Shipping terminologies for your guidance

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F.O.B. Destination

Free On Board where freight and all accessorial charges (such as insurance) is arranged and paid for by the seller until the point of destination. A term of sale between seller and buyer.


F.O.B. Factory

Title of goods and transportation responsibility transfers from seller to buyer at the factory loading docks.


F.O.B. Freight Allowed

An incoterm from the ICC: the same as F.O.B. named inland carrier, except the buyer, pays the transportation charge and the seller reduces the invoice by a like amount.



1. A smooth curve, usually referring to a line of the hull which has no deviations.

2. To make something flush.

3. A rope is fair when it has a clear run.

4. A wind or current is fair when it offers an advantage to a boat.



A navigable channel for vessels, often the regular or prescribed track a vessel will follow in order to avoid dangerous circumstances (e.g. port access via a river's estuary).



Fastened or held firmly (fast aground: stuck on the seabed; made fast: tied securely).



A unit of length equal to 6 feet (1.8 m), roughly measured as the distance between a man's outstretched hands. This is particularly used to measure depth.


Federal Marine Commission

Federal Marine Commission


Federal Maritime Commission

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is an independent federal agency, based in Washington D.C., responsible for the regulation of ocean borne transportation in the foreign commerce of the U.S.A.

Regulates certain activities of international shipping lines (called "ocean common carriers")



A service which incorporates a small vessel to transport containers to and from the "mother" ship. The mother ships carry the high volume cargo to high volume ports; the feeder vessels carry the small volume cargo to small volume local ports. See also Feeder Vessel.


Feeder Service

A vessel which transfers containers to a "mother ship" for an ocean voyage.


Feeder Vessel

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



An air or foam filled bumper used in boating to keep boats from banging into docks or each other.



A ship carrying passengers and/or vehicles engaged in regular short voyages, e.g. across a river or narrow body of water, between two or more places or ports.



The distance across water which a wind or waves have travelled.

To reach a mark without tacking.



A tapered wooden tool used for separating the strands of rope for splicing.

A bar used to fix an upper mast in place.


Fifth Wheel

The semi-circular steel coupling device mounted on a tractor which engages and locks with a chassis semi-trailer.



The symbolic image at the head of a traditional sailing ship or early steamer.


Final Destination

A consignee's facility where shipment ends its movement.


Fire ship

A ship loaded with flammable materials and explosives which sailed into an enemy port or fleet either already burning or ready to be set alight by its crew (who would then abandon it) in order to collide with and set fire to enemy ships.



A capacity measurement equal to one-quarter of a barrel.


First Carrier

The carrier that actually performs the first part of the transport.


First Lieutenant

In the Royal Navy, the senior lieutenant on board; responsible to the Commander for the domestic affairs of the ship's company. Also known as 'Jimmy the One' or 'Number One'. The First Lieutenant removes his cap when visiting the mess decks as a token of respect for the privacy of the crew in those quarters. Officer i/c cables on the forecastle. In the U.S. Navy, the First Lieutenant is the senior person in charge of all deck hands.


First Mate

The Second in command of a ship.



The classification for the largest sailing warships of the 17th-19th centuries. First-rate ships had three masts, 850+ crew and 100+ guns.



To repair a mast or spar with a fillet of wood.

To secure an anchor on the side of the ship for sea (otherwise known as "catting".)


Fixed Costs

These are costs that vary with the level of activity. Some fixed costs continue even if no cargo is carried. Terminal leases, rent and property taxes are examples of fixed costs.


Fixed Propeller

A propeller mounted on a rigid shaft protruding from the hull of a vessel, usually driven by an inboard motor; steering achieved using a rudder. For more information see outboard motor and sterndrive.



An indication of the country in which a means of transport is registered through a reference to the ensign of this country.


Flag hoist

A group of signal flags strung together to convey a message, e.g. England expects....


