You’re not a shipping genius. Or maybe you are. Unless you’ve logged your hours in the office of a shipping department or a logistics company, you probably aren’t up to speed with the lingo of the biz. 

It’s easier than ever to whip up a website and start selling your goods but shipping terminologies may appear to be a third or fourth language to you. We’re not language coaches, but we can let you in on a few terms that will make you look like a pro!

Bills and Invoices

Shipping, like nearly everything else in the world, doesn’t come without a cost. You’re always going to be billed. But do you know the difference between a waybill, or a bill of lading? Does anyone, really? Here’s what you need to know about bills!


The waybill is what we generate for you when you put in a shipment. On the waybill is just about all the information necessary for a successful delivery. It shows where it is coming from, where it’s going, the route it’ll take, the consigner (the sender), the consignee (the recipient), package description and the value of items package.

Commercial Invoice

Similar to a waybill, a commercial invoice is a document sent to the customer with information regarding the package or shipment itself. It will shed details on everything from a description of the goods, the price, currency, and terms of payment and delivery. The commercial invoice is particularly important for customs authorities if you’re shipping internationally to determine the customs duties.

Bill of Lading

Simply put, the bill of lading is essentially just a receipt with a list of the shipped goods.

Consular Invoice

When shipping internationally, a consular invoice shows information similar to the waybill like the consignor and consignee, and value of the shipment. The difference is that a consular invoice is required by some countries to simplify customs and tax collections.

Landed Cost

When everything is said and done: that is the landed cost. It’s the cost of the goods, the transport, insurance premium, port charges, customs duties, delivery charges, ect. 

Customs Duty

If you’ve ever shipped across a boarder then you’ve likely paid customs duties. Based on the value, weight, quantity or sometimes a combinations of these factors, the customs agency of the country you’re importing to will determine a fee, tax or tariff. Every country has different customs regulations so don’t expect the same terms for every shipment.

On the Scale

Now that we’re done talking about costs and bills, we’ll talk about one of the ways we decide on the cost of the shipment—how much it weighs.

Gross Weight

The gross weight is the weight of the entire shipment. From what’s being shipped, the box it’s in, to whatever is inside with it to keep your shipment in once piece. 

Net Weight

The net weight is the weight of just the product being shipped and nothing more.

Volumetric Weight

This one is a bit more trickier. So much so that we did an entire blog about it. We’ll give you a quick rundown regardless. Volumetric weight is used to measure how much space your shipment will take up in cargo space. Carriers use this measurement to better plan the use of their cargo space.

There you have it, folks—some shipping terms you benefit from knowing, unless you’re one of those shipping geniuses. We hope this makes you look like a pro next time you discuss shipping with someone. If you come across an unknown shipping terminology that we didn’t list here, or want to know about, let us know and we’ll fill you in.

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Ian Roantree

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