Definitions: Understanding ECTN Certificates and Related Terms

Bill of Entry:

A legal declaration by an importer or his/her agent detailing the precise nature, quantity, and value of goods that have entered a country.

Cargo Insurance Certificate:

A document certifying that insurance has been obtained for the shipped goods to protect against loss or damage during transit.

Compliance and Non-Compliance Penalties:

Penalties are imposed for failing to meet ECTN requirements, which can include fines, delays, or rejection of cargo.

Container Number:

A unique alphanumeric identifier for a shipping container.

Demurrage and Detention Charges:

Fees are charged to the shipper for using a container beyond the allotted free time, both at the port and outside.

Freight Forwarder:

A company or individual that organizes shipments for individuals or corporations to get goods from the manufacturer or producer to a market, customer, or final point of distribution.

Importer/Exporter Code (IEC):

A unique code is required for a company or individual involved in international trade.


The time agreed between the ship owner and the charterer for loading and unloading the cargo.

Seal Number:

A unique identifier affixed to a container indicates that the contents have not been tampered with since packing.

Packing List:

A detailed list of all items within a shipment. It includes information like the number of packages, dimensions, weight, etc.

Validation and Verification:

Procedures conducted by authorities to ensure the accuracy of the ECTN and compliance with regulations.

Bill of Lading (B/L):

A legal document issued by a carrier to a shipper, detailing the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried. Essential for ECTN processing.

Certificate of Origin:

A document stating the origin of the goods being shipped. This is used to comply with import policies and calculate tariffs.


The individual or company to whom the cargo is shipped. Must be identified in ECTN documentation.

Customs Declaration:

A form submitted by the importer/exporter detailing the nature, value, and quantity of goods being transported.

Electronic Cargo Tracking Note (ECTN):

A mandatory document for shipments to certain African countries. It serves as a validation of the cargo and its associated information before arrival. It is required by customs authorities for import clearance.

Freight Invoice:

A statement of the fees due for carrying goods, issued by the carrier to the shipper, is often used in the calculation of the ECTN.

Import License:

A government-issued authorization required for importing certain goods. Essential for compliance with national import regulations and may be necessary for ECTN certification.


A comprehensive list of all the cargo on board a ship or plane, used by customs authorities for processing and clearance.

Port of Discharge (POD):

POD is the destination port where cargo is offloaded.

Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI):

A document provided by the shipper that gives instructions and details to the freight forwarder for handling the shipment.

Cargo Description:

Detailed information about the cargo, including type, weight, and dimensions.

Commercial Invoice:

A document provided by the seller to the buyer, listing the sale transaction and including information like product type, quantity, and price. Crucial for customs valuation.


The individual or company is responsible for initially sending the goods. This entity is often the seller or exporter.

D.U. – Documento Unico:

Translating to ‘Single Document’, serves as an official permit that authorizes the import of specified goods under certain conditions. This document is essential for customs clearance and may include details about the product, quantity, value, and compliance with local import regulations.

ETA and ETD (Estimated Time of Arrival and Departure):

These terms indicate the expected dates and times for a shipment to arrive at or depart from specific points in its route.

Harmonized System Code (HS Code):

An internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products.


International commercial terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce, define the responsibilities of buyers and sellers in international transactions.

Notify Party:

The individual or organization is to be notified upon the cargo’s arrival at its destination. This is often different from the consignee.

Port of Loading (POL):

POL refers to the port where cargo is loaded onto the shipping vessel.


The transfer of goods from one mode of transport to another during the journey from the origin to the destination.