Shipping Board Games Terms

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Shipping Board Games Terms

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Once your game is manufactured and ready for delivery, it’s time to box it up and send it to you. Although, the world of shipping can seem confusing with its layered steps and documentation. In this article, we will examine the process of delivery as well as important freight terms and paperwork customers should be aware of when shipping board games.

Different Shipping Contract Between the Manufacturer and Publisher

When shipping your board game, there are multiple steps which a game maker should examine and budget for both time and finances. Let us look at the shipping journey your game will go through, from after the manufacturing process to the designer/publisher.

Shipping Process: The graph above shows all the transport stages during the game development process as well as some three-letter terms (EXW, FOB, CIF, DDI, DDP) which will be described below.

Factory to local port: Once your game is finished being manufactured, it will be packaged and sent by shipping truck to a local shipping port where it will receive exporting documentation and then be loaded onto a cargo ship.

Port of origin to the port of destination: After receiving the documentation, your game will begin its journey across the ocean to its destination port. This will be agreed upon by the customer giving them the most efficient port of entry.

Arrival: Once reaching its point of destination, your game along with all the exporting documentation will be reviewed by customs. Warehousing / Delivery: After passing inspection, the items will be delivered to the choice of warehouse as designated by the customer.


INCOTERMS (International Commercial Terms) tell us at what point the supplier “leaves” the merchandise. After that the customer is legally and economically responsible for their product. From the time of quoting, the customer will know if the product will have other costs or not. That is why it is important for the supplier’s quote to indicate under what terms the goods are defined.

Below that are some three-letter terms involved in the shipping process. We will briefly define these and explain why they are important. These terms allow for fluid communication from port to port as they are international rules and followed in every country.

LCL (Less of the Container Load): A 20-foot container has 26 CBM and your freight is only 3 CBM, so your shipment is considered LCL. The freight company will add your shipment to a container with other shipments to utilize space and fill the container.

FCL (Fill Container Load): This means the entire container is for your shipment regardless of if you fill the container or only ship one box.

The following abbreviations will be found on your initial quote, so it is important to understand your shipping responsibilities as the customer before agreeing on the contract.

EXW (ExWorks): EXW is based on the finished product being picked up by the customer from the factory. 

The price does not have any added transportation or taxes since the manufacturer indicates that the merchandise is in its factory and ready to be picked up. After manufacturing is complete, the average storage time allowance is 2 weeks, after the that the factory will charge the customer storage fees.

The seller can send the finished product to the local warehouse, but afterwards the shipping agreement is considered fulfilled. Customers will be responsible for all exporting costs and logistics, including short and long-distance transfers and any tax or customs expenses after the initial delivery from the seller.

FOB (Free on Board): A freight agent assists in booking a warehouse at the port of departure in China. After the factory finishes the production, your games will be delivered directly to port. 

This is perhaps one of the most common terms since it does not depend on the destination of the merchandise. The manufacturer will transport the product to the point of origin that the buyer indicated in the final manufacturing agreement, but after reaching the exporting port, the product is the buyer’s responsibility. 
FOB and the port of origin are generally agreed upon during the quoting phase. For example, if you live in Vancouver Canada and the FOB is Shanghai, the seller will deliver your products to Shanghai. From there, it is up to you on how to get your delivery from Shanghai to Vancouver.

CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight): The factory is responsible for sending your freight to the destination port, including all fees and insurance (depending on the agreement).

The merchandise is deposited in the port where the client is located or the destination port. The shipping expenses are covered by the seller, but this is included in the quoted price beforehand so that the buyer has already paid for these costs.

DDU (AKA DDI) (Delivered Duty Unpaid) – This method allows for the factory to send the freight directly to your door but does not include duty, VAT, and customs fees.

The seller will deliver the goods to the import location requested by the seller. Shipping is included in the price, but customs cost is paid separately by the buyer.

