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International Moving Terminology


What is the International Moving Terminology?

There are certain words and phrases you will hear again and again in the moving industry. If you do not know their meaning, you might misunderstand, make a mistake, and/or get taken advantage of. To become a savvy shipper, here are a few words and expressions you should remember:

Agent: The agent is authorized to organize the reservation, origin, trucking services, and the transport representing the van line.

Air Cargo: It is the shipment of goods through an air carrier.

Air Cargo Containers: Air cargo containers come in standard sizes to ensure they fit on an airplane. They have three classifications: air freight containers, pallets and unit loading devices.

Air Freight: It is the shipment and transfer of goods with an aircraft. This service is cost effective, free from a physical barrier and it reduces the risk of damage. The delivery service time is short, taking only 5 to 15 days. The rate is per Kilogram.

Air Way bill: An Air Way bill or an air consignment note is a contract between the shipper and the airline. It provides details about the shipper, the type of delivery service, shipping instructions, charges and the destination as evidence of the contract of carriage. There is a standard format that an air way bill uses to provide services for local and international traffic. The bill of landing is a proof of payment or binding contract between the carrier and the shipper in agreement for the shipment of goods. The agreement should be signed by the customer allowing him to load the goods on a van and then forward them to the mover.


Binding Estimates vs. Non-Binding: 

  • Binding estimates are set by the movers beforehand. The movers will evaluate your shipment and then provide you with an estimated cost for transporting your goods. The customer will pay the agreed upon estimated price.
  • Non-binding estimates are based on how much the mover estimated the cost of the overall cargo volume to be. The mover will provide the actual cost after everything is weighed and loaded on the moving day.

Booking Agent: It’s the person who negotiates deals for the customer and makes a reservation with the operator of the van. A booking agent can be near or located at the destination or origin areas.

Bulky Article: In some cases, some additional protection or weight additive is applied to ensure safe shipment of large and heavy items, including televisions with large screen, automobiles, and tubs that may result in an extra charge or fee. For movers that provide interstate services, there is an additional charge.

Claim: A claim is a demand towards the Transportation Company for lost or damaged goods while the shipment was in their possession.

Cash On Delivery (COD): In this case, the mover collects the price for shipping the goods to the customer on delivery. Preferably, the payment should be in cash, money order, traveler or cashier's check, but not a personal check. An arrangement with the booking agent is needed for a credit card payment.

A-1 Auto Transport can help you move your household goods nationwide. Call 888-509-3213 to get a free, no obligation to buy price quote on interstate moving services.


Container (steamship/ocean): The standard size of a steamship and ocean container is 20 feet long, the availability of 40 feet and 45 foot length containers being limited. Steamship companies are the owners and providers of containers and shipping container chassis. The total size of the cargo can be measured in cubic feet, as well as the volume of the lift van, the crates and the E tri-wall containers. f3 is the mathematical symbol for cubic feet.

Customs Clearance: It’s an inspection of a written document received by a customs authority, as well as assessing the cargo to be transported.

Demurrage: Penalty and assessment of demurrage fees happens when there is a failure to discharge the shipments from the shipping containers in an agreed upon period of time. Demurrage charges are applied every day until the day when the container has been picked up.

DOT (Department of Transportation): The Department of Transportation in the United States and federal agencies under the DOT, such as the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and Surface Transportation Board (STB), regulate the industry of interstate transportation and the moving companies themselves.

Destination Agent: A destination agent is a person from the area near the move’s destination point who is responsible for assisting the operator of the van or the customer by providing shipping information.

Door-to-Door: Door-to-door transport is an effective and convenient way of shipping through international logistics and combined transport, which provides the arrangement of shipment from a departure point all the way to the door of destination.


Estimate: The estimate is an approximate total amount or the predicted cost of shipment including extra fees from the overall volume of the cargo (ETA for Estimated Time of Arrival and ETD for Estimated Departure time).

Extra Labor: There is no extra fee for an extra service provided in a period of no more than 15 minutes. Labor charges are made per hour. The service usually includes placing or removing things from the attic, loading or unloading the cargo container, moving the cargo between cities and extra delivery or pick up from one place to another. There is an extra fee for every stop and for extra pick up or delivery requests.

Fuel Surcharge: The fuel surcharge is the rise in price charged by the carrier to recover losses caused by fuel cost fluctuations. According to the Department of Energy in the United States, surcharge is subject to change every month based on the typical diesel price.

Full Packing / Unpacking Services: The hundredweight service rate is subject to the volume of cargo that was packed and unpacked by the carrier. The complete packing service rates include labor and the cartons used for packing. With complete unpacking service rates, the carrier will unpack the cartons and remove the junk.

High Value Articles: Items are priced differently. In relation to this, some items are priced at approximately $100 per pound. The client is required to fill out a form that declares the worth of the things being shipped out. This provides security to customers that their belongings will be safe.

IRR Surcharge: The Insurance-Related General Increase is a fee included in the transportation cost to protect the carrier's liability and other possible loss or damages along the process.


Interstate Move: This pertains to the transfer of goods or belongings. It could be between states or possibly a local movement.

Inventory: It includes the details of the items, like the quantity, the condition and the description before the shipment is started.

Lift Vans: There are wooden boxes designed specifically for international moving purposes. Carriers may vary from 180 cubic feet to 210 cubic feet in size to suit them.

Banned Items: The shipping company will not compromise other customers' belongings. Items that are prohibited from the shipment are the likes of propane tanks and other chemicals that may be harmful and cause damage to other clients' properties. In addition to this policy, the shipping company cannot be held liable for the food or even the plants that may be spoiled or die during the process.

