Whether you're looking for a specific definition or brushing up on your shipping vocabulary, this is where you'll find an explanation of some of the most commonly used terms for domestic and international shipping.

On this page:

Air Waybill

The forwarding agreement or carrying agreement between shipper and air carrier that is used as a receipt for cargo and as a contract of carriage.

Certificate of Origin

A certified document presented to customs authorities which shows the national origin of goods for import.

Commercial Invoice

The official transaction record between an exporter and an importer for international shipments.

Country of Origin

  The country where the merchandise was grown, mined or manufactured, in accordance with Customs Regulations.

Customhouse Broker

An individual or firm licensed to enter and clear goods through Customs.


  The authorities designated to collect duties, taxes or other charges levied by a country on imports and exports (also applying to the procedures involved in such collection). Customs also enforces import/export rules mandated by the country's government.

Dangerous Goods

Commodities that, when transported, pose some form of danger to people, animals, the environment, or the carrier.

Declared Value for Carriage

The maximum of FedEx's transportation liability for any loss, damage, delay, misdelivery, nondelivery, misinformation or any failure to provide information.

Declared Value for Customs

The selling price or cost as determined by other valuation methods, of an international shipment's contents.

Dimensional Weight

A calculation of a shipment's weight based on the IATA volumetric standard instead of its actual weight. Dimensional weight is calculated by multiplying the length x height x width and dividing by 166 pounds (if multiplied in inches) or by 6,000 kilograms (if multiplied in centimetres).

Dual Use Exports

Commercial items that may have military applications.


Classes of goods that are able to enter Canada free of duty or not subject to taxes, such as the personal effects of Canadian residents taken abroad, and gifts to a maximum of $60 CAD.


The Canadian Export and Import Controls Bureau (EPD) is the agency for dual use exports (commercial items that may have military applications) and determines whether or not a shipment requires an Export Permit.

Extended Service Area

A shipment destination that is so far from an urban centre that it usually requires a delivery surcharge.

European Economic Area (EEA)

A combination of the member nations of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) that comprises 19 nations, nearly 380 million people, and approximately 40 percent of world trade.


Exports are the physical movement of goods out of a country.

Export Declaration

A formal statement declaring full details about goods being exported, that is made to customs at a port of exit.

Free Trade Agreement

An arrangement which establishes unimpeded exchange and flow of goods and services between trading partners regardless of national borders.

Freight Forwarder

A business that handles import/export shipments, and provides information and assistance for importing/exporting.

General Imports

The total number of arrivals of merchandise into Canada for immediate consumption and entries into Canada Customs bonded warehouses.

General Tariff

Applies to countries that do not enjoy either preferential or most-favored-nation tariff treatment. Where the general tariff rate differs from the most-favored-nation rate, the general tariff rate is usually the higher rate.

Ground Bar Code Label

A combination bar code/address label for FedEx Ground shipments that contains a company's shipper number and a unique tracking number for accurate package routing.

Ground Call Tag

A service that allows a shipper to request the return of a FedEx Ground package that has already been delivered within Canada.

Ground Pick-Up Record

A report required for a FedEx Ground pickup that is completed after the End of Day Close for all FedEx Ground shipments generated in the previous 24 hours, and includes shipments that span over multiple closes if applicable.

Harmonized System

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (or Harmonized System, HS) is a system for classifying goods in international trade, developed under the auspices of the Customs Cooperation Council (now known as the World Customs Organization).


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a trade association serving airlines, passengers, shippers, travel agents, and governments.


Imports are the physical movement of goods into a country.

Import Restrictions

Import restrictions are applied by a country to control the volume and type of goods coming into it from other countries and may include the imposition of tariffs, surcharges or import quotas, restrictions on the amount of foreign currency available to cover imports, a requirement for import deposits, or the prohibition of various categories of imports.


International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) is a non-profit organization that develops effective packaging, methods, and logistics systems to prevent or reduce transit and handling damage to a shipment.

Multiple Package Shipments

Multiple package shipments consist of Individual packages that may have different weights, dimensions and declared value but can be accepted on one waybill if the shipment destined to a single address.

Marks of Origin

Marks of origin are the physical markings on a product that indicate the country of origin where the article was produced.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

NAFTA is a free trade agreement that comprises Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, exceeding 360 million consumers and with a combined output of $6 trillion.

NAFTA Certificate of Origin

The NAFTA Certificate of Origin is a document provided for goods that qualify for reduced or duty-free entry as a product of one of the three participating member nations: Mexico, United States and Canada.

Non-Document Shipments

Non-document shipments are shipments that are not personal, interoffice or business documents (PIB) and usually require a Commercial Invoice.

Packing List

A list that shows the information necessary for transport along with the number and kinds of items being shipped in each box.

Port of Entry

The port where foreign goods are examined and cleared by customs to be admitted into the receiving country.

Pro-Forma Invoice

A pro-forma invoice is a document that may be provided by a supplier prior to the shipment of merchandise that informs the buyer of the kinds and quantities of goods to be sent, their value and important specifications (weight, size, etc.).


The shipment of Canadian origin products from one foreign destination to another.


When a shipment is rerouted and delivered to a different address in the same city, or to a different address in another city or province, or when a 'hold-at-location' instruction has been changed to a 'request for courier' delivery.

Shipment Reference Number

A number or code that a company assigns to their shipment to assist with their internal record keeping.

Specific Duty

Tax imposed on imported merchandise on a per unit basis. Usually based on the net weight or number of pieces, etc.

Tariff Schedule

A comprehensive list of all goods that a country may import and the import duties applicable to each product.

Tracking Number

The number automatically assigned to every FedEx® Express or FedEx® Ground shipment to identify and trace it as it travels to its destination.

Transaction Value

An value that represents the sale price or fair market value, etc.