The world of acronyms is alive and well in the export industry. To help you navigate your exporter journey with a clear understanding of the language, here’s a list of 24 commonly used short forms with brief definitions.

24 exporting acronyms you need to know

ASEAN: Association of Southeast Asian Nations

An intergovernmental organization of 10 countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) that work together to accelerate economic growth and promote political stability and cultural development

BOL: Bill of lading

A legal document issued by a carrier to a shipper that details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being shipped

CD: Customs declaration

This is a form that lists the details about the goods being exported. In Canada, a B3 is the import customs declaration, and a B13A is the export declaration. For more information, visit the Canada Border Services Agency website.

CDV: Current domestic value

An estimation of the value added in producing goods and services for export

CFR: Cost and freight

When a sale is CFR, it means the seller has to arrange the delivery of the goods by sea to a port of destination and provide the necessary documents so the buyer can access them from the carrier.

COO: Certificate of origin

International trade documents that the goods in an export shipment are produced, manufactured or processed in a specific country, or as I’d like to call them, the birth certificate of a product

EDI: Electronic data interchange

Computer-to-computer exchange of business documents between business partners

EU: European Union

A coalition of 28 (soon to be 27 with Britain’s decision to drop out) European countries, designed to tear down their trade, economic and social barriers and promote growth

FCR: Forwarder’s certificate of receipt

A receipt for shipped goods from a freight forwarder to the shipper

F/F: Freight forwarder

A company, like eShipper and UPS, responsible for the transportation of goods between one destination and another

HS: Harmonized system

This is an international system using six-digit codes to classify traded goods. Click here to find out the tariff rate for your products.

GATT: General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

This was an international trade agreement in 1948 between 23 countries, including Canada, designed to regulate world trade. It led to the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.

ICC: International Chamber of Commerce

World business organization that promotes international trade, responsible business conduct and partnership opportunities

ID: Import duty

A tax collected on imports and some exports by a country’s customs authorities

IMF: International Monetary Fund

An organization of 189 countries, including Canada, working to facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world

IOS: International Organization for Standardization

An independent, non-governmental body of experts who share knowledge and develop international standards for products, services and systems to support innovation

L/C: Letter of credit

This is a written guarantee from a bank that a buyer's payment to a seller will be received on time and for the correct amount. If the buyer can’t pay, the bank will cover the cost.

LOI: Letter of intent

Non-binding document that specifies one company’s intentions towards another

PB: Performance bond

Bond issued to one party of a contract as a guarantee against the failure of the other party to meet obligations specified in the contract

REX: Registered exporter system

A system that provides for the certification of origin on imports into the European Union from certain countries, including Canada and Japan

SBLC: Standby letter of credit

This is a bank’s commitment of payment to a third party if its client defaults. It’s a “standby” agreement because the bank will have to pay only in a worst-case scenario.

TCS: Trade Commissioner Service

Part of Global Affairs Canada, the TCS has Canadian trade commissioners in more than 160 cities around the world to provide exporters with on-the-ground support and insights.

ULD: Unit load device

Pallet or container used to ship by air freight

VAT: Value-added tax

This is a consumption tax levied on products at every point of sale where value has been added. In Canada, this is our GST/HST.