A Dictionary of Shipping Terms

Setting up an ecommerce business isn’t always easy – and when it comes to shipping, the words and acronyms we hear often leave us scratching our heads. To help clarify this “ship speak,” we’ve compiled a list of the most common shipping terms and what they mean. That way, you can have a better understanding of what you’re doing when setting up your business’s shipping operations.

Without further ado, here are the (selective) ABC’s of shipping.


  • APO/FPO/DPO – This acronym stands for Army Post Office (APO), Fleet Post Office (FPO) and Diplomatic Post Office (DPO). You often see it in conjunction with shipping to a military address.

Fun fact: Only the U.S. Postal Service can ship to APO/FPO/DPO addresses (both domestically and internationally). 


  • Commercial Base Pricing (CBP): These are discounted postage prices for certain USPS mail classes available to PC postage users.

People who use PC postage save the Postal Service time and money, which is returned through the CBP discount. Those who use Endicia receive this discount automatically.

  • Commercial Plus Pricing (CPP) – Similar to Commercial Base Pricing, these are discounted postage prices for certain USPS mail classes. However, the savings are even deeper than CBP and are available only to qualified high-volume shippers. Endicia customers who qualify receive this discount automatically.

To see if you qualify for Commercial Plus Pricing, visit our latest price change information page.

  • Commercial Invoice: This is a document provided by a shipper sending goods across international borders. Although there is no standard format, the document must have a few standard pieces of information, such as the goods being transported and the country of manufacture. The commercial invoice is often used by governments to control imports.
  • COD (Collect on Delivery): When payment of a parcel is made at the time of delivery rather than in advance.


  • Duty – A tax collected on imports and some exports by the customs authorities of a country.
  • DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid): An international transaction where the sender is responsible for paying for the package’s shipping cost and the recipient is responsible for paying the duty and any other clearing expenses.
  • DDP (Delivered Duty Paid): An international transaction where the sender pays for the shipping, duties, taxes and any other expenses incurred while shipping the goods. In other words, the recipient doesn’t pay any duty or other expenses upon delivery.


  • Extended/Delivery Area Surcharge: A charge applied to shipments to and from less populated or accessible areas. The rate depends on your shipping carrier, and may include residential areas.

Fun fact: The USPS does not apply these surcharges. It can reach any U.S. residential and commercial address (plus PO Boxes) any day of the week – without any hidden fees!

  • E-USPS DELCON INTL (Electronic USPS Delivery Confirmation International): An optional service available for First-Class Package International Service items, which gives tracking information to the sender. Here’s more information.


  • PC Postage: A USPS-approved third-party vendor software that mailers and shippers can use to buy and print postage using a computer. Endicia is a good example of PC Postage vendor.
  • Private carrier: A privately-owned company that transports goods. UPS and FedEx are examples of private carriers.


  • Retail Price: The standard counter price for postage at the Post Office™ or other physical retail locations.
  • Restricted Delivery: A USPS service that ensures that mail is delivered only to a specific addressee or the addressee’s authorized agent. This is designed for sensitive mail such as confidential legal documents, important contracts, classified documents and more.

What other shipping terms leave you befuddled? Let us know by leaving a comment and we’ll add your definition here!

And for more insight, check out our ecommerce tips and trends page.

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