Glossary of International Trade Terms
   Apparel Glossary  Fashion Terms  Definitions

ACCEPTANCEAny agreement to purchase goods under specified terms.  An agreement to purchase goods at a stated price and under stated terms.
AD VALOREMAccording to value
ADVANCE AGAINST DOCUMENTSA loan made on the security of the documents covering the shipment.
ADVISING BANKA bank, operating in the exporter's country, that handles LETTERS OF CREDIT  for a foreign bank by notifying the exporter that the credit has been opened in his or her favor.
ADVISORY CAPACITYA term indicating that shipper's agent or representative is not empowered to make definitive decisions or adjustments without approval of the group or individual represented.
AIR WAYBILLA BILL OF LADING  that covers both domestic and international flights transporting goods to a specified destination.
ALONGSIDEA phrase referring to the side of a ship.  Goods to be delivered "alongside" are to be placed on the dock or barge within reach of the transport ship's tackle so that they can be loaded aboard  the ship. 
ALTERATIONA change in the boundaries of an activated zone or subzone.
APPLICANTA corporation applying for the right to establish, operate and maintain a foreign-trade zone.
ARBITRAGEThe process of buying FOREIGN EXCHANGE, stocks, bonds and other commodities in one market and immediately selling them in another market at higher prices.
ATTRIBUTIVE BASISMethod of accounting for merchandise where direct identification of the goods with the shipment as admitted to the zone has been lost.
AUDIT-INSPECTION PROCEDURESProvide the framework for Customs to reduce on-site supervision of zones and for zone operators/users to increase zone operating flexibility through the method of supervising zones.
BALANCE OF TRADEThe difference between a country's total imports and exports.
BARTERTrade in which merchandise is exchanged directly for other merchandise without use of money.
BENEFICIARYThe person in whose favor a LETTER OF CREDIT  is issued or a DRAFT is drawn.
BILL OF LADINGA document that establishes the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company under which freight is to be moved between specified points for a specified charge. 
BONDED WAREHOUSEA warehouse authorized by CUSTOMS authorities for storage of goods on which payment of DUTIES is deferred until the goods are removed.
BOOKINGAn arrangement with a steamship company for the acceptance and carriage of  freight.
CARNETA customs document permitting the holder to carry or send merchandise temporarily into certain foreign countries without paying duties or posting bonds.
CASH AGAINST DOCUMENTS (C.A.D.)Payments for goods in which a commission house or other intermediary transfers title documents to the buyer upon payment in cash.
CASH IN ADVANCED (C.I.A.)Payment for goods in which the price is paid in full before shipment is made.
CASH WITH ORDER (C.W.O.)Payment for goods in which the buyer pays when ordering and in which the transaction is binding on both parties.
CERTIFICATE OF INSPECTIONA document certifying that merchandise was in good condition immediately prior to its shipment.
CERTIFICATE OF MANUFACTUREA statement in which a producer of goods certifies that manufacture has been completed and that the goods are now at the disposal of the buyer.
CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINA document, certifying the country of origin of specified goods.
COST AND FREIGHT (C & F) A pricing term indicating that the cost of the goods and freight charges are included in the quoted price.
CHARTER PARTYWritten contract between the owner of a vessel and a "charterer" who rents use of the vessel or a part of its freight space.
COST AND INSURANCE (C & I )A pricing term indicating that the cost of the product and insurance are included in the quoted price.
COST, INSURANCE, FREIGHTA pricing term indicating that the cost of the goods, insurance, and freight are included in the quoted price.
CLEAN BILL OF LADINGA receipt for goods issued by a carrier that indicates that the goods were received in "apparent good order and condition", without damages or other irregularities.
CLEAN DRAFTA draft to which no documents have been attached.
COLLECTION PAPERSAll documents submitted to a buyer for the purpose of receiving payment for a shipment.
COMMERCIAL ATTACHÉThe commerce expert on the diplomatic staff of his/her country's embassy or large consulate.
COMMERCIAL INVOICEAn itemized list of goods shipped, usually among an exporter's COLLECTION PAPERS. 
COMMON CARRIERAn individual, partnership, or corporation that transports persons or goods for compensation.
CONFIRMED LETTER OF CREDITA letter of credit, issued by a foreign bank, whose validity has been confirmed by a U.S. bank.
