Car Transportation Services

Auto Shipping Glossary of Car Shipping Terms

Association of American Railroads

AADT (Average Annual Daily Traffic)
The total volume of traffic on a highway segment for one year, divided by the number of days in the year.

AADTT (Average Annual Daily Truck Traffic)
The total volume of truck traffic on a highway segment for one year, divided by the number of days in the year.

Active Transport Movement of a substance across a cell membrane against an electrochemical gradient, in the direction opposite to normal diffusion and requiring the expenditure of energy.

Active Transportation traveling to work or school in a self-powered manner, such as walking, cycling and rollerblading, an important concept linking transportation and healthy living. Also referred to as active travel or physically active transportation or sometimes active commute.

Automation of Central Excise and Service Tax.

ADT Average Daily Traffic
The average number of vehicles traveling a road during a 24-hour period, based on actual traffic counts and factor to account for seasonal and daily variations.

Advanced Shipment Notice (ASN)
Detailed shipment information transmitted to a customer or consignee in advance of delivery, designating the contents and nature of the shipment. May also include expected time of arrival.

Advanced Lubricant Technology (Synthetic Lubricants)
Low Friction Engine & Drive Train Lubricants commonly known as synthetic engine oil and synthetic transmission & drive train lubricants, these synthetic products can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 3% by reducing friction between parts. Synthetic lubricants are designed to withstand the extreme pressures of the engine, transmission and drive train better than traditional oils. In addition to increased fuel efficiency, synthetic engine lubricants reduce wear and increase maintenance intervals.

Aerodynamic Mirrors
Mirrors with rounded casings on the front that eliminate flat surfaces. They are usually black or colored plastic rather than the flat backed, chrome mirrors on more traditional tractors.

Aero Profile Tractor
These tractors generally have a short, streamlined hood with aerodynamic contouring. The grill may be angled slightly, rather than completely vertical. The exhaust pipe is generally behind the cab rather than along the side.

American Foreign Service Association. Professional association for United States Foreign Service personnel.

Aircraft Carrier
Carries airplanes, allows planes to takeoff from and land on the ship.

Alternative fuels
Methanol, denatured ethanol, and other alcohols, separately or in mixtures of 85 percent by volume or more (or other percentage not less than 70 as determined by Department of Energy rule) with gasoline or other fuels. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), hydrogen, coal-derived liquid fuels, fuels other than alcohols derived from biological materials, electricity, or any other fuel determined to be substantially not petroleum.

Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV)
As defined by the Energy Policy Act, any dedicated, flexible-fuel, or dual-fuel vehicle designed to operate on at least one alternative fuel.

Approved Delivery Facility
Any transport, shipping, stockyard, mill, storehouse, plant, or other depository that is authorized by an exchange for the delivery of commodities tendered on futures contracts.

American Petroleum Institute.

American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
)A nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It represents all five transportation modes: air, highways, public transportation, rail and water. Its primary goal is to foster the development, operation and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system.

American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
Acting as a leading force in advancing public transportation, APTA serves and leads its diverse membership through advocacy, innovation, and information sharing to strengthen and expand public transportation.

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
A nonprofit organization that provides a management system to develop published technical information. ASTM standards, test methods, specifications, and procedures are recognized as definitive guidelines for motor fuel quality as well as a broad range of other products and procedures.

Areawide Control Schedule
An accounting and project management tool that is developed from tribal Transportation Improvement Programs, tribal control schedules, and tribal priority lists to identify detailed project information for the expenditure of IRR funds for the current and next four fiscal years.

American Trucking Associations

Atmospheric Transport & Diffusion
For the purposes of this report, the transportation and diffusion of toxic substances by atmospheric movement and turbulent processes.

Automatic Tire Inflation System
Automatic tire inflation systems monitor and continually adjust the level of pressurized air to tires, maintaining proper tire pressure even when the truck is moving.

Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
APUs provide a larger array of comfort features for drivers looking to reduce idling. APUs can provide heat, air conditioning, power for household electrical devices and engine heat. Most devices combine a small heater, a compressor for air conditioning and an alternator. APUs may be powered by diesel fuel directly from the tractor fuel tank, or by a bank of rechargeable batteries.

Automated Targeting System
The system established by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to assess imports and target those shipments which pose a high risk of containing contraband.

A privately owned and/or operated licensed motorized vehicle including cars, jeeps and station wagons. Leased and rented cars are included if they are privately operated and not used for picking up passengers in return for fare. (FHWA3)



A vehicle’s return trip

BAF (bunker adjustment factor)
An ancillary charge assessed by carriers on some ocean container freight shipments to account for fluctuation in fuel cost.

Bill of lading
A 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. Usually prepared by the shipper on forms issued by the carrier, it serves as a document of title, a contract of carriage, and a receipt for goods.

BIA Atlas Map
A series of maps which depict the IRR/BIA road system by reservation and jurisdictions.

BIA Classification of Roads
An identification of specific roads or trails that take into account current and future traffic generators, and relationships to connecting or adjacent BIA, State, county, Federal, and/or local roads.

BIA Roads System
Those existing and proposed roads for which the BIA has or plans to obtain legal right(s)-of-way. This includes only roads for which the BIA has the primary responsibility to construct, improve, and maintain. Any additions or deletions to this system must be supported by resolution from the ITG.

BIA/FHWA Memorandum of Agreement
An agreement between the BIA and the FHWA which contains mutually agreeable roles and responsibilities for the administration of the IRR and Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation programs.

An enclosed railcar used to transport freight.

Bulk Carrier (Water)
A ship with specialized holds for carrying dry or liquid commodities, such as oil, grain, ore, and coal, in unpackaged bulk form. Bulk carriers may be designed to carry a single bulk product (crude oil tanker) or accommodate several bulk product types (ore/bulk/oil carrier) on the same voyage or on a subsequent voyage after holds are cleaned.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)
The Bureau was organized pursuant to section 6006 of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 (49 U.S.C. 111), and was formally established by the Secretary of Transportation on December 16, 1992. BTS has an intermodal transportation focus whose missions are to compile, analyze and make accessible information on the Nation’s transportation systems; to collect information on intermodal transportation and other areas; and to enhance the quality and effectiveness of DOT’s statistical programs through research, the development of guidelines, and the promotion of improvements in data acquisition and use. The programs of BTS are organized in six functional areas and are mandated by ISTEA to 1) Compile, analyze, and publish statistics 2) Develop a long-term data collection program 3) Develop guidelines to improve the credibility and effectiveness of the Department’s statistics 4) Represent transportation interests in the statistical community 5) Make statistics accessible and understandable and 6) Identify data needs. (OFR1)

Bulk Cargo
Unpacked dry cargo such as grain, iron ore or coal. Any commodity shipped in this way is said to be in bulk.

Large motor vehicle used to carry more than 10 passengers, including school buses, intercity buses, and transit buses.



Cab Air Dam Front Bumper
A rounded bumper that improves airflow within the engine compartment as well as under-cab airflow. It is usually plastic and the same color as the cab rather than the vertical chrome bumpers on more traditional tractors.

Cab-Over-Engine Tractor
These tractors have the driver sitting over the engine. There is no front hood on these tractors.

Cab Roof Deflector
A straight piece of plastic or fiberglass that extends from the top of the cab at an angle. It usually has open sides and may be retractable.

Cab Roof Fairing
A roof fairing that extends partially over the cab of the truck with enclosed sides. It may not line up perfectly with the sides of the cab.

Charter Bus
A bus transporting a group of persons who pursuant to a common purpose, and under a single contract at a fixed price, have acquired the exclusive use of a bus to travel together under an itinerary. (APTA1)

A specialized framework that carries a rail or marine container

A shipment of not less than 10,000 pounds of one commodity from one consignor to another.

