposal of the buyer on the arriving means of transport ready for unloading at the named place of destination. The seller bears all ricks involved in bringing the goods to the named place. DAP requires the seller to clear the goods for export, however the seller has no obligation to clear the goods for import, pay any import duty or carry out any import customs formalities.
DAMFORDETDamages for Detention. Penalty if cargo is not ready when ship arrives for working (1st day of Laycan). This is not detention which is charged for ships time on delay. If the cargo is ready there is no DAMFORDET.
DATDelivered at Terminal (insert named terminal) The seller is responsible for delivering the goods to the nominated terminal.
DDUDelivered Duty unpaid.
DDPDelivered Duty Paid (name place of destination).
The seller delivers the goods when the goods are placed at the disposal of the buyer, cleared for import on the arriving means of transport ready for unloading at the named place of destination. The seller bears all the costs and risks involved in bringing the goods to the place of destination and has on obligation to clear the goods not only for export but also for import, to pay any duty for both export and import and to carry out all customs formalities.
DECKA permanent covering over a compartment, hull or any part thereof
DEMDemurrage (Quay Rent). Money paid by the shipper for the occupying port space beyond a specified "Free Time" period.
DEQDelivered Ex Quay
DESDelivered Ex Ship
DESPDespatch. Time saved, reward for quick turnaround- in dry cargo only
DETDetention (See DAMFORDET)
DEVDeviation. Vessel departure from specified voyage course
DFRTDeadfreight. Space booked by shipper or charterer on a vessel but not used
DHDATSBEDespatch Half Demurrage on All Time Saved Both Ends
DHDWTSBEDespatch Half Demurrage on Working Time Saved Both Ends
DISCH  >Discharge
DLOSPDropping Last Outwards Sea Pilot (Norway)
DODiesel Oil
DOLSPDropping Off Last Sea Pilot (Norway)
DOPDropping Outward Pilot
DOTDepartment of Transport
DNRCAOSLONLDiscountless and Non-Returnable Cargo and/or Ship Lost or Not Lost
DRAUGHT (or DRAFT)Depth to which a ship is immersed in water. The depth varies according to the design of the ship and will be greater or lesser depending not only on the weight of the ship and everything on board, but also on the density of the water in which the ship is lying.
DRK  >Derrick
DUNNAGE  >Materials of various types, often timber or matting, placed among the cargo for separation, and hence protection from damage, for ventilation and, in the case of certain cargoes, to provide space in which the tynes of a fork lift truck may be inserted.
DWAT (or DWT)Deadweight. Weight of cargo, stores and water, i.e. the difference between lightship and loaded displacement.


EBBA receeding current
ECEast Coast
EIUEven If Used
ELVENT  lang=FR>Electric Ventilation
ETAEstimated Time of Arrival
ETCEstimated Time of Completion
ETDEstimated Time of Departure
ETSEstimated Time of Sailing
EXWEx Works (name works). The seller delivers when it places the goods at the disposal of the buyer at the seller�s premises. EXW represents the minimum obligation for the seller.


