ABI-Automated Broker Interface – A system available to brokers with the computer capabilities and customs certification to transmit and exchange customs entries and other information, facilitating the prompt release of imported cargo.



  1. A time draft (or bill of exchange) which the drawee has accepted and is unconditionally obligated to pay at maturity.
  2. Drawee’s act in receiving a draft and thus entering into the obligation to pay its value at maturity.
  3. Broadly speaking, any agreement to purchase goods under specified terms.


Ad Hoc Charter – A one-off charter operated at the whim of an airline or charterer.


Ad Valorem – Latin for “according to the value.”

  1. An ad valorem duty is an import duty based on the value of an article as defined in the customs law of a particular country, rather than on weight or volume. A percentage of that value is charged, for example, 5% ad valorem.
  2. A freight rate set at a certain percentage of the value of an article is known as an ad valorem rate.


Admiralty Court – A court having jurisdiction over maritime questions pertaining to ocean transport, including contracts, charters, collisions, and cargo damages.


Advance Against Documents – A loan made on the security of the documents covering a shipment.


Advising Bank – A bank operating in the exporter’s country that handles letters of credit for a foreign bank by notifying the exporter that the credit has been opened in his favor.


Advisory Capacity – A term indicating that a shipper’s agent or representative is not empowered to make definitive decisions or adjustments without approval of the party represented.


Affiliate – A company that controls, or is controlled by another company, or is one of two or more commonly controlled companies.


Affreightment, Contract of – An agreement by a steamship line to provide cargo space on a vessel at a specified time and for a specified price to accommodate an exporter or importer who then becomes liable for payment even though he is later unable to make the shipment.


Agency Agreement – An agreement whereby the steamship line appoints the steamship agent and defines the specific duties and areas of responsibility of that agent.


Air Cargo Agent – A type of freight forwarder who specializes in air cargo and acts for airlines that pay him a fee (usually 5%). He is registered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). (See also Air Freight Forwarder and Forwarder, Freight Forwarder, Foreign Freight Forwarder)


Air Freight Forwarder – A type of freight forwarder who specializes in air cargo. He usually consolidates the air shipments of various exporters, charging them for actual weight and deriving his profit by paying the airline the lower consolidated rate. He issues his own air waybills to the exporter and has the status of an indirect air carrier. (See also Air Cargo Agent and Forwarder, Freight Forwarder, and Foreign Freight Forwarder)


Air Waybill – A non-negotiable contract for carriage of air transportation between an air carrier and a shipper, or an air carrier and an air freight forwarder. In the latter case the forwarder, as an indirect air carrier, issues his own house air waybill to the shipper.


AITA – The French and German acronym for the International Air Transport Association (IATA).


All-Risk Insurance – The broadest form of coverage available, providing protection against all risk of physical loss or damage from any external cause. Does not cover loss or damage due to delay, inherent vice, per-shipment conditions, inadequate packaging, or loss of market. Loss must be fortuitous to be covered.


Alongside – The side of the ship. Goods to be delivered alongside are to be placed on the dock or lighter within reach of the ship’s tackle from which they can be loaded aboard the ship.


Anti-Trust Exemption – The immunity from prosecution under the Sherman Act, granted to steamship companies in 1916, in recognition of the special services and value American Flag merchant vessels provide in the defense of the country in time of war.


Arbitration Clause – A standard clause to be included in the contracts of exporters and importers, as suggested by the American Arbitration Association. It states that any controversy or claim will be settled by arbitration in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association.


ASEAN – Association of Southeast Asian Nations.


AT (American Terms) – A marine insurance term used to differentiate between the conditions of American policies and those of other nations, principally England.


Automated Broker Interface – (See ABI)


Automated Commercial System (ACS) – The electronic system of the U.S. Customs Service, encompassing a variety of industry sectors, that permits on-line access to information in selected areas.


Automated Manifest System (AMS) – The electronic system allowing a manifest inventory to be transmitted to the U.S. Customs Service data center by carrier, port authority, or service center computers.