An arrangement where two or more people share the use and cost of privately owned automobiles in traveling to and from pre-arranged destinations together. Combination Truck A power unit (truck tractor) and one or more trailing units (a semitrailer or trailer).

Class 1 Railroad
A line haul freight railroad of US ownership with operating revenue in excess of $272.0 million. There are seven (7) Class 1 Railroads in the United States. Two Mexican and two Canadian railroads would also qualify, if they were US companies.

Council of Logistics Management

Commercial Bus
Any bus used to carry passengers at rates specified in tariffs; charges may be computed per passenger (as in regular route service) or per vehicle (as in charter service).

The carriage of goods or passengers for remuneration taken on at one point and discharged at another point within the territory of the country.

An enclosed box that carries goods.

Container on Flat Car (COFC)
A container that is transported on a rail flatcar. It can be shipped via tractor/trailer using a chassis as the wheel section.

Contract of Affreightment
A contract between a cargo shipper and carrier for the transport of multiple cargoes over a period of time. Contracts are individually negotiated and usually include cargo description, quantities per shipment and in total, load and discharge ports, freight rates and duration of the contract.

Crossdock operations in a warehouse involve moving goods between different trucks to consolidate loads without intermediate storage.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
A license issued by a State or other jurisdiction, in accordance with the standards contained in 49 CFR 383, to an individual which authorizes the individual to operate a class of a commercial motor vehicle.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAF�)
Originally established by Congress for new automobiles and later for light trucks. This law requires automobile manufacturers to produce vehicle fleets with a composite sales-weighted fuel economy not lower than the CAFE standards in a given year. For every vehicle that does not meet the standard, a fine is paid for every one-tenth of a mile per gallon that vehicle falls below the standard.




Department of Transportation (DOT)
Establishes the nation’s overall transportation policy. Under its umbrella there are ten administrations whose jurisdictions include highway planning, development and construction; urban mass transit; railroads; aviation; and the safety of waterways, ports, highways, and oil and gas pipelines. The Department of Transportation (DOT) was established by act of October 15, 1966, as amended (49 U.S.C. 102 and 102 note), “to assure the coordinated, effective administration of the transportation programs of the Federal Government” and to develop “national transportation policies and programs conducive to the provision of fast, safe, efficient, and convenient transportation at the lowest cost consistent therewith.” (OFR1)

Deadweight Tons (DWT)
The cargo carrying capacity of a vessel, including fuel oil, stores and provisions

Demand responsive transport
Buses, minibuses, taxis and shared vehicles that can be pre-booked for a time and/or route that suits the customer.

Demand Management
Measures to restrict the amount of car use undertaken such as through greater control on the price and availability of public cassarking.

Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Arm of Government which, amongst other things, is responsible for allocating Government funding on capital road schemes, setting standards of road design, signing, and so on.

Distribution Center (DC)
Distribution centers store and sort goods using warehouse space so that full truckloads of merchandise can be sent to a single destination or to multiple destinations along a specific route.

Double trucks are two 28-foot trailers that are pulled by one tractor. Doubles also are known as “double bottoms.”

Double Drivers
Having two drivers in the cab instead of one allows for the continual movement of freight, thereby eliminating the need for overnight stops and idling. Once the first driver reaches their maximum allowed driving time, the second driver commences driving while the first driver rests in the sleeper berth. This type of operation is best suited for expedited or perishable freight moving over long distances.

Dock receipt
A receipt issued by an ocean carrier to acknowledge receipt of a shipment at the carrier’s dock or warehouse facilities.

Domestic Freight (Water)
All waterborne commercial movement between points in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, excluding traffic with the Panama Canal Zone. Cargo moved for the military in commercial vessels is reported as ordinary commercial cargo; military cargo moved in military vessels is omitted.

Driver Tag Teams
Driver tag teams are known by many different names in the industry, such as slip seating, or drop and swap. This strategy involves one driver going from point A to point B, where a second driver then takes it from point B to point C. Because of the driver switch, overnight idling is not necessary.