CONSIGNMENTDelivery of merchandise from an exporter (consignor) to an agent (consignee) under agreement that the agent sell the merchandise for the account of the exporter.
CONSTRUCTIVE TRANSFERA legal fiction which permits acceptance of a Customs entry for merchandise in a zone before its physical transfer to the Customs territory.
CONSULAR INVOICEA document, required by some foreign countries, describing a shipment of goods and showing information such as the consignor, consignee, and value of the shipment.
CONVERTIBLE CURRENCYA currency that can be bought and sold for other currencies at will.
CORPORATION, PRIVATEAny corporation which is organized for the purpose of establishing, operating and maintaining a foreign-trade zone and which is chartered under a special act of the State within which it is to operate such a zone.
CORPORATION, PUBLICA State, political subdivision thereof, a municipality, a public agency of a State, political subdivision thereof, or municipality, or a corporate municipal instrumentality of one or more States.
CORRESPONDENT BANKA bank that, in its own country, handles the business of a foreign bank.
COUNTERTRADEThe sale of goods or services that are paid in whole or in part by the transfer of goods or services from a foreign country.
CREDIT RISK INSURANCEInsurance designed to cover risks of nonpayment for delivered goods.
CUSTOMSThe authorities designated to collect duties levied by a country on imports and exports.
CUSTOMS TERRITORYTerritory of the U.S. in which the general tariff laws of the U.S. apply.
CUSTOMHOUSE BROKERAn individual or firm licensed to enter and clear goods through Customs.
DATE DRAFTA draft that matures in a specified number of days after the date it is issued, without regard to the date of ACCEPTANCE.
DEFAULTAn act or omission that will result in a claim for duties, taxes, charges or liquidated damages under the FTZ Operator's Bond
DEFERRED PAYMENT CREDITType of LETTER OF CREDIT providing for payment some time after presentation of shipping documents by exporter.
DESTINATION CONTROL STATEMENTAny of various statements that the U.S. Government requires to be displayed on export shipments and that specify the destinations for which export of the shipment has been authorized.
DEVALUATIONThe official lowering of the value of one country's currency in terms of one or more foreign currencies.
DISCREPANCY - LETTER OF CREDITWhen documents presented do not conform to the letter of credit.
DISPATCHAn amount paid by a vessel's operator to a charterer if loading or unloading is completed in less time than stipulated in the charter party.
DISTRIBUTORA foreign agent who sells for a supplier directly and maintains an inventory of the supplier's products.
DISTRICT DIRECTORThe district director of customs in whose district the zone is located.
DISTRICT ENGINEERThe engineer of the Department of the Army in whose district the zone is located.
DOCK RECEIPTA receipt issued by an ocean carrier to acknowledge receipt of a shipment at the carrier's dock or warehouse facilities. 
DOCUMENTARY AGAINST ACCEPTANCE (D/A)Instructions given by a shipper to a bank indicating that documents transferring title to goods should be delivered to the buyer only upon the buyer's acceptance of the attached draft.
DRAFTAn unconditional order in writing from one person (the drawer) to another (the drawee), directing the drawee to pay a specified amount to a named drawer at a fixed or determinable future date.
DRAWBACKArticles manufactured or produced in the United States with the use of imported components or raw materials and later exported are entitled to a refund of up to 99% of the duty charged on the imported components.
DRAWEEThe individual or firm on whom a draft is drawn and who owes the stated amount.
DRAWERThe individual or firm that issues or signs a draft and thus stands to receive payment of the stated amount from the drawee.
DUMPINGExporting/Importing merchandise into a country below the costs incurred in production and shipment.
DUTYA tax imposed on imports by the customs authority of a country. 
EXCHANGE RATEThe price of one currency in terms of another, i.e., the number of units of one currency that may be exchanged for one unit of another currency.
EXHIBITIONThe showing of merchandise within a zone, usually to prospective buyers.
EXIMBANK The Export-Import Bank of the United States.
EXPORT BROKERAn individual or firm that brings together buyers and sellers for a fee but does not take part in actual sales.
EXPORT COMMISSION HOUSEAn organization which, for a commission, acts as a purchasing agent for a foreign buyer.
EXPORT LICENSEA government document that permits the "Licensee" to engage in the export of designated goods to certain destinations.
