Terms Used In Import Shipping: Import Acronyms

What Are The Most Common Import Acronyms Used In Shipping?

There are many important import acronyms to know in the international trade world. International trade has many moving parts, and one of the biggest points of confusion that companies experience is when it comes to the numerous and complex world of import shipping terms.

If you want to have a leg-up in the business world then you need to have a strong handle on the various international trade terms. The world of international trade and compliance has a huge number of acronyms, and it is ever-changing.

Some of the most important importing terms and other import acronyms to know in the international trade world are in the following list of import terms.

TermAbbreviationDefinition
Automated Broker InterfaceABIABI means the Automated Broker Interface functionality that allows entry filers to transmit immediate delivery, entry and entry summary data electronically to, and receive electronic messaging from, CBP and receive transmissions from Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) or any other CBP-authorized electronic data interchange system.
Automated Commercial EnvironmentACEThe Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) is the system through which the trade community reports imports and exports and the government determines admissibility.
Automated Clearing House (debit/credit)ACHCBP Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) is an electronic payment option that allows participants to pay customs fees, duties, and taxes electronically, as well as receive refunds of customs duties, taxes and fees electronically.
Antidumping/Countervailing DutyADD/CVDAntidumping/Countervailing Duty is a Priority Trade Issue. These are additional duties determined by the U.S. Department of Commerce which offset unfair low prices and foreign government subsidies on certain imported goods. AD/CVD duties level the playing field and provide fair competition for U.S. industry.
Automated Manifest System (air & ocean)AMSThe Automated Manifest System is a cargo release notification and inventory control system. AMS integrates directly with the US Customs In-Bond and Selectivity systems used at US Customs Ports of Entry, as well as indirectly with the Automated Broker Interface (ABI).
Air WaybillAWBAn air waybill is a document that accompanies goods shipped by an international air courier and provide detailed information about the shipment and allows it to be tracked. It is a type of bill of lading.
Bill of LadingBL or BOLA Bill of Lading is a document issued by a carrier (or their agent) to acknowledge receipt of cargo for shipment. Although the term historically related only to carriage by sea, a bill of lading may today be used for any type of carriage of goods.
CBP and Trade Automated Interface RequirementsCATAIRThe CATAIR provides information for prospective ABI filers to initiate the process to file data electronically with ACE either as a new ACE ABI filer or as an ABI filer transitioning from the Automated Commercial System (ACS) to ACE.
CBP Center of Excellence and ExpertiseCEEThe CBP Centers of Excellence and Expertise were established to increase uniformity of practices across ports of entry and facilitate timely resolution to the trade community. There are 10 centers across the US.
Container Examination Station/ Centralized Examination StationCESA Container Examination Station is a privately-operated facility at which merchandise is made available to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers for physical examination. A Centalized Examination Station is a designated warehousing operation that is equipped to unload import containers or handle import cargo under the supervision of US Government personnel.
Customs FormsCFCustoms Forms are documents used by CBP to clear shipments and to assess duties and taxes. They are also used for communication from CBP, such as a CF 28, 29, 4647.
Code of Federal RegulationsCFRThe Code of Federal Regulations is the codification of the general and permanent rules and regulations (sometimes called administrative law) published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government of the United States.
Container Freight StationCFSA Container Freight Station refers to a facility that consolidates or de-consolidates freight before preparing such freight for the next leg of its journey. Most CFS will be located close to ports of entry such as airports, ocean container ports and major railway hubs.
Commercial InvoiceCIA commercial invoice is a document required by customs to determine true value of the imported goods for assessment of duties and taxes. A commercial invoice must identify the buyer and seller and clearly indicate the (1) date and terms of sale, (2) quantity, weight and/or volume of the shipment, (3) type of packaging, (4) complete description of goods, (5) unit value and total value, and (6) insurance, shipping and other charges (as applicable).
Certificate of Origin / Country of OriginCOOA certificate of origin is a document declaring in which country a commodity or good was manufactured. The certificate of origin contains information regarding the product, its destination, and the country of export. Country of origin is the country of manufacture, production, or growth where an article or product comes from.
Cargo Systems Messaging ServiceCSMSCSMS is one of CBP's methods for communicating to our trade partners news and updates on our automated systems - namely the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).
Customs Trade Partnership Against TerrorismC-TPATCTPAT is a voluntary public-private sector partnership program which recognizes that CBP can provide the highest level of cargo security only through close cooperation with the principle stakeholders of the international supply chain such as importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers.
Electronic Data InterchangeEDIElectronic Data Interchange is the communication framework that provides standards for exchanging data via any electronic means.
Employer Identification NumberEINAn Employer Identification Number is a unique identification number that is assigned to a business entity so that it can easily be identified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). By adding two zeros at the end of your Tax ID, it becomes the importer number Customs has assigned.
Freight ForwarderFFA freight forwarder is a business that organizes shipments for individuals or corporations to get goods from the manufacturer to a customer or a final point of distribution.
Free Trade AgreementFTAA free trade agreement is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.
Foreign Trade ZoneFTZForeign-Trade Zones are secure areas under U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) supervision that are generally considered outside CBP territory upon activation. Located in or near CBP ports of entry, they are the United States' version of what are known internationally as free-trade zones.
