The shipping and freight industry is full to the brim with jargon like any other industry. In order to help you understand your shipping partner, we have collected the most common terms used in the shipping industry. 


In this section, we have summed up the most important terms that are used in shipping:

Accessorials – The shipping term used to describe accessorial services that require more than shipment from dock to dock. Accessorials can include the need for specific equipment and services such as lift gates, non-commercial destinations, and pick-up and/or delivery inside.

Beneficial Owner – A legal term where particular property rights belong to a person even though the legal title of the property belongs to another person. This term is often used in rail or ocean freight and refers to the actual owner of the freight being shipped, despite the title of the freight is in another party’s name.

Bill of Lading (BOL) – Another legal term describing the contract between the shipper and the carrier, broker or agent that defines all characteristics of the freight shipping arrangement,

Bulk Freight – A shipment that is not held inside packages or containers.

Consignee – The person that is responsible for the receipt of a shipment. This individual is usually the receiver of the freight as well.

Consignor – The person that sends goods to the consignee and is the legal owner of the cargo until the consignee pays them.

Consolidation – A consolidated shipment is when various shipments are merged to save money on shipping costs. This shipping method is used in less than container load shipping where several stops are made before the final destination.

Interline – This shipping phrase is used when a container shipment's original carrier moves the cargo to another carrier in order to get it to its final destination.

Intermodal Transportation – When cargo is shipped by using the combination of different modes of transportation.


Here we will talk about various acronyms used in the shipping industry:

C of O (Certificate of Origin) – A legal document that states the country of origin of the shipped cargo. 

BAF (Bunker Adjustment Factor) – One of the fees charged for goods transported by sea freight. A specific fee reflects the fluctuation of shipping costs, for example, the change in global oil prices.

FAK (Freight All Kinds) – A shipping term used to describe a carrier's tariff classification for different kinds of cargo that are shipped together in consolidated shipments.

LCL (Less than Container Load) – A term used to describe the transport of small ocean freight shipments that don’t require the full capacity of an ocean container.

FCL (Full Container Load) – Used to describe the transport of shipments that require the full capacity of a shipping container.

ICD (Inland Clearance Depot) – An inland zone that serves as an extension to a port and offers similar facilities as a licensed customs warehouse where it is possible to store cargo until customs clearance.

SSN (Standard Shipping Note) – It is a form containing information on the cargo and the companies that are a part of the international shipping process.

UCN (Unique Consignment Number) – The number that is used to identify a shipment as it moves internationally.