Flag of Convenience

A ship is said to be flying a flag of convenience if it is registered in a foreign country "for purposes of reducing operating costs or avoiding government regulations". The term has been used since the 1950s and refers to the flag a ship flies to indicate its country of registration. The country of registration determines the laws under which the ship is required to operate and that are to be applied in relevant admiralty cases.

Antigua and Barbuda International Shipping Register

Bahamas Maritime Authority

Barbados Maritime Ship Registry

International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize

Bermuda Department of Maritime Administration

Bolivia International Ship

Registry of Cambodia

Cayman Islands Shipping Registry

Maritime Administration of the Union of Comoros

Republic of Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping

Equatorial Guinea

French International Ship Register

German International Ship Register


Gibraltar Registry of Shipping


Jamaica Ship Registry


Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry

Malta Maritime Authority

International Registries


Flag of Convenience Register

A national register offering registration to a merchant ship not owned in the flag state. The major flags of convenience (FOC) attract ships to their register by virtue of low fees, low or nonexistent taxation of profits, and liberal manning requirements.

True FOC registers are characterised by having relatively few of the ships registered actually owned in the flag state. Thus, while virtually any flag can be used for ships under a given set of circumstances, an FOC register is one where the majority of the merchant fleet is owned abroad.

It is also referred to as an open register.


Flag State

The nation in which a ship is registered and which holds legal jurisdiction over operation of the ship, whether at home or abroad. Flag state maritime legislation determines how a ship is manned and taxed and whether a foreign-owned ship may be placed on the register.


Flammable Liquids

Hazardous cargo. Flammable liquids are those that give off vapours which become spontaneously combustible at certain temperatures (flash point); these are often referred to as "inflammable" but "flammable" is preferred.



The maximum speed of a ship - faster than "full speed".



A curvature of the topsides outward towards the gunwale.

A pyrotechnic signalling device; usually used to indicate distress.


Flash Point

The minimum temperature at which a substance gives off flammable vapours which will ignite when they come in contact with spark or flame.


Flat Car

A rail car without a roof and walls.


Flat Rack

A container without sides and frame members at the front and rear. The container can be loaded from the sides and top.



A Great Lakes slang term for a vessel without self-unloading equipment.



A trailer with a level bed and no sides or top.



A group of vehicles travelling together, engaged in the same activity or under the same ownership.


Floating Crane

A crane mounted on a barge or pontoon, which can be towed or is self-propelled.


Floating Dock

A floating structure which can be partially submerged to enable vessels to enter or leave and which can be raised for use as a dry dock.



Debris or cargo that remains afloat after a shipwreck. See also jetsam.



The wedge-shaped part of an anchor's arms that digs into the sea-bed.


Fly by night

A large sail used only for sailing downwind, requiring little attention.


Folding propeller

A propeller with folding blades, furling to reduce drag on a sailing vessel when not in use.


Following sea

Wave or tidal movement going in the same direction as a ship



The lower edge of any sail.

The bottom of a mast.

A measurement of 12 inches.



If the foot of a sail is not secured properly, it is footloose; blowing around in the wind.



A slang term for the amount of tyre tread on the ground.



Each yard on a square rigged sailing ship is equipped with a footrope for sailors to stand on while setting or stowing the sails.


For more information see Malpractice.Reciprocity

A practice by which governments extend similar concessions to one another.



For more information see Beaufort scale.


Force Majeure

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


Fore and Aft

The direction on a vessel parallel to the center line.

For more information see Port Side for a diagram of all the ship's directions.



The lower part of the stem of a ship.


Foreign Trade Zone

Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs) (or free zones, free ports, or bonded warehouses) are special commercial and industrial areas in or near ports of entry where foreign and domestic merchandise, including raw materials, components and finished goods, may be brought in without being subject to payment of customs duties.

Merchandise brought into these zones may be stored, sold, exhibited, repacked, assembled, sorted, graded, cleaned or otherwise manipulated prior to re-export or entry into the national customs territory.