DDP (Delivered Duty Paid): All inclusive. The Factory will delivery direct from China to your choice of destination and take care of all fees (duty, VAT, customs, insurance). For Small publishers, DDP is the ideal shipping method based on its simplicity.

This is the famous total Landing cost. All costs all paid upfront. This number lets you know when your game will be available for local distribution. 

DDU and DDP are similar in that they both have all the transportation costs included to the door of the designer or publisher. The only difference are customs charges. 
DDI (Delivered Dispatch Import): This option does not have customs costs included in its prices, which are the buyer’s responsibility (usually, a customs agent must be used to resolve this). 

However, the cost of shipping the merchandise from the port (or airport) to the destination is already included. You already have the total number of what the transport leaves as far as you have decided, worse still, you must resolve the issue of imports and the costs that this import has.


A common acronym used when calculating shipping chargeable shipping weight is CBM (Cubic Meter). One cubic meter is equal to 1 meter long, 1 meter wide, and one meter high. The typical 20-foot cargo container measures at about 33 CBM and can hold around 25-28 CBM or game units (about 8 pallets). Pricing will vary depending on your game box dimensions and packing size.

To give you an idea of how much shipping your product might cost, customers can use the following formula and compare it to shipping company prices:

When measuring in meters: Length x Width x Height = CBM

Measuring in inches: Length x Width x Height = CBI

*Divide the CBI by 61,024 to convert inches to meters

Common Shipping Documentation

Bill of Lading – This document serves as a receipt and identifier of the shipment provided by the shipping carrier. It provides the details of the good, how many units, and the destination. Air, sea, and ground shipments will all have a bill of lading. This is the primary document used for communication by the shipping companies and customs while your goods are in transit.Below is an example of a bill of lading issued by ConsolTainer Line Transport (CLT) located on the document by the logo and contact information. The consigner is the manufacturer (in this case Hero Time). The customer receiving the items is referred to as the consigneeThe Bill of Lading Number is the number the freight company will use to track your shipment. Additionally, we can find the name ofvesselport of discharge and port of delivery on the left side located under the notify address. Finally, at the very bottom are the cargo details including quantityweightCBMs, and contents.

Insurance Policy – If you’ve ever sent a package through the mail, you have probably been asked how much are the contents worth and if you want insurance. Freight insurance is the same premise. It protects the customer against any type of financial loss due to damage, theft, or unexpected events during the shipping process. It is recommended for all customers to retain insurance to ensure your products and financially protected.

This is by far one of the most important pieces of documentation to have, which can save you a lot of stress and headaches. The cargo transportation insurance policy provides a policy number, invoice number, name of the ship, airplane, or truck and departure/destination.

At the bottom of the document are instructions for filing a claim, the documentation needed to file a claim, along with contact information for the insurance company and official stamp of approval. We advise you to keep these policies in a safe or deposit box at the bank until confirmed receipt of your shipment.

Invoice – An invoice is similar to a bill of lading in that it lists the freight contents, quantity, and destination, but it also contains information about the payment. It is the official billing document. For example, it would be the official receipt from Hero Time addressed to the customer. This is what you will keep with your company records for accounting and tax purposes.

Packaging List – Similar to when you buy an item at a store that needs assembly and the instructions give you a list of what should be in the box. It is a simpler form of shipping document.

As you can see from the example below, this is a very basic document. Along with both the seller and buyer contact information, it provides the quantity of games, cartons, how many games per carton, the measurements, weight, and brief description.


There are many aspects to learn about when it comes to shipping board games, but Hero Time is here for you every step of the way. In addition, Hersh and I have made a podcast on shipping, which is also very interesting if you want to know more about the logistics of the game shipping process. In addition to more terminology, we further analyze other aspects of shipping. It is important to remember the shipping process has nothing to do with what is known as fulfillment (34:50).

Hero Time will help you plan an affordable and efficient means of shipping your board game without any major delays. Remember: We make it right!

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