Foreign Trade Terms You Must Learn in English

In addition to conversational English, there is also business English (or occupational English). You will need this kind of language during your education or career in order to improve your proficiency in this language. A rich branch of business English is foreign trade. The names and terms in this branch are different than the conversational language patterns and all of these terms are named are called foreign trade English.

You are starting to have question marks, right? Of course, foreign trade English is not a topic that you can learn in one day, but you can find the answers to your fundamental questions in this article, as well as a comprehensive term list at the end of this article.

Export or Import?

First, the terms and words you need to learn in this subject are of course related to your business area. If you buy goods from abroad, you “import” those goods; if you are selling your goods abroad, you will “export” those goods. In this case, the exporting firm of the goods is called the “exporter” and the importing firm of the goods is called the “importer”. To complete both of these operations, there will be official documents in the form of written contracts and customs operations between the two parties.

The sender of these documents is known as “forwarder” or “consignor” and the receiver firm is known as “consignee”. These terms do not have one to one translation to the everyday English words, but they have a large place in commercial life. In foreign trade operations, everything starts with a bill of lading or a transport bill. Besides the “bill of lading”, you can use “commodity” or “goods” instead of “commercial products”. The bill of lading mainly includes the sender’s and receiver’s firm names, the name of the “agent”, the “loading location” to load the goods, the “transhipment” information if the goods are going to be transferred and lastly the “destination” to show where the goods will arrive.

The Classes of Commercial Goods and The Proforma Invoice






In foreign trade regulation, each commercial good has a class code and this code is referred as the “tariff code”. When customs documents are prepared, the class of the commercial goods is important, as billing and taxing are based on this code. Another important word you need to learn at this stage is the “freight charge”. The freight charge is also known as the transportation charge. This fee can be paid either by the seller or by the buyer. If the goods will be carried without a freight charge, you need to use the term, “non-freight”.

Another important word you need to learn while preparing customs documents is the “proforma invoice”. The proforma invoice is the pre-contract between the buyer and the seller, and you must always draw up this invoice. At this point, another useful term is the “commercial invoice”. The commercial invoice frames the agreement between two firms for certain. “Tax” is a word you will frequently hear in this section. You also need to memorize the “customs” and “custom tax” words as well. If your goods are exempt from customs tax, you need to use “customs-free” term.

How Many Payment Types Are There?

Another important topic in foreign trade protocols is the payment type. “Cash in advance” that is paying the money before shipment is the most guaranteed payment type for both parties. There are different types of cash in advance payment. When the payment is completed on the day of order, this is called “cash with order”; if the order is placed and the goods are prepared for delivery, this payment is called “cash before delivery”. Cash in advance is shortly expressed as T/T and completed via bank. There is another payment type where the buyer agrees with the bank and pays with a loan; this is the “letter of credit” and it is abbreviated as L/C in commercial correspondence.

Another important customs document is the “packing list”. The packing list is a detailed commercial goods list containing which goods will be sent, how many of these goods will be sent and what will be the content of these goods.

Business language is a bit different than conversational English, but you can learn and easily remember this language as you use it. Based on the examples given above, you can check 100 English words and phrases you might encounter in your foreign trade life. When you are learning new words, you need to remember one thing: you can easily adapt these words in your daily life especially if you are interested in foreign trade.

Commonly Use Foreign Trade Terms in English

  • Exporter
  • Importer
  • Consignor
  • Consignee
  • Notify
  • Agent
  • Loading location
  • Transhipment
  • Destination
  • Complet
  • Partial
  • Shipment sequence number
  • Co-load
  • Freight charge
  • Volume
  • Order no and date
  • Tariff
  • Container
  • Position no
  • Truck freight
  • Airfreight
  • Vessel name
  • Mother vessel
  • Feeder vessel
  • Line
  • Total pcs
  • Full Container Load (FCL)
  • Less Container Load (LCL
  • Irrelevant cost
  • Joint cargo
  • Liner
  • Dimension
  • Dangerous carry
  • Loading instruction
  • Seal no
  • Supplementary Policy
  • Tare
  • Policy
  • Domestic damage data
  • Foreign damage data
  • By order of
  • Cash against goods
  • Packing list
  • Clean bill of lading
  • Clause bill of lading:
  • Multimodal transport
  • Commodity
  • Tax
  • Customs
  • Dead freight
  • Deadline
  • Release
  • Customs free
  • Door to door
  • Durable goods
  • Duration
  • Duty-free
  • En route
  • Movement certificate
  • Customs endorsement
  • Non-freight
  • Offer
  • Original document
  • Overheads
  • Place of delivery
  • Profit
  • Loss
  • Debit
  • Proforma invoice
  • Audit
  • Reduction of tax
  • Restricted shipment
  • Revocation
  • Rool on rool
  • Settlement date
  • Stale bill of lading
  • Storage
  • Demurrage
  • Terms of payment
  • Operation
  • Issuing bank
  • Anti-dumping duty
  • Identical goods
  • Capital in kind
  • Counter purchase
  • Export without returns
  • Declaration
  • Declarant
  • Stamp tax
  • Foreign trade corporation
  • Bulk items
  • Transport loading gauge
  • Groupage
  • Letter of carriage
  • Appeal
  • Quota
  • Current value
  • Bartering
  • Registration
  • Obsolete good

If you are trying to learn the words and if you cannot find anywhere or anyone to practice, you can practice English at any time of the day with English Ninjas tutors who are specified on these topics and are native English speakers. Enjoy learning foreign trade in English with the freedom of having audio, visual or written conversations.

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