Charter party (Latin: charta partita; a legal paper or instrument, divided, i.e. written in duplicate so that each party retains half), a written, or partly written and partly printed, contract between a shipowner and a merchant, by which a ship is let or hired for the conveyance of goods on a specified voyage, or for a defined period. A vessel might also be chartered to carry passengers on a journey.
A charter party is the contract between the owner of a vessel and the charterer for the use of a vessel. The charterer takes over the vessel for either a certain amount of time (a time charter) or for a certain point-to-point voyage (a voyage charter), giving rise to these two main types of charter agreement. There is a subtype of time charter called the demise or bareboat charter.
In a time charter, the vessel is hired for a specific amount of time. The owner still manages the vessel but the charterer gives orders for the employment of the vessel, and may sub-charter the vessel on a time charter or voyage charter basis.