Import and Export Terminology: 12 Common Definitions You Must Know

With the expertise of Flash Global’s team of import/export professional located across 80 countries, our rigorous protocols and processes will minimize your risk of compliance infringement while reducing delivery times and maximizing cost savings. Flash provides its clients with access to leading specialists in IOR/EOR regulations, and we focus on moving mission-critical deliveries through customs quickly and without compliance infractions. The IOR/EOR field has specialized import and export terminology, and below is a brief overview of acronyms and other terms that directly impact the process for moving goods in and out of customs.


C-TPAT is a voluntary collaboration initiative between governments and business to strengthen the global supply chain while improving U.S. border security. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) provides high-level cargo security in close collaboration with importers, consolidators, carriers, manufacturers and licensed customs brokers. This system encourages transparency in security guidelines between stakeholders.

Container Security Initiative (CSI)

CSI works to identify threats to global trade and border security by mitigating the risks that terrorists may attempt to use a maritime container for shipping weapons. Officers of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CPB work alongside foreign government counterparts to target and prescreen shipping containers destined for the U.S.

10+2 Importer Security Filing (ISF)

The ISF requires vessel operating carriers and importers to provide data to CPB in advance regarding non-bulk cargo shipments into the U.S. This information must be filed before the vessel leaves it port of origin.

Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)

This system works to streamline border processing, improve border security and enhance U.S. economic security through automation. ACE will eventually supplant the current system, The Automated Commercial System (ACS).

Automated Broker Interface (ABI)

The ABI is an element within the U.S. Customs automated schematics that allows qualified participants to file their required data electronically with Customs. The program is currently voluntary and available to importers, brokers, port authorities, carriers and independent service centers.

The Binding Ruling

The Binding Ruling is a system to determine if a product’s HTS number is correct. Correct classification for tariffs impacts the duty rate, determining if the product is under quotas, countervailing and antidumping duties, restraints and embargoes, and review by government officials. CPB requires each shipped item to carry a 10-digit tariff code at the time of shipment into the United States. Missing tariff codes can cause considerable delay, and the method of correctly classifying products can be complex. Based on the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States that has 99 chapters, notes and rules of interpretation, full compliance can be difficult, and the Customs Modernization Act requires the IOR to demonstrate “reasonable care” to guarantee the proper classification of products. The Binding Ruling can establish the requirements for import as well as the tariff classification.

CPB Bond

A CPB bond is similar to an insurance policy that guarantees payment to CPB if a required action is not performed. One common use gives importers the ability to take possession of shipments prior to the completion of all CPB formalities.

Export Administration Regulations (EAR)

The U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) designed to address and limit U.S. citizens from supporting boycotts against countries who are friendly with the United States. The export control provisions are designed to enhance national security, non-proliferation, and foreign policy.

Wassenaar Agreement

The Wassenaar is one plank of a multilateral export control system in which the United States participates. The agreement promotes transparency and increased responsibility in the transfer of dual-use goods and conventional arms to prevent accumulation of weapons that may create a destabilizing environment. Members of the agreement implement specific controls to ensure that these goods do not contribute to military capabilities that could undermine the objectives of the agreement.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

The Nuclear Suppliers Group is another plank in the multilateral export control system in which the United States participates. The NSG is comprised of 40 member countries, and it was established in 1992 with the objective of curtailing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The Australia Group (AG)

The Australia Group represents another critical plank in the multilateral export control platform in which the United States participates. Formed in 1985, the AG was triggered by the utilization of chemical weapons by Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War. Australia proposed certain alignments with international export controls that directly impact chemical weapons precursor supplies. Currently, the AG is comprised of 34 member countries.

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

The Missile Technology Control Regime works to restrict the proliferation of missiles that have the capacity to deliver weapons of mass destruction. At the outset, MTCR has seven member countries. Today the MTCR has increased to 33 member countries coordinating their efforts to curtail missile proliferation.

What import and export terminology would you consider? Let us know in the comments below!


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