What does LT stand for? What does on-carriage mean? What's a time charter?

Shipping jargon and terminology can be confusing. In this section, we explain the meaning of the most commonly used international shipping terms.

If you still need a specific shipping term explained in detail, simply contact your nearest Safmarine office – we’re happy to help.

A user group for shipping lines and container terminals. SMDG develops and promotes UN/EDIFACT EDI messages for the maritime industry and is an official Pan-European User Group, recognised by the UN/EDIFACT Board.
Abbreviation for Steamship.
Abbreviation for Said to Contain.
A type of bill of lading used for port-to-port or combined transport carriage, also known as a waybill. A seawaybill/waybill is identical to a negotiable bill of lading except that it is not a document of title. There are no originals issued for this type of document. In some jurisdictions, such as the USA, a seawaybill/waybill is deemed the equivalent of a (straight) consigned bill of lading.
Service agreement
A private contract between one or more carriers and one or more shippers to transport cargo between specified points under terms and conditions of carriage agreed and listed in the contract. It often allows for particular rates, based on volume over a specified period of time. Also commonly known as a service contract.
Set point
The specific temperature that a refrigerated container has been set to. Ideally, the set point and the actual temperature should be identical throughout the voyage.
Ship's chandler
A supplier of various items and equipment to a vessel
(1) Person who consigns something (e.g. the goods of an individual shipment).
(2) Legal entity or person named on the bill of lading or seawaybill as the shipper, and/or for whom, in whose name or on whose behalf, a contract of carriage has been concluded with a carrier. Also known as consignor.
Contents of containers as loaded (stuffed), stowed (packed/braced), weighed and/or counted by, or for, the shipper. Usually a container yard load.
Shipping order
Equivalent of a booking and contract of carriage. A shipping order is evidence of the agreement between different parties to transport goods.
Short ton (ST)
1 Short Ton = 907.19 kg (2,000 lbs).
The name given to the cargo volume count at the delivery destination if it is less than originally shipped.
Slot charter
A carrier's chartering of slots/spaces on other carriers’ vessels. (See vessel sharing agreement.)
Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT)
A cooperative organised under Belgian law, SWIFT provides the following services to participating financial institutions: Letters of credit (opening and transmission), money transfers, and payment of security settlements. Other businesses participating in SWIFT are: Security brokers and delaters, clearing and depository institutions, security exchanges and travellers’ cheque issuers.
Special Customs Invoice
An official form usually required by U.S. Customs if the rate of duty is based upon the value, and the value of the shipment exceeds USD 500. This document is usually prepared by the foreign exporter or the forwarder, and is used by customs to determine the value of the shipment. The exporter or the agent must attest to the authenticity of the data provided.
Special rate
The rate established for a specified commodity for a specific period of time.
A terminal operator who is designated to facilitate the operation of loading and discharging vessels and various terminal activities. Also known as a longshoreman.
Stock keeping unit (SKU)
The smallest unit grouping for goods, normally indicating a single retail item. Usually, several SKUs will be under one purchase order.
Storage charge
The time-based storage charge for goods held in storage facilities (warehouses) under a fixed agreement.
Store-door delivery
A service providing inland transportation to a customer's premises from the port of discharge.
A service offered to the customer in which the carrier performs stripping (cargo unloading) of the customer's container at the port area. This service is provided upon customer request.
A service offered to the customer in which the carrier performs stuffing (cargo loading) of the customer's container at the port area. This service is provided upon customer request.
Supply chain
The movement of materials and information through the logistics process from the acquisition of raw materials through to delivery to end user. The supply chain includes all vendors, service providers and customers.
Supply chain management
The management and control of all materials and information in the logistics process from the acquisition of raw materials through to delivery to end user.
Additional charges above basic ocean freight. See also Add-ons
Switch Bill of Lading
This service is provided by the carrier to 'switch' transport documents (bills of lading) to other parties in the shipping process by issuing a second set of documents. A 'switch' can be carried out to prevent the shipper from being visible to the buyer, or to protect the interests of the cargo intermediary. This service is available upon customer request.