Customs Clearance Glossary

/Customs Clearance Glossary


A charge assessed by a pier or dock owner for handling incoming or outgoing cargo.


VAT Information Exchange System which was designed to prevent and deter abuse of the VAT zero-rating provisions for goods traded in the EU from 1st. January 1993. An integral part of the VIES arrangements is a requirement that each Member State must store and process specific information which it collects from its traders about their trade with other Member States.

Ultimate Consignee

The ultimate consignee is the person located abroad who is the true party in interest, receiving the export for the designated end-use.


Transshipment refers to the act of sending an exported product through an intermediate country before routing it to the country intended to be its final destination.

TIR Carnet

Document facilitating transit by serving both as a customs declaration and as a guarantee in countries that are a contracting party to the TIR Convention (OJ 1978 No L 252, p.1).


Terminal Handling Charge (container handling costs)


A tax assessed by a government in accordance with its tariff schedule on goods as they enter (or leave) a country. May be imposed to protect domestic industries from imported goods and/or to generate revenue. Types include ad valorem, specific, variable, or some combination.


Integrated tariff of the Community, held in a Commission database containing EC import and export measures applicable to specific goods, such as tariff suspensions, tariff quotas, tariff preferences, anti-dumping duties, quantitative restrictions, embargoes, export.


Shipper's Own Container

Shipping Weight

Shipping weight represents the gross weight in kilograms of shipments, including the weight of moisture content, wrappings, crates, boxes, and containers (other than cargo vans and similar substantial outer containers).

Shipping Mark

The letters, numbers or other symbols placed on the outside of cargo to facilitate identification.

SEED Number

System for the Exchange of Excise Data - is a database of all the Customs approved exporters / importers of Exicse Duty Products with the EU.

SAD Document

Single administrative document - formal document for Customs import or export purposes.


Single Adminstrative Accompanying Document - for the movement of Alcohol products that are duty paid in one EU country to another.

Pro Forma Invoice

An invoice provided by a supplier prior to the shipment of merchandise, informing the buyer of the kinds and quantities of goods to be sent, their value, and important specifications (weight, size, and similar characteristics).


Port Of Loading


Proof Of Delivery, or a cargo/package receipt with the signature of recipient. This term has been widely used in courier and express industry and also gaining more attention and implementation at air cargo industry.

Packing List

A shipping document issued by shipper to carrier, Customs and consignee serving the purposes of identifying detail information of package count, products count, measurement of each package, weight of each package, etc.

Outward Processing

A customs procedure allowing the export of Community goods for processing abroad and the re-import of the processed products under total or partial duty relief.

Origin Of Goods

Origin is the "economic" nationality of goods in international trade. It is necessary to determine the origin of goods as any duties and/or equivalent charges or any customs restrictions or obligations applicable to them will depend on their origin.

Ocean Bill of Lading

A receipt for the cargo and a contract for transportation between a shipper and the ocean carrier. It may also be used as an instrument of ownership which can be bought, sold, or traded while the goods are in transit.

New Computerised Transit System – (NCTS)

Electronic data interchange system which was introduced as the transit declaration and is due to replace the traditional paper procedure in the Community as well as in the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland).

M/W or W/M

Measurement/Weight or Weight/Measurement (calculation unit of ocean freight based on tonnes or cubic meters)


Movement Reference Number - unique reference reference generated by EU export country with regard to movement of goods from an EU country to a third country or to another EU country for onward shipment

Marine Cargo Insurance

Broadly, insurance covering loss of, or damage to, goods at sea. Marine insurance typically compensates the owner of merchandise for losses in excess of those which can be legally recovered from the carrier that are sustained from fire, shipwreck, piracy, and various other causes. Three of the most common types of marine insurance coverage are "free of particular average" (f.p.a.), "with average" (w.a.), and "All Risks Coverage."


Less than Container Load (partial deliveries)


Maintained by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), this codification of terms is used in foreign trade contracts to define which parties incur the costs and at what specific point the costs are incurred.

Import Quota

A means of restricting imports by the issuance of licenses to importers, assigning each a quota, after determination of the total amount of any commodity which is to be imported during a period. Import licenses may also specify the country from which the importer must purchase the goods.

Import License

A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods. Also referred as import permit. With such documentation, customs clearance can be conducted.

Import Certificate

The import certificate is a means by which the government of the country of ultimate destination exercises legal control over the internal channeling of the commodities covered by the import certificate.


is the name given to the system for collecting statistics on the movement of goods, not services, between the Member States of the European Union (EU). It has been in operation since 1 January 1993, and replaced customs declarations as the source of trade statistics within the EU.


