Understanding freight shipping terms and definitions.
We used our extensive logistics knowledge and experience to create a straightforward guide to shipping and logistics terminology. Whether you’re new to the freight industry or want to brush up on freight terms, our shipping dictionary is your go-to resource. It covers the terms you need to know to understand the freight shipping process from start to finish.
Adjustments - Costs incurred after a shipment has delivered. These costs can be added for a discrepancy between the freight characteristics quoted and the delivered shipment details of weight, class and dimensions, or may be accrued for additional services performed such as a liftgate.
Agent - A person who transacts business on behalf of another person or company with full or limited decision-making authority.
Axle Load - Freight shipping equipment has weight limits. The axle load refers to the weight limit permitted for each axle over the nation's highways.
Back Haul - The return trip of a truck transporting cargo or freight. It may be a return to the origin of the freight hauled in which the carrier is willing to offer a discount to secure freight for the trip.
Beneficial Owner - This is a rail term that refers to the actual owner of the freight 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 and to whom.
Blocking and 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 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.
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.
Classification - A freight classification assigned to an article for the purpose of applying transportation charges. This is used for less that truckload (LTL) shipments.
Common Carrier - A carrier that can be hired by anyone to transport goods, typically hauling less than truckload freight.
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.
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.
Inbound Freight - Shipments coming from vendors to a storage facility.
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.
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.
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 of a 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.