Liner Terms

Every piece of cargo we transport is carried under certain conditions of carriage, which are the terms that specify how and where the costs for loading and unloading are levied. These conditions tend to depend on how the individual ports prefer to pass on their cargo handling charges. This varies from country to country and port to port, so be sure to contact us for up-to-date clarification.

Some of the most commonly used terms are:


  • Free In (FI) – when discussing liner terms it is useful to think of the term ‘free’ to mean ‘not included’ or ‘free of expenses to the vessel’. As such when a shipment is booked ‘Free In’, the shipper is responsible for the cost of loading the cargo onto the vessel.
  • Free Out (FO) – this indicates that the consignee or recipient is responsible for the cost of unloading the cargo from the vessel at the destination port.
  • Free In and Out (FIFO) – this term indicates that the carrier/shipping line is not responsible for the costs associated with either loading or unloading the cargo onto or off the vessel.
  • Liner terms (LILO) – charges for both loading and unloading of the cargo are charged to the vessel owners or their agents. In these circumstances, the costs are passed on to the clients as a Terminal Handling Charge (THC).

Combinations of the above terms are also common. For example, if the port of loading is a Liner Terms port but the port of discharge is a Free Out port, the shipment would be considered to be LIFO. In practice, there are fewer problems and delays in the ports of Liner terms. The THC is a part of the carrier’s tariff and is agreed with the client in advance.