In this glossary,  we hope to cover everything you wanted to know about shipments and the cross border logistics world.

Access Token: An access token is a unique string of symbols, generally letters or numbers, that serve as an identification credential and ensure secure login to a given application. The token authenticates the user’s identity and confirms which privileges they are authorized to access.

ACH: Automatic Clearing House: A computer-based network for financial transactions that enables banks to directly connect to one another to deposit or withdraw funds. Examples of transactions completed through an ACH include direct deposits and credit card/debit transactions. These transactions usually complete on one or more predetermined days of the week.

Ad Valorem: A Latin term that, in the shipping world, generally refers to the charging of (customs, duties, tax, etc.) payments in proportion to the estimated value of the item being shipped.

Advance Ship Notice (ASN): Usually sent in a digital format, this is a complete inventory list of pending shipping deliveries and contains additional information, such as a Tracking Number, shipment configuration description, and other relevant details. It can be used as a means for billing, as well as to ascertain that all order items are accounted for.

AMP: Advanced Mail Preparation: This is a process in which the customer prepares the package for shipping by printing sort code information directly onto the label, eliminating the need for other supply chain players to re-label the packages, thereby accelerating processing times.

ATA Carnet: is an international customs and temporary exportation document. It is used to enable merchandise to clear customs and enter 87 countries and territories around the world, without having to pay any import taxes or duties. A carnet is granted to goods scheduled to be re-exported within 12 months of their importation.

BEDE: Barcode Embedded Data Encoding: A “one-touch” automated processing method that sorts/identifies shipments by their designated destination zip codes, embedded into a one-of-a-kind barcode.

BOL; Consignment Note; CN: Bill of Lading: A legal document that lists the critical and descriptive details of items being shipped, usually in the cases of international trade, for the purpose of streamlining understandings and processes between shippers and carriers. The BOL must be signed by a representative of the shipper, the carrier and the receiver, and must travel with the shipment, at all times.

Bonded Goods: are goods that are subject to duties and are currently being held by customs authorities in a secure, bonded warehouse. The goods may be released to the importer, upon the payment of duties, or other relevant fees. Alternatively, they can be released for re-export.

Brokerage: The services of a third party whose role is to enable the clearing of customs for inbound and/or outbound shipments.

Cargo Manifest: A master list of all the items within a shipment or unit of a shipment, used by the shipping personnel to summarize all bills of lading issued for a given transport. Generally includes product details, important numbers, the identity of the consignors and consignees, and more.

Certificate of Origin: This is a document that specifically names the country in which given goods were manufactured. It serves as a declaration by the shipment’s importer and certifies that the goods were wholly obtained, produced and prepared for exportation.

CMR: An abbreviation for “Convention relative au contrat de transport international de marchandises par route,” an international convention signed by the United Nations in 1956 and used in cross border road transport as a means for regulating and creating uniformity within the realm of road transport contracts.

Commercial invoice: A customs document that lists all items being shipped internationally, their exact description, true value and relevant shipping information, in order to determine whether taxes and/or duties must be leveraged.

Commercial Summary Invoice: A customs document detailing all of the separate orders invoiced in the shipment and attached to the shipment’s first pallet. This document is not required for all international shipments, but is for some, like for Trade lane DE-CN. It must contain a complete and detailed list of the total number of each article sold, their total purchase value as individual items, in addition to as a single unit.

Consignee: The receiver of a shipment, the person to whom the delivery or package is sent or delivered. This can be the buyer, or an intermediary, like a freight forwarder. The consignee pays for the delivery of a package.

Consignment: The item or items being shipped by the carrier to the consignee.

Consignor: The person or company sending the shipment to its destination address.

Consolidation: The act of combining multiple items into a single shipments, or multiple shipments into one, for the purpose of reducing transportation rates.

Consular Invoice: This is a document that is certified by the consulate of the shipment’s destination country and is required by select countries’ governments for the purpose of more stringent import control. It details the and certifies the shipment of goods from one country to another.

Conveyable: Parcels that are conveyable are stable and are not fragile: they are safe for transportation on conveyor belts. Parcels that are not conveyable may have special signs printed on them indicated items inside are made from glass, contain liquid or are packed in plastic bags. Conveyable items must not exceed certain maximum dimensions, which can differ in light of countries’ unique regulations and transportation equipment.

Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) value: The sum of all retail, insurance and freight costs, tabulated for the purpose of determining taxes by destination countries’ customs agents when shipping internationally.

Courier service: A parcel and document delivery company. Usually a private company that charges higher rates than a country’s postal services, typically in exchange for faster, more reliable service.

Customer Service Agreement or CSA: is a signed contract that details the scope of the service to be provided to the customer by the service provider. It injects transparency into any shipping agreement and therefore promotes a sense of trust.

