ShipEngine Glossary

This is a summary of terms related to shipping, international delivery, and ShipEngine features.

General Shipping and Ecommerce

Definitions of terms related to label creation, and various shipping methods.

Automated Package Verification (APV)

The United States Postal Service (USPS) built the Automated Package Verification (APV) system to manage postage discrepancies (under-paid and over-paid postage labels) in an automated fashion. The APV system considers postage paid on every domestic package, based on weight, dimensions, package type, mailing service, and the origin and destination ZIP codes.

Drop-shipping

A type of shipping wherein the online store doesn’t keep the product it sells in its own inventory. Instead, the store partners with a wholesale supplier and passes the order details to them, so the supplier ships the product directly to the customer.

Full-truckload Shipping (FTL)

Full-truckload Shipping is the transport of goods in a shipment that fills an entire truck's space or weight capacity. FTL shipments are contracted to one customer, so the shipment typically goes to one location and travels on a more flexible schedule.

Less-than-truckload Shipping (LTL)

Less-than-truckload Shipping is the transport of goods in a shipment that shares a truck's space or weight capacity with other shipments. LTL shipments are contracted to multiple customers, so the shipments typically go to several locations and travel on a more rigid schedule. These shipments often stop at a distribution center for sorting.

Other Regulated Material (ORM-D)

A type of label that identifies certain potentially hazardous materials that have special requirements regarding shipping and handling. These materials have limited risk during transportation because of their quantity and packaging. Typically, they are for US domestic transport only. EX: hairspray, nail polish, medicines, detergents, fuels, drain openers, lighters, and more.

ShipEngine does not currently have a built-in method to add ORM-D to any postage provider's labels.

Pay-on-use

Also known as pay-on-scan. These are labels you are not charged for until the carrier actually scans them into the mail stream. UPS and FedEx are pay-on-use labels, which means you do not need to void them to get a refund if they are not used

Postage Provider

The provider you purchase your postage from. This provider may or may not be the same as the carrier that picks up or delivers the package (though in most cases, it is).

EX: Stamps.com is a postage provider while USPS is the carrier. ShipEngine Carriers is a postage provider while USPS and UPS are the carriers.

Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA)

An authorization number or character sequence (typically) that must be displayed on or included with a returned product's packaging. This serves as part of the process of returning a product to receive a refund, replacement, or repair.

Also called a return authorization (RA) or a return goods authorization (RGA).

Ship From Location

The address from where your packages ship. This information is required by postage providers before they will return a rate or create a label.

In ShipEngine, the Ship From Location is specified in the ship_from object.

Third-Party Logistics (3PL, TPL)

A firm that provides outsourced supply chain management and logistics services to its customers. Services generally include managing inventory, picking, packing, shipping, and returns management, among other functions. The terms 3PL and are often used interchangeably.

International Shipping and Customs

Definitions of terms related to international shipping, duties and taxes, and customs declaration forms.

CN22 and CN23 Forms

CN22 and CN23 forms are customs declaration forms required for international shipping, especially for packages coming from or destined for outside of the EU.

CN22 forms are for shipments valued below £270, and CN23 forms are for shipments valued above £270. ShipEngine will automatically generate the type of form you need based on your shipment's value defined in the customs object.

These forms contain information about the goods you are shipping, including which goods are packaged inside your parcel, their value, names of the shipper and receiver, and any parties involved in the shipping. Customs authorities use these forms to determine taxation, import duties, security, public health, and environmental protection.

These documents are scanned, and if descriptions inaccurately relate the contents, you may be fined for up to 100% of the merchandise value.

Check with your national tax authority for an overview of all EU countries. Also, take note of any regions where exceptions may apply. Some regions within the EU are not part of the EU customs zone, but shipments to these regions are still subject to customs control. Thus, you must always include a CN22 or CN23 customs declaration with them.

Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice details the agreement between the shipper and receiver. This includes who’s responsible for the shipment and the duties and taxes (and whether or not they’ve already been paid).

Delivered at Place (DAP)

The shipper is responsible for the transportation costs, but not responsible for paying the taxes associated with this shipment. Customs agents will be using the contact information provided on the invoice and customs declarations to settle the charges.