EXPORT MANAGEMENT COMPANYA private firm that serves as the export department for several manufacturers, soliciting and transacting export business on behalf of its clients in return for a commission, salary, or retainer plus commission.
EXPORT TRADING COMPANYA firm similar or identical to an export management company.
FIRST IN-FIRST OUT (FIFO)An accounting method based on an assumption regarding the flow of goods that older stock is disposed of first, in accordance with good merchandising policy.
FORCE MAJEUREThe title of a standard clause in marine contracts exempting the parties for nonfulfillment of their obligations as a result of conditions beyond their control, such as earthquakes, floods, or war.
FOREIGN EXCHANGEThe currency or credit instruments of a foreign country. 
FOREIGN FIRST (FOFI)An accounting method based on an assumption regarding the flow of goods that foreign status merchandise is disposed of first.
FOREIGN SALES AGENTAn individual or firm that serves as the foreign representative of a domestic supplier and seeks sales abroad for the supplier.
FOREIGN-TRADE ZONE/FREE TRADE ZONE A port designated by the government of a country for duty-free entry of any non-prohibited goods.  Merchandise may be stored, displayed, or used for manufacturing, etc., within the zone and reexported without duties being paid.
FOREIGN-TRADE ZONES ACTThe Foreign-Trade Zones Act of June 18, 1934, (48 Stat. 998-1003; 19 U.S.C. 81a-81u) as amended.
FOREIGN-TRADE ZONES BOARDThe Board which is established to carry out the provisions of the Foreign-Trade Zones Act.
FOUL BILL OF LADINGA receipt of goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were damaged when received.
FREE ALONGSIDE (F.A.S.)A pricing term indicating that the quoted price includes the cost of delivering the goods alongside a designated vessel.
FREE IN (F.I.)A pricing term indicating that the charter of a vessel is responsible for the cost of loading and unloading goods from the vessel.
FREE PORT An area such as a port city into which merchandise may be legally moved without payment of duties.
FREIGHT FORWARDERAn independent business which handles export shipments for compensation.
GATT/GENERAL AGREEMENT ON TARIFFS AND TRADEA multilateral treaty intended to help reduce trade barriers between the signatory countries and to promote trade through tariff concessions.
GENERAL EXPORT LICENSEAny various export licenses covering export commodities for which VALIDATED EXPORT LICENSES are not required.
GRANTEEA corporation to which the privilege of establishing, operating, and maintaining a foreign-trade zone has been granted by the Foreign-Trade Zones Board.
GROSS WEIGHTThe full weight of a shipment, including goods and packaging.
IMPORT LICENSEA document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods into their individual countries.
INLAND BILL OF LADINGA bill of lading used in transporting goods overland to the exporter's international carrier.
IRREVOCABLE LETTER OF CREDITA letter of credit in which the specified payment is guaranteed by the bank if all terms and conditions are met by the drawee.
LETTER OF CREDIT(L/C)A document, issued by a bank per instructions by a buyer of goods, authorizing the seller to draw a specified sum of money under specified terms, usually the receipt by the bank of certain documents within a given time.
LICENSINGA business arrangement in which the manufacturer of a product grants permission to some other group or individual to manufacture that product in return for specified royalties.
MANIPULATIONProcessing wherein merchandise is packed, unpacked, repacked, cleaned, sorted, graded or otherwise changed in condition but not manufactured.
MANUFACTUREGenerally, the production of articles for use from raw or prepared materials by substantially transforming such materials into new forms.
MARINE INSURANCEInsurance that compensates the owners of goods transported overseas in the event of loss that cannot be legally recovered from the carrier.
MARKINGLetters, numbers, and other symbols on cargo packages to facilitate identification.
MERCHANDISEIncludes goods, wares, and chattels of every description except Prohibited Merchandise, building materials, production equipment and supplies for use in operation of a zone.
MERCHANDISE, DOMESTICMerchandise which has been produced in the U.S. and not exported therefrom.
MERCHANDISE, FOREIGNImported Merchandise which has not been properly released from Customs custody into the Customs territory of the U.S.
MERCHANDISE, FUNGIBLEMerchandise which for commercial purposes is identical and interchangeable in all situations.
MERCHANDISE, MIXED STATUSForeign Merchandise which has been combined with Domestic Merchandise in the zone.
