Advertise Here
Shipping Container Lines
Bookmark and Share
Below is a list of major lines, with links to their website. We also have a handy section on shipping container terminology.


















DOCKWISE (Heavy Lift Ships)








GREAT WHITE FLEET, LTD.(Chiquita Brands)






HORIZON LINES (formerly CSX Lines)





































STAR SHIPPING--302 W. 5th St., Ste. 101, San Pedro, CA 90731-2700, Tel: 562-485-6067














Below is a list of shipping container terminology, in alphabetical order

ABI - U.S. Customs’ "Automated Broker Interface," by which brokers file importers’ entries electronically.

ABOARD - Referring to cargo being put, or laden, onto a means of conveyance

ACQUIESCENCE - When a bill of lading is accepted or signed by a shipper or shipper’s agent without protest, the shipper is said to acquiesce to the terms, giving a silent form of consent.

AD VALOREM DUTY - Duty expressed as a percentage based on the customs value of the goods, eg 10 per cent ad valorem means that the duty payable is 10 per cent of the customs value of the goods.

ADDENDUM - Clause or set of clauses attached to a charter party and incorporated into it.

AFFREIGHTMENT - The hiring of a vessel. A contract of affreightment may be simply a contract for the hire of a vessel.

AGENCY TARIFF - A tariff published by an agent on behalf of several carriers.

AGENT - Ship’s agent. Person who looks after the interests of a vessel when it is in port. Their duties include arranging pilotage, towage and berths for a ship, signing the bills of lading and collecting freight. The agent is paid a fee, agreed in advance
with the shipowner.

AEO – Authorised Economic Operator. Can be forwarder or carrier. An EU-wide initiative that recognises standards of security and systems audit in return for simplified customs treatment at borders. In the interests of security, AEOs will supply electronic pre-arrival and pre-departure messages electronically.

AIS – Automatic Identification System. Preceded by Ecpins – Electronic Chart and Precise Integrated Navigation System.

ALLISION - The act if striking or collision of a moving vessel against a stationary object.

ALONGSIDE - A phrase referring to the side of a ship. Goods delivered "alongside" are to be placed on the dock or barge within reach of the transport ship’s tackle so that they can be loaded.

ARBITRATION - Method of settling disputes which is usually binding on parties. A clause usually in a charter party.

ARRIVAL NOTICE - A notification by carrier of ship’s arrival to the consignee, the "Notify Party," and - when

APPLICABLE - the "Also Notify Party." These parties in interest are listed in blocks 3, 4 and 10, respectively, of the Bill of Lading.

BACKFREIGHT - The owners of a ship are entitled to payment as freight for merchandise returned through the fault of either the consignees or the consignors. Such payment, which is over and above the normal freight, is called backfreight.

BACKHAUL - A deviation to move cargo on the return leg of a voyage for the purpose of minimising ballast mileage and thereby reducing transportation costs

BEAM - Maximum breadth of a ship. Sometimes a factor in determining whether a ship is suitable for a particular port and, consequently if she is suitable to be employed on a particular voyage.

BERTH - Place alongside a quay where a ship loads or discharges cargo. Also often used to mean places alongside a quay, each of which is capable of accommodating only one ship at a time.

BERTH CARGO - When a liner cargo vessel accepts extra cargo to fill up the empty space remaining

BENDS - Both ends.

