Whether its law, medicine, building or architecture, every industry has its own dictionary of terms and jargon that can seem impenetrable to lay people and those coming to the industry for the first time.

However, understanding the industry-specific terms used is important if you want to ensure that you’re getting the exact service you require, otherwise you could find yourself confused and unsure of what exactly you’re paying for.

When it comes to technical jargon, the parcel industry is no different, with a lot of terms and phrases bandied about that most of us don’t understand. So if you’re planning a foray into the world of parcel sending soon, here are some terms and phrases to watch out for.


Like other industries, the parcel industry has its fair share of jargon

Although not unique to the parcel industry, you’re likely to come across the term surcharge if you fail to label, weigh or declare everything that you’re sending properly.

Normally this will be because you’ve calculated your payments incorrectly. So always check with your courier company if you’re unsure how your item should be sent.

Customs / import charges

Customs and import charges normally apply when sending parcels outside of the EU.

They are generally incurred when people fail to declare the value of the items that they’re sending or the exact nature of the items.

However, as import charges are usually paid by the recipient, you shouldn’t have to worry about this term too much.

European road freight

There are many different ways to send your parcels around the world, and one of the cheapest – in Europe anyway – is to send them by road.

This means that parcels are collected from the courier and loaded onto lorries or vans which are then driven to regional depots across the continent. From there they are sent out to smaller sorting offices and finally to their destinations.

Although this method does take slightly longer than air freight, it can be significantly cheaper so is a good option for those whose deliveries aren’t urgent and most countries in the EU are delivered between 2 to 6 working days.

Sea freight

Sea freight is normally used when non-urgent packages are being sent very large distances like from Europe to China or Australia.

Like road freight, sea freight is a longer process than air freight, but if your parcels are large or heavy can be a much cheaper option.

Air freight

Understanding what all of the terms mean will ensure that you get the service you need

Of all of the transport methods, air freight is by far the fastest and allows most packages to be delivered to any destination around the world within a couple of days.

This method is ideal for small, urgent packages, and normally has more predictable delivery times and tracking capabilities.

Working days

When you’re quoted a delivery estimate by people in the parcel industry, they’ll normally use working days to calculate how long your parcel will be in transit.

This always means Monday to Friday, and doesn't include bank holidays, although if your delivery is urgent, Saturday services may be possible at an increased price.

Next day delivery

Next day delivery means that your parcel will be delivered to its recipient the day after it is sent.

However, some courier companies have a time limit on their next day services so may only be able to offer a guaranteed service to parcels collected before a certain time.

It’s also important to check whether your parcel has a ‘guaranteed by’ delivery time, as otherwise it could be delivered anywhere up to 5pm.

Understanding the jargon and terms used in the parcel industry will help you to understand the service that you’re using and what you can expect from it.

But remember, if you’re ever unsure of exactly what you’re paying for; always contact your service provider to find out the details.