Abnormal loads

Abnormal loads are when a load cannot be dismantled into units that can be transported within the limits, mass and/or dimensions of a classified normal load. An abnormal load consists of one or more of the following:

  •        Weighs more than 44,000 kilograms
  •        An axle load of more than 10,000 kilograms for a single non-driving axle
  •        Wider than 2.9 metres

ADN (sometimes ADR)

ADN is an agreement for the international transport of dangerous cargo via inland waterways in Europe.


The Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) is a certificate of security introduced by the World Customs Organisation. AEO status can be granted to any economic operator who meet the correct criteria, and will be granted recognition across all Member States.


A person employed for business service on behalf of an individual or company.

AI (1)

All Inclusive Rate (AI). A complete freight rate which includes all charges, taxes and duties.

AI (2)

See: Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Air cargo

Goods which are transported through the air. This mode of transportation is usually the most expensive, however it is the most reliable and efficient.

Air Charter

Air charter is the business of renting an entire aircraft (i.e. chartering), as opposed to individual aircraft seats (i.e. purchasing a ticket through a traditional airline).


Companies who own and manage fleets of airplanes, for either domestic or commercial.

Air Freight

See: air cargo


A port for aeroplanes to take off and land. This may be commercial or chartered.

Air Waybills (AWB)

The Air Waybill (AWB) is the most important document issued by a carrier, either directly or through its authorised agent. It is a non-negotiable transport document, and it covers transport of cargo from airport to airport. By accepting a shipment, an IATA cargo agent is acting on behalf of the carrier whose air waybill is issued.

All Commodity Rate

A freight rate which applies to any and all commodities.


A deduction from the gross value of goods. Reimbursement or repayment.

Also Notify Party

A secondary person(s) who require confirmation of arrival notice upon receipt of an item.


Any digital currency which isn’t Bitcoin, including Ethereum, Ripple and Dogecoin. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, and altcoin is a collective term for the ‘alternatives’.

Also see: Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency

Ambient Temperature

The air temperature of a specified environment, i.e. the inside of a refrigerated lorry.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

An area of computer science, sometimes called Machine Intelligence, which emphasises the creation of intelligent machines which work and react like humans. Some of the elements of Artificial Intelligence include speech recognition, planning, and problem solving.

In the context of logistics, freight and the supply chain, you may see mentions of Artificial Intelligence where it is used in Robotics – such as warehouse pick and pack robots – or in software, such as Predictive Analytics tools.

ATR Certificate

A customs document that can be used in trade between EU members and Turkey in order to secure tariff preferences on imports and exports between the regions.


Amazon Web Services (AWS). Cloud computing services offered by Amazon.


Back Haul

The returning trip of road-based freight vehicles to their origin. Often, the carrier may offer a discounted rate in order to secure freight for these journeys.Also see: Return Load


See Bunker Adjustment Factor


British International Freight Association. Representative body.


Bitcoin is one of a number of digital currencies – it solely exists online, and there is no physical coin. Bitcoin is decentralized, meaning it is not backed or owned by a government, unlike most currencies. It is not technically legal tender, however this and other ‘Altcoins’.

View the official blockchain website.


Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. An ‘asset’ can be tangible (such as cargo, a car, or cash) or intangible (such as intellectual property, copyright, or patents).

On the blockchain network, anything of value can be tracked and traded with close to zero security risk.

Read our simple guide to Blockchain.

View blockchain.

Black Friday

Black Friday is the name used for the fourth Friday in November – the day following the USA Thanksgiving holiday. It’s one of the busiest shopping days of the year, internationally, and is widely viewed as the start of the holiday shopping season.

Bill of Lading (BOL)

The contract between shipper and carrier, broker or agent. This is a legally binding document which defines all aspects of the shipping arrangement, including the goods.

Bonded Cargo

Freight which moves under stated conditions – a bond – to be delivered to the IRS or U.S. Custom.

Bonded Warehouses

A bonded warehouse is a secured space which imported goods or merchandise is stored, repacked or sorted whilst it awaits customs clearance. Goods and cargo can be stored in a bonded warehouse for up to 5 years from the date of importation without payment, providing the rules and regulations have been followed. Bonded warehouses are popular, as goods can be stored in the UK without actually being registered in the UK market, which, ultimately, improves cash flow. This is ideal for products such as wine and tobacco, or products awaiting launch.

