Fee Quotation

Get a FREE removals quote.

Simply tell us where you are moving to.

Get a FREE removals quote. Simply tell us where you are moving to.

International Household Goods Shipping Terms - A-Z Glossary

Posted by By Bournes International Moves - October 11, 2016

Firstly on behalf of the moving industry we’re going to start with an apology for being so confusing! In compiling the list is has become clear that in different companies we use a whole lot of words to describe the same things.

Hopefully this guide to moving terms will help you become familiar with the words you may expect to hear when you move house, however the list is endless and there are a lot more terms than we’ve probably managed to cover so if you hear a word you don’t understand don’t hesitate to ask your mover and slap their wrists for using jargon and feel free to comment below so we can add it to the list! 


ACCESS – the immediate area around your properties that will affect how the mover gets to your door from main transport routes. Things like how far from your front door can the removals vehicle park, are there any restrictions on the roads getting to your house (e.g. a low bridge). This could also be inside your property - are there any difficult staircases? If it’s in an apartment building is there a lift? Basically an assessment of any difficulties that might be incurred in getting your belongings from their current location onto the vehicle & from the vehicle into their new location.

AGENT – a person/company that is acting on behalf of the mover you booked with. It is common in international removals that a company will use a partner company at your overseas destination to do customs clearance, transportation, unloading and delivery to your new home.

  • ORIGIN AGENT – the company that is going to handle the packing, loading and transportation to the seaport/airport from the property you are moving out of.
  • DESTINATION AGENT – the company that will handle the customs clearance, unloading and unpacking of your belongings to the property you are moving into.

AQIS – See Biosecurity


BILL OF LADING – a document that acknowledges your goods have been received by the carrier (shipping line / airline) for transportation. It will also indicate the vessel details, the destination and the terms of shipment.

BIOSECURITY – (formerly known as AQIS) Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources manages quarantine controls at the borders to minimise risk of exotic pests and diseases entering the country, they provide import inspections to maintain Australia’s animal, plant and human health status and will inspect every container arriving into Australian ports. http://www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity

BLANKET WRAP – items of furniture will be wrapped in cloth or heavy duty paper blankets to protect it during transportation from any bumps or scrapes against adjacent items.


CARTONS – cardboard boxes used to pack your items for moving. View our cartons guide

CONSIGNEE – the person/party who is receiving the shipment, they are the ‘owner’ for the purpose of customs clearance procedures.

CONTAINER – see ‘shipping container’ or ‘storage container’.

CONTAINER VEHICLE – a truck that is specially designed to be able to transport interchangeable shipping containers. View our vehicle fleet

CORPORATE ACCOUNT – a company that is paying for / arranging a move(s) with the Removal Company on behalf of an individual(s).

CUBIC FOOT / CUBIC METER – the volume of your goods will be measure in either cubic feet or cubic meters e.g. 1ft x 1ft x 1ft blocks of space. Each piece of furniture will have its volume assessed and all added together to get the total volume of your move.

CUSTOMS CLEARANCE – the clearing of a shipment through customs barriers on import into a country. This involves preparation and submission of documents and a calculation of any applicable duties (see ‘Duty’). Customs may select to inspect random shipments to ensure accuracy of documentation.

CUSTOMS DUTY – See ‘Duty’.


DECLARED VALUE – the amount you tell the moving company your belongings are worth (usually the purchase cost less depreciation). Often this is requested for insurance purposes.

DEDICATED LOAD / TRUCK – this truck will be routed and scheduled according to the specified dates and locations of your individual move.

DESTINATION AGENT - see ‘agent’.

DOMESTIC – origin and destination of the move are in the same country.

DOOR-CURBSIDE – your belongings will be taken from inside your origin address and transported to your destination address where they will be unloaded from the vehicle to the curb side – they will not be delivered inside your property.

DOOR-TO-DOOR – your furniture & effects will be taken from inside your origin address and transported and unloaded from the vehicle to rooms as directed inside your destination address.

DOOR-TO-PORT – your belongings will be taken from inside your origin address, transported to the port of entry in your destination country where the service ends. You (or your representative) will be responsible for customs clearance to have your items released and for their onward transportation.

DUTY – customs duty is a tax levied on imports by the customs authority of the country your goods are being taken into, usually based on the value of goods and used to raise state revenue/ protect domestic industries from foreign competition. Usually used household goods are not subject to import duties but check with us on the specific customs regulations of your destination to make sure you are aware of any requirements or potential charges.


ESTIMATE – see ‘survey’.

ETA – estimated time of arrival

ETD – estimated time of departure

EXCLUSIONS – charges or items that are not included in your contract.

EXPORT WRAPPING / PACKING – wrapping/packing of your items providing increased levels of protection required for the risks involved in overseas moves. At Bournes we use specially designed bubblecraft material to wrap furniture and items as over and above standard blanket wrapping (see ‘blanket wrap’) used for shorter distance moves. Find out more about packing options.



FCL – full container load (Sometimes known as Exclusive Container) yours will be the only belongings loaded in a container, it is for your exclusive use and will collection/delivery based on your individually agreed dates. Find out more about International Shipping options

FIRE INSURANCE – additional insurance required for items being stored in a Removal Company’s warehouse to cover against risk of fire.

