Shipping Terms

Most orders are shipped within 4 weeks from receipt of order confirmation. Please allow 3 – 4 weeks transit time to your destination sea port. All products are quoted on an FOB basis for customers that prefer to handle their own shipping. For all others, we offer very competitive shipping rates to your destination port.

Interested in door-to-door service? We offer that too. More details further below. (For terms definitions please read the Shipping Glossary and Shipping Terms below)

We take absolute care to pack and load all orders carefully. Société Générale de Surveillance S.A. (SGS) (or equivalent) inspectors are always present during packing and stuffing of containers while conducting pre-shipment inspections and taking samples to analyze and issue the appropriate certificates. Upon completion, containers are closed and SGS or in-country Customs Agency places an official seal assuring that no tampering occurs.

We offer multiple shipping options: In containers, reefers, bulk, flexi-tanks (in 20 FT containers) and full vessel loads. Powders are shipped in bags; liquids are shipped in bulk only. Bag sizes are available on each product page.

Sigma has negotiated competitive Ocean Shipping rates to allow our products to be delivered to your destination sea port at the lowest possible cost. Although we do not have control on shipping rates, we are always negotiating with the shipping lines to maintain our competitive advantage. Our goal is to always obtain the lowest possible rates.

Door-to-door service – Sigma has partnered with leading U.S. logistics companies to offer you seamless and competitively priced freight rates. From handling the containers at the arriving port to delivering the container to your destination, returning the empty container to the port, to transferring cargo to dry enclosed vans, or rail or all of the above. The ultimate goal is to offer you the best-in-class service at the lowest price point possible and with the least impact to the environment.

The risk of loss and title for all cargo passes to you when the cargo is delivered to the shipping carrier. Claims for damage in transit must be filed with the respective carriers.

Upon shipment you will receive an e-mail indicating loading date, a Non Negotiable copy of the Bill of Lading (B/L) that includes the container numbers and shipping line website link. You can track your shipment with the B/L or container numbers.

Please contact your Customs Broker and notify them of the incoming shipment in order to avoid delays clearing U.S. Customs. If door-to-door service, (worry free service), Sigma and its logistic partners will handle the shipment all the way to your location.

shipping Terms

The following glossary and shipping terms are informational only and not a complete list. For accurate information regarding your own cargo please consult with a qualified customs broker or freight forwarder.

Shipping Glossary and Shipping Terms

Most common ones. Typically used for ocean shipments only.

F.O.B. – Free on Board

Common price terms used in international trade meaning seller is responsible for the cost of goods to the point of loading it to the vessel deck or aircraft loading deck. The risk of loss of or damage to the goods is transferred from the seller to the buyer when the goods have been so delivered. FOB normally comes with port of loading either airport or sea port. e.g. FOB Valparaiso, Chile

Cost and Freight (CFR)

To a named overseas port of import. Under this term, the seller quotes a price for the goods that includes the cost of transportation to the named point of debarkation.e.g. CFR Oakland, California. CFR Plus – Cost delivered all the way. (CFR to Oakland + my destination – e.g. Napa). Good choice if you wish door-to-door service.
CFR Plus is Sigma’s world class service at very competitive rates.

CIF – Cost Insurance & Freight

Cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) to a named overseas port of import. Under this term, the seller quotes a price for the goods (including insurance), all transportation, and miscellaneous charges to the point of debarkation for the vessel.

Bill of Lading (B/L)

Bills of lading are contracts between the owner of the goods and the carrier. The customer (buyer) usually needs the original or a copy as proof of ownership to take possession of the goods.


The person or firm named in a freight contract to whom goods have been consigned or turned over. For export control purposes, the documentation differentiates between an intermediate consignee and an ultimate consignee.


Estimated Time of Departure. The cut-off time for carriers’ cargo ramp handling is normally 3 – 4 days ahead of ETD. However, the freight forwarders’ consolidation cut-off time may vary depending on each forwarder’s operations respectively.

Customs Clearance

The procedures involved in getting cargo released by Customs through designated formalities such as presenting import license /permit, payment of import duties and other required documentations by the nature of the cargo such as USDA or FDA approval.

Customs Invoice

A document, required by some foreign countries’ customs officials to verify the value, quantity, and nature of the shipment, describing the shipment of goods and showing information such as the consignor, consignee, and value of the shipment.

Delivery Instructions

Provides specific information to the inland carrier concerning the arrangement made by the forwarder to deliver the merchandise to the particular pier or steamship line. Not to be confused with Delivery Order which is used for import cargo.

Harmonized System

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (or Harmonized System, HS) is a system for classifying goods in international trade, developed under the auspices of the Customs Cooperation Council. Beginning on January 1, 1989, the new HS numbers replaced previously adhered-to schedules in over 50 countries, including the United States.

Customs Broker

An individual or company licensed by the government to enter and clear goods through Customs.

Customs business is limited to those activities involving transactions with Customs concerning the entry and admissibility of merchandise; its classification and valuation; the payment of duties, taxes, or other charges assessed or collected by Customs upon merchandise by reason of its importation, or the refund, rebate, or drawback thereof.

Marine Cargo Insurance

Broadly, insurance covering loss of, or damage to, goods at sea. Marine insurance typically compensates the owner of merchandise for losses in excess of those which can be legally recovered from the carrier that are sustained from fire, shipwreck, piracy, and various other causes.


A Tax imposed on imports by the customs authority of a country. Duties are generally based on the value of the goods, some other factors such as weight or quantity (specific duties), or a combination of value and other factors (compound duties).

Import License

A Document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods. Also referred as import permit. With such documentation, customs clearance can be conducted.

Ultimate Consignee

The ultimate consignee is the person located abroad who is the true party in interest, receiving the export for the designated end-use.


Estimated Time of Arrival.

FCL and CY

Full Container Load. CY is the abbreviation of Container Yard. When the term CY to CY, it means full container load all the way from origin to destination.

SGS – Société Générale de Surveillance S.A. – International Commodity Inspection Agency.

Note: This is by no means a complete list of terms. Please consult with your Customs Broker or Freight Forwarder for additional information.