Shipping Terms



See Bill of Lading

Back Haul

The return movement of a means of transport which has provided a transport service in one direction.

Back Letter

Back letters are drawn up in addition to a contract in order to lay down rights and/or obligations between both contracting parties, which, for some reason cannot be included in the original contract. This expression is sometimes used for letters of indemnity, which are drawn up if the condition of the goods loaded gives rise to remarks and, nevertheless, the shipper insists upon receiving clean Bills of Lading. Letters of indemnity are only allowed in very exceptional circumstances.

Back Order

A customer order or commitment, which is unfilled due to insufficient stock.

Back Scheduling

A method of obtaining a production schedule by working backwards from the required due date in order to predict the latest start date consistent with meeting that due date.


The quantity of goods still to be delivered, received, produced, issued, etc., for which the planned or agreed date has expired. The total number of customer orders which have been received but not yet been shipped.


The balespace of a vessel is the capacity of cargo spaces under deck (including hatchways but excluding void spaces behind cargo battens and beams) expressed in cubic meters or cubic feet.


Materials solely carried to improve the trim and the stability of the vessel. In vessels usually water is carried as ballast in tanks, specially designed for that purpose.

Bank Guarantee

An undertaking by a bank to be answerable for payment of a sum of money in the event of non performance by the party on whose behalf the guarantee is issued.

Banking System

For marine purposes the practice of always keeping more than one piece of cargo on the quay or in the vessel ready for loading or discharging in order to avoid delays and to obtain optimal use of the loading gear.


An EDI message to convey the Bayplan on occupied and empty slots in a certain vessel at a particular time.

Bar Coding

A method of encoding data for fast and accurate electronic readability. Bar codes are a series of alternating bars and spaces printed or stamped on products, labels, or other media, representing encoded information which can be read by electronic readers, used to facilitate timely and accurate input of data to a computer system. Bar codes represent letters and/or numbers and special characters like +, /, -, etc.

Bare Boat Charter

A charter whereby the charterer leases the bare ship and appoints the master and crew himself.


Flat bottomed inland cargo vessel for canals and rivers with or without own propulsion for the purpose of transporting goods.


Special devices mounted on container doors to provide a watertight locking.


Home depot of container or trailer.

Basic Stock

Items of an inventory intended for issue against demand during the re-supply lead time.


A collection of products or data which is treated as one entity with respect to certain operations e.g. processing and production.

Batch Lot

A definite quantity of some product manufactured or produced under conditions which are presumed uniform and for production control purposes passing as a unit through the same series of operations.

Batch Production

The production process where products/components are produced in batches and where each separate batch consists of a number of the same products/components.


Members protruding from the inside walls of a vessel's hold or a (thermal) container to keep away the cargo from the walls to provide an air passage. They may be integral with the walls, fastened to the walls or added during cargo handling.


A vertical division of a vessel from stem to stern, used as a part of the indication of a stowage place for containers. The numbers run from stem to stern; odd numbers indicate a 20 foot position, even numbers indicate a 40 foot position.

Bay Plan

A stowage plan which shows the locations of all the containers on the vessel.

BC Code

Safe working practice code for solid bulk cargo.


The measurement and comparison with a standard or others of efforts and results in the business process for e.g. input, output, reliability, quality and customer satisfaction. Note: For P&O Nedlloyd it is the comparative search for the best practices (processes) that will lead to superior performance of the company.

It must be seen as a positive and pro-active process to make the company's operations lean and improve quality and productivity.


Is the result of vertical forces acting on a ship as a result of local differences between weight and buoyancy. The total of these forces should be zero, otherwise change of draft will occur.

At sea the bending moment will change as a result of wave impact which than periodically changes the buoyancy distribution.

Note: The maximum allowed bending moment of a vessel is restricted by the class bureau to certain limits, which are different under port and sea conditions.

Berne Gauge

The most restrictive loading gauge (standard measure) or the lowest common denominator of loading gauges on the railways of continental Europe.