FACFast as can
FASFree Alongside Ship (name port of shipment). It is the seller�s responsibility to ensure goods have been placed alongside the vessel at the wharf.
FCAFree Carrier (insert named place of delivery)
The seller delivers the goods to the nominated carrier. FCA requires the seller to clear the goods for export.
FD (FDIS)Free Discharge
FDDFreight Demurrage Deadfreight
FDESPFree Despatch
FDEDANRSAOCLONLFreight Deemed Earned, Discountless And Non-Returnable (Refundable) Ship And Or Cargo Lost Or Not Lost
FENDERA cushion, placed between ships, or between a ship and a pier, to prevent damage
FEUStandard 40' Container
FHEXFridays/Holidays Excluded
FHINCFridays/Holidays Included
FILOFree In/Liner Out. Seafreight with which the shipper pays load costs and the carrier pays for discharge costs.
FIOFree In/Out. Freight booked FIO includes the seafreight, but no loading/discharging costs, i.e. the charterer pays for cost of loading/discharging cargo.
FIOSFree In/Out Stowed. As per FIO, but excludes stowage costs.
FIOSTFree In/Out and Trimmed. Charterer pays for cost of loading/discharging cargo, including stowage and trimming.
FIOTFree In/Out and Trimmed. As per FIOS but includes trimming, e.g. the levelling of bulk cargoes. FIOS includes seafreight, but excludes loading/discharging and stowage costs.
FITFree In Trimmed
FIWFree In Wagon
FIXINGChartering a Vessel
FIXTUREConclusion of shipbrokers negotiations to charter a ship - an agreement
FLATPACKINGCargo to be presented stacked and secured as an integral unit.
FLTFull Liner Terms
FMCFederal Maritime Commission
FMEForce Majeure Excepted
FO 1For Orders
FO 2  (IFO)Fuel Oil/Intermediate FO
FO 3Free Out
FOBFree on Board (name port of shipment). The seller delivers the goods on board the vessel nominated by the buyer at the named port of shipment. FOB requires the seller to clear the goods for export.
FOFFERFirm Offer
FOGFor Our Guidance
FOQFree On Quay
FORFree On Rail
FORCE MAJEUREClause limiting responsibilities of the charterers, shippers and receivers of cargo.
FORE-AND-AFTIn a line parallel to the keel
FORWARDToward the bow of the ship
FOTFree On Truck
FOW 1First Open Water
FOW 2Free On Wharf
FPFree Pratique. Clearance by the Health Authorities
FRFirst Refusal. First attempt at best offer that can be matched
FREEBOARDThe minimum vertical distance from the surface of the water to the gunwale
FRTFreight. Money payable on delivery of cargo in a mercantile condition
FREE DESPATCHIf loading/discharging achieved sooner than agreed, there will be no freight money returned.
FREE EXINSFree of any Extra Insurance (Owners)
FREE OUTFree of discharge costs to owners. Includes seafreight only.
FRUSTRATIONCharterers when cancelling agreement sometimes quote 'doctrine of frustration' i.e. vessel is lost, extensive delays.
FWADFresh Water Arrival Draft
FWDDFresh Water Departure Draft
FYGFor Your Guidance
FYIFor Your Information


GAGeneral Average
GEARA general term for ropes, blocks, tackle and other equipment
GLS (GLESS)Gearless
GN (or GR)Grain (Capacity)
GOGas Oil
GPGrain Capacity. Cubic capacity in 'grain'
GRGeographical Rotation. Ports in order of calling
GRTGross Registered Tonnage
GSBGood, Safe Berth
GSPGood, Safe Port
GUNWALEThe upper edge of a ship's sides
2HSecond Half


HAGUE RULESCode of minimum conditions for the carriage of cargo under a Bill of Lading
HATCHAn opening in a ship's deck fitted with a watertight cover
HBFHarmless Bulk Fertilizer
HDLTSBENDSHalf Despatch Lay Time Saved Both Ends
HDWTSHalf Despatch Working (or Weather) Time Saved
HHDWHandy Heavy d.w. (Scrap)
HIRET/C Remuneration
HMSHeavy Metal Scraps
HOLDA compartment below deck in a large vessel, used solely for carrying cargo
HULLThe main body of a ship
HWHigh Water


ICWIntercoastal Waterway : bays, rivers, and canals along the coasts (such as the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts), connected so that vessels may travel without going into the sea
IMDGInternational Maritime Dangerous Goods Code
IMOInternational Maritime Organisation
IN &/OR OVERGoods carried below and/or on deck
INTERMODALCarriage of a commodity by different modes of transport, i.e. sea, road, rail and air within a single journey
INCOTERMSThree letter codes (acronyms) established by the International Chamber of Commerce to provide guidelines to the responsibilities of the buyer and seller for the most commonly used terms in foreign trade.
ITFInternational Transport Workers Federation (Trade Unions). Complies on crewing
IUIf Used
IUHTAUTCIf Used, Half Time Actually To Count
IWLInstitute Warranty Limits


