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Importing your goods can be intimidating because there are so many acronyms and jargon that pop up and create confusion.
ForestShipping laid out a few terms that we think are most important and that you will likely come across:
Bill of Lading (B/L or BoL): The Bill of Lading is a document between the shipper and the carrier that grants the freight carrier an ownership of receipt for the goods and proves that the cargo was received for shipment. It is required for all shipped goods (whether air, ocean, rail, or ground), and must be signed by the shipper, the carrier, and the recipient. The BoL will contain information detailing the type, quantity, and destination of the goods.
CIF (Cost Insurance and Freight): CIF means that cargo is delivered to the importing port (in our case, that would be the US). All expenses related to duties, taxes, and delivery would be my responsibility, as the buyer.
DDP (Delivered Duty Paid): DDP means that cargo is delivered all the way to final destination warehouse, in our case the Amazon warehouses. And all duties, taxes, and delivery fees have been already paid.
FOB (Free on Board): FOB means that the supplier would assume all expenses of bringing the cargo to the port. From that point, all international shipping and related fees are my responsibility, as the buyer.
LCL Shipment (Less Than Container Load): If your cargo does not fill a whole ocean freight container, you will be shipping “LCL”. Your goods will be shipped with other cargo until the transport provider can fill the container. You will generally pay a higher overall rate for this, as the carrier will have to arrange for other LCL shipments to be consolidated and shipped in one full container. LCL is advantageous as you can ship goods at a quantity you are comfortable with (as opposed to filling a whole container you’re your own inventory), and you can ship as soon as your goods are ready.
FCL Shipping (Full Container Load): When you ship FCL, you have the exclusive rights to using a full ocean freight container. Of course it depends on the costs you are quoted, but for any 20’ container, if I can fill more than half the volume of the container, it is worthwhile to compare the costs and logistics of LCL vs. FCL.