Better Than Google Translate: Common Shipping Terms Authentically Translated into 10 Languages


    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
    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.

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    Alysia Xirinachs
    Alysia Mercedes Xirinachs was born in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She completed her Bachelor’s degrees in Spanish Language and Literature and English Literature at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. Her passion for languages brought her to Italy, where she lived for 8 months studying Italian in Rome. Alysia previously worked for Mediterranean Shipping Company in Charleston, SC as a VIP Accounts Manager and Analyst. Currently she is working as an Operations Specialist at MTS Logistics, Inc. since February 2017.