FLAT PACK – items of furniture that are sold dismantled and the pieces packed flat in order to move that can then be assembled at destination (*note* many ‘flat pack’ items are not designed to be assembled and dismantled multiple times and may lose significant stability/quality as a result so please check with the manufacturer before planning to do so in order to reduce this risk).

FREIGHT – a generic term for referring to a means of transportation by air, land or sea.


GENERAL AVERAGE- A provision in maritime law whereby all parties shipping items on a vessel are required to reimburse the shipping line for associated costs in the event of a vessel sinking or requiring recovery. It also provides re-imbursement to those shippers whose cargo may be deliberately sacrificed in order to save a vessel. The costs are distributed amongst the parties and whilst VERY rare this is why it is important to consider carefully insuring your move!

GROUPAGE / SHARED CONTAINER – a shared service for shipping smaller consignments overseas. Your belongings are loaded in a container with those of other customers moving to the same destination. This means freight wise you only pay for the space in the container you use and share the overall cost of shipping with the others.


HAULAGE – the act of transporting goods from A to B by road.         


IN HOME VISIT – see ‘survey’.

INDEMNITY COVER- the cost of an item less depreciation (taking into account age, quality, wear and tear, degree of usage and the subsequent market value).

INVENTORY / PACKING LIST – itemised list of furniture/boxes that have been packed and loaded often indicating condition on loading and any owner packed items.




LCL – less than a container load – your belongings are collected and over cased in a wooden case(s) and consolidated with other shipments in a steel shipping container. At destination the individual LCL shipments are unloaded from the steel container and collected by the destination agent for onward delivery. Find out about International Shipping options .

LUMP SUM – a single price for the entire group of proposed services without breakdown for individual items. This can also be used to refer to the sum of money a company may give an employee for them to contribute toward / cover the costs of moving.       


MARINE INSURANCE – specially designed insurance to cover the risk of loss/damage for moves going overseas. Find out more about our International Insurance cover.

MOVE CONSULTATION – see ‘survey’.



ORIGIN AGENT - see ‘agent’

OWNER PACKED / PBO (Packed by Owner) - any box or item that is not professionally packed by the moving company.   


PACKING MATERIALS – any materials used to facilitate the protection and moving of items including various sizes / types of boxes, bubble wrap, blankets, tape, packing paper, protective covers, wooden over casing etc. Find out more about our range of packing materials.

PANTECHNICAN – a truck specifically designed for furniture removals (this is quite an old fashioned word!).

PART LOAD – a consignment that doesn’t need all the space on a vehicle so will usually be transported in conjunction with other smaller shipments.

PBO – see ‘owner packed’.

PRIVATE MOVE – a move where the individual that is moving is making their own arrangements with their removal company and paying for the move themselves. The contract is between the removal company and the individual.    




SHARED CONTAINER – see ‘groupage container’.

SHIPPING CONTAINER – modular steel box in which goods are loaded for transport. Specially designed for use with road, rail or sea transportation and can be craned or fork lifted directly on and off different modes of transport. Come in a range of sizes, standard lengths are 20’ and 40’ and are 8’ wide and 8’ high. There are also high cube options which increase height to 9’6” increasing capacity.

SHUTTLE – a smaller vehicle used to move goods between a property and the Removals Truck – this may be required where access to a property may be difficult for example due to a narrow street which does not allow for a large truck and where the distance is too great for carrying items to be efficient.

S.I.T. (storage in transit) – temporary storage awaiting further transportation.

STORAGE CONTAINER – this could mean either wooden or steel. Wooden storage containers are stored inside, usually in a purpose built warehouse. Steel containers (see ‘shipping container’) are also sometimes used for storage, particularly if this is short term during a move.

STORAGE EXTENSION – this is an insurance term used to identify an additional premium paid to extend your insurance cover to allow for a period in storage to cover for the specific associated risks (see ‘fire insurance’).

SURVEY / ESTIMATE / IN HOME VISIT – there are so many words used by different movers for this – but it means when a representative from the mover (who they will call all number of things e.g. Move Consultant, Surveyor, Estimator, Sales Person….) will come to your home to as a minimum assess the volume of goods you wish to move. A professional Removal Company will also use this visit to understand your individual requirements with regards to services required (packing, unpacking, 3rd party etc), your budget and your move dates as well as be able to explain more about their company and how they would suggest you undertake your move.


THC – terminal handling charge – a charge made by the air/sea port for activities associated with handling shipments.

THIRD PARTY SERVICES – a service that your mover may be coordinating for you but that will be provided by an external company e.g. house cleaning, home cinema set up, carpenter, plumber etc.

TOTAL LOSS – an insurance term used to describe an incident whereby nothing (or nothing of value) is left and the item cannot be repaired to its pre-destruction state.

TRANSIT INSURANCE – A policy whereby client pays a premium to cover their belongings during their move from accidental damage/loss. Find out more about our UK Insurance or International Insurance.



VAN LINES –a large moving company/network that has multiple trucks and depots and provides a range of removals related services (packing, loading, transportation, unpacking etc.) and will handle both local and long distance moves including those between countries or states (in the USA/Australia for example) efficiently and economically. (This is generally not a term you hear in Europe where this may be referred to as a ‘network’).

VOLUME – the physical space taken up by the belongings you wish to be moved. This forms part of what your quotation is based on to move in the UK (Some other country’s e.g. USA work on the weight instead).

















Subscribe to our blog

Subscribe to Email Updates