BILL OF LADING (B/L) - A document that establishes the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company. It serves as a document of title, a contract of carriage and a receipt for goods.
- Amended B/L: B/L requiring updates that do not change financial status; this is slightly different from corrected B/L.
- B/L Terms & Conditions: the fine print on B/L; defines what the carrier can and cannot do, including the carrier’s liabilities and contractual agreements.
- B/L’s Status: represents whether the bill of lading has been input, rated, reconciled, printed, or released to the customer.
- B/L’s Type: refers to the type of B/L being issued. Some examples are: a Memo (ME), Original (OBL), Non negotiable, Corrected (CBL) or Amended (AM) B/L.
- Canceled B/L: B/L status; used to cancel a processed B/L; usually per shipper’s request; different from voided B/L.
- Clean B/L: A B/L which bears no superimposed clause or notation which declares a defective condition of the goods and/or the packaging.
- Combined B/L: B/L that covers cargo moving over various transports.
- Consolidated B/L: B/L combined or consolidated from two or more B/L’s.
- Corrected B/L: B/L requiring any update which results in money or other financially related changes.
- Domestic B/L: Non-negotiable B/L primarily containing routing details; usually used by truckers and freight forwarders.
- Duplicate B/L: Another original Bill of Lading set if first set is lost. also known as reissued B/L.
- Express B/L: Non-negotiable B/L where there are no hard copies of originals printed.
- Freight B/L: A contract of carriage between a shipper and forwarder (who is usually a NVOCC); a non-negotiable document.
- Government B/L (GBL): A bill of lading issued by the U.S. government.
- Hitchment B/L: B/L covering parts of a shipment which are loaded at more than one location. Hitchment B/L usually consists of two parts, hitchment and hitchment memo. The hitchment portion usually covers the majority of a divided shipment and carries the entire revenue.
- House B/L: B/L issued by a freight forwarder or consolidator covering a single shipment containing the names, addresses and specific description of the goods shipped.
- Intermodal B/L: B/L covering cargo moving via multimodal means. Also known as Combined Transport B/L, or Multimodal B/L.
- Long Form B/L: B/L form with all Terms & Conditions written on it. Most B/L’s are short form which incorporate the long form clauses by reference.
- Memo B/L: Unfreighted B/L with no charges listed.
- Military B/L: B/L issued by the U.S. military; also known as GBL, or Form DD1252.
- B/L Numbers: U.S. Customs’ standardized B/L numbering format to facilitate electronic communications and to make each B/L number unique.
- Negotiable B/L: The B/L is a title document to the goods, issued "to the order of" a party, usually the shipper, whose endorsement is required to effect is negotiation. Thus, a shipper’s order (negotiable) B/L can be bought, sold, or traded while goods are in transit and is commonly used for letter-of-credit transactions. The buyer must submit the original B/L to the carrier in order to take possession of the goods.
- Non-Negotiable B/L: See Straight B/L. Sometimes means a file copy of a B/L.
- "Onboard" B/L: B/L validated at the time of loading to transport. Onboard Air, Boxcar, Container, Rail, Truck and Vessel are the most common types.
- Optional Discharge B/L: B/L covering cargo with more than one discharge point option possibility.
- "Order" B/L: See Negotiable B/L.
- Original B/L: The part of the B/L set that has value, especially when negotiable; rest of set are only informational file copies. Abbreviated as OBL.
- Received for Shipment B/L: Validated at time cargo is received by ocean carrier to commence movement but before being validated as "Onboard".
- Reconciled B/L: B/L set which has completed a prescribed number of edits between the shippers instructions and the actual shipment received. This produces a very accurate B/L.
- Short Term B/L: Opposite of Long Form B/L, a B/L without the Terms & Conditions written on it. Also known as a Short Form B/L. The terms are incorporated by reference to the long form B/L.
- Split B/L: One of two or more B/L’s which have been split from a single B/L.
- Stale B/L: A late B/L; in banking, a B/L which has passed the time deadline of the L/C and is void.
- Straight (Consignment) B/L: Indicates the shipper will deliver the goods to the consignee. It does not convey title (non-negotiable). Most often used when the goods have been pre-paid.
- "To Order" B/L: See Negotiable B/L.
- Unique B/L Identifier: U.S. Customs’ standardization: four-alpha code unique to each carrier placed in front of nine digit B/L number; APL’s unique B/L Identifier is "APLU". Sea-land uses "SEAU". These prefixes are also used as the container identification.
- Voided B/L: Related to Consolidated B/L; those B/L’s absorbed in the combining process. Different from Canceled B/L.

BILL OF SALE - Confirms the transfer of ownership of certain goods to another person in return for money paid or loaned.

BILL TO PARTY - Customer designated as party paying for services.

BONDED WAREHOUSE - A warehouse authorized by Customs authorities for storage of goods on which payment of duties is deferred until the goods are removed.