International Air Transport Association (IATA), established in 1945, is a trade association serving airlines, passengers, shippers, travel agents, and governments. The association promotes safety, standardization in forms (baggage checks, tickets, weigh bills), and aids in establishing international airfares. IATA headquarter is in Geneva, Switzerland.

Harmonised System

HS is short for Harmonised System - every product has a 10 digit harmonised code based on standards set by the World Trade Organisation which allows for classification of any products.

Freight Forwarder

An independent business which handles export shipments for compensation. At the request of the shipper, the forwarder makes the actual arrangements and provides the necessary services for expediting the shipment to its overseas destination. The forwarder takes care of all documentation needed to move the shipment from origin to destination, making up and assembling the necessary documentation for submission to the bank in the exporter's name. The forwarder arranges for cargo insurance, makes the necessary overseas communications, and advises the shipper on overseas requirements of marking and labeling.


Full Container Load (full container service)

Export License

A government document (also known as an "Individual Validated License") authorizing exports of specific goods in specific quantities to a particular destination. This document may be required in some countries for most or all exports and in other countries only under special circumstances.


Estimated Time of Departure. The cut-off time for carriers' cargo ramp handling is normally two hours ahead of ETD. However, the freight forwarders' consolidation cut-off time may vary depending on each forwarder's operations respectively.


Estimated Time of Arrival. Then, It normally takes 4 hours for carriers to Break Bulk then ready to be picked up by forwarders along with customs release notification.

Entry Summary Selectivity System

The Entry Summary Selectivity System, a part of Customs' Automated Commercial System, provides an automated review of entry data to determine whether team or routine review is required. Selectivity criteria include an assessment of risk by importer, tariff number, country of origin, manufacturer, and value. Summaries with Census warnings, as well as quota, antidumping and countervailing duty entry summaries are selected for team review. A random sample of routine review summaries is also automatically selected for team review.

Entry Summary System

An entry is the minimum amount of documentation needed to secure the release of imported merchandise. The Entry Summary System, a part of Customs' Automated Commercial System, contains data on release, summary, rejection, collection, liquidation, and extension or suspension.


Excise Management Control System - Customs procedure for the electronic collection and transmission of data relating to Exciseable Products between EU Countries.


A tax imposed on imports by the customs authority of a country. Duties are generally based on the value of the goods (ad valorem duties), some other factors such as weight or quantity (specific duties), or a combination of value and other factors (compound duties).

Drawback System

The Drawback System, a part of Customs' Automated Commercial System, provides the means for processing and tracking of drawback claims.


Drawback is a rebate by a government, in whole or in part, of customs duties assessed on imported merchandise that is subsequently exported. Drawback regulations and procedures vary among countries.

Dock Receipt

A dock receipt is used to transfer accountability when the export item is moved by the domestic carrier to the port of embarkation and left with the international carrier for export.

DO or D/O

Delivery Order

Direct Trader Input

The DTI facility allows importers, exporters or their agents to clear consignments at import or export by electronic data transfer of SAD declarations (Single Administrative Document) to the Revenue AEP System, without the necessity to lodge a subsequent paper declaration.


Excess time taken for loading or unloading a vessel, thus causing delay of scheduled departure. Demurrage refers only to situations in which the charter or shipper, rather than the vessel's operator, is at fault.

Delivery Instructions

Provides specific information to the inland carrier concerning the arrangement made by the forwarder to deliver the merchandise to the particular pier or steamship line. Not to be confused with Delivery Order which is used for import cargo.

Dangerous Goods

Commodities classified by IATA according to its nature and characteristic in terms of the effect of its danger to carrier's flying safety.


Container Yard (a place where FCL shipments and empty containers will be assumed by the customer or be delivered by the ship owner to the customer)

Customs Invoice

A document, required by some foreign countries' customs officials to verify the value, quantity, and nature of the shipment, describing the shipment of goods and showing information such as the consignor, consignee, and value of the shipment.

Customs Import Value

This is the Customs Service appraisal value of merchandise.

Customs Clearance

The procedures involved in getting cargo released by Customs through designated formalities such as presenting import license/permit, payment of import duties and other required documentation by the nature of the cargo such as FCC or FDA approval.

Customs Broker/Agent

An individual or company licensed by the government to enter and clear goods through Customs.Constant changes in government rules and regulations require constant monitoring. It is too expensive and time consuming for importers / exporters to monitor all these changes. At Beagans Limited individual expert attention is ensured and our dedicated team will calculate duty/taxes and liaise with Customs to ensure the speedy and hassle free clearance of your goods.


The government authorities designated to collect duties levied by a country on imports and exports.


Container Service Charge (costs for a country-sided handling of FCL containers at a "free on board" delivery)

Consular Invoice

A document, required by some foreign countries, describing a shipment of goods and showing information such as the consignor, consignee, and value of the shipment. Certified by a consular official of the foreign country, it is used by the country's customs officials to verify the value, quantity, and nature of the shipment.


