Shipping Documents and Terms used in shipping
The commercial invoice is issued by the seller (typically the shipper) stating what has been sold and the sales price. This is the basis of which the customs declaration is generated and subsequent duties are levied.
The document typically includes details of the seller, the buyer, the date of the transaction, type of goods, the sales price and the terms under which the goods are sold. Terms relate to the point in time at which ownership of the goods passes from the seller to the buyer.
The booking confirmation is the document issued by the freight forwarder confirming all details of the booking you have made, except for the actual cost of the transportation. The booking confirmation is used as documentation for the booking and for sharing between shipper, consignee and other relevant parties as easy reference of the booking details. If you present the booking confirmation to your bank, please note that it does not replace the bill of lading as confirmation of cargo shipped.
The document has a unique booking reference and includes details of the freight forwarder, the shipper, the consignee, transportation service, any additional service, timing and cargo details. It normally also has details of next steps and addresses of the forwarders warehouses relevant for your shipment.
Forwarder’s Cargo Receipt (FCR)
The forwarder’s cargo receipt (or FCR) is issued by the freight forwarder or his agent to the shipper of the cargo, when the cargo has been handed over to the freight forwarder. It serves only as confirmation that the cargo has been received for shipping. The FCR does not confirm the condition of the cargo nor that the cargo has left the country of origin.
The document typically includes the details from the booking and will state that the cargo has been received in apparent good order. If the cargo is not in good order when handed over to the freight forwarder, it will normally be rejected and a forwarder’s cargo receipt will not be issued.
The forwarder invoice is issued by the freight forwarder to the shipper or the consignee. This is the documentation for transportation costs and the services included in the solution purchased.
The document normally specifies the unique booking reference, the billing address, what is included in the transportation service, transportation cost and a reference to terms and conditions.
House Bill of Lading
The house bill of lading (HBL) is issued by the freight forwarder to the shipper with following purposes:
Receipt of goods shipped: so when the HBL is issued, the cargo has actually been loaded onto a ship
Document of title: while it is not completely negotiable, it does serve the same purpose as a normal carrier bill of lading and must be surrendered in original by the importer to the freight forwarder at destination in order to receive the cargo
Proof of contract of carriage between the customer and the freight forwarder
The house bill of lading has details of the actual shipper and consignee, the cargo being shipped, payment terms and contact details of the forwarder or their agent.
If you are the shipper, you need to send the original house bill of lading to the consignee once you are certain that you will receive your payment for the goods sold. If you are the consignee, you need to hand the original house bill of lading to the freight forwarder in order to take delivery of the goods.
Some forwarders offer telex release of shipments. This means that the original house bill of lading can be surrendered to the freight forwarder or the forwarder’s agent at origin, who then instructs the office at destination to release the cargo to the consignee (in the old days via telex, nowadays it tends to be per e-mail). Thereby, the consignee will not need to hand over the original house bill of lading to the forwarder at destination to receive the cargo.
The benefit of telex release is that the shipper does not need to send the original house bill of lading to the consignee.
Master Bill of Lading
The master bill of lading (or carrier B/L) is issued by the shipping line to the freight forwarder when the container with multiple shipments has been loaded onto a ship. It is not relevant for the shipper or consignee of the less than container load shipment, as they would refer to the house bill of lading, which relates directly to their shipment.
It is the freight forwarder’s decision which shipping line and origin and destination ports to use. This is, in principle, irrelevant to the less than container load shipper and consignee, as the shipment will always pass through an origin and destination warehouse.
A sea waybill has many similarities with the house bill of lading, but does not require an original to be surrendered to the freight forwarder before the cargo can be handed over to the consignee. It is not a negotiable document and is not a document of title.
The sea waybill can be a good solution when goods are already paid before the cargo leaves the origin. It simplifies the process and the consignee will simply need to prove his identity to take delivery of the cargo.
Shipping lines and freight forwarders are limited in liability in case of loss or damage to goods. It will therefore often be required to make a separate insurance for goods in transit. Such an insurance can either be offered by a freight forwarder or by an insurance agent.
Responsibility of the insurance should be agreed between shipper and consignee to avoid double or no insurance of the goods. The insurance certificate is issued by the insurance company and would state that it is cargo insurance, a policy number, description and value of the good insured and contact details of the insurance agent.
AEO (Authorised Economic Operator)
Authorised Economic Operator is a party involved in the international movement of goods that has been approved by or on behalf of a national Customs administration as complying with World Customs Organisation or equivalent supply chain security standards.
AWB (Airway bill)
Air Waybill or Consignment Note is the document airlines issue on receipt of cargo for shipment and as evidence for the contract of carriage, but it is not a document of title to the goods. The air waybill is non-negotiable. It includes an 11-digit Air Waybill number you can use to track your goods in transit.
A customs document that allows goods moving between an EU country and Turkey to benefit from cheaper rates of duty.
B/L (Bill of Lading)
The document that shipping companies issue on receipt of cargo for shipment and as evidence for the contract of carriage. As well as setting out all the details for each shipment, it includes a Bill of Lading Number you can use to use to track your goods in transit.
BAF (Bunker Adjustment Factor)
The Bunker Adjustment Factor, or BAF, as it is more commonly known, is one of the charges levied on goods transported via Sea Freight. This particular charge represents the fluctuating costs to the shipping, as an example varying global oil prices.
BIFA (British International Freight Association)
BIFA is a trade association for UK registered companies engaged in international movement of freight by all modes of transport, air, road, rail and sea. All Business undertaken by RJJ Freight Ltd of whatever nature is subject to the Standard Trading Conditions of BIFA 2005A edition.
BIP (Border Inspection Post)
Boarder controls operated by the Port Health Authorities
A building or other secure area in which dutiable goods can be stored, manipulated or undergo manufacturing operations without payment of Vat and Duty. See also under ERTS.
BTIS (Binding Tariff Information System)
A system created by the EU to help formal classification of a product to a specific Customs commodity code and to establish the amount of VAT and Duty applicable for the specific product.
C of O (Certificate of Origin)
An official document that, when stamped by the relevant authorities, provide the Country of Origin of the goods in transit. This is often required when shipping textiles.
CAF (Currency Adjustment Factor)
The Currency Adjustment Factor is a component of the cost of shipping goods, by air or by sea. It reflects changes in foreign exchange rates.
CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight)
The computer system used by HM Revenue & Customs to manage both the declaration and movement of goods into and out of the UK. The system also manages movements of goods owned by UK residents and businesses across EU boarders.
A document sent out a warehouse operator that states that goods are ready for release to an authorised collector and all applicable taxes and duties have been paid.
Connecta is an Airfreight Association of independent freight forwarders that unites the best independent air transport and logistics companies around the world.
If a container is used for longer than it was booked or agreed free time, the excess time is referred to as demurrage.
A cargo becomes customs cleared once it has been declared to the local customs authorities and all applicable taxes and duties have been paid. Once cleared, goods are ready for onward shipment.
Customs Commodity Code
A six, eight or 10 digit code that tells customs authorities exactly what the cargo is. See also Harmonised System Code.
CVC (Certificate of Veterinary Check)
Certificate of Veterinary Checks/Inspection is a legal regulatory document in which the attending veterinarian attests to the veracity of the information contained in the documents.