Ad Valorem

According to the value. For example, an import duty rate of 10% ad valorem means 10% of the value of the goods.


An independent person or corporation acting as a representative, usually in a foreign market, who attempts to sell products for an overseas seller (principal) and earns a commission on successful sales. Agents are not normally involved in delivery or servicing of product.

Air Waybill (AWB)

The document which covers transport by air. It is issued by the carrier, whether an airline or a freight forwarder, as a non-negotiable document serving as a receipt to the consignor for the goods, and containing the conditions of transport. It also shows the details of the consignee so that they can be contacted on arrival of the goods.


House AWB issued by a freight forwarder acting as a carrier.


The term used for the AWB issued on airline’s stationery to a freight forwarder for all of the goods covered by one or more House AWBs on the one flight going from one loading airport to one destination airport.


The buyer who has requested his bank to arrange an L/C on his behalf. In some countries where the buyer may have trouble arranging an import license, the applicant may be a third party acting on behalf of the buyer.

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Bunker Adjustment Factor – an adjustment to shipping companies’ freight rates to take into account fluctuations in the cost of fuel oil (bunkers) for their ships.

Bank Guarantee

A document issued by a bank acting as a guarantor for their customer. The bank’s guarantee is accepted because of their status and creditworthiness compared to that of their customer. Often used in conjunction with major projects, in the form of Bid Bonds, Performance Bonds and Warranty Bonds, commonly for 10% of the contract value, all of which provide the buyer with a measure of comfort should the seller not fulfil his obligations at various stages of the contract.


The seller in whose favour an L/C is issued, ie the person who will “benefit” from the L/C. (See also Letter of Credit).

Bill of Exchange

An unconditional order in writing, issued by the seller (drawer) instructing the buyer (drawee) to pay the seller’s bank (payee) a specified amount (normally the full invoice value) on demand (at sight) or at a fixed or determinable future time. A suitable form can be obtained from the seller’s bank, or drawn up on a blank sheet of paper.

Bill of Lading (B/L)

The document which covers transport by sea. Signed by the carrier, whether a shipping line or a freight forwarder, it serves as a receipt to the consignor for the goods, as evidence of the contract of transport containing the conditions of transport, and as a document of title by which possession of the goods can be transferred. Typically a B/L is issued in a set of three signed originals or negotiables, one of which must be presented to claim the goods upon which the others become void.

Combined Transport / Multimodal B/L

A B/L covering transport by shipping container from an inland place prior to the loading port, to an inland place beyond the destination port. Most freight forwarders and shipping companies title their B/Ls as “Bill of Lading for Combined Transport or Port-to-Port shipment” or similar.

Congen B/L

A standard form of bill of lading used in shipments by chartered ship.

Clean B/L

A bill of lading indicating that the goods were received by the carrier in good order and condition, without any clauses declaring a defective condition in the goods and/or their packing.

Dirty/Foul/ Claused B/L

A bill of lading with any clauses declaring a defective condition in the goods and/or their packing. Almost invariably not acceptable to banks for presentation under L/Cs and almost always not acceptable to the buyer. (See also Clean Bill of Lading).

House B/L

A bill of lading issued by a freight forwarder acting as a carrier. The terms and conditions of the contract may well be different to the terms and conditions contained on the shipping company’s B/L, which can in extraordinary circumstances lead to legal complications should a dispute arise.

Master B/L

The term used for the B/L issued by a shipping company to a freight forwarder for all of the goods covered by one or more House B/Ls on the one ship going from one loading port to one destination port.

Ocean B/L

A B/L covering port-to-port shipment. Typically banks continue to use this term on L/Cs even though the majority of international shipments are containerised (See also Multimodal B/L).

On Board/ Shipped On Board B/L

A B/L evidencing that the goods were not only received by the carrier but were actually loaded on board in good order and condition. “Shipped” indicates that not only were the goods on board, but that the ship has departed the port.

Order B/L

A negotiable B/L, in which the goods are consigned “to order of” a particular party, often the shipper in which case the consignee is mostly shown simply as “to order”.

Straight B/L

A non-negotiable B/L in which the goods are consigned directly to a named consignee.


Colloquial term for a shipping container.


Non-containerised cargo.


Basic Service Rate Additional – the charge levied by shipping companies to importers for LCL cargo, including the port charges, transport to an unpacking depot (see CFS) subsequent sorting and storage of the goods and finally loading onto a vehicle collecting the goods for delivery to the buyer

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Universal Shipping Lines, LLC.

1810 Auger Dr

Suites G-H

Tucker GA 30084

Opening Hours

Monday − Friday 9:00 − 6:00

Saturday 10:00 − 4:00