BORDER INSPECTION POST (BIP) - Control point at the place of importation into the European Union (EU) where products of animal origin (POAO) and live animals are subject to the veterinary checks regime.

BREAKBULK CARGO - Cargo lifted on and off ships one piece or bundle at a time using cranes, as opposed to cargo shipped on trailers or in containers.

BRITISH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (BCC) - An organisation comprising a national network of local chambers of commerce spread throughout the UK. There are also a number of British chambers of commerce in other countries. Chambers of commerce provide a range of business services for members.

BRITISH INTERNATIONAL FREIGHT ASSOCIATION (BIFA) - The UK trade body, training institute and trading standards body for freight forwarders.

BS/L - Bills of lading

BT - Berth terms

BTN - Brussels Tariff Nomenclature

CABOTAGE - Transport of goods between two ports or places located in the same country, often restricted to domestic carriers.

CAD - cash against documents

CAF - currency adjustment factor. As for BAF except concerned with exchange rates

CARGO COMMUNITY SYSTEM (CCS-UK) - The computerised cargo processing system that controls goods in an inventory linked environment. These systems are provided in the UK by Community Service providers (CSPs). They consists of a central database and a "switch" to transfer messages between the various computer systems connected to it, in particular HM Cuustoms & Excise CHIEF.

CCS - A term based on IATA’s design specification for community systems. CCS-UK relates only to airfreight.) In the ports, the service is mainly provided by CSPs, MCP and CNS, except in Dover, where the port has its own system.

CARGO HANDLING - The act of loading and discharging a cargo ship.

CARGO MANIFEST - A manifest that lists all cargo carried on a specific vessel voyage.

CARGO NOS - Cargo Not Otherwise Specified. Usually the rate entry in a tariff that can apply to commodities not covered under a specific item or sub item in the applicable tariff.

CARGO PLAN - A plan giving the quantities and description of the various grades carried in the ship’s cargo tanks, after the loading is completed.

CARGO PREFERENCE - Reserving a portion of a nation’s imports and exports to national-flag vessels.

CARGO RETENTION CLAUSES - Clauses introduced by charterers based on shortage of delivered cargo because of increased oil prices.

CARRIAGE OF GOODS BY SEA ACT - A law enacted in 1936 covering the transportation of merchandise by sea to or from ports of the United States and in foreign trades.

CARRIERS - Owners or operators of vessels providing transportation to shippers. The term is also used to refer to the vessels.

CBR - Commodity box rate

CHARTER PARTY - A written contract between the owner of a vessel and the person desiring to employ the vessel (charterer); sets forth the terms of the arrangement such as duration of agreement, freight rate and ports involved in the trip.

CHARTERER - The person to whom is given the use of the whole of the carrying capacity of a ship for the transportation of cargo or passengers to a stated port for a specified time.

CHARTER RATES - The tariff applied for chartering tonnage in a particular trade.

CHARTER PARTY - A contractual agreement between a ship owner and a cargo owner, usually arranged by a broker, whereby a ship is chartered (hired) either for one voyage or a period of time.

CHOPT - In charterers’ option

CHIEF – the central processor of HM Revenue & Customs in the UK, into which all declaratioins are channelled, usually via port-based CSPs.

CIF - Cost, insurance and freight. Delivery of goods is the seller’s responsibility to the port of discharge. The freight is paid for by the supplier of goods.

CIFC - Cost, Insurance and commission

CIFFO - Cost, insurance and freight free out

CIM - International convention on the carriage of goods by rail

CIP - Calling-in-point

CLC - Civil Liability Convention

CLEAN BILL OF LADING - A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were received in "apparent good order and condition," without damage or other irregularities. If no notation or exception is made, the B/L is assumed to be "cleaned."

CMI - Comite Maritime International

CMR - Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by road

COA - Contract of affreightment

CODE OF LINER CONDUCT (UNCTAD) - A convention drafted under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development which provides that all shipping traffic between two foreign countries is to be regulated as far as the quantities of shipments are concerned on the following percentages -- 40% for owners of the country of origin, 40% for owners of country of destination, and 20% for owners of the country which is neither the origin nor the destination.