Driver’s License
A license issued by a State or other jurisdiction, to an individual which authorizes the individual to operate a motor vehicle on the highways.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
The driving or operating of any vehicle or common carrier while drunk or under the influence of liquor or narcotics. (FTA1)

Drayage Firms
Motor carriers that provide local pickup and delivery of trailers and containers (on chassis)




Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
A method of transmitting freight bills, payment information and invoicing between computers.

Electronic road pricing
A scheme whereby an electronic device automatically deducts the appropriate charge from vehicles entering a charged road or area.

The total number of passengers boarding an aircraft and the total revenue tons of freight and mail loaded on an aircraft.

Engine Shutdown
Engine shutdown is the automatic or voluntary shutoff of the tractor engine after a certain amount of time. Engine shutdown can be as simple as a corporate shut down� or no idle policy or it can be more complex with the use of electronic devices or software encoded onto the engine control chip that automatically shuts the engine down. Engine shutdown works most effectively when combined with a comprehensive driver training program and driver incentive program.

Empty Repo
Contraction for Empty Repositioning. The movement of empty containers

Customs documents required to clear an import shipment for entry into the general commerce of a country.

Equipment Interchange Receipt (EIR)
A document transferring a container from one carrier to another, or to/from a terminal

Eastern Weighing and Inspection Bureau.

Notations made when the cargo is received at the carriers terminal or loaded aboard a vessel. They show any irregularities in packaging or actual or suspected damage to the cargo. Exceptions are then noted on the bill of lading.

Shipment of goods to a foreign country.

Export Declaration
A government document declaring designated goods to be shipped out of the country. To be completed by the exporter and filed with the U.S. Government.

Export License
A government document which permits the Licensee to engage in the export of designated goods to certain destinations.




A flatbed, also called a haul brite, is a type of trailer on a truck that consists of a floor and no enclosure.

Flatbed Trailer Tarps
Trailer tarps properly drawn over irregularly shaped loads can improve airflow and decrease wind resistance, thereby improving fuel economy.

FCA (Free Carrier) (… Named Place)
A Term of Sale which means the seller fulfills their obligation when he or she has handed over the goods, cleared for export, into the charge of the carrier named by the buyer at the named place or point. If no precise point is indicated by the buyer, the seller may choose, within the place or range stipulated, where the carrier should take the goods into their charge.

FAS (Free Alongside Ship) (…Named Port of Shipment)
A Term of Sale which means the seller fulfills his obligation to deliver when the goods have been placed alongside the vessel on the quay or in lighters at the named port of shipment. This means that the buyer has to bear all costs and risks of loss of or damage to the goods from that moment.

FOB (Free On Board) (…Named Port of Shipment)
An International Term of Sale that means the seller fulfills his or her obligation to deliver when the goods have passed over the ships rail at the named port of shipment. This means that the buyer has to bear all costs and risks to loss of or damage to the goods from that point. The FOB term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.

Abbreviation for “Freight All Kinds. Usually refers to full container loads of mixed shipments.

False Billing
Misrepresenting freight or weight on shipping documents.

Feeder Service
Cargo to/from regional ports are transferred to/from a central hub port for a long haul ocean voyage.

Foreign Sales Corporation
Under U.S. tax law, a corporation created to obtain tax exemption on part of the earnings of U.S

Force Majeure
The title of a common clause in contracts, exempting the parties for non fulfillment of their obligations as a result of conditions beyond their control, such as earthquakes, floods or war.

Foul Bill of Lading
A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were damaged when received. Compare Clean Bill of Lading.

Free Astray
An astray shipment (a lost shipment that is found) sent to its proper destination without additional charge.

Free In and Out (FIO)
Cost of loading and unloading a vessel is borne by the charterer/shipper.

Free of Particular Average (FPA)
A marine insurance term meaning that the assurer will not allow payment for partial loss or damage to cargo shipments except in certain circumstances, such as stranding, sinking, collision or fire.

