What Is ETA and ETS in shipping?

Those in the shipping or supply chain business may be familiar with the acronyms, ETA and ETS.

Organizations and businesses depend on ETA and ETS for their planning and scheduling.


This article explains ETA and ETS in shipping and provides other related information.

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What is ETA and ETS in Shipping?

ETA in shipping stands for Expected or Estimated Time of Arrival.

ETA is the estimated arrival time of the ocean carrier or cargo or transport vessel at a port.


ETA also means the expected date of arrival of an ocean carrier or cargo.

The ETA is mostly unpredictable because of cases of early arrivals of vessels and cargo.

Estimated Time of Sailing (ETS) indicates the time a vessel is estimated to depart from a specific terminal or port.

This term is only used for shipment of goods and people via seas or oceans.


ETS is similar to Estimated Time of Departure (ETD) because they  indicate the time for transportation from a specific station or port. 

The difference is that ETD covers all aspects of transportation while ETS is only used for the ocean and sea transportation.

ETA and ETS are dates in shipping and doesn’t depend on the ocean carrier, clearing or freight agent.

Where To Find ETA and ETS of a shipment?

The estimated time of arrival and sailing is usually found in the booking confirmation from the ocean carrier or freight agent.

The booking confirmation conforms the booking of cargo by ship.

The confirmation has the booking confirmation number, quantity and type of load to be shipped, the type of container for the cargo to be used for the shipping and the travel plans.

The ETA and ETS of the carrier is found in the travel plans.

ETA and ETS is usually found in shipping schedules provided by the port and in arrival report sent to ship owners.

Confirmation of Booking

The booking confirmation is a contract between the carrier and the shipper confirming the cargo being shipped.

The booking confirmation number is found in all documents relating to shipping.

A booking confirmation of a cargo contains the following information:

  • Booking party
  • Booking confirmation number
  • Shipper name
  • Dangerous goods information
  • ETS
  • Vessel name
  • ETA
  • Cargo number and description
  • Date of booking
  • Place to return empty cargo
  • Authorized signature

Factors Affecting ETA and ETS

ETA and ETS depends on various factors including the ship’s schedule, condition of various ports and time stops for maintenance of ship.

The ETA and ETS of a carries can be changed due to the above factors.

These factors are classified as shore side and ship related factors. 

Shore side factors are factors that affects the sailing of the vessel from a specific port.

Factors affecting ETS include:

  • Traffic congestion
  • Maintenance of ship
  • Port inspection
  • Availability of labour
  • Availability of cargoes
  • Efficiency of cargo port
  • Infrastructure breakdown 

Ship-related factors are factors that affects the arrival of the vesse

Factors affecting ETA includes:

  • Weather delay
  • Ship break down on route
  • Traffic congestion
  • Berth availability
  • Anchorage time

How do you calculate ETA and ETS In Shipping?

Although ETA and ETS are estimated time, the Actual Time of Sailing (ATS) and Actual Time of Arrival (ATA) shows the actual time of sailing and arrival of a vessel at the port.

The difference between ETS and ATS, and ETA and ATA is calculated and corrected.

ATS and ATA are used in calculating lead time, inventory forecast, manufacturing process and project management.

Other Shipping Terms and Acronyms 

Other shipping term and acronym includes:

  • ETB

ETB means Estimated Time of Birthing.

It is the date and time at which a ship is expected to berth at a specific port or terminal.

It is usually found in pre-arrival documents sent to ships.

  • ETC

ETC means Estimated Time of Completion.

This is the estimated date and time that a ship is expected to finish it’s cargo operations.

  • FCL

FCL means Full Container Load.

This is one of the types of Container Services in shipping.

This means that the container has cargo that is shipped and to be delivered to only one person.

  • LCL

LCL means Less than Container Load.

This is one of the types of Container Services in shipping.

This means that the same container has cargoes from multiple shippers to multiple consignees.

  • CFS

CFS means Container Freight Station.

This is the line packing station where clients deliver their cargoes to.

  • Consolidation

This is the act of collecting LCL cargoes from various shippers and packing into one container.

The consolidators or groupage operators handles this task.

  • Port

In simple shipping terms, this means the left side of the ship.

  • Starboard

In simple shipping terms, this means the right side of the ship.

  • MSDS

This means Material Safety Data Sheet.

This is a form that contains all information relating to dangerous cargoes.

  • MBL

This means Master Bill of Lading.

This is used in freight forwarding.

  • HBL

This means House Bill of Lading.

This is used in freight forwarding.

  • SLAC

This means Shippers Load Stow and Count.

This is used mainly in containers shipping.


This means Non Vessel Operating Common Carrier.

  •  STC

This means Said To Contain.

STC is found on bills of lading of containers cargo.

It means that the cargoes in the container cannot be verified.

  • BAF

This means Bunker Adjustment Factor.

This is a charge levy to cover the cost of fuel on the ship.

  • CAF

CAF means Currency Adjustment Factor.

It is a surcharge by certain countries on their routes to cover the difference between their currency and major currencies.

  • ISPS

ISPS means International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code.

This requires government to carry out port facility security assessments and plans.

  • VGM

VGM means SOLAS Verified Gross Mass. 

This means each container is to have it’s weight checked before exporting.


SOLAS Convention is one of the convention of International Maritime Organisation.

SOLAS specifies the safety standards for operation of ships and equipment.


MARPOL is the main International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.

MARPOL covers the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships either by accident or other causes.

  • BCO

BCO means Beneficial Cargo Owner.

This means that a cargo owner could also be an exporter, importer, seller or buyer.

  • Smart Container

This is a container that has time sensors to track it’s location and movement.

Have a great day


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