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For the purpose of this Code, the following is defined:

Absolute humidity of air

Actual amount of water vapour in the air, measured in g/m3 or g/kg.


Refers to the edges or walls of the CTU, and surrounds the cargo deck.

Cargo deck

The area within the CTU boundaries onto which packages may be placed and secured.

Cargo transport unit (CTU)

A freight container, swap body, vehicle, railway wagon or any other similar unit in particular when used in intermodal transport.


The party who, in a contract of carriage, undertakes to perform or to procure the performance of carriage by rail, road, sea, inland waterway or by a combination of such modes. Can be further classified as:

  • Road haulier;
  • Rail operator;
    • Shipping line.

Clean CTU

A CTU free from:

  • Any previous cargo residues;
  • Any securing materials used from previous consignments;
  • Any marks, placards or signs associated with previous consignments;
  • Any detritus (waste) that may have accumulated in the CTU;
  • Visible pests and other living or dead organisms, including any part, gametes, seeds, eggs or propagules of such species that may survive and subsequently reproduce; soil; organic matter;
    • All other items covered by contamination, infestation and invasive alien species that can be discovered upon visible inspection.

Closed CTU

A CTU which totally encloses the contents by permanent structures with complete and rigid surfaces. CTUs with fabric sides or tops are not considered as closed cargo transport units.


Conversion of water vapour into a liquid state. Condensation usually starts when air is cooled down to its dew point in contact with cold surfaces.


The party to whom a cargo is consigned under a contract of carriage or a transport document or electronic transport record.

Also known as the receiver.


The party who prepares a consignment for transport. If the consignor contracts the transport operation with the carrier, the consignor will undertake the function of the shipper and may also be known as:

  • The shipper (maritime);
    • The sender (road transport).


The party performing a consolidation service for others.


Visible forms of animals, insects or other invertebrates (alive or dead, in any lifecycle stage, including egg casings or rafts), or any organic material of animal origin (including blood, bones, hair, flesh, secretions, excretions); viable or non-viable plants or plant products (including fruit, seeds, leaves, twigs, roots, bark); or other organic material, including fungi; or soil, or water; where such products are not the manifested cargo within the CTU.

Corrosion threshold

A relative humidity of 40% or more will lead to an increasing risk of corrosion of ferrous metals.

Crypto climate in the CTU

State of relative humidity of the air in a closed CTU, which depends on the water content of the cargo or materials in the CTU and on the ambient temperature.

CTU Code

IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTUs).

CTU operator

The party who owns or operates the CTU and provides empty CTUs to the consignor/shipper/packer.

Daily temperature variation in the CTU

Rise and fall of temperature in accordance with the times of day and often exaggerated by radiation or other weather influences.

Dew point of air

Temperature below the actual temperature at which a given relative humidity would reach 100%.


Bladder used for the transport and/or storage of a non-regulated liquid inside a CTU.

Form locking

A method for cargo securing and means that the cargo is completely stowed against the boundaries of a CTU. The empty space between the cargo units and between the cargo and the boundaries should be minimized. The boundaries should be strong enough to absorb the normal forces that occur during transport.

Freight container

An article of transport equipment that is of a permanent character and accordingly strong enough to be suitable for repeated use; specially designed to facilitate the transport of goods, by one or other modes of transport, without intermediate reloading: designed to be secured and/or readily handled, having fittings for these purposes, and approved in accordance with the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC), 1972, as amended. The term “freight container” includes neither vehicle nor packaging; however a freight container that is carried on a chassis is included.

Freight forwarder

The party who organizes shipments for individuals or other companies and may also act as a carrier. When the freight forwarder is not acting as a carrier, it acts only as an agent, in other words as a third-party logistics provider who dispatches shipments via carriers and that books or otherwise arranges space for these shipments.

Grappler arms

Hydraulically operated arms attached to a spreader device or frame that can be used to lift CTUs using specially designed grapple arm sockets built into the base frame of the CTU.

Hygroscopicity of cargo

Property of certain cargoes or materials to absorb water vapour (adsorption) or emit water vapour (desorption) depending on the relative humidity of the ambient air.


Presence in a package or CTU of a visible living pest that may cause harm to the recipient environment. Infestation includes pathogens, (virus, bacterium, prion or fungus) that may cause infection of plants and/or animals and which can be discovered upon visible inspection.

Intermodal operator

The party who provides a service to transfer and/or stow CTUs. May be subdivided into:

  • Maritime terminal operator;
  • Rail terminal;
    • Inland waterway port.