Freight Bill
A document issued by the carrier based on the bill of lading and other information; used to account for a shipment operationally, statistically, and financially.An Invoice.

Full Shipload Lot
The amount of cargo a vessel carries or is able to carry. Practically, it is the amount of cargo which induces the specific voyage. While the cargo lot may take up the majority of the vessels space or tonnage capacity, it does not require a vessels volume and weight capacity to be fully utilized.




Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (Truck)
The maximum rated capacity of a vehicle, including the weight of the base vehicle, all added equipment, driver and passengers, and all cargo.

Industry related: A point at which freight moving from one territory to another is interchanged between transportation lines.

Abbreviation for General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. A multilateral treaty to help reduce trade barriers between the signatory countries and to promote trade through tariff concessions. The World Trade Organization (WTO) superseded GATT in 1994.

Abbreviation for “Government Bill of Lading.

Abbreviation for “General Department Store Merchandise. A classification of commodities that includes goods generally shipped by mass merchandise companies. This commodity structure occurs only in service contracts.

General Order (G.O.)
When U.S. Customs orders shipments without entries to be kept in their custody in a bonded warehouse.

Generator Set (Gen Set)
A portable generator which can be attached to a refrigerated container to power the refrigeration unit during transit.

Global Maritime Intelligence Integration (GMII)
It is within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, with the mission to ensure government wide access to maritime information and data critical to intelligence production and to serve as the focal point and oversight agent for maritime specific information issues.

In the Far East, a warehouse where goods are stored and delivered.

The front rails of the chassis that raise above the plane of the chassis and engage in the tunnel of a container leading to the connection to tractor.

Abbreviation for General Rate Increase. Used to describe an across�the board tariff rate increase implemented by conference members and applied to base rates.

Gross Tonnage (GT)
Applies to vessels, not to cargo, (0.2+0.02 log10V) where V is the volume in cubic meters of all enclosed spaces on the vessel. Since 1994, it replaces Gross Registered Tonnage. An approximate conversion ratio is 1NT = 1.7GT and 1GT = 1.5DWT.

Gross Weight
Entire weight of goods, packaging and freight car or container, ready for shipment. Generally, 80,000 pounds maximum container, cargo and tractor for highway transport.

A consolidation service, putting small shipments into containers for shipment.

Abbreviation for Gross Vehicle Weight. The combined total weight of a vehicle and its container, inclusive of prime mover.




Hague Rules
A multilateral maritime treaty adopted in 1921 (at The Hague, Netherlands). Standardizes liability of an international carrier under the Ocean B/L. Establishes a legal “floor� for B/L.

Handymax Vessel
A dry bulk vessel of 35,000 to 49,000dwt. (Note that a “Handy� drybulk carrier is from 10,000 to 34,000dwt.) A Handymax Tanker is a liquid bulk carrier of 10,000 to 60,000dwt.

Any place to which ships may resort for shelter, or to load or unload passengers or goods, or to obtain fuel, water, or supplies. This term applies to such places whether proclaimed public or not and whether natural or artificial.

Harbor Master
An official responsible for construction, maintenance, operation, regulation, enforcement, administration and management pertaining to marinas, ports and harbors.

Harmonized System of Codes
The Harmonized System (HS) is the current U.S. tariff schedule (TSUSA) for imports and is the basis for the ten�digit Schedule B export code.

The opening in the deck of a vessel; gives access to the cargo hold.

Heavy-Lift Charge
A charge made for lifting articles too heavy to be lifted by a ship�s normal tackle.

High-Density Compression
Compression of a flat or standard bale of cotton to approximately 32 pounds per cubic foot. Usually applies to cotton exported or shipped coast wise.

The marrying of two or more portions of one shipment that originate at different locations, moving under one bill of lading, from one shipper to one consignee. Authority for this service must be granted by tariff publication.

Hopper Barge
A barge which loads material dumped into it by a dredger and discharges the cargo through the bottom.