The opposite of DDP. See similar DDU. See also INCOTERM.

Delivered Duty Paid (DDP)

The shipper is responsible for the shipment and for paying duties, taxes and/or fees assessed associated with the shipment. DDP and DDU/DAP are incoterms.

The opposite of DDU and DAP. See INCOTERM.

Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU)

The shipper is responsible for the transportation costs, but not responsible for paying duties, taxes and/or fees assessed associated with this shipment. Customs agents will be using the contact information provided on the invoice and customs declarations to settle the charges.

The opposite of DDP. See similar DAP. See also INCOTERM.

De Minimis Value

De Minimis Values are used in the context of international shipping. They are a valuation ceiling for imports where no tax or duties are charged and the clearance procedures are minimal for shipments that have a value less than the De Minimis threshold. De Minimis Values vary from country to country.

For example, imports into the US are subject to duty and taxes when the value is over the De Minimis Value of $800 USD.

Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number (EORI)

An ID code used to track and register customs information in the EU. Currently, all businesses that import or export goods from countries outside the EU need an EORI number.

Required to ship goods from the UK as of 1 January 2021.

Electronic Advance Data (EAD)

A customs requirement that information about the sender, receiver, and parcel contents all be gathered digitally and sent ahead to Customs in the destination country. China and the US have passed legislation introducing this requirement to bolster border protection, and more countries are likely to follow suit in the coming years.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

A method to transmit information in a standardized digital format. UPS uses EDI to transmit customs documents electronically. "EDI" will be printed on UPS labels to indicate the data has been submitted electronically.

Electronic Trade Document (ETD)

A method to transmit customs documents electronically, used primarily by FedEx. The letters "ETD" will be printed on FedEx labels to indicate your data has been submitted electronically. For FedEx International Ground, the letters "ETD" will appear in a black box under the shipping service icon.

Excise Duty

A tax imposed on goods for their production, licensing, and sale. Such fees are charged on alcohol or tobacco imported into the UK from outside the EU. The charges are applied by Border Force on behalf of HMRC. At the end of the Brexit transition period, excise duties are expected to apply for goods coming into the UK from the EU.

Harmonization Tariff System Code (HTS, HTSUS Code)

Also known as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code, this is a 10-digit import classification system for internationally traded products. An HTSUS code takes the same form as an HS Code for the first six digits and then has four differing last digits. This internationally recognized commodity description is set by the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

In ShipEngine, the harmonized_tariff_code is added in the customs object. HTSUS codes are not required but are highly recommended. All US importers should know and use the correct HTSUS codes because this classification is the basis for how commodity duties are assessed.

See also Harmonized System Codes.

Harmonized System Codes (HS Codes, HS Numbers)

An internationally standardized system of names and numbers used to classify globally traded products. The codes are required on customs declaration forms CN22 and CN23 for goods sent to other countries. Each commodity group is identified by a six-digit code used to identify the duty and tax rates for specific types of products. The system was developed by the World Customs Organization and is used by over 200 countries as a basis for their customs tariffs.

See also Harmonization Tariff System code.

Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS)

An online portal to help businesses pay their VAT. Businesses must register to use this service "on the IOSS portal of any EU Member State" (Source: European Commission). You will be provided a number for the IOSS that can be used as a Taxpayer Identification Number.

See also Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Value-Added Tax (VAT).

Internal Transaction Number (ITN)

The number assigned to a shipment confirming that the Automated Export System (AES) accepted the Electronic Export Information (EEI) and has it on file. Every AES shipment must have a unique ITN.

For the purposes of AES filing, a shipment is all goods (regardless of the number of packages) tendered to the USPS on the same day from one US Principal Party in Interest (USPPI) to one addressee. The USPS defines the USPPI as “the person or legal entity in the United States that receives the primary benefit, monetary or otherwise, from the export transaction.” (Source: USPS)

International Commercial Terms (INCOTERM)

Incoterms or International Commercial Terms are a series of pre-defined commercial terms that relate to international commercial law. Published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), these terms are widely used in international commercial transactions or procurement processes, and their use is encouraged by trade councils, courts, and international lawyers. The terms exist as an international standard to protect buyers and sellers and to regulate the payment terms for the receiver of the goods.