Invasive alien species

An alien (non-native) species whose introduction and/or spread threatens biological diversity "Alien species" refers to a species, subspecies or lower taxon, introduced outside its natural past or present distribution; includes any part, gametes, seeds, eggs, or propagules of such species that might survive and subsequently reproduce. It includes pests and quarantine pests of non-native origin.

Invasive alien species may be carried within and on a wide range of substrates, both organic and inorganic.

Misdeclared cargo

A cargo transported in a CTU which is different from that declared on the transport documents.

Misdeclared gross mass

A CTU where the combined mass of the cargo and the CTU is different from the mass declared on the transport/shipping documents. See also overloaded and overweight.

Mould growth threshold

A relative humidity of 75% or more will lead to an increasing risk of mould growth on substances of organic origin like foodstuff, textiles, leather, wood, ore substances of non-organic origin such as pottery.

Non-regulated goods

Substances and articles that are not covered by the applicable dangerous goods transport regulations.


A CTU where the combined mass of the cargo and the CTU is greater than the maximum permitted gross mass.


An enclosure used by a single shipper to contain one or more packages and to form one unit for convenience of handling and stowage during transport.

Examples of overpacks are a number of packages either:

  • Placed or stacked on to a load board such as a pallet and secured by strapping, shrink-wrapping, stretch-wrapping or other suitable means; or
    • Placed in a protective outer packaging such as a box or crate.


A CTU where the combined mass of the cargo and the CTU is less than the maximum permitted gross mass but exceeds either:

  • The maximum gross mass shown on the transport/shipping documents; or
    • The road or rail maximum masses when combined with the tare of the container carrying vehicle.


The complete product of the packing operation, consisting of the packaging and its contents as prepared for transport;


Receptacles and any other components or materials necessary for the receptacle to perform its containment function.


The party that loads, places or fills the cargo within or on the CTU; the packer may be contracted either by the consignor, by the shipper, by the freight forwarder or by the carrier; if the consignor or the shipper packs a CTU within his own premises, the consignor or the shipper is also the packer.


The placing, loading and filling cargo into and onto a CTU.


Any visible species, strain or biotype of plant, animal or pathogenic agent injurious to plants or plant products.

Quarantine pest

A pest of potential economic importance to the area endangered thereby and not yet present there, or present but not widely distributed and being officially approved.


The result of pests and other living organisms (including their nests, eggs, egg sacks, and body parts) being found in or on a clean CTU.

Reinforced vehicle body

Vehicle body, having a reinforced structure (in Europe, complies with European standard EN 12642, paragraph 5.3).

Relative humidity of air

Actual absolute humidity expressed as percentage of the saturation humidity at a given temperature.

Roll-on/roll-off ship (ro‑ro)

A method of maritime cargo service using a vessel with ramps which allows wheeled vehicles to be loaded and discharged without cranes. Also refers to any specialized vessel designed to carry ro-ro cargo.

Saturation humidity of air

Maximum possible humidity content in the air depending on the air temperature.


A piece of sawn timber, such as a batten, that has a small cross section.

Set point

Temperature setting on the controller of the refrigeration unit.

Shelf life

The recommended period that a perishable product may be retained in a saleable condition during which the defined quality of a specified proportion of the goods remains acceptable under expected (or specified) conditions of distribution, storage and display.


The party named on the bill of lading or waybill as shipper and/or who concludes a contract of carriage (or in whose name or on whose behalf a contract of carriage has been concluded) with a carrier.

Also known as the sender.


Main beam of a rail wagon/car.

Standard vehicle body

Vehicle body, without reinforced structure (in Europe, complies with European standard EN 12642, paragraph 5.2), which, depending on cargo weight and friction, requires additional securing of cargo using lashing equipment.

Storage life

The period that the product is kept at the lowest possible temperature starting soonest after picking/harvesting and ending at the time that the product is taken out the refrigerated conditions for delivery to consumers at which time the shelf life period starts.

Unit load

Palletized load or prepacked unit with a footprint conforming to pallet dimensions and suitable for loading into an CTU. See also unitized cargo.

Unitized cargo

A single item or a number of items packaged, packed, or arranged in a specified manner and capable of being handled as a unit. Unitization may be accomplished by placing the item or items in an overpack or by banding them securely together. Also known as a unit load.


The removal of cargo from a CTU.

Ventilated container

Closed type of container, similar to a general purpose freight container but designed to allow air exchange between its interior and the outside atmosphere. Has a ventilating system designed to accelerate and increase the natural convection of the atmosphere within the container as uniformly as possible, either by non-mechanical vents at both the upper and lower parts of their cargo space, or by internal or external mechanical means.

Water content of cargo

Latent water and water vapour in a hygroscopic cargo or associated material, usually stated as percentage of the wet mass of cargo.