KEELThe centreline of a ship running fore and aft; the backbone of a vessel
KNOTA measurement of speed equal to one nautical mile (6,076 feet) per hour


LANE METERA method of measuring the space capacity of Ro/Ro ships whereby each unit of space (Linear Meter) is represented by an area of deck 1.0 meter in length x 2.0 meters in width.
LASHTo hold goods in position by use of Ropes, Wires, Chains or Straps etc.
LATLatitude. The distance north or south of the equator measured and expressed in degrees.
LAYCANLaycan (Layday Cancelling Date)
LAYTIMETime at Charterers disposal for purpose of loading/discharging
L/CLetter of Credit
LCRLowest Current Rate
LEEThe side sheltered from the wind
LEEWARDThe direction away from the wind. Opposite of windward
LEEWAYThe sideways movement of the ship caused by either wind or current
LFLoad Factor. Percentage of cargo or passengers carries e.g. 4,000 tons carried on a vessel of 10,000 capacity has a load factor of 40%
LIENRetention of property until outstanding debt is paid
LNGLiquefied Natural Gas
LOALength Overall of the vessel
LOFLloyds Open Form
LOGA record of courses or operation. Also, a device to measure speed
LOILetter of Indemnity
LONGITUDEThe distance in degrees east or west of the meridian at Greenwich, England
LOWLast Open Water
LS (or LUMPS) lang=FR>Lumpsum Freight. Money paid to Shipper for a charter of a ship (or portion) up to stated limit irrespective of quantity of cargo
LSDLashed Secured Dunnaged
LT 1Liner Terms
LT 2Long Ton = 1,016.05 kilogram (2,240 lbs)
LTHHLiner Terms Hook/Hook
LWLow Water
LYCNLaycan (Layday Cancelling Date)


MANIFESTInventory of cargo on board
MBMerchant Broker
MDO (DO)Marine Diesel Oil
MIDSHIPApproximately in the location equally distant from the bow and stern
MIN/MAXMinimum/Maximum (cargo quantity)
MOAMemorandum of Agreement
MOLCHOPTMore or Less Charterers Option
MOLOOMore or Less Owners Option
MOORINGAn arrangement for securing a ship to a mooring buoy or pier
MT  >Mertic Tonne (i.e. 1,000 kilos) >
M/VMotor Vessel / Merchant Vessel >


NAABSANot Always Afloat But Safely Aground
NMNautical Mile. One minute of latitude; approximately 6,076 feet - about 1/8 longer than the statute mile of 5,280 feet
NAVIGATIONThe art and science of conducting a ship safely from one point to another
NCBNational Cargo Bureau
NESTINGImplies that cargo is presented stacked in the contour of similarly shaped cargo, it may be likened to a stack of plates. This is particularly relevant in the presentation of tankage strakes for transport
NON-REVERSIBLE(Detention). If loading completed sooner than expected, then saved days will not be added to discharge time allowed.
NORNotice of Readiness
NRTNet Restricted Tonnage
NYPENew York Produce Exchange


OOOwners Option
OBOOre/Bulk/Oil Vessel
OSHOpen Shelter Deck
OVERBOARDOver the side or out of the ship


P&IProtection and Indemnity Insurance
PCPeriod of Charter
PCGOPart Cargo
PDPRPer Day Pro Rata
PER SEBy Itself
PHPDPer Hatch Per Day
An internationally recognised line painted on the side of merchant ships. When a ship is loaded, the water level is not supposed to go above the line. Water can reach different parts of the line as its temperature and saltiness varies with the season and location. From where Plimsoll Shipping derived its name.
PORTThe left side of a ship looking forward. A harbour.
PRATIQUE lang=FR>Licence or permission to use a port
PREAMBLEIntroduction to a charter party
PROFORMAEstimated Account
PUSPlus Us
PWWDPer Weather Working Day


RECAPRecapitulation of the terms and conditions agreed
REVERSIBLE(Detention). If loading completed sooner than expected at load port, then days saved can be added to discharge operations.
ROBRemaining On Board
RTRevenue Tonne (i.e. 1.0 metric tonne or 1.0 cubic meter, whichever greater). The overall RT is calculated on a line by line basis of the Packing List using the largest amount. The overall freight liability is calculated on the total RT amount, multiplied by the freight rate.