A location in a port where a vessel can be moored often indicated by a code or name.

Best Practice

The provision to a client of examples and constructive consultation for improved logistics processes in the delivery of goods and services.

Bilateral Transport Agreement

Agreement between two nations concerning their transport relations.

Bill of Exchange

An unconditional order in writing to pay a certain sum of money to a named person.

Bill of Health

The Bill of Health is the certificate issued by local medical authorities indicating the general health conditions in the port of departure or in the ports of call. The Bill of Health must have been visaed before departure by the Consul of the country of destination. When a vessel has free pratique, this means that the vessel has a clean Bill of Health certifying that there is no question of contagious disease and that all quarantine regulations have been complied with, so that people may embark and disembark.

Bill of Lading

Abbreviation: B/L, plural Bs/L A document which evidences a contract of carriage by sea. The document has the following functions:

A receipt for goods, signed by a duly authorised person on behalf of the carriers. A document of title to the goods described therein. Evidence of the terms and conditions of carriage agreed upon between the two parties. At the moment 3 different models are used: A document for either Combined Transport or Port to Port shipments depending whether the relevant spaces for place of receipt and/or place of delivery are indicated on the face of the document. A classic marine Bill of Lading in which the carrier is also responsible for the part of the transport actually performed by himself. Sea Waybill: A non-negotiable document, which can only be made out to a named consignee. No surrender of the document by the consignee is required.

See also: Service Bill

Bill of Lading Clause

A particular article, stipulation or single proviso in a Bill of Lading. A clause can be standard and can be pre-printed on the B/L.

Bill of Material

A list of all parts, sub-assemblies and raw materials that constitute a particular assembly, showing the quantity of each required item.

Bimodal Trailer

A road semi-trailer with retractable running gear to allow mounting on a pair of rail boogies. A trailer which is able to carry different types of standardised unit loads, (e.g. a chassis which is appropriate for the carriage of one FEU or two TEU's).


Support mounted on the bridge deck to hold the compass.

Block Train

A number of railway wagons (loaded with containers), departing from a certain place and running straight to a place of destination, without marshalling, transhipping or any coupling or de-coupling of wagons.


A small open decked craft carried on board ships for a specific purpose e.g. lifeboat, workboat.


Person who attends to the mooring and unmooring of vessels.


Post, fixed to a quay or a vessel, for securing mooring ropes.


See Container Bolster

Bona Fide

In good faith; without dishonesty, fraud or deceit.


The storage of certain goods under charge of customs viz. customs seal until the import duties are paid or until the goods are taken out of the country. Bonded warehouse (place where goods can be placed under bond). Bonded store (place on a vessel where goods are placed behind seal until the time that the vessel leaves the port or country again). Bonded goods (dutiable goods upon which duties have not been paid i.e. goods in transit or warehoused pending customs clearance).


The offering by a shipper of cargo for transport and the acceptance of the offering by the carrier or his agent.

Booking Reference Number

The number assigned to a certain booking by the carrier or his agent.


Document used in road transport, listing the cargo carried on a road vehicle, often referring to appended copies of the road consignment note.


A stage in a process which limits performance. Note: Generally this is interpreted as a facility, function, department etc. that impedes performance, for example a warehouse or distribution centre where goods arrive at a faster rate than they can be transported or stored, thus causing stock-piling at improper moments or in unwanted areas.

Bottom Fittings

Special conical shaped devices inserted between a container and the permanent floor on the deck of a vessel in order to avoid shifting of the container during the voyage of this vessel.

Bottom Lift

Handling of containers with equipment attached to the four bottom corner fittings (castings).


Money borrowed against a ship, or its equipment, repaid with interest upon the ship's arrival at port, and forfeited should the ship sink


Machine located towards the forward end of a ship below the waterline, which can produce a lateral trust mostly by means of a propeller.


Colloquial name for container (e.g. Box-club)

Box Pallet

Pallet with at least three fixed, removable or collapsible, vertical sides.

