Shipping Terms All International Shippers Should Know

  • 3 min read


International shipping is a complex process that involves numerous procedures and regulations to ensure the safe delivery of goods. Keeping track of shipping terminology used to define these procedures and regulations is therefore important in understanding the shipping process and minimising mishaps and errors along the way.


Read on for some of the most commonly used international shipping terms that all shippers should know.


Incoterms (short for International Commercial Terms) are a series of predefined commercial terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce. The terms are intended primarily to clearly communicate the tasks, costs, and risks associated with the transportation and delivery of goods and determine responsibilities throughout the supply chain.

COD - Change of Destination

A COD (Change of Destination) is a request asking the container ship to discharge your container and transport your goods to another destination than what was originally booked.

DM - Demurrage

When your containers have been discharged, there is a free period for storing them in the port (provided by the container line). If you do not pick up your containers before the free period expires, you can be charged a demurrage fee.

Demurrage fees are determined by the number of days your containers stay in the port after the free period has expired.

DT - Detention

Detention is a fee that you have to pay if you have picked up your imported containers but have not returned them to the shipping line in time.

Similarly to demurrage fees, detention fees are determined by the number of days the containers have been in your possession.


Rollover occurs when your containers do not get loaded onto the vessel. This may occur as a result of customs problems, overbooking, or vessel omissions.

When this occurs, your carrier will arrange to get your containers onto the next departing ship.

FCL - Full Container Load

FCL (Full Container Load) refers to when shippers have enough goods to fill an entire container.

LCL - Less than Container Load

LCL (Less than Container Load) refers to when shippers do not have enough goods to fill an entire container. In this case, shippers will share a container with other consignments.

Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading is a legal document issued by a carrier to a shipper including shipment details such as the type of goods, quantity, freight rate, and destination. It represents the agreement between the parties involved and helps guarantee that exporters receive their payment and importers receive their goods. The Bill of Lading also serves as a shipment receipt.

CYCY - Container Yard to Container Yard

A container yard is a port facility where containers are stored before they are loaded onto a ship or after they have been discharged from a ship.

CYCY (Container Yard to Container Yard) explains that the responsibility of the carrier begins (port of loading) and ends (port of discharge) at the container yard.

Stuffing and Stripping

Stuffing is the process of loading a container, whilst stripping is the process of unloading a container.

Having a basic understanding of these shipping terms will better equip you to tackle any shipping complications that may occur.

For more information on shipping, get in touch with the ISS team today.