Shipping Terminology and definitions
Like any industry, the world of freight has its own glossary of terms and it's hard to go through any freight brokerage transaction in Canada or the US without encountering a handful of these industry-specific words.
Accessorial charges - Charges made for performing services beyond normal pickup and delivery, such as inside delivery or storage charges.
Adjustments - Any discrepancy between the actual shipment and what is stated on the bill of lading. These can result in additional charges from freight 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.
Bill of Lading (BOL) - A bill of lading is a binding contract that serves three main purposes: a receipt for the goods delivered to the transportation provider for shipment; a definition or description of the goods; and evidence of title to the relative goods, if "negotiable".
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.
Bulk Freight - Freight that is not contained within boxes, packaging or containers of some kind is referred to as bulk freight.
Carrier - A firm that transports goods or people via land, sea, or air for a fee.
Cartage - The movement of cargo locally, within the same city or area.
Consignee - The receiver of a freight shipment.
Consolidation - When two or more shipments are combined to save money on freight shipping costs.
Customs Broker - An individual or company licensed by the government to enter and clear goods through Customs.
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.
Gross Vehicle Weight - The total weight of the transport and its cargo is called the gross vehicle weight or GVW.
Goods: The movable property, merchandise, or wares transported by the carrier.
Highway Trust Fund - A fund into which highway users (carriers and automobile operators) pay; the fund pays for federal government's highway construction share.
Hub-and-Spoke - A transportation system design in which large hub terminals are used for freight consolidation.
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.
LTL - Less-than-truckloads - LTL shipments typically weigh between 151 and 20,000 lb (68 and 9,072 kg). Less than Truckload carriers use "hub and spoke" operations where small local terminals are the spokes ('end of line') and larger more central terminals are the hubs (also called Distribution Centers or DC's). Receive a free LTL shipping quote
Nested - A term used in less than truckload (LTL freight) 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.
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.
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.