It is most important to remember that the "Free" reference is viewed from the Ship Owners point of view - not the Shipper's. Some Shippers get caught out when they read the word "Free" as they incorrectly believe that it refers to them. Freight rates quoted on a FIOS basis specifically exclude all aspects relating to cargo handling operations. The ship is only responsible for expenses arising as a result of the ship calling into the port, i.e. tugs, pilots and light dues etc. Another very important consideration when booking cargo on FIOS terms is that the ship does not bear any responsibility for the speed of loading or discharging. Usually the rate agreed includes a fixed "free" period of time for loading/discharging operations, after which time a daily demurrage is incurred. Obviously this is of paramount importance where port congestion or stevedoring performance is uncertain. There are many overseas ports which fall into this category and particularly where vessel demurrage rates can vary significantly, depending on the size and type of ship nominated to undertake the particular project.
Liner Terms is a very ambiguous statement and can be interpreted in a variety of ways in different ports of the world and by different Ship Owners/Agents. Personally we would prefer to clearly define the extent of responsibility when quoting on this basis.
Given that this is a notional point in chartering terms, this is best described as the Shipper/Receiver arranging for delivery/receival of cargo to/from directly under ships hook and the ship paying for the labour to stow the cargo in the vessels cargo holds, as well as on-board lashing & securing and provision of dunnage materials, and to discharge again over the ship's side. Shore based stevedoring aspects remain the responsibility of the shipper/receiver, however, there are some Owners that may incorporate these costs into their LTHH rate. Once again, ask Owners to clearly define this aspect. Wharfage charges/dues/taxes can be a contentious issue but are usually considered to be for the Shippers/Receivers account and there may also be many other statutory levies on cargo or freight that may apply. Many Shippers/Receivers are unaware of these additional costs and do not include them into their costing and consequently may be left with an unexpected considerable expense at the completion of a project.
This is somewhat a vaguer term given different port practices. However, it generally implies that the freight amount provided includes both shore based and on-board stevedoring, lashing/unlashing, dunnage materials, securing/unsecuring and all costs of presenting to/receiving the cargo from the ship's side; with the shippers/receivers just bearing the cost of discharging from/reloading to the transport, along with the usual port charges/levies/taxes etc. Frequently the terms are varied at different ends of the voyage i.e. FILO (Free In/Liner Out), LIFO (Liner In Free Out) or FIFO (Free In/Free Out) etc. To be absolutely sure of all liabilities, it is always advisable to request that terms clearly and concisely indicate what is/isn't included in your particular contract - in layman's terms.