Also see A, B, C, D and E Type Bonded Warehouses under ‘T’

Bulk cargo

Bulk cargo is commodity cargo that is transported unpackaged in large quantities. It refers to material in either liquid or granular particulate form, as a mass of relatively small solids, such as petroleum, grain, coal or gravel.


The oil which fuels ocean vessels.

Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF)

A surcharge which is applied by the carrier in order to compensate for fluctuations in the price of oil. Also called Bunker Surcharge.

Business to business (B2B)

Communication between one business and another. Usually in a professional manner. Communication may be via email, telephone or face to face.

Business to customer (B2C)

Communication between business and customer (or potential customer). Usually in a professional manner, and can be for marketing or advertorial purposes. Communication may be via email, telephone or face to face.

Business Giant

A large (usually worldwide or worldwide-recognised) business.

Bulk Shipping

Unpacked or loose goods in large quantities e.g. oil, coal, gravel etc. which is often carried by bulk freighters. Frequently uses roro as designed to carry wheeled cargo/vehicles e.g. cars, buses, trucks. Vehicles are driven on/off ship using built-in ramps. Ramps are used to avoid damage, packaging, use of cranes, which ultimately makes costs cheaper.



Goods to be shipped.


A person or company who ships goods.

Carrier Alliance

A vessel-sharing agreement which allows carriers to extend their geographical reach.


Customs Declaration Service. This system will replace the current CHIEF system, and is being phased in with some businesses. The new digital service will have the ability to handle future growth.

Chartered Shipping

Ships and crew are hired for particular freight destinations, which allows for full control over the routes and schedules. A contract is agreed between the ship owner and charter. Cost may vary with each load, but can be an expensive form of freight.

CHIEF System

The Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system. The system is run by HMRC and is used to record the declaration of goods to customs. There are plans to soon replace CHIEF with the Customs Declaration Service (CDS).

Clean Bill of Lading

A document which is issues after the inspection of goods received by the carrier. A clean bill confirms the cargo was in good condition and fully accounted for. Conversely, a foul bill suggests there was stock missing or it was damaged.


The goods being shipped.


Sometimes referred to as a shipping container. A metal container where goods are loaded into for transportation. Goods may be loaded onto pallets, which are then stacked into a shipping container.

20ft Refrigerated Container

40ft Container

40ft High Cube Container

40ft Refrigerated Container

TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit)

Containerised shipping

Loading goods via shipping containers. This is Ideal for a variety of goods e.g. temperature controlled goods, goods that require several transportation modes (e.g. air, land or sea freight) without the need to re-handle the load contents. Cost effective and widely used across the globe. Small loads that don’t fill an entire container can be grouped with others (Freight All Kinds (FAK)).

Courier service

An express delivery service via air or road, delivered to the end destination or address.


Currency which solely exists online, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin and Ripple.

Customs clearance

Customs broking or customs brokerage is the ‘clearing’ of goods through customs barriers for importers and exporters.


Foreign-to-foreign trade carried by ships from a nation other than the two trading nations.



Delivered Duty Unpaid – i.e. taxes or other duties are due.


Delivered Duty Paid – no taxes or duty outstanding.


The delivery of goods, from a warehouse to the requested delivery address.

Digital Currency

Currency which solely exists online, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin and Ripple.

Distribution Centre

A warehouse or similar facility which is used for the receipt, storage and redistribution of goods.


Taxes which are applied by Customs. These differ by country and region.


End-to-end business (E2E)

A type of business that deals with the entire process, from start to finish. In freight, this might be from warehouse storage to shipping and courier delivery – all accomplished by one company.


An informative form of communication via email. Unlike a HTML email (which is plain text), an e-shot contains graphics, images and branding. E-shots are a prominent form of marketing for businesses.


The term used for shipping goods or services out of a port or country.

Also see: Import

Export Licence

A certificate required for certain items which must be issued by the government before exporting them.

Excise Duty

A tax which is charged on importing tobacco, alcohol, hydrocarbon oil and biofuels from outside the EU.


Fiscal Warehousing

The ‘Fiscal Warehousing’ system applies to those who desire to store specified merchandises, which include tin, copper, zinc, cereals, coffee, silver and tea. These goods must be notified when stored in the warehouse and exchanged by businesses that do not require VAT registration. Fiscal warehousing in the UK requires conditions to be met, and traders must apply to HMRC for consent.


