20 essential shipping acronyms every shipper should know

Logistics and Freight Forwarding

Logistics and Freight Forwarding

From IMO 2020 and ELD to GRI and EEI, chances are you've encountered these acronyms at some point. But how well do you really understand them?

Ever wondered about the difference between HS and HTS codes? Or whether a 20-foot container is the same as a TEU? And what's the connection between SOLAS and VGM?

Whether you deal with providers, Freight Forwarders, or agents, you've probably encountered these terms countless times. And if you've ever felt confused, don't worry, you're not alone.

International Ocean Freight is filled with technical terms that can easily overwhelm new importers and exporters unfamiliar with the industry's intricacies.

From required documents and shipment types to international regulations and customs procedures, maritime transport has its own set of acronyms and abbreviations.

In this infographic, you'll discover 20 of the most common acronyms that every shipper needs to know to navigate the vast world of ocean freight.

IMO (International Maritime Organization):

Under IMO 2020 regulations, which took effect on January 1, 2020, the sulfur content in marine fuels is capped at 0.5%, down from the previous 3.5%.

ELD (Electronic Logging Device) Mandate:

This US regulation requires drivers of commercial motor vehicles to electronically log their hours of service.

SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea):

An international maritime treaty that establishes basic safety measures for the construction, equipment, and operation of merchant vessels.

VGM (Verified Gross Mass):

The total gross weight of a shipping container, including dunnage, bracing, and tare weight. Under SOLAS regulations, shippers must declare the VGM of their shipping containers.

P2P (Port to Port):

In port-to-port shipping, cargo is transported from the port of origin to the port of destination, excluding transportation services before and after loading.

D2D (Door to Door):

In door-to-door shipping, cargo is transported from the specified pick-up location at origin (e.g., seller’s warehouse) to the designated drop-off location (e.g., buyer’s warehouse) at destination.

FCL (Full Container Load):

A container shipment that utilizes an entire container, with merchandise not sharing container space with other goods.

LCL (Less than Container Load):

Also known as groupage or shared container shipping, LCL Shipments involve transporting cargo alongside other goods in a single shipping container.

LTL (Less than Truckload):

Similar to LCL but for land transportation, LTL involves grouping and transporting various cargoes together to reduce transportation costs.

TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units):

A unit of measurement in maritime transport, equivalent to the capacity of a standard 20-foot shipping container.

ETD (Estimated Time of Departure):

The expected day when an international shipment is scheduled to depart from the port of origin and commence its maritime transit.

ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival):

The anticipated day when an international shipment is expected to arrive at the port of destination.

POL (Port of Loading):

The port where the shipping container is initially loaded onto the vessel for transport.

POD (Port of Discharge):

The port where the shipping container is unloaded from the vessel and received by the consignee.

GRI (General Rate Increase):

Also referred to as GRR (General Rate Restoration), a GRI denotes an increase in maritime freight rates implemented by shipping lines during periods of low prices.

BL or BoL (Bill of Lading):

A document serving as evidence of a contract of carriage between the shipper and carrier, detailing the terms and conditions of transportation.

ISF (Importer Security Filing):

A regulation mandating that maritime cargo imported into the US must be declared 72 hours before vessel departure, including information on importers, exporters, and cargo.

EEI (Electronic Export Information):

An electronic declaration of goods valued above $2,500 being exported from the US, formerly known as the Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED).

HS (Harmonized System):

Six-digit codes used to classify goods based on their nature, determining the taxes and duties to be paid.

HTS (Harmonized Tariff System):

Seven- to ten-digit codes providing more specific categorization of products than HS codes.

Understanding these terms is crucial for navigating the complexities of shipping processes. Make sure to familiarize yourself with them from the outset to ease your journey through the shipping industry