MERCHANDISE/OPERATIONS, PROHIBITEDMerchandise, the importation of which is prohibited by law on grounds of public policy or morals, or excluded by order of the Foreign-Trade Zones Board..
MERCHANDISE/OPERATIONS, RESTRICTEDMerchandise which may not be authorized for delivery from Customs custody without a special permit, or a waiver thereof by an agency of the U.S. Government.
NONPRIVILEGED FOREIGN (NPF)Foreign Merchandise or non-tax-paid domestic merchandise upon which the duty and applicable taxes will be determined at the time of entry from the zone for consumption.
OCEAN BILL OF LADINGA bill of lading indicating that the exporter consigns a shipment to an int'l carrier for transportation to a specified foreign market.
ON BOARD BILL  OF LADINGA bill of lading in which a carrier certifies that goods have been placed on board a certain vessel.
OPEN ACCOUNTA trade arrangement in which goods are shipped to a foreign buyer without guarantee of payment.
OPEN INSURANCE POLICYA marine insurance policy that applies to all shipments made by an exporter over a period of time rather than to one shipment only.
OPERATORA corporation, partnership, or person that operates a zone or subzone under the terms of an agreement with the Grantee.
OPERATOR'S BONDAll zone operators must submit to Customs a bond to assure compliance with Customs regulations.
ORDER BILL OF LADINGA negotiable bill of lading made out to the order of the shipper.
PACKING LISTA list showing the number and kinds of items being shipped, as well as other information needed for transportation purposes.
PARCEL POST RECEIPTThe postal authorities' signed acknowledgment of delivery to receiver of a shipment made by parcel post.
PRIVATE EXPORT FUNDING CORPORATION (PEFCO)Lends to foreign buyers to finance exports from U.S.
PERILS OF THE SEAA marine insurance term used to designate heavy weather, stranding, lightning, collision, and seawater damage.
PHYTOSANITARY INSPECTION CERTIFICATEA certificate, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to satisfy import regulations for foreign countries, indicating that a U.S. shipment has been inspected and is free from harmful pests and plant diseases.
POLITICAL RISKIn export financing the risk of loss due to such causes as currency, inconvertibility, government action preventing entry of goods, expropriation or confiscation, war, etc.
PRIVILEGED FOREIGN (PF)Foreign merchandise or non-tax paid domestic merchandise upon which the duty and applicable taxes have been determined at the time this status is approved. 
PRO FORMA INVOICEAn invoice provided by a supplier prior to the shipment of merchandise, informing the buyer of the kinds and quantities of goods to be sent, their value, and important specifications.
PURCHASING AGENTAn agent who purchases goods in his or her own country on behalf of foreign importers such as government agencies and large private concerns.
QUOTAThe quantity of goods of a specific kind that a country permit to be imported without restriction or imposition of additional DUTIES.
QUOTATIONAn offer to sell goods at a stated price and under specified conditions.
REACTIVATIONA resumption of the activated status of an entire area that was previously deactivated without any change in the operator or the area boundaries.
REGIONAL COMMISSIONERThe Regional Commissioner of Customs for the Customs Region in which the zone is located.
REMITTING BANKBank that sends the draft to overseas bank for collection.
RESIDENT MEMBERThe official that has been delegated authority by the Secretary of the Army to act on nondiscretionary zone matters.
RETAIL TRADEGenerally, sales or offers to sell goods or services to individuals for personal use.
REVOCABLE LETTER OF CREDITA letter of credit that can be canceled or altered by the drawee (buyer) after it has been issued by the drawee's bank.
SCHEDULE B Refers to Schedule B, Statistical Classification of Domestic and Foreign Commodities Exported from the United States.
Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC)The SSCC is used to identify logistics units, such as cases, cartons, pallets, or air cargo containers of trade items as they travel through shipping and receiving.   
SHIPPER'S EXPORT DECLARATIONA form required for all shipments by the U.S. Treasury Department and prepared by a shipper, indicating the value, weight, destination, and other basic information about an export shipment.
SHIP'S MANIFESTAn instrument in writing, signed by the captain of a ship, that lists the individual shipments constituting the ship's cargo.
SIGHT DRAFTA draft that is payable upon presentation to the drawee.
SPOT EXCHANGEThe purchase or sale of foreign exchange for immediate delivery.