Customs Duty: is a tax taken at the time of import when merchandise enters a sovereign nation. Normally the tax is based on an estimation of the value shipment, weight, or a combination of these and other elements.

Custom Encoding Rules: A set of unique classification rules that enable seamless package receiving, sorting, mixing, and transporting. The rules can be based upon product and weight.

Customs brokers: Professionals who represent importers and exporters and serve as their intermediaries vis-a-vis Customs proceedings. They generally assume responsibility for the entire Customs clearing process, from ensuring documentation submission, to making relevant payments and arranging for inland transportation services.

Customs Declaration: A statement or action, usually in the form of written documentation, that lists all goods being shipped to that country, as required by Customs.

Cut-off time: The cut-off time is the latest time we guarantee same day order fulfillment.

Dangerous goods or DG: Items that could cause harm to persons’ health or safety, or to the environment when under transportation conditions and must, therefore, be handled with extra care. Examples of DG sold via e-commerce include  alcohol, lithium ion batteries, and liquids. The exact definition of DG is determined by IATA, the international organization charged with regulating air travel.

Dead weight: the mass of your package, including all packaging materials.

Delivered Duty Unpaid or DDU, also Non-Free Domicile; Non-Free Dom; DTU: Items labeled as DDU or DTU are liable for duty and other customs clearing payments – which are not included in the shipping costs. These payments are to be paid by the recipient prior to delivery.

Delivered Duty Paid or DDP, also Free Domicile; Free Dom; DTP : This means that any duty or customs cleaning payments have already been covered by the recipient during the checkout process and the items can be delivered straight to their destination, following their coordination by the merchant.

Delivery Confirmation or DC: Notification of the date and time of a shipment’s attempted or successful delivery, for tracking and confirmation purposes.

De minimis value: The shortened version of the Latin expression “de minimis non curat lex.” In English: “the law does not care about very small matters.” In practical terms, the minimum value on which duties and taxes are to be collected – smaller amounts are deemed a waste of time to collect.

Delivery signature (or proof of delivery or delivery confirmation): The recipient must sign for the parcel, in order for the parcel to be released into their possession and fulfillment to be complete. In some cases, the recipient must be the person to sign; in other cases, an indirect signature, at the hand of a friend or neighbor, is sufficient.

Denied Parties: Any person or entity with whom one cannot legally enter into a contract for the supply of goods or services.

Destination Country: The country where the consignee is located and to where the shipment is headed.

Dimensional Weight/Volumetric Weight: The translation of a parcel’s dimensions into weight for easy calculation purposes.

Dimension Range: How long, tall and wide any given item can be, and still be shipped along a particular trade route.

Drop-off: A process in which consignments directly enter the shipping network upon being delivered to an injection point by the customer.

Delivery Service Provider or  DSP: The private or public intermediary responsible for the delivery of mail and parcel items.

DSP Label: The final label a parcel receives prior to being delivered to the recipient by the DSP. The DSP label tends to contain a tracking number, for easy identification.

DSP Tracking Number: A unique set of digits that link the shipment item to its process in the fulfillment chain. Usually appears together with the recipient’s name, a timestamp and location status.

EAN: European Article Code

eBOL: Electronic Bill of Lading – A digital version of the legal document that carriers create and issue to shippers. It contains detailed information on the shipment’s contents, for confirmation and billing purposes.

Electronic trade: See below: Paperless trade.

Endorsement: Directs a DSP on how to handle non-deliverable mail items for US domestic shipments. Options are Forward Service Requested; Change Service Requested; Return Service Requested; Address Service Requested. If a DSP utilizes the service endorsement, they will charge our business customers directly via a Centralized Account Processing System (CAPS) account or postage due to delivery. Endorsements must be printed for a package that has active Delivery Confirmation.

Exchange Rate: How much one currency can be exchanged for another.

Expedited shipping: Any shipping method that promises faster fulfillment than standard shipping processes might provide. Usually same or next-day and at a higher cost than standard shipping services.

Exportation: The shipping of items across international borders.

Exporter of Record: An individual or entity responsible for can be an individual or an entity who is responsible for the smooth and successful clearance of exportations. They are charged with documentation, regulation upholding and final arrival, on penalty of severe criminal and civil punishment.

First-mile delivery: The first stage in the logistics supply chain. During this stage, the parcel is either dropped off at a designated location by the sender, or is picked up by a shipping service provider.

Forwarder , or freight forwarder. A person of entity responsible for coordinating the shipment of goods from the manufacturer or producer to a customer or end-buyer. The forwarder does not ship them items themselves, but rather contacts the shipping process out to one or more carriers within their logistics network. Also known as a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC).

Flat rate shipping: The process in which a parcel is shipped for a single, predetermined rate. The rate is not subject to change in accordance with the parcel’s dimensions or weight.

