Freight Glossary


Adjustments - Any discrepancy between the actual shipment and what is stated on the bill of lading. These can result in additional charges from the carriers.

Agent - A person who transacts business on behalf of another person or company with full or limited decision-making authority.

Axle Load - Each freight shipping transport has a weight limit. The axle load refers to the weight limit permitted for each axle over the nation's highways.


Back Haul - The second half of a carrier's round trip in which the freight shipping cost is less than the first half. The second half can be referred to as the back haul rate.

Beneficial Owner - This is a rail term that refers to the actual owner of the lading being shipped.

Bill of Lading (BOL) - The bill of lading or BOL is the contract between shipper and carrier, broker or agent that binds the parties together and defines all aspects of the freight shipping arrangement including what is being shipped, to whom and more.

Blocking - Also known as bracing, refers to wood or other supports used to keep shipments in place on trailers or in containers.

Blind Shipment - When the shipper and receiver are not aware of one another, the freight shipment is called a blind shipment. In such cases, the bill of lading lists the party that paid for the shipment as the shipper or receiver of the freight shipment.

Bogie - This is a rail term that refers to a frame with wheels on which a container is mounted for over-the-road transport.

Broker - A person who makes freight shipping arrangements on behalf of a person or company. The broker has experience in the industry and negotiates the best possible shipping rates on behalf of the client.

Brokerage License - A broker gains this in order to have the ability to make land, sea and air freight shipping arrangements.

Bonded Carrier-A transportation provider by U.S. Customs to carry Customs-controlled merchandise between Customs points.

Bulk Freight - Freight that is not contained within packages or containers is referred to as bulk freight.


Carrier - A person or company who transports freight for a fee.

Cartage - A trucking term that refers to shipping freight within the same city or area.

Chassis - A rail term that refers to a frame with wheels and locking devices to secure a container during shipping.

Claim-A "Cargo Claim" is a demand made on a transportation company for payment for goods allegedly lost or damaged while the shipment was in the transportation provider's possession. Pursuant to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) Uniform Bill of Lading, all cargo claims must be filed within 9 months.

Classification - A freight classification assigned to an article for the purpose of applying transportation charges. This is used for less that truckload (LTL) shipments.

COD-A shipment for which the transportation provider is responsible for collecting the sale price of the goods shipped before delivery.

Common Carrier - A carrier that can be hired by anyone to transport goods.

Concealed Loss - When the recipient of a package is not able to see damage to the item(s) until the package is opened. The damage was not visible at the time of delivery

Consignee - The receiver of a freight shipment.

Consolidation - When two or more shipments are combined to save money on freight shipping costs.

Container - A container looks like a truck trailer with no wheels and is now among the most common freight shipping methods in the United States and abroad. Containers are used for intermodal shipping and come in standard sizes to ensure they fit on standard trucks, rail cars and container ships.

Cross-Town - When a container or trailer is delivered from one railroad as part of the shipping route, the move is called cross-town shipping.

Cubic Capacity - The total freight load capacity of any truck, train or ship is measured in cubic feet, and therefore the carrying capacity is known in the industry as cubic capacity.

Customs Broker - A person or company who is licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department to act on behalf of freight importers and exporters with respect to U.S. Customs transactions.


Delivery Receipt-Document a consignee or its agent dates and signs at delivery, stating the condition of the goods at delivery. The driver takes the signed delivery receipt to the terminal for retention. The customer retains the remaining copy.

Dispatch-The act of sending a driver on his/her assigned route with instructions and required shipping papers.

Dock-A platform, generally the same height as the trailer floor, where trucks are loaded and unloaded.


Embargo - An embargo is any event that prevents the freight from being accepted or handled. Embargo events include floods, tornadoes or congested highways.

Exceptions - When a problem such as shortage or damage is noted at the time of delivery, an exception is noted on the delivery sheet before it is signed to designate there was a problem with the shipment.

Exempt Product-Products that are exempt from federal regulation, such as agricultural and forestry products.


Gross Vehicle Weight - The total weight of the transport and its cargo is called the gross vehicle weight or GVW.


Hazardous Material-Hazardous materials are defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation in accordance with the Federal Hazardous Material Law. A substance or material may be designated as hazardous if the transportation of the material in a particular amount and form poses an unreasonable risk to health and safety or property.

Hazardous material may include: an explosive, radioactive material, etiologic agent, flammable or combustible liquid or solid, poison, oxidizing or corrosive material, and compressed gas. For more general information, go to the U.S. DOT website at http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/hazmat.


In Bond -Shipments move under bond from point of entry to an interior U.S. destination for clearance or to another border location for clearance.

Inbound Freight - Shipments coming from vendors to a storage facility.

Interchange of Interline - The transfer of freight from one carrier to another.

Intermodal Transportation - When freight is shipped using two or more modes of transportation. This typically refers to truck-rail-truck shipments.


Less-Than-Truckload (LTL)-LTL shipments typically weigh between 151 and 20,000 lb (68 and 9,072 kg) or 1 to 6 pallet spaces. Less than truckload carriers collect freight from various shippers and consolidate that freight onto enclosed trailers for linehaul to the delivering terminal or to a hub terminal where the freight will be further sorted and consolidated for additional linehauls.

Linehaul-Movement of goods between cities or between freight terminals, particularly between origin terminal and destination terminal (excluding pickup and delivery service).


National Motor Freight Classification(NMFC) -Industry standard tariff published by motor carriers containing rules, descriptions and rating on all products moving in commerce; used to classify goods for the purpose of rating the freight bill. You can obtain more information about shipment classes and the NMFC at www.nmfta.org. To determine your shipment's classification, contact customer service.

Nested - A term used in less than truckload (LTL) shipping in which materials are stacked so that one item goes inside another. Nested freight reduces the amount of space taken up by the combined freight and makes LTL shipping more efficient as a result.

Not Otherwise Indicated (NOI) - A general class rate or NOI is assigned to any freight that has no rate listed in the NMFC.


Pro- An acronym for progressive rotating order; it is a 10-digit number assigned to each shipment and serves as a tracking number.


Tariff - A tariff establishes the cost and contract of freight shipment for the shipper and the carrier.

Through Rate - A through rate applies to the distance between the point of origin and the delivery destination.

Time-Critical - When a freight shipment delivery is set to the earliest possible time.

Time-Definite - Time-definite deliveries guarantee that the delivery will occur on a specific day or time of day.

Transit Time - The total time from pick up to delivery.

Truckload (TL) - A truckload is defined as freight weighing 23,000 pounds or more or that occupies half or more than the trailer's capacity.


Volume Rate - A less than truckload (LTL) term for rates that are made subject to a minimum weight of 7,000 pounds or more, or cubic volume exceeding 750 cubic feet.


Warehousing - Warehousing refers to the storage of goods for a specified period of time.