Foreign Trade Zone Entry

A form declaring goods which are brought duty free into a Foreign Trade Zone for further processing or storage and subsequent exportation.


Foremast Jack

An enlisted sailor; one who is housed before the foremast.



Long lines or cables, reaching from the front of the vessel to the mast heads, used to support the mast.


Fork Pockets

Openings or recesses in the side of a freight container designed to facilitate the entry of the forks of a fork lift truck.


Forklift (also fork lift / fork lift truck)

Freight/materials-handling vehicles used for loading / mooring / unloading packaged freight.


Forty Foot Equivalent Unit

Term commonly used to describe a standard 40' freight container.


Forty-Foot Equivalent Units

Refers to a container size standard of 40 feet. Two 20-foot containers or TEUs equal one FEU.

Established by analogy with a TEU, but very rarely used; some commercial contracts include pricing rates on FEUs and if the client chooses to use a 20', then the FEU rate is divided by two.



For more information see Freight Forwarder.


Forwarding Charge

The charges paid or to be paid for preliminary surface or air transport to the airport of departure by a forwarder, but not by a carrier under an Air Waybill (air cargo).


Forwarding Instruction

The document issued to a freight forwarder, giving instructions to the forwarder for the forwarding of goods described therein.



The opposite of clear. For instance, a rope is foul when it does not run straight or smoothly, and an anchor is foul when it is caught on an obstruction.

A breach of racing rules.


Foul Bill of Lading

A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were damaged when received.



To fill with water and sink.


Four-Way Pallet

A pallet designed so that the forks of a fork lift truck can be inserted from all four sides.



A transverse structural member that provides a ship's hull with strength and shape. Wooden frames may be sawn, bent or laminated into shape. Planking is then fastened to the frames. A bent frame is called a timber.


Franc Poincaré

The unit of value in which the limitation of the carrier's liability is sometimes expressed.

One Franc Poincaré consists of 65.5 milligram of gold with a fineness / purity of nine hundred parts out of a thousand.

Raymond Poincaré (20 August 1860 - 15 October 1934) was a French conservative statesman who served as Prime Minister of France on five separate occasions and as President of France from 1913 to 1920.


Free Alongside

An incoterm from the ICC: the seller must deliver the goods to a pier and place them within reach of the ship's loading equipment. The buyer arranges ship space and informs the seller when and where the goods are to be placed.


Free alongside ship

The seller must deliver the goods to a pier and place them within reach of the ship's loading equipment. The buyer arranges ship space and informs the seller when and where the goods are to be placed.


Free Astray

A lost shipment that is subsequently found and sent to its proper destination without additional charge.


Free discharge

Free discharge


Free in and out

The cost of loading and unloading a vessel (THC) is borne by the cargo.


Free In and Out (1)

A transport condition denoting that the freight rate excludes the costs of loading and discharging and, if appropriate, stowage and lashing.


Free In Liner Out

A transport condition denoting that the freight rate is inclusive of the sea carriage and the cost of discharging, the latter as per the custom of the port. It excludes the cost of loading and, if appropriate, stowage and lashing.


Free into barge

Free into barge


Free of capture and seizure

Free of capture and seizure


Free of Capture and Seizure (1)

An insurance clause providing that loss is not insured if due to capture, seizure, confiscation and like actions, whether legal or not, or from such acts as piracy, civil war, rebellion and civil strife.


Free of capture, seizure, riots and civil commotions

Free of capture, seizure, riots and civil commotions


Free of damage

Free of damage


Free of partial average

Free of partial average


Free of Particular Average

A marine insurance term meaning that the insurer will not allow payment for partial loss or damage to cargo shipments except in certain circumstances; such as stranding, sinking, collision or fire.


Free On Board (1)

An International Term of Sale than means the seller fulfils an obligation to deliver when the goods have passed over the ship's rail at the named port of shipment. This means that the buyer has to bear all costs and risks to loss of, or damage to, the goods from that point. The FOB term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.