Free Zone: An area within a country that is not subject to that country’s customs regulations. Examples include seaports, airports, warehouses and the like. Free Zones are therefore ideal locations for importers to bring goods of foreign origin – they can save money by not having to pay customs duties and taxes. Other names for Free Zones include “free ports,” “free warehouses,” “free trade zones” and “foreign trade zones.”

Fulfillment: Fulfillment is a term for the process in which the merchant takes action to supply the customer with their purchased order, from point-of-sales entry, to last-mile delivery.

Fulfillment center: A physical location, such as a warehouse, in which inventory is stored and prepared to be shipped to the recipient.

Fully Landed Costs or FLC: The final cost tally a recipient must pay in exchange for the release of an imported shipment. Can include shipping costs, local taxes and duties.

GST: Goods and Services Tax, a value-added tax on most goods and services sold within the domestic consumer market. Consumers pay the GST upon completing their purchase, and it is then forwarded  to the government by the business who sold the goods and services.

Harmonized System or HS code: The Harmonized Item Description and Coding System, or HS code, is an international system that classifies traded products, and identifies them according to 6-digit number sets. Maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO), HS codes are required for international Customs declarations purposes.

Hub: A parcel sorting and re-distribution facility.

Identcode: A numerical parcel identification code.

Import: The act of shipping goods from a foreign country into one’s home country.

Import duty: The fee levied on goods imported from a foreign country, in the form of the absolute value of payable tax. The goal: safeguard domestic markets.

Importer of Record or IOR: An entity or individual responsible for the safe and lawful importation of goods. The title includes the responsibility for filing all legally required documents, as well as for upholding all relevant safe importation laws.

Inbound: Refers to the direction of logistics activities (transportation, storage, delivery, etc.) being business-forward (entering the business).

Incoterms or ICT: are terms set by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), that determine the costs associated with transporting and delivering goods cross-border and determine whether the sender or the receiver will be paying.

Insurance: A payment that guarantees monetary reimbursement in the event that a hazard befalls their shipment.

Insurance Certificate: A document that is used to cover loss or damage to the insured cargo being shipped.

Insurance Policy: A contract that stipulates the terms of the insurance taken out.

Intended Returns: These are shipments that were delivered to the recipient, but the recipient wishes to return.

Item: Another term for the individual units in an order.

Label: An identification tag that minimally details the addresses of the shipment’s sender and recipient. Legible labels must be affixed to each parcel.

Labeling: the process of attaching a label (see above) onto a parcel.

Landed Cost: The cost of the imported goods upon entry into a country, minus charges occurring following the item’s departure from the import point. Can include freight, insurance, port and docking costs.

Last-mile delivery: The final stage in any logistics supply chain, during which the parcel is delivered to the recipient.

Manifest: A detailed list of all items being transported from one business partner to another, using a shipping provider. The list ensures that all items are accounted for, at all times.

Merchant: A person or business involved in selling and supplying merchandise to recipients or members of a trade. The merchant sends out purchases in the form of parcel shipments.

Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS: A document that enables safe handling of a product by providing information on potential usage hazards.

Paperless trade (also electronic trade): A process in which the shipper is able to file customs documents via the internet, rather than having to spend money and waste paper on printing and sending in hard copy documents.

Order Fulfillment: The complete process in which orders are received by warehouses from merchants, processed and shipped to end-customers.

Order item: Units within a greater order.

Outbound: Logistics processes pertaining to goods leaving a business and being shipped to the recipient.

Postal service: Public or national government-run shipping companies. Cheaper, but not necessarily as streamlined at fulfilling shipments as private shipping companies.

Phytosanitary Certificate: A certificate issued by a government agency  that ascertains that the importation of plants, plant products, or other regulated materials meet foreign countries’ importation regulations, have been inspected and are pest and disease-free.

Pick and Pack: A process in which an order is compiled by gathering together individual inventory items, packaging them as a unit and shipping them to their destination as a single order.

Pickup: The process of collecting consignments from a merchant for the purpose of shipping them.

Pickup and Delivery or PuD: A shipping service that includes multiple processes: route planning and preparation, on route, post route, dispatching, debriefing, and processing.

Pick Up Drop off Point or PUDO: A location that recipients can visit in order to pick up or drop off parcels, without having to wait for a first or last-mile courier. Often, these locations are local shops or retail stores that offer PUDO services in addition to their regular activities.

Piece: Units within a shipment. Each piece is packaged and handled separately.

Preference (or Preferential) Duty: A reduced duty rate that is tabulated with respect to the value of the goods and the country it was imported from.

Pro-forma Invoice: An estimated invoice provided by a merchant to the recipient prior to the merchandise’s shipment, outlining what is being sent, in what quantities, what their value is, and other relevant specifications. This is not a demand for payment.

Proof of Delivery or POD: A signature made by the recipient upon receiving the shipment, or other form of confirmation.