COFC - Container on flatcar

COGSA - Carriage of Goods by Sea

COMMON CARRIER - Holds himself out for hire to the general public. Must post rates and cannot discriminate against customers whose cargo he is equipped to carry.

CONFERENCE - An affiliation of shipowners operating over the same route(s) who agree to charge uniform rates and other terms of carriage. A conference is "closed" if one can enter only by the consent of existing members of the conference. It is "open" if anyone can enter by meeting certain technical and financial standards. Conference members are common carriers.

CONGESTIONS - Port/berth delays

CONSIGNEE - The person to whom cargo is consigned as stated on the bills of lading.

CONSIGNOR - The person named in the bill of lading as the one from whom the goods have been received for shipment.

CONSOLIDATOR – one who groups individual consignments (LCL /groupage) into a full unit

CONTAINER - A large rectangular or square steel container/box of a into which cargo is loaded and transported. It opens from one side to allow cargo to be stacked and stowed into it.

CONTAINER MANIFEST - Document showing contents and loading sequence of a container.

CONTAINER POOL - An agreement between parties that allows the efficient use and supply of containers. A common supply of containers available to the shipper as required.

CONTAINER SHIP - Vessel carrying general cargo including high-value cargo in containers (boxes) some of which may be refrigerated

CONTAINER TERMINAL - An area designated for the stowage of cargoes in container; usually accessible by truck, railroad and marine transportation. Here containers are picked up, dropped off, maintained and housed.

CONTAINER YARD (CY) - A materials handling/storage facility used for completely unitized loads in containers and/or empty containers. Commonly referred to as CY.

COA - contract of affreightment. An agreement to transport a defined amount of cargo at an agreed freight rate, with the shipowner choosing the ship. No need to spell out.

COP - Custom of the port

COTIF - Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail

CSI - Container Security Initiative

C-TPAT - US Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism

CUSTOMS BONDED WAREHOUSE - A warehouse authorized by Customs to receive duty-free merchandise.

CY - Container yard

DEMURRAGE - penalty imposed upon the charterer for voyages that exceed loading/discharging time allowed in accordance with the charterparty.

DETENTION - A penalty charge against shippers or consignees for delaying carrier’s equipment beyond allowed time. Demurrage applies to cargo; detention applies to equipment.

DISPONENT OWNER - the disponent owner is a lessee company which wholly operates a vessel, whose registered owner is a leasing or finance company. Generally the vessel is regarded as being part of the disponent owner’s fleet.

EDI - Abbreviation for "Electronic Data Interchange." Generic term for transmission of transactional data between computer systems. EDI is typically via a batched transmission, usually conforming to consistent standards* such as Edifact (below).

EDIFACT - International data interchange standards sponsored by the United Nations.

ENTRY - A customs form used for the clearance of ships or merchandise.

ERTS – Enhanced Remote Transit Shed. Operated privately by freight forwarders but approved by HM Customs & Revenue (UK) for receipt of cargoes for temporary storage until they are processed under another customs procedure.

ETA - Estimated time of arrival

ETC - Estimated time of completion

ETD - Estimated time of departure

ETR - Estimated time of readiness

ETS - Estimated time of sailing

FACILITY SECURITY CODE - Universally abbreviated to ISPS.

FAK - Freight all kinds. Refers to a freight rate for the container, regardless of the category of goods moved (as opposed to a commodity tariff).

FAS - Free alongside or free alongside ship

F&CC - Full and complete cargo

FCL- Abbreviation for "Full Container Load."

FD&D - Freight, demurrage and defence

FEEDER SERVICE - Cargo to/from regional ports are transferred to/from a central hub port for a long-haul ocean voyage.

FEEDER VESSEL - A short-sea vessel which transfers cargo between a central "hub" port and smaller "spoke" ports.

FEU - forty foot equivalent unit (container term).

FIATA – International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations

FILO - Free in liner out

FILTD - Free in liner terms discharge

FIO - Free in and out.