See DDP, DDU, and DAP for examples of INCOTERMs.

Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)

Taxpayer Identification Numbers quickly identify your business and track its related tax activities. Examples include the Employer Identification Number (EIN) in the US, Value Added Tax (VAT), Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS), and Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI).

Value-Added Tax (VAT)

Value-Added Tax - also known as a goods and services tax (GST) - is a consumption tax based on the value of goods and implemented as a destination-based tax. VAT usually comes into play when shipping internationally to countries that charge customs fees and taxes to recipients on imported goods. VAT may be recovered for commercial shipments only by a VAT registered recipient; VAT ranges from 5% to 25% depending upon country. VAT is generally charged only in the European Union, China, Mexico, and Thailand.

ShipEngine Carrier Integration Features

Definitions for Common ShipEngine Features table in each carrier's help guide.

Carrier Insurance

Additional carrier insurance can be purchased through ShipEngine.

Domestic Shipping

The carrier integration can be used to create domestic shipping labels.

Electronic Customs Submission

ShipEngine will submit international customs information electronically to the carrier.

End of Day (Electronic)

Shipment manifests and End of Day documents are submitted electronically to the carrier by ShipEngine.

End of Day (PDF)

Shipment manifests and End of Day documents are generated as PDF files that can be printed along with shipping labels. Because these documents are not electronically submitted, physical copies must be provided to the carrier.

Estimated Rates

When an API call is made to the Rates endpoint, ShipEngine will return estimated shipping rates for the carrier based on the connected account information and shipment details.

International Shipping

The carrier integration can be used to create international shipping labels.

Label Branding

ShipEngine can print your brand logo on shipping labels from carriers that support this feature. Add your logo in the ShipEngine Dashboard.

Label Messages

ShipEngine can include additional information on a shipping label that is specified in the label request, if supported by the carrier.

Multi-package Shipping

The carrier integration can be used to create multi-package shipments, where multiple individual packages are linked together into a single shipment record with a master tracking number.

Multiple Accounts

You can connect this carrier integration to ShipEngine multiple times using different account information, and choose which account will be used to create each shipment.

Pick Up Drop Off (PUDO)

Pick Up Drop Off is a service and location, typically a locker bank, outlet, or retail store, that offers a parcel pick up and drop off service, often as part of a wider service network. PUDO services offer the advantage of not having to wait for a courier to come to pick up your parcels, resulting in fewer failed or missed deliveries. This service is often more efficient for couriers, too.

Return Labels

The carrier integration can be used to create domestic return labels.

Tracking

Shipping labels created for this carrier will include a tracking number that can be used to view the shipment status on the carrier's tracking website. Tracking may not be available for all shipping services.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) built the Automated Package Verification (APV) system to manage postage discrepancies (under-paid and over-paid postage labels) in an automated fashion. The APV system considers postage paid on every domestic package, based on weight, dimensions, package type, mailing service, and the origin and destination ZIP codes.

A type of shipping wherein the online store doesn’t keep the product it sells in its own inventory. Instead, the store partners with a wholesale supplier and passes the order details to them, so the supplier ships the product directly to the customer.

Full-truckload Shipping is the transport of goods in a shipment that fills an entire truck's space or weight capacity. FTL shipments are contracted to one customer, so the shipment typically goes to one location and travels on a more flexible schedule.

Less-than-truckload Shipping is the transport of goods in a shipment that shares a truck's space or weight capacity with other shipments. LTL shipments are contracted to multiple customers, so the shipments typically go to several locations and travel on a more rigid schedule. These shipments often stop at a distribution center for sorting.

A type of label that identifies certain potentially hazardous materials that have special requirements regarding shipping and handling. These materials have limited risk during transportation because of their quantity and packaging. Typically, they are for US domestic transport only. EX: hairspray, nail polish, medicines, detergents, fuels, drain openers, lighters, and more.

ShipEngine does not currently have a built-in method to add ORM-D to any postage provider's labels.