Ocean Freight Shipments: Shipments by the sea are one affordable way to move your belongings. They offer international transportation that may take a maximum of 30 days in transit. Some clients prefer this method especially for large items that don’t need to be delivered immediately.

Order for Service: An authorization letter which includes the duties of the shipping company to transfer items requested by its clients.

Origin Agent: This is a representative who is assigned from the origin location to prepare the information needed prior to the shipment. This includes taking care of the customer's details.

Overflow: In some cases, belongings may not be placed in one cargo due to lack of space. A back-up vehicle is made available in such situations.

Overtime Loading and Unloading: These are the services offered on a specified date, like the weekends or a non-working holiday. They requires an additional cost or an overtime fee. They are also applicable to delivering your belongings on weekdays, but only before and after business hours.


Relocation Consultant: This is the sales associate who will inform the customer of the quotation and of any details he may need regarding the shipment.

The Shipper: This is the customer or client of the moving company who needs to have his belongings delivered.

Shuttle Service: A smaller mode of transportation is needed if roads are not passable using a normal vehicle. A shuttle service is also used if there are any limitations to the area where the shipment is made. Issues include smaller parking spaces, large vehicles not allowed to pass through, etc.

Stair-Carry Charge: There is an extra cost for carrying items with the use of stairs. The following details are the measurements, ideal for Standard Lift Van Dimensions.  The external length should be 7' 1/4" (85"-88"), the width should be 3' 3/4' (45"-46), and the height should be 7' 1/4" (87"). The capacity is around 193 to 205 cubic feet.

Storage-in-Transit (SIT): Some items are due to be delivered later on because of certain issues. In such cases, they will be brought to the carrier agent's warehouse. Your belongings will stay there for a maximum of 180 days. Once this number is exceeded, the items will be forwarded and reviewed according to the policies of the local warehouse.

Survey: The shipping company performs a survey inspecting their customer's personal items to come up with an estimated price for the move.

Tariff: The shipping tariff is the published list of the company's regulations and rules, as well as the price for the rendered work pertaining to the moving service provided to the customer.

Third-Party Services: A third-party is a company that carries out services, such as packing your goods in a crate or appliance servicing.

Unpacking: It’s the unboxing or taking out your cargo from the package and putting it on the ground. In addition to this, disposing of the cargo and the materials used for packing is also included. If requested, cargos must be unpacked at the same time as the freight arrives, unless you ask for another method in advance.

Binding Estimates Vs Non-binding

Valuation: The home furnishings during the time the cargo is under custody, as well as the control and care of the shipping company is a tariff-based valuation. However, this does not include insuring your goods.

Van Operator: The operator of the van is responsible for overseeing your cargo when it is loaded, hauled, or unloaded.

Vehicles with household goods in the same container: To ship vehicles and household goods in the same container, a Tow-Truck with a flat bed is used to raise the car level in the container. To avoid the vehicle from moving during transport, the company braces and secures it inside the container.

Waiting Time: Free waiting time simply refers to the time for which you are not being charged, when your freight is waiting in a terminal or in a warehouse. In case you are incapable of accepting the dispatch of your cargo during this free time (for example: you can only accept it 2 hours after you were notified the cargo has arrived at the terminal), additional waiting time can be requested till the transmission can be done. If it is not Sunday or a national / state holiday, charges will be applied for the labor force and vehicle for every hour from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon local time.

Another choice is to unload your cargo in an operator’s storehouse. Expenses will be charged for the handling, delivery and storage. If the period of time is not high, cheaper fees will be charged. If the waiting time results in a setback in the shipment of other customers’ cargo or causes other unwanted disruptions to the shipping company, additional waiting time will be provided even if they are not obliged to do so.

International Moving Terminology

Warehouse Handling: Warehouse Handling implies handling and keeping the materials inside a storehouse.

Weight Additive: Weight additives are a few items contained within your load of goods, such as boats, canoes or camper shells which are not too heavy, but may take up a lot of volume while adding relatively little weight. As an example, a customer may ship cartons and home furnishings weighing 4,000 pounds in an area taken from a boat weighing 1,500 pounds. To offset the light weight of a bulky item, a tariff or weight additive is added to the net weight of the shipment.

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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.

And my choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.

When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.

The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.

They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?

So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to A1 Auto Transport. From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.

I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!

The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!

Testimonial by Cristine Benoit
Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them.

After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.

Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.

By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

David Osallo
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!

We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!

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International House Moving

Amadora, Portugal

Portugal (PT)

Athens, Greece

Greece (GR)

Aveiro, Portugal

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Bari, Italy

Italy (IT)

Berlin, Germany

Germany (DE)

Bilbao, Spain

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Braga, Portugal

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Bregenz, Austria

Austria (AT)

Bremen, Germany

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Bristol, UK

United Kingdom (GB)

Coimbra, Portugal

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Cologne, Germany

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Cork, Ireland

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Dublin, Ireland

Ireland (IE)

Dundalk, Ireland

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United Kingdom (GB)

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Evora, Portugal

Portugal (PT)

Funchal, Portugal

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Gdynia, Poland

Poland (PL)

Genoa, Italy

Italy (IT)

Graz, Austria

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Hamburg, Germany

Germany (DE)

Hanover, Germany

Germany (DE)

Leeds, UK

United Kingdom (GB)

Linz, Austria

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Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal (PT)

Liverpool, UK

United Kingdom (GB)

London, UK

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Lubin, Poland

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Lyon, France

France (FR)

Madrid, Spain

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Manchester, UK

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Milan, Italy

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Munich, Germany

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Murcia, Spain

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Nantes, France

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Naples, Italy

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Nice, France

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Nottingham, UK

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Paris, France

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Rennes, France

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Steyr, Austria

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Turin, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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