FIOLS&D - Freein and out, lashed, secured and dunnaged

FIOS - Free in and out, stowed

FIOST - Free in and out, stowed and trimmed

FIOT - Free in and out, trimmed

FMC (F.M.C.) - Federal Maritime Commission. The U.S. Governmental regulatory body responsible for administering maritime affairs including the tariff system, Freight Forwarder Licensing, enforcing the conditions of the Shipping Act and approving conference or other carrier agreements.

FOB - free on board. Cost of the delivery of goods is the seller’s responsibility only up to the port of loading. The freight is paid for by the buyer of the goods. All lower case, no need to spell out.

FORCE MAJEURE - The title of a common clause in contracts, exempting the parties for non-fulfillment of their obligations as a result of conditions beyond their control, such as earthquakes, floods or war.

FOREIGN TRADE ZONE - A free port in a country divorced from Customs authority but under government control. Merchandise, except that which is prohibited, may be stored in the zone without being subject to import duty regulations.

FOUL BILL OF LADING - A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were damaged when received. Compare Clean Bill of Lading.

FOQ - Free on quay

FOR - Free on rail

FOS - Free oil surcharge

FOT - Free on truck

FOW - First open water

FPT - Fore peak tank

FREE PRATIQUE - Clearance by the Health Authorities

FREE TRADE ZONE - A port designated by the government of a country for duty-free entry of any non-prohibited goods. Merchandise may be stored, displayed, used for manufacturing, etc., within the zone and re-exported without duties.

FREIGHT - Money payable on delivery of cargo in a mercantile condition.

FREIGHT FORWARDER – Historically arranges shipments for customers usually in break bulk and did not actually carry the cargo or conduct business for the ship.
However, forwarders increasingly act as the carrier rarther than agent, buying space with shipping lines in their own right offering a door-to-door service spanning covered under FIATA’s Multimodal Transport Bil of Lading

FREIGHT RATE - The charge made for the transportation of freight.

FROB - Freight remaining on board

FRT - Freight

GROUPAGE - one of a number of consignments that make up a unit load i.e. LCL in containers (consolidation) or trailer groupage (road).

HAGUE RULES - Code of minimum conditions for the carriage of cargo under a bill of lading

HARBOUR DUES - Various local charges against all seagoing vessels entering a harbour, to cover maintenance of channel depths, buoys, lights, etc.

ICC - International chamber of commerce

ICD - Inland container depot. Also used to denote an Inland Clearance Depot, where goods can be processed inland under customs control.

IMO - International Maritime Organization - established in 1958 through the United Nations to coordinate international maritime safety and related practices.

INCOTERMS – an exporter’s selling terms (13 in all) defining the points at which buyers and sellers transfer their responsibility for transport and ancilliary charges at various points in the movement. The term of least responsibility on the part of the exporter (seller) would br ex-works (EXW) – the buyer collects. That with the greatest responsibility is DDP (delivered duty paid).

INTRACOASTAL - Domestic shipping routes along a single coast.

ISPS - Entering into force in July 2004, the ISPS Code was the IMO’s legislative response to the increased threat of terrorism faced by shipping and ports. Its full name is the International Ship and Port

IWT - Inland water transport or inland waterways transport

JIT - Abbreviation for "Just In Time." In this method of inventory control, warehousing is minimal or non existent; the container is the movable warehouse and must arrive "just in time;" not too early nor too late.

LCL - Less than container load

LESS THAN CONTAINER LOAD - A consignment of cargo which is inefficient to fill a shipping container. It is grouped with other consignments for the same destination in a container at a container freight station.

LOI - Letter of indemnity

LO-LO - Abbreviated form for the lift-on, lift-off system of loading and discharging; normally said of shipping containers, whereby cargo is lifted on and off a ship by cranes.

LUMPSUM FREIGHT - Money paid to shipper for charter of a ship (or portion) up to stated limit irrespective of quantity of cargo

MANIFEST - A document containing a full list of the ship’s cargo, extracted from the bills of lading.

MERCHANT HAULAGE - is where a shipping line customer (shipper or forwarder) organises their own haulage of containers to/from the carrier’s facility

MULTIPURPOSE SHIP - Any ship capable of carrying different types of cargo which require different methods of handling. There are several types of ships falling into this category, for example, ships which can carry roll on/roll off cargo together with containers

NON-CONFERENCE LINE - A shipping line which operates on a route served by a liner conference but which is not a member of that conference.