Also known as pay-on-scan. These are labels you are not charged for until the carrier actually scans them into the mail stream. UPS and FedEx are pay-on-use labels, which means you do not need to void them to get a refund if they are not used

The provider you purchase your postage from. This provider may or may not be the same as the carrier that picks up or delivers the package (though in most cases, it is).

EX: Stamps.com is a postage provider while USPS is the carrier. ShipEngine Carriers is a postage provider while USPS and UPS are the carriers.

An authorization number or character sequence (typically) that must be displayed on or included with a returned product's packaging. This serves as part of the process of returning a product to receive a refund, replacement, or repair.

Also called a return authorization (RA) or a return goods authorization (RGA).

The address from where your packages ship. This information is required by postage providers before they will return a rate or create a label.

In ShipEngine, the Ship From Location is specified in the ship_from object.

A firm that provides outsourced supply chain management and logistics services to its customers. Services generally include managing inventory, picking, packing, shipping, and returns management, among other functions. The terms 3PL and are often used interchangeably.

CN22 and CN23 forms are customs declaration forms required for international shipping, especially for packages coming from or destined for outside of the EU.

CN22 forms are for shipments valued below £270, and CN23 forms are for shipments valued above £270. ShipEngine will automatically generate the type of form you need based on your shipment's value defined in the customs object.

These forms contain information about the goods you are shipping, including which goods are packaged inside your parcel, their value, names of the shipper and receiver, and any parties involved in the shipping. Customs authorities use these forms to determine taxation, import duties, security, public health, and environmental protection.

These documents are scanned, and if descriptions inaccurately relate the contents, you may be fined for up to 100% of the merchandise value.

Check with your national tax authority for an overview of all EU countries. Also, take note of any regions where exceptions may apply. Some regions within the EU are not part of the EU customs zone, but shipments to these regions are still subject to customs control. Thus, you must always include a CN22 or CN23 customs declaration with them.

A commercial invoice details the agreement between the shipper and receiver. This includes who’s responsible for the shipment and the duties and taxes (and whether or not they’ve already been paid).

The shipper is responsible for the shipment and for paying duties, taxes and/or fees assessed associated with the shipment. DDP and DDU/DAP are incoterms.

The opposite of DDU and DAP. See INCOTERM.

The shipper is responsible for the transportation costs, but not responsible for paying duties, taxes and/or fees assessed associated with this shipment. Customs agents will be using the contact information provided on the invoice and customs declarations to settle the charges.

The opposite of DDP. See similar DAP. See also INCOTERM.

The shipper is responsible for the transportation costs, but not responsible for paying the taxes associated with this shipment. Customs agents will be using the contact information provided on the invoice and customs declarations to settle the charges.

The opposite of DDP. See similar DDU. See also INCOTERM.

De Minimis Values are used in the context of international shipping. They are a valuation ceiling for imports where no tax or duties are charged and the clearance procedures are minimal for shipments that have a value less than the De Minimis threshold. De Minimis Values vary from country to country.

For example, imports into the US are subject to duty and taxes when the value is over the De Minimis Value of $800 USD.

A customs requirement that information about the sender, receiver, and parcel contents all be gathered digitally and sent ahead to Customs in the destination country. China and the US have passed legislation introducing this requirement to bolster border protection, and more countries are likely to follow suit in the coming years.

An ID code used to track and register customs information in the EU. Currently, all businesses that import or export goods from countries outside the EU need an EORI number.

Required to ship goods from the UK as of 1 January 2021.

A method to transmit information in a standardized digital format. UPS uses EDI to transmit customs documents electronically. "EDI" will be printed on UPS labels to indicate the data has been submitted electronically.

A method to transmit customs documents electronically, used primarily by FedEx. The letters "ETD" will be printed on FedEx labels to indicate your data has been submitted electronically. For FedEx International Ground, the letters "ETD" will appear in a black box under the shipping service icon.

A tax imposed on goods for their production, licensing, and sale. Such fees are charged on alcohol or tobacco imported into the UK from outside the EU. The charges are applied by Border Force on behalf of HMRC. At the end of the Brexit transition period, excise duties are expected to apply for goods coming into the UK from the EU.