Freight is a load (e.g. merchandise, goods or a large load such as a vehicle) ready for transportation. A freight load may be organised in pallets, containers or roro (roll on roll off for loads such as vehicles).

Freight forwarding

A freight forwarder is a is a person or company that organises the shipments of freight loads for either individuals or corporations. The goods are usually transported from a manufacturer or producer to a market, customer or final point of distribution.

The forwarder does not move the goods, but acts as an expert in supply chain management, and will organise multimodal forms of freight e.g. road, rail, air or ocean. It is not unusual for freight forwarders to deal with international shipments.


Freightabase is an online comparison tool for freight forwarders. The website (www.freightabase.com) allows customers to search for loads via the ‘quick quote’ function by filling out basic information such as name, load type and shipping pick-up and destination.

Now available: the Quick Quote app for iOS and Android.

Freight Class

When shipping goods, you should be aware of Freight Class. There are 18 categories that are used to classify LTL (less than truckload) shipments, such as the density, stowability, handling and liability of the cargo. Freight Class takes these categories into consideration when working out the freight cost.

Free-Trade Zone

An economic zone – mostly found in developing countries –  which is exempt from usual customs rules on goods. In a free-trade zone, there are no taxes or duties to be paid, to encourage easier and cheaper buying and selling of goods.

FCL (Full Container Load)

A load that fills the maximum capacity of an ISO standard container. The whole container is intended for one consignee.

Also see: LTL


Freight Transport Association. UK-based representative body.

FTL (Full Trailer Load)

Similar to a FCL, a Full Trailer Load is a load that fills the maximum capacity of a trailer.



General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. An internationally recognised legal agreement designed to promote trade and eliminate certain barriers.


General Rate Increase.


GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a law regarding the data protection of customers to businesses, and was set in place in May 2018. Rules and regulations are set in place regarding how businesses can request, obtain and utilise their customers’ information. An example of a GDPR change is that companies have to request customers to manually ‘opt-in’ to be contacted (usually by ticking a box), as opposed to the “opting-out” that has been the case before GDPR was introduced.


When a number of small loads are consolidated into one load to be transported.



See: Road freight

Heavy Lift

The transportation, handling and installation of heavy items, usually weighing 1 ton over 1,000 tons and 100 metres over the width/height of a standard container, trailer or transporter.

High Cube or HQ or HC

A container which exceeds 8ft 6in in height.

HS Code or Harmonised System Codes 

An internationally recognised coding system for the classification of products when transporting and trading goods between countries. The HS code is a 6-digit number that match product descriptions (which is divided into 99 chapters, grouped into 21 sections). HS codes were introduced in 1988 and has been adopted by most countries worldwide.



The term used for shipping goods or services into a port or country.

Also see: Export


International Commercial Terms. These are universally recognised acronyms published by the International Chamber of Commerce. Each term is in a three-letter format.

Inbound Freight

Cargo and goods which are moving into a country/region.


When freight is transferred to another carrier part way through transit.

Intermodal Container

Standardised container used to ship goods.

Intermodal Freight Transportation

The act of transporting cargo via multiple modes of transportation. Also referred to as Multimodal.


An acronym for the International Organisation for Standardisation (IOS). ISO are a regulatory federation who provide international standards with a view to facilitate trade. You may also hear the term ISO Standards which refers to the regulations themselves.



A piece of equipment used to connect multiple trailers. Sometimes called a Dolly.


Kerbside Delivery

Describes the process of delivering cargo directly to the recipient.


Nautical miles per hour. One knot is approximately equal to 1.85km.


LCL (Less than Container Load)

A shipment that does not fill a standard ISO container.

Also see FCL

Linehaul or Line Haul 

The movement of cargo between two major cities or ports. Usually more than 1000 miles apart.


Professional social media for business use. Users can create an online CV and connect with valuable networks related to their industry.

Livestock transportation

The transportation of livestock e.g. live animals, including farm and zoo animals and pets.


An abbreviation of ‘Load on Load off’. Describes the method of freight being loaded onto and disembarked from freight-carrying ships via a crane. Seperate from ‘RoRo’.


Multimodal Shipping

The process of shipping cargo via multiple modes of transportation. Also referred to as Intermodal.


Ocean freight 

Freight that is carried overseas. Usually for heavy cargo and international shipping.