NOR - Notice of readiness. Notice to charter, shipper, receiver or other person that the vessel has arrived at the port or berth and is ready to load or discharge.

NVO - Non-vessel owning carrier

NVOC - Non-vessel owning carrier

NVOCC - Non-vessel operating common carrier.

OCEAN WAYBILL - A document, issued by a shipping line to a shipper which serves as a receipt for the goods and evidence of the contract carriage.

PORT CIP - Contracts with berth CIP. NOR can be given when within commercial limits of the port

PSCO - Port State Control Officer

PSS - Port Security Surcharge

REEFER - Refrigerator ship; a vessel designed to carry goods requiring refrigeration, such as meat and fruit. A reefer ship has insulated holds into which cold air is passed at the temperature appropriate to the goods being carried.

REEFER BOX - An insulated shipping container designed to carry cargoes requiring temperature control. It is fitted with a refrigeration unit which is connected to the carrying ship’s electrical power supply.

RETURN CARGO - A cargo which enables a ship to return loaded to the port or area where her previous cargo was loaded.

REVERSIBLE-TIME - Option for charterers to add together time allowed for loading & discharging relative to terms of a particular charter party

RMG or RMGC - Rail-mounted gantry crane

RMQC - Rail-mounted quay crane

ROB - Remaining on board

ROLLING CARGO - Cargo which is on wheels, such as truck or trailers, and which can be driven or towed on to a ship.

RO/RO SHIP - Freight ship or ferry with facilities for vehicles to drive on and off (roll-on roll-off); a system of loading and discharging a ship whereby the cargo is driven on and off on ramps. Equipped with large openings at bow and stern and sometimes also in the side, the ship permits rapid loading and discharge with hydraulically operated ramps providing easy access. Fully loaded trucks or trailers carrying containers are accommodated on the deck.

S - Summer

SAD – Single Administrative Document. The prime document for entering customs declarations in Europe on non-EU goods, currently being updated as Harmonised SAD (SAD-H)

SELF-SUSTAINING SHIP- A containership which has her own crane for loading and discharging shipping containers enabling the ship to serve ports which do not have suitable lifting equipment.

SELF-TRIMMING SHIP - A ship whose holds are shaped in such a way that the cargo levels itself.

SHIPPER - A shipper is a person or company in the business of sending cargo, not running ships.

SLT - Side-loading trailer

SOC - Shipper’s own container

TACA - Transatlantic Conference Agreement, a rate-setting body in the container trade.

TEU - Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit (containers): A measurement of cargo-carrying capacity on a containership, referring to a common container size of 20 ft in length.

THC - Terminal handling charge

TONNAGE - A quantity of cargo normally expressed as a number of tons.

TRADING LIMITS - Maritime area usually specified by range of ports in which a vessel may operate

UNCLOS - UN Convention on Law of the Sea

UNCTAD - United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

UU - Unless used

VAT - Value Added Tax

V/C - Voyage charter

VOCC - Vessel operating common carrier or vessel owning common carrier. Generally used to distinguish such carriers from NVOCCs

VOY - Voyage

VSA - Vessel sharing agreement

W (1) - Weight

W (2) - Winter

WEATHER PERMITTING - That time during which weather that prevents working shall not count as laytime

WEATHER WORKING DAY - A working day or part of a working day during which it is or if the vessel is still waiting for her turn, it would be possible to load/discharge the cargo without interference due to the weather.

WEF - With effect from weighing anchor is the process of lifting an anchor off the sea bottom after being anchored. Nothing to do with waiting or weighting.

WIBON - Whether in berth or not

WIFPON - Whether in free pratique or not

WIPON - Whether in port or not

W/M - Weight or measure

WNA - Winter North Atlantic

WOG - Without guarantee

WP - Weather permitting

WRIC - Wire rod in coil

WTS - Working time saved

WW - Weather working

WWD - Weather working day

WWR - When where ready

WWRCD - When where ready on completion of discharge
Site Terms & Conditions
site design by pay as you go websites