Quick guide

Shipping terms

Do you know the most important terms in shipping? Here we have gathered them in a quick guide so you will always have easy access to the big picture.

The Shipment

This is the cargo you would like to transport from one country to another. It could also be referred to as the cargo or the consignment. The shipment has characteristics such as dimensions, weight and commodity.


To get a quote for international transportation you will need to know the dimensions of the cargo you wish to ship. This is measured in height, width and length, either of the total consignment or as individual pieces. Keep in mind that it is the external measures that are relevant, as the forwarder will need to plan how much cargo from other customers can be loaded into the container together with your shipment.


Simply the total weight of what you wish to ship, including any packaging material you are using. This is required for the freight forwarder to ensure they do not load the container with more than the maximum allowed weight.

If you are not aware of the dimensions and weight of your shipment, please contact your supplier for this information.

shipping terms


You need to describe exactly what you are shipping, so the forwarder can complete the required paperwork for international shipping. The commodity will also be stated on the bill of lading (B/L), which is your receipt for the goods shipped, and the basis of customs declarations.

HS Codes

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) is an international standard for classification of all traded commodities developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO). As almost all customs regimes base their duty tariffs on this classification, your commodity will need to be classified correctly for declaration. If you are not aware of the HS code of your commodity, don’t worry, your supplier will know the specific HS code, as well as the freight forwarder is educated to find the right classification based on your accurate cargo description. If you are interested, you can read more about HS Codes and see the complete list, you can find it for example on www.hscode.org.

Origin and Destination

These terms are used for describing where the shipment is coming from and going to. If you need the cargo to be picked up and delivered at specific locations, you need to know these accurately, typically by an address. If you would like to arrange for bringing the shipment to the forwarder’s warehouse at origin, or collecting the shipment at the forwarder’s warehouse at destination, a city would normally suffice to find the best transportation solutions available.

shipping terms road


This is the forwarder’s facility where to customers can deliver their shipment at origin or take delivery of their shipment at destination. It is a typically a secure building where the forwarder has forklifts and other handling equipment enabling them to load and offload cargo, and to move cargo in and out of containers.

If the warehouse is not owned by the forwarder directly, the forwarder will have a contract in place with the owner or operator of the warehouse and still be responsible for the secure handling of your cargo.


Shipping containers come in different sizes, all intended for fast and secure loading, transportation and discharge of cargo on ships, trucks and trains. You do not need to worry about the specifications of the container, the freight forwarder will ensure to book the right type and size with the shipping line.


In international trade, a significant number of documents are required. In general these are referred to as the documentation required for the shipment.