SATPMSaturday P.M.
SBSafe Berth
SD (or SID)Single Decker
SEAFREIGHTCosts charged for transporting goods over the sea. This does not cover haulage or loading/discharging costs but the sea transport only
SEAWORTHINESSStatement of condition of the vessel (valid certificates, fully equipped and manned etc.)
SELFDSelf Discharging
SEMI-TRAILERSAre usually 12.0 meter flat bed road trailers
SFStowage Factor. Cubic space (measurement tonne) occupied by one tonne (2,240 lbs/1,000 kgs) of cargo
SHINCSundays/Holidays Included
SHEXSundays/Holidays Excluded
SKIDSAre bearers (timber or steel) positioned under the cargo to enable forklift handling at port, and for ease of rigging and lashing on board ship.
SNSatellite Navigation - A form of position finding using radio transmissions from satellites with sophisticated on-board automatic equipment
SOCShipper Owned Container
SOFStatement of Facts
SPSafe Port
SPIDERINGIs the strengthening of circular tanks for transport, this prevents the tanks from becoming warped. The tanks are strengthened with steel or wood crossbeams giving a "spider" appearance
SRBLSigning and Releasing Bill of Lading
SSHEXSaturdays, Sundays, Holidays Excluded
SSHINC (or SATSHINC)Saturdays, Sundays, Holidays Included
STABILITYIt is paramount that a vessel is stable in all aspects at all times. When cargo is loaded/discharged, the stability is monitored by a computer, which takes into account the weight and position of cargo within the vessel.
STARBOARDRight side of a ship when facing the front or forward end.
STEMSubject to Enough Merchandise (Availability of cargo). Also, the forward most part of the bow.
STERNThe aformost or after part of a ship
SUBSubject (to). Depending upon as a condition
SUPERCARGOPerson employed by a ship owner, shipping company, charterer of a ship or shipper of goods to supervise cargo handling operations. Often called a port captain.
SWADSalt Water Arrival Draft
SWDDSalt Water Departure Draft


THWARTSHIPSAt right angles to the centreline of the ship
TIDEThe periodic rise and fall of water level in the oceans
TIME BARTime after which legal claims will not be entered
TBNTo Be Named / To Be Nominated
TCTime Charter - Owners agree to hire a particular ship for a set length of time and provide technical management, crewing etc.
TCPTime Charter Party
TEUStandard 20' Container
TOPSIDESThe sides of a ship between the waterline and the deck; sometimes referring to onto or above the deck
TRIMFore and aft balance of a ship
TWTween Decker


USCUnless Sooner Commenced
UUUnless Used
UUIWCTAUTCUnless Used In Which Case Time Actually Used To Count


VPDVessel Pays Dues


WATERLINEA line painted on a hull which shows the point to which a ship sinks when it is properly trimmed
WAYMovement of a ship through water such as headway, sternway or leeway
WCCONWhether Customs Cleared Or Not
WIBONWhether In Berth Or Not
WIFPONWhether In Free Pratique Or Not
WINDWARDToward the direction from which the wind is coming
WIPONWhether In Port Or Not
WLTOHCWater Line-To-Hatch Coaming
WOGWithout Guarantee
WPWeather Permitting. That time during which weather prevents working shall not count as laytime
WPDWeather Permitting Day
WWDWeather Working Day
WRICWire Rods In Collis
WWRWhen, Where Ready
WWWWWibon, Wccon, Wifpon, Wipon


YARYork Antwerp Rules
YAWTo swing or steer off course, as when running with a quartering sea