Delivery of merchandise from an exporter (the consignor) to an agent (the consignee) under agreement that the agent sell the merchandise for the account of the exporter. The consignor retains title to the goods until sold. The consignee sells the goods for commission and remits the net proceeds to the consignor.


The person or firm named in a freight contract to whom goods have been consigned or turned over. For export control purposes, the documentation differentiates between an "intermediate" consignee and an "ultimate" consignee.

Commercial Invoice

The commercial invoice is a bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer. These invoices are often used by governments to determine the true value of goods for the assessment of customs duties and are also used to prepare consular documentation. Governments using the commercial invoice to control imports often specify its form, content, number of copies, language to be used, and other characteristics.

Clean Bill of Lading

A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were received in "apparent good order and condition," without damages or other irregularities.


A customs document permitting the holder to carry or send merchandise temporarily into certain foreign countries for display, demonstration or other purposes without paying import duties or posting bonds.


Currency Adjustment Factor (compensation factor for the various currencies)

Customs Brokerage

A profession/service that involves the processing of shipments and goods through customs barriers for importers and exporters (usually businesses). This involves the preparation of documents, payment of duties & taxes, and/or communication of information on behalf of the client with the border authorities.

Customs Audits

A Customs audit is the process of ensuring a business is in compliance with Customs legislation through a thorough examination of relevant business account information and other records.

C-TPAT – Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism

A voluntary government business initiative to improve overall international supply chain and U.S. border security.

Controlled Goods

Certain items have restrictions imposed on their trade by a number of rules, regulations and legislation.

Control Copy T5

Is a declaration and undertaking used to cover goods imported into, exported from or moving within the customs territory of the Community that are subject to proof of compliance with the conditions provided for or prescribed by a Community rule for their use and/or destination.

Community Transit

Is a customs procedure that allows goods to be moved from one point in the Community to another.


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is the banning of commercial international trade in endangered species and monitoring trade in others that might become endangered.

CIF – Cost Insurance Freight

This valuation method is used for the calculation of duty and VAT.

Certificate of Origin

This certificate is a document indicating where the shipped good, or the majority of its content, was produced.

Certificate of Manufacture

This certificate is a document stating where producer manufactured the goods being shipped and that manufacturing is complete.

Certificate of Insurance

This certificate is a document stating that the specified producer's goods are insured.

Certificate of Inspection

This certificate is a document that states the condition of merchandise prior to being shipped.


Refers to an international crossing point between 2 countries.

Bond System

The Bond System, a part of Customs' Automated Commercial System, provides information on bond coverage. A Customs bond is a contract between a principal, importers, and a surety which is obtained to insure performance of an obligation imposed by law or regulation. The bond covers potential loss of duties, taxes, and penalties for specific types of transactions. Customs is the contract beneficiary.

Bonded Warehouse

Is a licensed and Customs Control warehouse facility where imported goods and exportable goods can be stored with deferral of duties.

Binding Tariff Information (BTI)

Written information issued by the customs authorities of the Member States on the classification of goods in the combined nomenclature or a nomenclature derived therefrom, such as the TARIC.

Bill of Lading (B/L)

Bills of lading are contracts between the owner of the goods and the carrier. There are two types. A straight bill of lading is nonnegotiable. A negotiable or shipper's order bill of lading can be bought, sold, or traded while goods are in transit and is used for many types of financing transactions. The customer usually needs the original or a copy as proof of ownership to take possession of the goods.

Authorised Consignor

A person who has been authorised to carry out transit operations without presenting the goods and the transit declaration at the office of departure.

Authorised Consignee

A person who has been authorised to receive at his premises or at any other specified place goods under a transit procedure without presenting them and the transit declaration at the office of destination.

Automated Entry Processing

The automation of Customs import and export procedures was introduced nationally in April 1991 by the launch of Revenue's Automated Entry Processing (AEP) system. Since then this system has been responsible for the validation, processing, duty accounting and clearance of customs declarations.


Actual Time of Departure.

ATA Carnet

Customs document used for the temporary exportation, transit and temporary exportation, transit and temporary admission of goods for specific purpose, e.g. for displays, exhibitions and fairs as professional equipment and as commercial samples.


Actual Time of Arrival.


Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation. A trade grouping of countries on the Pacific Rim. Includes USA and Japan.

Agricultural Duties

Import and export duties introduced under the common agricultural policy(CAP).

Agency Fee

Transportation Charge Charge payable to a port agent by a ship-owner or operator.


(Anti-Dumping Duty) - Is a measure by EU Customs to protect domestic producers from unfair foreign competition. Goods imported into EU below "fair market" prices through dumping or government subsidy, are subject to anti-dumping or countervailing duties.