Free on board

Needs to be accompanied by a specified location (see examples below). The seller is responsible for inland freight and all other costs until the cargo has been loaded on the vessel/truck/railcar/barge. The buyer is responsible for ocean freight and marine insurance.


Free Out (1)

The cost of unloading a vessel that is borne by the charterer.


Free out

At a Free Out port, the cost of unloading a vessel is borne by the charterer.


Free Port

An international port or an area within an international port at which, crew, passengers, baggage, cargo, mail and stores may be disembarked or unloaded, may remain and may be transhipped, without being subjected to any customs charges or duties. Examination remains possible, however, for instance to meet security or narcotics control requirements. For more information see Foreign Trade Zone.


Free Pratique

Pratique is the license given to a ship to enter port on assurance from the captain to convince the authorities that he/she is free from contagious disease.

The clearance granted is commonly referred to as Free Pratique. A ship can signal a request for "Pratique" by flying a solid yellow square-shaped flag. This yellow flag is the Q flag in the set of International maritime signal flags.


Free Time

At pick-up or delivery, the time allowed for shippers or receivers to load or unload containers before waiting time charges accrue (usually two hours).

The amount of time that a carrier's equipment may be used without incurring additional charges (e.g. for imports, the Free Time is the time - usually three working days - allowed idle at the terminal before incurring demurrage).


Free Trade Zone

A part of the territory of a state (a seaport or an inland place) where any goods introduced are generally regarded, in so far as import duties and taxes are concerned, as being exempted (Kyoto Convention). Duties are imposed on the merchandise (or items manufactured from the merchandise) only if and when the goods pass from the zone into an area of the country subject to the Customs Authority.



The height of a ship's hull (excluding superstructure) above the waterline. The vertical distance from the current waterline to the lowest point on the highest continuous watertight deck. This usually varies from one part to another. For more information see Beam for a Ship Measurements graphic

The distance measured vertically from the freeboard deck accepted and indicated by the class bureau to the waterline under specified conditions.



Refers to either the cargo carried or the charges assessed for carriage of the cargo.


Freight Bill

A document issued by the carrier based on the bill of lading and other information, used to account for a shipment operationally, statistically and financially.


Freight Claim

Demand upon a carrier for the payment of overcharge or loss or damage sustained by a shipper or consignee.


Freight Container

For more information see Container.


Freight Costs

The costs incurred by the merchant in moving goods, by whatever means, from one place to another under the terms of the contract of carriage. In addition to transport costs this may include such elements as packing, documentation, loading, unloading and transport insurance.


Freight Forwarder (also Forwarder)

The party arranging the carriage of goods including connected services and/or associated formalities on behalf of a shipper or consignee

Freight forwarders typically arrange the carriage of cargo to an international destination - including connected services and/or any associated trade formalities. They are also referred to as international freight forwarders; they have the expertise that allows them to prepare and process the documentation and perform related activities pertaining to international shipments.


Freight Invoice

An itemised list of goods shipped and services rendered stating fees and charges.


Freight loaded into a ship. Cargo Manifest

A manifest that lists only cargo, not charges.


Full and By

Sailing into the wind (by), but not as close-hauled as might be possible, to make sure the sails are kept full. This provides a margin for error to avoid being taken aback (a serious risk for square-rigged vessels) in a tricky sea. Figuratively speaking it implies getting on with the job but in a steady, relaxed way, without undue urgency or strain.


Full Container Load

A container stuffed or stripped under risk and for account of the shipper and/or the consignee.

A general reference for identifying container loads of cargo loaded and/or discharged at merchants' premises.


Full ocntainer load

The shipper is responsible for the loading and stripping of the cargo inside the container. The carrier transports a sealed container.


Full Truck Load

An indication for a truck transporting cargo directly from supplier to receiver.


Fully Cellular Containership

A vessel specially designed to carry containers, with cell-guides under deck and necessary fittings and equipment on deck.



To roll or gather a sail against its mast or spar.



Pieces of timber that make up a large transverse frame.