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Demystifying International Shipping Terms in 2023 | ShipFinex

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

Shipping Terms in 2023
Shipping Terms and Abbreviations in 2023

Do you ever feel lost when you hear terms like FOB, CIF, or EXW while shipping products internationally? Do you find yourself searching for what these abbreviations mean and how they can impact your business? If so, then you're not alone. International shipping terms and abbreviations can be confusing, but fear not! In this article, we will break down everything you need to know to navigate the world of international shipping industry with ease.

So let's begin Now.

Terms are considered a bit more advanced than.

1. Ship Scrapping: The process of dismantling and recycling a ship at the end of its

operational life, including the safe disposal of hazardous materials and the recovery of

valuable components of value in the resale market.

2. Ballast Water Management: The practice of managing the water used in a ship's ballast tanks to prevent the transfer of invasive species and maintain stability during voyages.

3. Dry Docking: The process of taking a vessel out of the water for inspection,

maintenance, and repairs, typically done in a dry dock facility.

4. Salvage: The process of rescuing a vessel or its cargo from a distressed or damaged

condition, often involving specialized equipment and techniques.

5. Marine Pollution: The introduction of harmful substances or contaminants into the marine

environment, such as oil spills, garbage disposal, and emissions, resulting in

environmental and economic impacts.

6. Containerization: The practice of packing goods in standardized containers for efficient

transportation and handling on ships, trucks, and trains.

7. Freight Rates: The charges levied by carriers for transporting goods by sea, are

typically based on factors such as distance, volume, weight, and type of cargo.

8. Bill of Lading: A legal document that serves as a contract of carriage and a receipt for

goods shipped on board a vessel, outlining the terms and conditions of transportation.

9. Port State Control: The practice of inspecting foreign ships in the port to ensure

compliance with international safety, security, and environmental regulations.

10. Maritime Law: The body of legal principles and regulations that govern maritime

activities, including international conventions, national laws, and commercial contracts.

11. Maritime Arbitration: The process of resolving maritime disputes through arbitration, a

form of alternative dispute resolution, instead of going to court.

12. Shipbuilding: The process of designing, constructing, and outfitting ships, including naval

architecture, engineering, and production techniques.

13. Protection and Indemnity Clubs: Mutual insurance associations that provide liability coverage to shipowners and operators for third-party liabilities, including property

damage, personal injury, and pollution claims.

14. RO-RO - Roll-on/Roll-off: A type of vessel designed to transport vehicles and other

cargo that can be rolled on and off the vessel via ramps.

15. IMO numbers - International Maritime Organization numbers: Unique identification

numbers assigned to ships for tracking and safety purposes.

16. ILO - International Labour Organization: A United Nations agency that sets international

labor standards and promotes decent work for all, including seafarers' rights and


17. MLC 2006 - Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: An international labor standard

established by the ILO that sets out comprehensive requirements for the working and

living conditions of seafarers on board ships, including employment contracts, wages,

working hours, and social welfare.

18. IACS - International Association of Classification Societies: A global organization

representing classification societies that establish and apply technical standards for the

design, construction, and maintenance of ships to ensure their safety and reliability.

19. HFO - Heavy Fuel Oil: A type of fuel used in ships engines that is derived from crude oil and is commonly used in large vessels for propulsion.

20. GMDSS - Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: An internationally recognized

communications system for distress.

21. STS - Ship-to-Ship Transfer: The process of transferring cargo or fuel between two

vessels while at sea, often used in the shipping industry for transferring liquid cargoes

such as oil or gas.

22. BWM - Ballast Water Management: The process of managing the discharge of ballast

water from ships to prevent the introduction of invasive species into new environments,

as regulated by the IMO's Ballast Water Management Convention.

23. Port State Control: The inspection and enforcement of international maritime regulations

by a coastal state on foreign-flagged vessels calling at its ports, to ensure compliance

with safety, security, and environmental standards.

24. MARPOL - International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships: An

international treaty established by the IMO that sets regulations for preventing

pollution from ships, including pollution from oil, chemicals, sewage, and garbage.