Oversized cargo

Large loads that exceeds the standard dimensions of boats, trucks, tanks etc. This form of freight is not as efficient regarding space or capacity. Therefore, costs can be high, and even higher if additional equipment (e.g. cranes) is needed to move goods.



Items that are classified as perishable or sensitive, and are at risk of damage or decomposition if not packaged appropriately or kept in controlled conditions e.g. fruit, veg, fish, meats, milk, cheese, medicines, flowers.

Project cargo

Transportation of abnormally large items which need tailored requirements.

See: Abnormal loads 


Acronym of ‘Port of Discharge’.



Acronym of ‘Question & Answer’.


Refers to an amount or a limit.


Road freight

Transportation of goods via road, usually by truck or lorry. Goods are usually packed by pallets or containers.

RoRo freight

Roll on/Roll off freight, designed to accommodate wheeled cargo/vehicles e.g. cars, buses, trucks. Vehicles are driven on/off ship using built-in ramps to avoid damage without the need of packaging and use of cranes. This usually makes costs cheaper due to not needing packaging or containers.


Sea ports

A place where the shipment is imported or exported. Shipments usually occur between shipping ports to facilitate for the large amount of vessels and freight goods passing to and from the destination.


A form of freight carried out overseas.

For more information, visit our quick read article on types of ocean freight.

Shipping lines

A business or company that ships loads/containers to the shipping port of destination.

Shipping rates

Prices of shipping freight to/from a point of destination. Prices vary depending on load contents, weight, height, volume, time constraint and place of import/export.

Read our article on shipping rates.

Read our Freight Shipping Guide.


Acronym for Small Business Enterprises (opposite to a business giant).

Special economic zone or Free zone

Unlike a free warehouse, a special economic zone is not a building or property, but a location, which is a geographical area that has been charted and documented.

Social media

An online platform used to communicate and post updates between connected peers or internet users, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, LinkedIn.

Read how social media impacts freight.

Supply chain

The process of the production and distribution of commodity.


A large space dedicated to the storage of goods. This is usually a type of warehouse.

See: Bonded warehouses


Temperature controlled goods

Items that require a controlled temperature environment during its transportation e.g. frozen or chilled goods.

Temporary storage premises (RTO)

Temporary storage premises offer the option of storing goods that enter the customs territory of the EU, pending customs-approved use or handling. According to the government website, goods must be immediately registered, completing a temporary storage declaration document which is logged electronically. Furthermore, goods can only be held in temporary storage premises for a maximum of 90 days. When the 90-day limit passes, duty and VAT will have to be paid, and the owner of the goods may be charged a penalty.


A freight vessel which doesn’t follow a regular line, but can be directed to wherever a shipper requires.

Type B customs warehouse

A public customs warehouse. The administrator (warehouse keeper) can make the warehouse facilities accessible to anyone that desires to store goods under customs control.

Type C customs warehouse

A private customs warehouse, meaning that only the administrator of the warehouse can store goods in it. The goods kept in the warehouse do not have to be the administrator’s property; they can be stored on behalf of others. However, if this is the case he is responsible for the goods kept in storage. The warehouse keeper is also the person that has to provide security to customs.

Type D and E customs warehouse

Private customs warehouses, meaning that only the administrator can store goods in them.

Also see: Bonded Warehouses and Special economic zone or Free zone


Uber Freight 

Uber Freight



A report that is issued by the carrier, which states instructions and any relevant information regarding the shipment. This may include details about the consignee, the load’s contents, point of origin, and destination.


First Party Logistic Model (1PL). The manufacturer or the industrial actor does not outsource transport and logistic activities to third parties. These functions are carried out by the company’s own departments.


Second Party Logistic Model (2PL). The manufacturer uses a carrier or warehouse manager as a subcontractor to execute a transport or logistical task. The organisation and follow-up remain the sole responsibility of the manufacturer. This model is cost-driven and often short-term, with the subcontractor doing what the client instructs, and being paid accordingly.


Third Party Logistic Model (3PL). The manufacturer outsources elements or a package of transport and logistic activities, which are subcontracted to other companies. The third party logistic service provider organises these activities and may hire third parties as subcontractors.

These are more often long-term, cooperative partnerships, with a cost-saving element: using a 3PL to handle logistics means not having to manage a warehouse or monitor supply chain operations in-house.


Fourth Party Logistic Model (4PL). This is when one of the contractors in a 3PL arrangement outsources their own services to fulfil the contract.