House to Pier
Cargo loaded into a container by the shipper under shippers supervision. When the cargo is exported, it is unloaded at the foreign pier destination.

The process of connecting a moving rail car with a motionless rail car within a rail classification yard in order to make up a train. The cars move by gravity from an incline or “hump� onto the appropriate track.

Hybrid vehicle
A vehicle powered by both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. The emission levels of hybrid vehicles are lower than vehicles powered solely by an internal combustion engine.




Abbreviation for Independent Action. The right of a conference member to publish a rate of tariff rule that departs from the Agreement�s common rate or rule.

Stands for Immediate Exit. In the U.S., Customs IE Form is used when goods are brought into the U.S. and are to be immediately re exported without being transported within the U.S.

International Maritime Consultative Organization. A forum in which most major maritime nations participate and through which recommendations for the carriage of dangerous goods, bulk commodities, and maritime regulations become internationally acceptable.

I.M.D.G. Code
International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code. The regulations published by the IMO for transporting hazardous materials internationally.

Immediate Exportation
An entry that allows foreign merchandise arriving at one port to be exported from the same port without the payment of duty.

To receive goods from a foreign country.

Import License
A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods.

In Bond
Cargo moving under Customs control where duty has not yet been paid.

In-Transit Entry (I.T.)
Allows foreign merchandise arriving at one port to be transported in bond to another port, where a superseding entry is filed

Incentive Rate
A lower�than�usual tariff rate assessed because a shipper offers a greater volume than specified in the tariff. The incentive rate is assessed for that portion exceeding the normal volume.

Independent Action
Setting rate within a conference tariff that is different from the rate(s) for the same items established by other conference members.

Placing a port on a vessel�s itinerary because the volume of cargo offered at that port justifies the cost of routing the vessel.

Inland Carrier
A transportation line that hauls export or import traffic between ports and inland points.

Inspection Certificate
A certificate issued by an independent agent or firm attesting to the quality and/or quantity of the merchandise being shipped. Such a certificate is usually required in a letter of credit for commodity shipments.

Installment Shipments
Successive shipments are permitted under letters of credit. Usually they must take place within a given period of time.

Insulated Container Tank
The frame of a container constructed to hold one or more thermally insulated tanks for liquids.

Insurance with Average clause
This type of clause covers merchandise if the damage amounts to three percent or more of the insured value of the package or cargo. If the vessel burns, sinks, or collides, all losses are fully covered. In marine insurance, the word average describes partial damage or partial loss.

Insurance, All risk
This type of insurance offers the shipper the broadest coverage available, covering against all losses that may occur in transit.

Insurance, Particular Average
A Marine insurance term which refers to partial loss on an individual shipment from one of the perils insured against, regardless of the balance of the cargo. Particular average insurance can usually be obtained, but the loss must be in excess of a certain percentage of the insured value of the shipment, usually three to five percent, before a claim will be allowed by the company.

Used to denote movements of cargo containers interchangeably between transport modes, i.e. motor, rail, water, and air carriers, and where the equipment is compatible within the multiple systems.

International Ship and Port Security Code (ISPS)
It is an amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention (1974/1988) on minimum security arrangements for ships, ports and government agencies. Having come into force in 2004, it prescribes responsibilities to governments, shipping companies, shipboard personnel, and port/facility personnel to “detect security threats and take preventative measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade.

An itemized list of goods shipped to a buyer, stating quantities, prices, shipping charges, etc.

Inward Foreign Manifest (IFM)
A complete listing of all cargo entering the country of discharge. Required at all world ports and is the primary source of cargo control, against which duty is assessed by the receiving country.

Abbreviation for Inland Point Intermodal. Refers to inland points (non ports) that can be served by carriers on a through bill of lading.

International Standards Organization which deals in standards of all sorts, ranging from documentation to equipment packaging and labeling.

Issuing Carrier
The carrier issuing transportation documents or publishing a tariff.

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