25. Flag State: The country whose flag a ship flies, and therefore responsible for enforcing

its national maritime regulations on that vessel, including safety, security, and

environmental standards.

26. Shipowner: The owner of a vessel who has legal and financial responsibility for the

operation and management of the ship.

27. Ship Operator: The entity responsible for the day-to-day operation of a vessel, including

crewing, maintenance, and logistics.

28. Port Authority: A governmental or quasi-governmental organization that manages and

regulates port facilities, services, and activities.

29. Port Terminal Operator: The entity responsible for the operation and management of a

port terminal, including cargo handling, storage, and other terminal services.

30. Shipping Line: A company that operates vessels for the transportation of goods by sea,

also known as a carrier or ocean carrier.

31. Freight Forwarder: A company that acts as an intermediary between shippers and

carriers, arranging the transportation of goods and handling logistics.

32. NVOCC (Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier): A company that consolidates and

transports goods using containers but does not own or operate vessels.

33. Charterer: The entity that hires or rents a vessel for a specific period or voyage, typically

for the transportation of goods.

34. Ship Agent: A representative of the shipowner or operator who handles administrative

and operational tasks related to vessel calls at a port, such as customs clearance, cargo

documentation, and port coordination.

35. Classification Society: An independent organization that establishes and enforces

standards for the design, construction, and maintenance of ships, ensuring their safety

and seaworthiness.

36. Maritime Administration: A government agency responsible for the regulation and

oversight of maritime activities within a country's jurisdiction, including vessel

registration, safety, and environmental compliance.

37. Ship Registry: A country or territory where ships can be registered, typically for legal

and financial purposes, such as determining nationality, taxation, and liability.

38. Maritime Union: An organization that represents the interests of maritime workers,

including seafarers, dockworkers, and other maritime professionals, in areas such as

labor rights, safety, and welfare.

39. Shipbrokers: Intermediaries who facilitate the buying, selling, and chartering of vessels,

often specializing in specific types of ships or trades.

40. Maritime Insurance: The insurance coverage for risks associated with the operation

and transportation of ships, including hull and machinery, cargo, and liability insurance.

41. Maritime Training Institutions(MTIs): Educational institutions that provide training and

education for maritime professionals, such as seafarers, marine engineers, and naval


42. Shipbroker Association: Professional organizations that represent the interests of

shipbrokers and provide industry guidelines, networking opportunities, and training.

43. International Maritime Organization (IMO): A specialized agency of the United Nations

responsible for the regulation and coordination of international maritime affairs, including

safety, security, and environmental protection.

44. International Chamber of Shipping (ICS): A global trade association representing the

interests of shipowners and operators, providing advocacy, policy development, and

industry guidance.

45. BIMCO (Baltic and International Maritime Council): A leading international

association representing shipowners, operators, brokers, and agents involved in the

global shipping industry. BIMCO provides a wide range of services and resources to its

members, including standard contracts for chartering, buying, and selling vessels, as

well as industry-related information, education, and advocacy.

46. Marine Surveyors: Professionals who conduct inspections, assessments, and audits of

vessels, cargoes, and operations to ensure compliance with regulations, standards, and

best practices.

47. MLC - Maritime Labour Convention: An international labor standard established by

the International Labour Organization (ILO) that sets out minimum requirements for the

working and living conditions of seafarers on board ships.

48. SOLAS - International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea: An international

treaty established by the IMO that sets minimum safety standards for ships, including

construction, equipment, and operation requirements.

49. ISM - International Safety Management Code: A set of regulations established by the

IMO that requires shipowners and operators to develop and implement safety

management systems to ensure the safe operation of ships and the protection of the

marine environment.

50. STCW - International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and

Watchkeeping for Seafarers: An international treaty established by the IMO that sets

minimum training, certification, and watchkeeping standards for seafarers.

With the arrival of the year 2023, it is clear that international shipping remains pivotal in facilitating global trade. Nonetheless, accounting for the multifarious jargon and acronyms intrinsic to this industry is challenging, making it taxing for companies and individuals to maneuver through the shipping procedure.

Written by ANKUR KUNDU

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