Also known as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code, this is a 10-digit import classification system for internationally traded products. An HTSUS code takes the same form as an HS Code for the first six digits and then has four differing last digits. This internationally recognized commodity description is set by the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

In ShipEngine, the harmonized_tariff_code is added in the customs object. HTSUS codes are not required but are highly recommended. All US importers should know and use the correct HTSUS codes because this classification is the basis for how commodity duties are assessed.

See also Harmonized System Codes.

An internationally standardized system of names and numbers used to classify globally traded products. The codes are required on customs declaration forms CN22 and CN23 for goods sent to other countries. Each commodity group is identified by a six-digit code used to identify the duty and tax rates for specific types of products. The system was developed by the World Customs Organization and is used by over 200 countries as a basis for their customs tariffs.

See also Harmonization Tariff System code.

The number assigned to a shipment confirming that the Automated Export System (AES) accepted the Electronic Export Information (EEI) and has it on file. Every AES shipment must have a unique ITN.

For the purposes of AES filing, a shipment is all goods (regardless of the number of packages) tendered to the USPS on the same day from one US Principal Party in Interest (USPPI) to one addressee. The USPS defines the USPPI as “the person or legal entity in the United States that receives the primary benefit, monetary or otherwise, from the export transaction.” (Source: USPS)

Incoterms or International Commercial Terms are a series of pre-defined commercial terms that relate to international commercial law. Published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), these terms are widely used in international commercial transactions or procurement processes, and their use is encouraged by trade councils, courts, and international lawyers. The terms exist as an international standard to protect buyers and sellers and to regulate the payment terms for the receiver of the goods.

See DDP, DDU, and DAP for examples of INCOTERMs.

An online portal to help businesses pay their VAT. Businesses must register to use this service "on the IOSS portal of any EU Member State" (Source: European Commission). You will be provided a number for the IOSS that can be used as a Taxpayer Identification Number.

See also Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Value-Added Tax (VAT).

Taxpayer Identification Numbers quickly identify your business and track its related tax activities. Examples include the Employer Identification Number (EIN) in the US, Value Added Tax (VAT), Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS), and Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI).

Value-Added Tax - also known as a goods and services tax (GST) - is a consumption tax based on the value of goods and implemented as a destination-based tax. VAT usually comes into play when shipping internationally to countries that charge customs fees and taxes to recipients on imported goods. VAT may be recovered for commercial shipments only by a VAT registered recipient; VAT ranges from 5% to 25% depending upon country. VAT is generally charged only in the European Union, China, Mexico, and Thailand.

Additional carrier insurance can be purchased through ShipEngine.

The carrier integration can be used to create domestic shipping labels.

ShipEngine will submit international customs information electronically to the carrier.

Shipment manifests and End of Day documents are submitted electronically to the carrier by ShipEngine.

Shipment manifests and End of Day documents are generated as PDF files that can be printed along with shipping labels. Because these documents are not electronically submitted, physical copies must be provided to the carrier.

When an API call is made to the Rates endpoint, ShipEngine will return estimated shipping rates for the carrier based on the connected account information and shipment details.

The carrier integration can be used to create international shipping labels.

ShipEngine can print your brand logo on shipping labels from carriers that support this feature. Add your logo in the ShipEngine Dashboard.

ShipEngine can include additional information on a shipping label that is specified in the label request, if supported by the carrier.

The carrier integration can be used to create multi-package shipments, where multiple individual packages are linked together into a single shipment record with a master tracking number.

You can connect this carrier integration to ShipEngine multiple times using different account information, and choose which account will be used to create each shipment.

Pick Up Drop Off is a service and location, typically a locker bank, outlet, or retail store, that offers a parcel pick up and drop off service, often as part of a wider service network. PUDO services offer the advantage of not having to wait for a courier to come to pick up your parcels, resulting in fewer failed or missed deliveries. This service is often more efficient for couriers, too.

The carrier integration can be used to create domestic return labels.

Shipping labels created for this carrier will include a tracking number that can be used to view the shipment status on the carrier's tracking website. Tracking may not be available for all shipping services.