Ocean Freight Shipping Terms

If you run a small business that uses ocean freight to ship internationally, or if you work in a larger operation where you are responsible for international shipments, then you need to be familiar with some of the following terms used in the shipping industry.  While there are  scores of acronyms used in the freight forwarding industry, here are a few of the more common terms used, along with a brief description of what they mean to you:


  • These are the most common terms you will hear from your freight forwarder when discussing shipping option. They stand for “Full Container Load” and “Less than a Container Load.” In simplest terms, when you are shipping using a FCL, you are not sharing the space in the container with anyone else’s cargo. Shipping under LCL terms means that your cargo will ride along in a container with at least one other shipper’s cargo.


  • These two acronyms stand for “Estimated Time of Arrival” and “Estimated Time of Departure.” For the shipper, it is important to understand that ETA and ETD are terms that mean the estimated time of arrival or departure from the ports involved, not the  time when the goods will arrive at your door. It is also important to remember that the term “estimated” means just that…..it is an estimate, but not an absolute commitment. Delays in loading and unloading can vary the times when goods arrive at ports and when they might leave a specific port. 

P2P & D2D

  • P2P and D2D stand for the terms “Port to Port” and “Door to Door”. While these terms seem self-explanatory, shippers are often confused when they have arranged for what they believe will be a delivery to their place of business but their cargo is actually being shipped P2P or port to port, meaning that they will need to be responsible for getting the goods from the port destination to their business location. 


  • These two terms refer to the way cargo is categorized when determining applicable tariffs and duties. HS stands for Harmonized System and is a 6 digit code that classifies cargo while the HTS or Harmonized Tariff System is a more specific coding system that uses up to 10 digits when classifying cargo. 


  • GRI is a term shipping companies use when they are raising the price of their services. GRI stands for General Rate Increase and means just what it sounds like…..they are raising the cost to you when demand for their services allow. 


  • ISF stands for  Importer Security Filing which is a regulation that requires all cargo entering the United States be declared within 72 hours before the vessel leaves it’s port of departure. 

All of these terms are important for the shipper to be familiar with. At Eagles Air & Sea we take pride in helping our customers understand the ins and outs of international freight movement and will be happy to address questions you may have either via phone at +66 2 790.4599 or by email at sales@eaglesthai.com.