A-Z of Shipping Terms & Glossary



Document raised for each airfreight shipment, outlining all the shipment's details, an 'Airwaybill Number' is issued, this enables your shipment to be identified with the carrier, allowing track-ability during transit.

Preference document used in trade between EU members and Turkey, to benefit from cheaper rates of duty


Bill of Lading
Document raised for each Seafreight shipment, this gives the shipment's details, along with a 'Bill of Lading Number', this enables your shipment to be identified with the carrier, allowing trackability during transit.

BIP (Border Inspection Post)
Control post operated by the Port Health Authorities 

Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF)
The Bunker Adjustment Factor, or BAF, as it is more commonly known, is one of the charges levied on goods transported via Sea Freight. This particular charge represents the fluctuating costs to the shipping, as an example varying global oil prices.

BTI (Binding Tariff Information)
Formal classification of an item / product to a specific Customs commodity code for your goods. Samples are sent to Customs for them to assess and advise the Commodity Code

C of O (Certificate of Origin)
Stamped official document declaring Country of Origin, this is often required for Textile products 

CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight)
HM Revenue & Customs computer system 

Custom Cleared
This is the term commonly used where cargo has been declared to Customs and all Duty Excise Duty and VAT has been paid and goods are then free from Customs control.

Currency Adjustment Factor (CAF)
The Currency Adjustment Factor, or CAF, as it is also known, is one of the charges levied during shipping. This charge covers changes to the differing currency exchange rates. 

Deferment Account
Bank account held with Customs to pay Duty and / or VAT (DAN - Deferment Account Number) this can be held by a Company or you may be able to agree terms to use your Import Agent / Customs brokers account.

The use of a container beyond the time allowed by a Shipping Line is referred to as Container Demurrage

Devan (Devanned, Devanning, Deconsolidation)
Unloading of cargo from a Sea Freight Container 

DG Cert (Dangerous Goods Certificate)
Document which must accompany hazardous cargo during transit 

Term used for exemption from duty and/or VAT on aircraft or Ships spares, in transit 

ERTS (Enhanced Remote Transit Shed)
An approved warehouse by Customs, where goods can be held as Uncleared (Duty VAT unpaid, Non EEC status), for example groupage containers may be moved to these locations for devanning and then each individual shipment may be cleared at the ERTS warehouse by an Importers Clearance agent / broker.

EORI Number (formerly TURN number or VAT Number)
An EORI number is a number, unique throughout the European Community,
assigned by a customs authority in a Member State to economic operators
(businesses) or persons. By registering for customs purposes in one Member State,
an Economic Operator (EO) is able to obtain an EORI number which is valid
throughout the Community. The EO will then use this number in all communications
with any EC customs authorities where a customs identifier is required for example
customs declarations.

EUR1 form entitles originating UK or EU goods to lower import duties or even zero duties.

Express release Bill
Where a Shipping line do not require the surrender of an Original of the Bill of lading to release the goods to Consignee as per their Freight manifest. 


FCL (Full Container Load)
Relating to a full Sea Freight Container, this is the opposite of LCL.  These are typically 20 or 40ft units

The process of Fumigation is where a container is filled with Gases / Pesticides to kill vermin or Insects or other infestations. 

Free Circulation Goods
Goods where the Import Duty, VAT and any Excise Duties have been paid and are no long under Customs control.


A mixed container packed with different importers goods, is known as a 'Groupage' container.

GSP (Generalised System of Preferences)
Document relating to trade agreement to give preferential rates of duty to developing countries 

General Cargo
Non containerised cargo – loose loaded to vessels, this can be on a pallet or it maybe for example something which is to big for a container.


Inland Delivery 

Person or Company making the Inland Delivery of Freight or Containerised Freight

Lorry / Truck with a small crane attached 

House Airwaybill (HAWB)
Transit document issued by a Freight Forwarder for use in consolidated air freight shipments.

HS Code (Harmonised Code) / Tariff Headnig
Classification / commodity code (similar to EC Code). 


ICD (Inland Clearance Depot)
Warehouse where goods are moved to an approved Customs warehouse for Clearance.

IPR (Inward Processing Relief)
Goods being imported temporarily for a process ukimports.org


LCL (Less than a Container Load)
A shipment in a shared Container this is the opposite of FCL. An LCL shipment will more than likely be moved to an ERTS or ICD for Clearance and onward collection / distribution.

LO-LO (Load-On, Load-Off)
A charge for loading and unloading a container 


Master Airwaybill (MAWB)
Transit document issued by an airline 

Moffitt Truck
Lorry / Truck with a Fork-lift attached


NCTS (The New Computerised Transit System)
The New Computerised Transit System (NCTS) is a computer system that has been developed to enable traders to submit Community/Common Transit declarations electronically. 

NIRU (National Import Relief Unit)
Temporary Import unit of H M Revenue & Customs 


Original Bill of Lading
Where a Shipping line requires the surrender of an Original of the Bill of lading to release the goods to the Authorised party mentioned on the Bill of lading.

Goods arrived unexpectedly (un-manifested)


Port Health
Port Health Authorities and Local Authorities have a number of different port health functions which together protect the Public, Environmental and Animal Health of the UK. These functions include ensuring infectious disease does not spread from vessels, enforcing controls on imported food and sampling shellfish beds for contamination.

Pre-Lodged (Pre-Lodgment)
Goods entered to Customs prior to goods arrival


The Import Quotas system allows the import of limited amounts of goods at a rate of duty lower than would otherwise apply. Quotas apply to certain goods from particular countries - so they are very specific.


REDS (Registered Excise Dealers and Shippers)
REDS are traders who have been approved by HMRC to receive duty-suspended excise goods from other EU member states.

Release (Commercial Release)
Instructions, usually a fax or email, stating that all monies have been paid, and the goods are Customs cleared, therefore the warehouse operator can release the cleared goods to an authorised collecting party 

Return of Container to Port (or other designated location as specified by the leasing shipping line) 

RO-RO (Roll-on, Roll-Off)
Non-containerised cargo e.g. Car, Bus 

RPA (Rural Payments Agency)
Taken from the Import licensing Branch (www. berr.gov.uk) "... the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) issues import licence's for agricultural, horticultural products and certain items of food and drink".


Sea Waybill
Where a Shipping line do not require the surrender of an Original of the Bill of lading to release the goods to Consignee as per their Freight manifest.

The term used when goods have not arrived as expected, because they were not loaded to Vessel Container or Flight Trailer etc.

The short movement of a Container, usually from Port Quayside to a Warehouse, or internally around the dock yard 


T1 / TAD (Transit Accompanying Document)
Community Transit Status Document accompanying uncleared goods during transit from one authorised location to another. These are generated within the Customs NCTS system

Tremcard (Travel Emergency Card)
Document identifying Hazards, Instructions on how to handle and also actions to be taken when transporting hazardous cargo in the event of an Accident.

Turn Number
Now refer to EORI


Unique Consignment Number, this is a number generated which identifies your Shipment with Customs, Freight Carrier and Port / Airport


VAT (Value Added Tax)
UK Tax which applies to most goods imported into the UK – there are some Exemptions and relief's may apply ukimports.org

VBS (Vehicle Booking System)
System in place at many UK Ports, whereby vehicles must be booked-in prior to Collection / Delivery of Containers


Wet Bond
Term used to describe a Bonded Warehouse which is authorised to store Alcohol (and other excisable goods) which are not if EC free circulation