Branch Warehouse

See Distribution Centre

Break Bulk

To commence discharge.
To strip unitised cargo.

Break Bulk Cargo

General cargo conventionally stowed as opposed to unitised, containerised and Roll On-Roll Off cargo.

Break-even Weight

The weight at which it is cheaper to charge the lower rate for the next higher weight-break multiplied by the minimum weight indicated, than to charge the higher rate for the actual weight of the shipment.


A structure on board a ship, fixed to an open deck forward intended to deflect and disperse head seas shipped over the bow.

Broken Stowage

The cargo space which is unavoidably lost when stowing cargo. The percentage of wasted space depends upon e.g. the kind of cargo, the packing and the used spaces.


Person who acts as an agent or intermediary in negotiating contracts.

Brussels Tariff Nomenclature

The old Customs Co-operation Council Nomenclature for the classification of goods. Now replaced by the Harmonised System.

BSI Container Specification

British Standards Institution Specification for freight containers.

Buffer Stock

A quantity of goods or articles kept in store to safeguard against unforeseen shortages or demands.

Bulk Cargo

Unpacked homogeneous cargo poured loose in a certain space of a vessel or container e.g. oil and grain.

Bulk Carrier

Single deck vessel designed to carry homogeneous unpacked dry cargoes such as grain, iron ore and coal.

Bulk Container

A container designed for the carriage of free-flowing dry cargoes, which are loaded through hatchways in the roof of the container and discharged through hatchways at one end of the container.


Upright partition dividing compartments on board a vessel. The functions of bulkheads are:
To increase the safety of a vessel by dividing it into compartments.
To separate the engine room from the cargo holds.
To increase the transverse strength of a vessel.
To reduce the risk of spreading fire to other compartments.
A vertically mounted board to provide front wall protection against shifting cargo and commonly seen on platform trailers (road cargo).
A partition in a container, providing a plenum chamber and/or air passage for either return or supply air. It may be an integral part of the appliance or a separate construction.
A vertically mounted wall separating the fore respectively aft compartment from the rest of the aircraft (air cargo).

Bull Rings

Rings for lashing the cargo in containers.


Specialised reports for specific activity related events.


(Tank) spaces on board a vessel to store fuel.

Bunker Adjustment Factor

Abbreviation: BAF
Adjustment applied by P&O Nedlloyd or liner conferences to offset the effect of fluctuations in the cost of bunkers.


Quantity of fuel on board a vessel.


The upward force extended by the vertical component of integrated pressure acting on the hull below the waterline; usually calculated as being equal to the weight of the water displaced by the hull.

Bureau Veritas

French classification society.

Business Analyses

The process of investigating and evaluating an organisation to clarify processes and procedures.

Business Data Repository (BDR)

The accumulation of business data taken from a system to reuse this data in other systems.

Business Function

An upper level business activity that is achieved via the performance of component activities. Examples: Manufacturing, Shipping

Business Logistics

Logistics within a business system. The co-ordinating function of material management and physical distribution, which executes the integral control of the goods flow.

Business Process

A business process is the action taken to respond to particular events, convert inputs into outputs, and produce particular results. Business processes are what the enterprise must do to conduct its business successfully.

Business Process Model

The business process model provides a breakdown (process decomposition) of all levels of business processes within the scope of a business area. It also shows process dynamics, lower-level process interrelationships. In Summary it includes all diagrams related to a process definition that allows for understanding what the business process is doing (and not how).

Business Process Redesign (BPR)

The process of redesigning business practice models including the exchange of data and services amongst the stakeholders (i.e. finance, merchandising, production, distribution) involved in the lifecycle of a client's product.

Business Rule

A Business Rule is a business condition under which data items are created, related and maintained.


Party to which merchandise is sold.

Buyer's Market

A 'buyer's market' is considered to exist when goods can easily be secured and when the economic forces of business tend to cause goods to be priced at the purchaser's estimate of value. In other words, a state of trade favourable to the buyer, with relatively large supply and low prices.

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