Glossary of Industry Terms

Bill of Lading (BOL)

This is the official legal document that represents ownership of cargo; the negotiable document to receive cargo; and, the contract for cargo between shipper and carrier.

Break bulk

Loose cargo, such as cartons, stowed directly in the ship's hold as opposed to containerized or bulk cargo.


Bulk cargo

Commodity cargo that is transported unpackaged in large quantities. These cargos are usually dropped or poured as a liquid or solid, into a bulk carrier's hold. Examples of bulk cargo are grain, seed, and coal and iron ore.


Any individual, company or corporation engaged in transporting goods. Container shipping lines are sometimes referred to as ocean carriers.


A list of cargo being carried by a ship as declared by the shipper.


Industry term for a temperature-controlled container. Inside each one is a complex system of coils, wires and electrical fittings, which are managed by a computer that controls everything from the temperature and humidity to ventilation and gas levels, all working to prevent the deterioration of fresh food or other sensitive goods over long distances and periods of time


Any person or organization paying for its cargo to be shipped from one place to another.


'Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit'. This is the industry standard to measure containers. A 20-foot container's dimensions are twenty feet long (6.09 meters), 8 feet wide (2.4 meters) and 8 feet six inches high (2.6 meters). These dimensions have been set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).


Another word for a boat or ship. Container ships are sometimes referred to as vessels.