Moving Glossary: International Moving Terms & What They Mean

Like most specialized businesses, moving companies have their own special language, using terminology developed over many years and borrowing terms from other branches of the transportation industry. This glossary will help you decipher the most common terms movers use.

FCL 20 / FCL 40 Full Container Load (20’ or 40’)

This is a surface (ocean) shipment being shipped in a steel shipping container of either 20 or 40 feet in length

20 ft, 40 ft, 40 ft HC & 45 ft HC Containers, Steel Shipping Containers

These are the standard sizes of steel shipping containers used for overseas moving. The designations refer to the length of the container in feet and, in the case of the containers designated “HC” or “Hi-Cube”, they refer to a container of greater than standard height

LCL - Less than Container Load:

This refers to ocean shipments that are too small to economically justify a sole-use (FCL) container for shipment. These shipments are normally loaded into liftvans for forwarding to the destination port.


A Liftvan is an industry standard plywood shipping case, usually available in two standard sizes (5.8 and 7.4 cbm exterior volume) which are designed to be lifted by a forklift truck and are used for the transport of LCL shipments and for storage. They are built so that the fit into standard steel shipping containers. When an LCL shipment in a liftvan reaches the departure port, it will be loaded into a steel container with other small LCL shipments which are bound for the same port of entry in the destination country.

NCWT (ncwt) = Net Cent Weight aka. Net Hundred Weight:

The weight of a shipment, after it is packed but not including the shipping container, in 100lbs increments.

GCWT (gcwt) = Gross Cent Weight:  aka. Gross Hundred Weight

The weight of a shipment, after it is packed and including the shipping container, in 100lbs increments. This is normally used in reference to Air Freight LCL surface shipments

CuFt or cft = Cubic Foot:

The volume measurement used in the U.S. 35.31 CFT = 1 CBM.
Cubic feet are used in the U.S., and sometimes in the UK, Commonwealth countries, and in Asia.

CBM or M3 = Cubic Meter


The volume measurement usually used for expressing the packed volume of a shipment in continental Europe.

KG/Vol = Volumetric or Volume Weight

This term in applied to air freight shipments. Airlines charge a per kilogram rate for air freight, but use a minimum weight – volume ratio of 167 kg / Gross Cubic Meter in their pricing. “Gross” volume in this case being the volume of the entire package sent to the airline, including air containers, pallets, etc.

KG/Chgble = Chargeable Weight

This is related to Volume Weight, and is the actual weight in Kg on which the airlines’ charges are based. The chargeable weight is simply the higher of either the actual gross weight or the volume weight.

MWM = Mobelwagenmeter

This German term, which translated means “Moving Van Meter” is a volume unit which equals 5 cubic meters (1 MWM = 5 CBM). This term is a bit dated and has fallen out of usage by most German moving companies which have significant overseas traffic. However a German mover which mostly deals with domestic moves may still use it on their quotations and invoicing, and we therefore include it here.

FEP (Full Export Pack) or FEW (Full Export Wrap)

This is the type of packing that should be utilized by a mover packing a shipment for loading in an overseas container, an air shipment, or for long term storage. Although the methods and types of materials used vary depending from region to region worldwide, the general meaning is that furniture which can be safely disassembled will be, and all pieces will be individually packaged in bubble wrap, cardboard sheet, paper pads or blankets, rolled corrugate and/or combinations of these materials, providing superior protection for the shipment. Additionally, special cartons are used in export packing which are manufactured to specific dimensions and strengths, depending on the intended use of the carton (for example, china cartons, book cartons, etc.). Export packing is also used for over the road moves over long distances, or for certain specific items (antiques, pianos, etc) which are delicate or valuable and require special care.

Exportverpackung / Emballage

German Terms, meaning Export Wrap or Pack

Storage Wrap / Lagerverpackung Aka. Storage Pack

This is a packing method which is comparable to Export Wrap, and is used for shipments which will be stored for longer periods of time

BW or Blanket Wrap Aka. Standard Wrap

This is the most common type of packing method for Domestic and intra continental moves. With this packing method, furniture and large items are wrapped in textile moving blankets and secured in the moving truck with strapping. This is normally an excellent level of protection for over the road shipments which are moving directly from origin to destination without a storage period.

Transport Insurance = Transportversicherung

In most cases, provides door to door “all risks” coverage (even for overseas shipments) for nearly all types of damage, up to the declared “replacement value” of the shipment Transport insurance is usually by far the broadest and most complete protection for a removal. Premium rates for transport insurance vary according to the type of move (domestic, intra-European, overseas). Valued Inventory forms are available from the U-Art representatives to assist you in calculating the declared value of your shipment.