Common Shipping Terms Explained

The jargon used in international shipping can often be confusing, with shipping terms abound with abbreviations and acronyms. Here are some of the more common ones to help you negotiate your way through the goods transportation process.

B/L or BOL

This stands for bill of lading, and is the official document containing all the details of the shipment.

C&F or CFR

‘Cost and Freight’, which is the cost of the goods plus the cost of transporting them. ‘Cost, Insurance and Freight’ is part of the same category of shipping terms, but also includes the cost of marine insurance.


Commonly used shipping terms, these stand for ‘Estimated Time of Arrival’ and ‘Estimated Time of Departure’.


This is an abbreviation for ‘consignee’, and designates the person or company in receipt of the shipment. The ‘shipper’ is the person or company who sends the shipment.

C of O

A ‘Certificate of Origin’ is a document which includes the country of origin of the goods in question, issued by the Chamber of Commerce, Embassy of the exporting country, or relevant government department.


An EORI is an ‘Economic Operator Registration and Identification’ number which is used by customs to keep track of imported and exported goods. They’re necessary if you want to import goods into the UK.


This stands for ‘Free on Board’ and is where the seller is responsible for all of the charges for transporting the goods, as well as the liability. It stands up to the time when the goods arrive on board the ship.


FCL stands for ‘Full Container Load’ and LCL stands for ‘Less than Container Load’.


Common shipping terms, POD is the ‘Point of Discharge’ and is the port where the goods are unloaded from the ship; the POL is the port at which the goods are loaded on to the ship.

For experts in international freight forwarding, contact Carry Cargo International for a tailor-made and quality service that includes import, export, world-wide cross-trade, and UK domestic shipping.