Receiving: The acknowledgement that an item or items have been received and will be moved to processing, ahead of shipping.

Recipient: The individual or entity whose name the shipment is addressed to and who ultimately is meant to receive the parcel. The final player in the sales fulfillment cycle.

Return: A shipment that is sent back to the consignor after fulfillment is complete, for a variety of reasons.

Routing code: A series of machine-readable numbers that enable the parcel to be identified across the system network. Based on codes for street and house number or postal zip codes.

Return label: A pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping label that customers can use to return elivered goods to the seller, without having to pay any extra shipping fees. The return shipping fee would then be charged to the seller.

Safe place: A location named by the recipient, where the parcel can be left, in the event that the recipient is not available at the time of delivery. It is recommended that the location be inaccessible by third parties.

Sales Tax: is a consumption tax levied by a destination country’s government on the sales of goods and services. It is levied from the sales task of said goods and services.

Second delivery attempt: A second attempt at delivering the parcel to the recipient, in the event that the first attempt was unsuccessful. Usually one or two days later.

Security area: A designated area for storing and processing parcels that have yet to clear Customs.

Service Point: A dedicated parcel drop-off and pick-up location, typically located at or near Depot or Hub facilities, or in special offices..

Shipping account: An account or a contract with the shipping carrier, containing personal information such as transaction history, address and payment information. Some carriers may provide shipping accounts with high volume or high frequency treatments with more favorable shipping rates, credit terms, etc.

Shipping insurance: Insurance that protects the merchant against loss or damage caused to the parcel during the fulfillment process. There is generally a basic coverage fee, with options to increase coverage, at an additional cost.

Shipment: A quantity of goods, or consignment, packaged as a unit and requiring transportation transportation from one location to another. The shipment process begins upon the shipment leaving the consignor’s location and ends upon arrival at the consignee’s destination.

Shipper: The merchant or other person in charge of sending the parcels to the buyer. An e-commerce platform may or may not be involved.

Shipping Profile: An account containing is specific shipping details as they relate to products, weights, destinations, etc., so that all fulfillment process touch points are maximally informed, to prevent miscommunications and mix ups and ensure each parcel reaches the correct recipient in a timely fashion.

Stock Keeping Unit or SKU: A product identifier, as defined by the merchant.

Service Level Agreement or SLA: A commitment between a service provider and a client regarding the quality, availability, responsibilities and other service-relevant aspects.

Stack factor: The number of outbound processed pallet pieces vs. how much loaded floor space and how many online hauls are available for stacking.

Tariff: The percentage of tax to be added to the cost of the item being imported into a given foreign country.

Tariff-Code: (also see HS Code) – Destination Country Customs Code four countries where duty and tax rates apply. 8 -11 digits where the first six digits are always the HS-Code. The number of digits varies according to destination country.

Thermal label: An economic and efficient form of printed shipping labels, using thermal heat instead of ink or toner.

Threshold: The maximum value an item can hold without having to pay taxes vs. the minimum value a item must hold for taxes to apply. Or, when a package(s) is left by the door (or threshold of a building), as opposed to the delivery person entering to hand it over.

Time definite: A guaranteed delivery time and date.

Time window delivery: An agreed upon time slot for parcel delivery.

Track Event: The definition of where and when a shipment is at any point during the fulfillment process. Represented by – date/time – location – object – activity type (= status).

Tracking ID: A means for identifying a parcel  and its status throughout the fulfillment process. Sellers and recipients alike are provided with the tracking ID, injecting a sense of transparency and comfort to the process as a whole.

Undeliverables: Goods that cannot be delivered to the recipient.

UN 38.3 Test Report: A certification that ensures that lithium-ion batteries can be safely transported via air cargo. Usually required in addition to MSDS.

Value Added Tax (VAT): Also known as Goods and Services Tax. A consumption tax that is applied to purchased goods at the destination country.

Volumetric weight or dimensional weight: The space that a parcel takes up in a shipping container. Calculated by multiplying the parcel’s length, width, and height, and then dividing this number by a cubic divisor.  As larger parcels take up more carrier space than heavier parcels, carriers may compare volumetric weight to actual weight and charge according to the larger number.

Warehouse Management System or WMS: A web-based system  for the management of a store’s inventory within a warehouse.

Waybill: A document that is often used interchangeably with a shipping label, and contains pertinent shipping information, such as origin and destination, shipping method, and tracking ID. Issued by the carrier.

White Label: An item on the shipping label that contains consignee information and sometimes customs declaration information. Includes a barcode with a packet identifier (e.g. CCN = Customer Confirmation Number). The White Label is attached by the merchant and is later replaced with the DSP Label.

Zip Code: A string of numbers that defines a particular geographical zone, such as a street. Used to streamline delivery processes.

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