STANDARD INDUSTRIAL CLASSIFICATION (SIC)A standard numerical code system used by the U.S. Government to classify products and services.
STANDARD INTERNATIONAL TRADE CLASSIFICATION (SITC)A standard numerical code system developed by the U.N. to classify commodities used in international trade.
STATEAny State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
STEAMSHIP CONFERENCEA group of steamship operators that operate under mutually agreed upon freight rates.
STRAIGHT BILL OF LADINGA nonnegotiable bill of lading in which the goods are consigned directly to a named consignee.
SUBZONEA special purpose zone established as part of a zone project for a limited purpose, that cannot be accommodated within an existing zone.
TARE WEIGHTThe weight of a container and packing materials without the weight of the goods it contains.
TENORDesignation of a payment as being due at sight, a given number of days after sight, or a given number of days after date.
THROUGH BILL OF LADINGA single bill of lading covering both the domestic and international carriage of an export shipment.
TIME DRAFTA draft that matures either a certain number of days after acceptance or a certain number of days after the date of the draft.
TRAMP STEAMERA ship not operating on regular routes or schedules.
TRANSACTION STATEMENTA document that delineates the terms and conditions agreed upon between the importer and exporter.
TRANSFERTo take merchandise with zone status from a zone for consumption, transportation, exportation, warehousing, cartage or lighterage, vessel supplies and equipment, admission to another zone, and like purposes.
TRUST RECEIPTRelease of merchandise by a bank to a buyer in which the bank retains title to the merchandise. 
UNIQUE IDENTIFIER NUMBER (UIN)This inventory method controls merchandise in a zone by unique numbers and/or letters that identify merchandise admitted to a zone.
USERA person or firm using a zone for storage, handling or processing of merchandise. 
VALIDATED EXPORT LICENSEA required document issued by the U.S. Government authorizing the export of specific commodities.
VESSEL/AIRCRAFT SUPPLYThe supply of goods or equipment free of duties and taxes under section 309 of the Tariff Act, to eligible vessels or aircraft for use while actually engaged in foreign trade, or in transit to any U.S. possession.
WAREHOUSE RECEIPTA receipt issued by a warehouse listing goods received for storage.
WHARFAGEA charge assessed by a pier or dock owner for handling incoming or outgoing cargo.
WITHOUT RESERVEA term indicating that a shipper's agent or representative is empowered to make definitive decisions and adjustments abroad without approval of the group or individual represented.
ZONE LOT NUMBER (ZLN)A collection of merchandise maintained under an inventory control method based on specific identification of merchandise admitted to a zone by lot and lot number.
ZONE PROJECTAll of the zone and subzone sites under a single grantee, normally in a single port of entry.
ZONE RESTRICTED (ZR)Merchandise admitted to a zone for the sole purpose of exportation or destruction.
ZONE SITEThe physical location of a zone or subzone.
ZONE STATUSThe status of merchandise admitted to a Foreign-Trade Zone, i.e., domestic (D), non-privileged foreign (NPF), privileged foreign (PF), or zone restricted (ZR) status.

Helpful Resources for International Trade Information:

Abbreviations Used in International Trade: List of abbreviations used in international trade

Deardorff's Glossary of International Economics: This glossary covers all of the terms and concepts from international economics, including both international trade and international finance.

ExportBureau.Com - Dictionary/Glossary: A glossary of terms used in international trade.

GlobalEDGE - Glossary of Trade Terms: Extensive glossary of international trade terms.

Glossary of Ocean Cargo Insurance Terms: Definitions of all terms related to cargo insurance.

ISO Standards Glossary: Glossary of international standards as defined by the ISO. Glossary of maritime terms.

Multilingual Trade Documentation: Glossary of terms used in world trade of goods, products and services, in 4 languages: Spanish, English, French and German.

The Acronym Database: Website providing a list of acronyms (abbreviations constructed mostly from the initial letters of the words of a phrase), gathered from many network sources and submitted by users.

TradeEasy - Glossary of Terms: Listing of terms used in international trade.

WTO Terminology Database: WTOTERM - the database for translators where you can find the terminology of the organization in its three official languages.  WTOTERM currently contains 8600 terms and is updated monthly.

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