Shipping is a global industry that requires us to interact with vendors, clients, and agencies all over the world.

Although English is the primary language of choice when liaising with international associates, there can be times when we may encounter other languages – and the need to understand those languages. As effective as Google Translate is in helping us decipher the hieroglyphics we see when faced with languages foreign to our own, it is not always the best tool when it comes to shipping terms. For example, if you use a search engine to translate the English word “Breakbulk” into Italian, you could end up with the misleading result alla rinfusa which means “randomly.”

To avoid confusion, and maybe give you a chance to impress your overseas colleagues with your knowledge of the assicurazione that will be required for specific shipments, here is a compilation of authentic translations gathered from friends and colleagues around the world who have firsthand experience with these terms in English and in their own native tongue.

Translation of Common Shipping Terms by Language

English Spanish Italian Portuguese
Bill of Lading Conocimiento de embarque Polizza Conhecimento de Embarque
Container Contenedor Contenitore Contêineres (pl)
Demurrage Estadia Soste Sobrestadia
Letter of Credit Carta de credito Lettera di Credito Carta de Crédito
Rate Precios Rata Preço
Cargo Carga Merce Mercadoria
Release Type Tipo de liberacion Tipo di Rilascio Tipo de liberação
Agent Agente Agente Agente
Import Importacion Importazione Importação
Export Exportacion Esportazione Exportação
Insurance Seguro Assicurazione Seguro
Reefer Refrigerado Refrigerato Conteiner refrigerado
Tare Tara Tara Tara
Departure Salida Partenza (Salpare) Saída
Transshipment Transbordo Trasbordo Transbordo
Arrival Llegada Arrivo Chegada
Breakbulk Carga a granel Merci Sfuse Carga solta
Transit Time Tiempo de transito Tempo di Transito Tempo de trânsito
English German French Turkish
Bill of Lading Frachtbrief Connaissement maritime Konsimento
Container Container Conteneur Konteynir
Demurrage Liegegebühr Surestaries Ardiye
Letter of Credit Kreditbrief Lettre de crédit Kredi onayli
Rate Rate Taux de fret Fiyat
Cargo Fracht Fret / Marchandise Kargo
Release Type Freigabeart Type de relâche Konsimentonun duzenlenis sekli
Agent Agent Agent Acenta
Import Einfuhr Import Ithalat
Export Ausfuhr Export Ihracat
Insurance Versicherung Assurance Sigota
Reefer Kühlraum Conteneur réfrigéré Soguk Hava Konteyneri
Tare Lehrgewicht Tare Dara
Departure Abfahrt Départ Ayrilis
Transshipment Umschlagen Transbordement Aktarma
Arrival Ankunft Arrivée Varis
Breakbulk konsolidierte Stückgüter  Marchandises en vrac Dokme yuk
Transit Time Laufzeit Temps de transit Yolculuk suresi
English Arabic Cantonese Mandarin
Bill of Lading بوليصة شحن 提單 提单
Container حاوية 集裝箱 集装箱
Demurrage مصا يف تخزين 滯期費 滞期费
Letter of Credit خطاب ضمان 信用證 信用证
Rate نولون
Cargo حاوية 貨物 货物
Release Type 發布類型 发布类型
Agent وكيل 代理人 代理人
Import وارد 進口 进口
Export صادر 出口 出口
Insurance تامين 保險 保险
Reefer ثلاجة 冷藏箱 冷藏箱
Tare وزن الحاوية فارغة 皮重 皮重
Departure مغادرة 出發 出发
Transshipment ترانزيت 轉運 转运
Arrival وصول 到達 到达
Breakbulk
Transit Time وقت السفر

If you do not see your language on this list or you have additional terms that you would like to add please share your translations in the comments below.

A special thank you to Dana Finch, Matheus Fernandes, Federico Recchia, Y. Can Sekman, Jenny Cepeda, Virginie Tonti, Matthieu Marchione, Richard Rojas, and Wassim Rafla for your translation contributions.