ETD & ETA Dates for the Apparel Industry
Apparel Industry Terms  Time & Action Calendar

Similar to many other industries, the fashion industry uses various acronyms to help abbreviate certain terminology.  The term ETD & ETA are in regarding to shipping schedules.  This is important for discussions between production departments & clothing factories and also between wholesalers & retailers.  Basically, any purchase order between a buyer & seller has relevance to ETD & ETA dates.

ETD = Estimate Time of Delivery

ETA = Estimate Time of Arrival

The ETD is when the shipment will “leave”.

The ETA is when the shipment will “arrive”.

On purchase orders the shipping dates can be written in a few ways.

Ship date: 2/15 (February 15th) or Ship by: 2/15


ETD 2/15 (February 15th)

The three versions above have the same meaning.

On purchase orders the due dates can be written in a few ways.

Due date: 3/15 (March 15th)


ETA 3/15 (March 15th)

Below is an example of a typical discussion between an apparel wholesaler (importer) and a clothing factory (exporter):

Importer: We ordered t-shirts from you three months ago, where the heck are they?

Exporter:  Your purchase order request form indicated that you wanted an 3/15 ETD.

Importer: I sent you an email & revised purchase order changing that requirement.  We now need an ETA of 3/15.  Please rush our order.

A few additional relevant terms that may be of help to you are as follows:

“Ex-factory”: this is the date product leaves the factory.  This can possibly be the ETD date, but sometimes the ETD date may be the date the freight actually leaves the port of origin.  It is important to note that it takes time for product to leave a factory, board a vessel, then the vessel complete loading and exit the port.  This could potentially be days or weeks depending on how far the factory is located from port and the vessel schedules.

“Due at Port”:  it is a good idea to determine if the ETA date quoted by a supplier is the date that freight is due to port or actually due to the warehouse.  It is important to keep in mind that after freight arrives at port a few steps need to transpire.  The vessel needs to have containers offloaded, security review, customs clearance etc.  After that, the freight has to transport to the final destination.

Learn more about apparel shipping issues and freight definitions.

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