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35 Acronyms You May Have Seen On Your Shipping Documents (but didn’t know what they mean)

We hear our customers time and time again saying… there are so many acronyms to keep up with in the freight forwarding world. We’ve compiled a list of 35 most common ones to help:

1. AWB Airway bill – is a receipt issued by an international airline for goods and an evidence of the contract of carriage, but it is not a document of title to the goods.
2. B/L or BOL – Bill of Lading – is a legal document between the shipper and carrier detailing the type, quantity and destination of the goods being carried. It also serves as a receipt of shipment when the goods are delivered at the destination.
3. CBP – Customs and Border Protection (U.S.)
4. CES – Container Exam Station
5. CFS – Container Freight Station
6. CIF – Cost, Insurance & Freight – one of the Incoterms (named port of destination).
7. COD – Cash on Delivery – payment is required upon receipt of invoice. Delivery is scheduled after payment is received.
8. CPT – Carriage Paid To – one of the Incoterms (named place of destination).
9. CY – Container Yard
10. DAP – Delivered At Place – one of the Incoterms (named place of destination).
11. DDP – Delivered Duty Paid – one of the Incoterms (named place of destination).
12. DO – Delivery Order – is a document from a consignee/an owner/his agent of freight carrier which orders the release of the transportation of cargo to another party.
13. ELD – Electronic Log Device for truckers
14. ETA – Estimated Time of Arrival
15. ETD – Estimated time of Delivery
16. ETS – Estimated Time of Shipping
17. EXW – Ex Works – one of the Incoterms (named place of delivery).
18. FCA – Free Carrier – one of the Incoterms (named place of delivery).
19. FCL – Full Container Load
20. FOB – Free on Board – one of the Incoterms (named port of shipment).
21. FTL – Full Truck Load
22. FTZ – Free Trade Zone
23. HAWB – House Airway bill – a bill of lading issued for consolidated air freight shipments.
24. IATA – International Air Transport Association
25. IMO – International Maritime Organization
26. ISF – The Importer Security Filing – U.S. Customs and Border Protection regulation that requires importers and vessel operating carriers to provide advance shipment information.
27. LCL – Less than Container Load
28. Lo-Lo – Lift-on/lift-off – an on-board crane is used to load/unload the cargo from/to the vessel.
29. LTL – Less than Truck Load
30. MAWB – Master Airway bill – the contract of carriage between the forwarder and carrier.
31. NVOCC – Non Vessel-Operating Common Carrier – a company that does not own any vessels, but provides ocean shipping services.
32. OBL – Original Bill of Lading – a physical paper document that confirms that the merchandise sent from an exporter to an importer has been shipped with the carriage X.
33. POD – Proof of Delivery – receipt signed by a consignee or recipient, confirming delivery of a shipment in good order and condition.
34. Ro-Ro – Roll-on/roll-off – cargo is driven on/off a vessel using built-in ramps.
35. USPPI – U.S. Principal Party in Interest – the person in the United States that receives the primary benefits, monetary or otherwise, of the export transaction; generally that person is the U.S. seller, manufacturer, order party or foreign entity.

Any questions? Contact us at 800 288 7139 or email us at, and we’ll be glad to help.