General OrderGOGeneral Order is a designation given by CBP to goods that have not cleared customs after 15 days of arrival.
Harbor Maintenance FeeHMFThe Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF) is a fee imposed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for U.S. imports shipped via ocean freight. It is charged at 0.125% of the value of the commercial cargo shipped through identified ports.
Harmonized SystemHSThe Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as the Harmonized System of Tariff nomenclature is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products.
Harmonized Tariff ScheduleHTSThe Harmonized Tariff Schedule is a common reference point for international trade. It gives countries a standard naming system for classifying goods and commodities that cross their borders. Approximately 200 countries around the world base their harmonized tariff schedules on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding Systems, also known as the Harmonized System (HS).
Harmonized Tariff System of the United StatesHTSUSThe Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States is a U.S. nomenclature system used to classify traded goods based on their material composition, product name, and/or intended function.
Immediate Exportation (type of in-bond)I.E.Immediate exportation is an entry that allows foreign merchandise arriving at one port to be exported from the same port without the payment of duty.
Immediate Transportation (type of in-bond)I.T.Immediate transportation entry refers to a form of the U.S. Customs entry filed with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) allowing imported merchandise to be transported under bond to another port for customs clearance.
Importer of RecordIORAn importer of record is a person or entity that has the legal responsibility to ensure that any good being imported complies with the legal requirements established by local and federal authorities.
Intellectual Property RightsIPRIntellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are legal rights that protect creations and/or inventions resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.
Importer Self-AssessmentISAImporter Self-Assessment is a voluntary approach to trade compliance. The program provides the opportunity for importers who have made a commitment of resources to assume responsibility for monitoring their own compliance in exchange for benefits.
Importer Security FilingISFImporter Security Filing (also known as the Importer Security Filing 10+2) is a declaration to US Customs of the shipment data and type of goods that are being imported into the United States. The ISF declaration is vital to US Homeland Security for screening of potential dangerous cargo or terrorist threats to the United States.
Manufacture Identification CodeMIDA MID or Manufacturers Identification code is generated as an alternative to providing the full name and address of a manufacturer on paperwork presented/available to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP ). It is a combination of the company name, address, city and country.
Mode of TransportationMOTMode of transportation is a term used to distinguish between different ways of transportation or transporting people or goods. The different modes of transport are air, water, and land transport.
Merchandise Processing FeeMPFThe Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) for formal entries is an ad valorem fee of 0.3464 percent. The fee is based on the value of the merchandise being imported, not including duty, freight, and insurance charges. MPF for informal entries is assessed on goods that are transported to the U.S. via air, ship and international mail.
Not Elsewhere SpecifiedNESNot elsewhere specified is used for an item that is not mentioned elsewhere in a classification system, such as a customs or freight tariff.
Non-Vessel-Operating Common CarrierNVOCCA Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) is an ocean carrier that transports goods under its own House Bill of Lading, or equivalent documentation, without operating ocean transportation vessels.
Partner Government AgencyPGAA Partner Government Agency is a government agency that regulates specific commodities imported into the US in conjunction with Customs.
Process Identification CodePICA Process Indicator Code is one letter (a-z) and describes the process, storage or dosage form depending on the type of product and used for FDA shipments. When in doubt, you may wish to contact the manufacturer for processing information. Medical devices, cosmetics, and some animal use products do not have a PIC and are represented by a hyphen.
Power of AttorneyPOAThe customs power of attorney gives an authorized agent the authority to act in all matters related to the import and export of goods. The grantor can be an individual, partnership, or corporation much like the agent, who is also called the attorney of the grantor.
Port of Entry/ ExportPOEPort of Entry / Export refers to any place that is designated for a CBP Officer to accept entries of merchandise, to collect duties, and to enforce Customs laws.
Post Summary Correction (CBP)PSCA Post Summary Correction allows the trade to electronically correct entry summary data presented to and accepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection through ACE.
Remote Location FilingRLFA Remote Location Filing (RLF) is an electronic program which allows an approved Customs broker with a valid national permit to electronically transmit data associated with an entry from a location other than the port of arrival.
Role of the BrokerROTBA licensed Customs broker helps importers and exporters meet federal requirements for international shipments.
Standard Carrier Alpha CodeSCACStandard Carrier Alpha Code is a specific code used to identify transportation companies such as freight container carriers and forwarders.
Social Security NumberSSNIf a formal entry is required, CBP regulations require the broker to put the ultimate importer's identification number on the Entry Summary CBP Form 7501. If you are an individual or have a sole proprietorship, then you would use your Social Security Number for Customs clearance.
Transportation and Exportation - type of in-bondT&EA Transportation and Exportation bond is used to move and export merchandise at another port, other than port of origin.
Temporary Import BondTIBA Temporary Import Bond (TIB) is a special entry type used when products are imported into the U.S. without the payment of duty or Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF), by posting a bond to ensure that the goods will be exported within a specified time.
Vessel-Operating Common CarrierVOCCA Vessel-Operating Common Carriers (VOCCs) or ocean common carrier holds itself out to the general public to provide transportation by water of passengers or cargo between the United States and a foreign country for compensation. It assumes responsibility for the transportation from the port or point of receipt to the port or point of destination.