The Import / Export business has a language of its own. This is a simple guide for newcomers.

Proforma invoice
A draft invoice presented by the seller to the buyer for payment of goods prior to dispatch.
Commericial Invoice
An invoice used in foreign trade as a bill for payment of the goods from the seller to the buyer. These invoices are also used by governments to determine the true value of goods for the assessment of customs duties.
Packing List
A document listing the description, quantity, weight and measurements of all the goods on a shipment.
Freight Forwarder
A company that acts as the buyers or sellers agent to help move cargo from origin to destination. A freight forwarder can offer advice, compile and control documents, and arrange shipments
Bill of Lading
A document issued by the carrier as a receipt of the goods for sea shipment to a specified location and company. It is a contract for their carriage and a document of title to them.
Airway Bill
The shipping document used for the transportation of air freight issued as an agreement between the airline and shipper.
A 20′ or 40′ shipping container in which goods can be shipped loose (handballed) or on pallets. Each container has a unique identification number consisting of a four letter prefix and seven numbers, the last of which is a check digit.
Container seal
A device inserted into the handle assembly on the door of the shipping container. It is numbered and referenced on the bill of lading. A broken or damaged seal indicates that the cargo in the container may have been tampered with.
Certificate of Origin
A document certified by a government agency which states from which country the goods originate, not from where they are shipped.
A document used for the export of goods from the European Union to designated trade areas that prove the goods qualify for preferential duty rates.