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Freight Terms: A to Z Glossary

Freight Terms

Looking to learn more about freight terms? Check out our A-to-Z Glossary of freight terms, covering everything from Adjustments to Zone Haulage Rate. Get up to speed with our quick and easy freight terms guide today!



Generally speaking, all costs that weren’t quoted for a variety of reasons. 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, additional unloading hours, equipment, etc.


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

Axle Load

The weight limit permitted per axle.


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 Cargo Owner (BCO)

Refers to the importer of record, who physically takes possession of cargo at destination. And does not act as a third party in the movement of such goods.

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.


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


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.



A person or company who transports freight for a fee.

Carrier Reefer

A carrier reefer refers to a type of transportation equipment specifically designed for the shipment of temperature-sensitive or perishable goods. It is a refrigerated container or trailer that is equipped with a refrigeration system to maintain a controlled and consistent temperature throughout the transportation process. The term “reefer” is derived from the word “refrigerated.” These specialized containers or trailers are commonly used for the transportation of items such as food products, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and other perishable or sensitive goods that require a specific temperature range to preserve their quality and integrity. The carrier reefer ensures that the cargo remains at the required temperature, protecting it from spoilage, degradation, or damage during transit.


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


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


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.


In a contract of carriage, the entity who is financially responsible (the buyer) for the receipt of a shipment. Generally, but not always, the consignee is the same as the receiver


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


Standardized re-sealable transportation box used in land, sea, and rail shipping. The most common sizes are 20-footer & 40-footer.


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.



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


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.


Freight Accruals

Freight accruals refer to the accounting process of estimating and recording expenses related to freight services that have been incurred but not yet paid or invoiced. It involves recognizing the cost of transportation services provided by carriers or logistics providers during a specific period, even if the actual payment has not been made. Freight accruals are typically recorded as a liability on the balance sheet and are adjusted when the actual payment is made or the invoice is received. These accruals enable businesses to accurately reflect their financial obligations and expenses related to freight transportation in their financial statements, even if the payment occurs in a different accounting period.

Freight Audit / Freight Bill Audit

Freight invoice audit is the process of verifying and reviewing freight invoices to ensure their accuracy and adherence to agreed-upon rates and contractual terms.

Freight Audit and Payment

Freight audit and payment is a comprehensive process that involves reviewing, reconciling, and verifying freight invoices, ensuring their accuracy, and facilitating the timely payment of carriers or logistics service providers for their services rendered. It helps businesses streamline financial operations, enhance cost control, and maintain transparency in their freight payment processes.

Freight Audit Services

Freight audit services refer to outsourced professional services provided by specialized companies or service providers that handle the review, validation, and management of freight invoices on behalf of shippers. These services typically involve comprehensive auditing, rate verification, invoice reconciliation, dispute resolution, and reporting to ensure accurate and efficient processing of freight invoices, enabling businesses to optimize their transportation costs and streamline their financial operations.

Freight Audit Software

Freight audit software refers to a specialized digital solution that automates and streamlines the process of reviewing, reconciling, and validating freight invoices, helping businesses ensure accuracy, identify discrepancies, and optimize cost management in their logistics operations.

Freight Payment Reporting

Freight payment reporting refers to the analysis and presentation of data and metrics related to the payment process for freight invoices. It involves compiling and summarizing information about freight invoices, payments made to carriers or logistics service providers, outstanding balances, payment trends, and other relevant financial data. The purpose of freight payment reporting is to provide visibility and insights into the financial aspects of transportation operations, enabling businesses to track expenses, identify cost-saving opportunities, monitor payment accuracy, and make informed decisions to optimize their logistics and supply chain management.

Full Container Load (FCL)

A full container shipment. Typically sent in either a 20′ or a 40′ and contains just one consignee’s goods.

Full Truckload Freight (FTL)

A full or partial load shipment filling up an entire truck.

Fuel Surcharge (FSC)

A fee charged by carriers and trucking companies that covers the fluctuating cost of fuel.


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.


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 Container Load (LCL)

Smaller shipments that don’t require a full 20′ or 40′ container. LCL shipments are often consolidated or combined with shipments from other consignees in order to fill a full container.

LTL Accessorial Charges

LTL accessorial charges are additional fees or surcharges imposed by LTL carriers for extra services or circumstances beyond the standard transportation of a less-than-truckload (LTL) shipment. These charges are applied on top of the base freight rate and are intended to cover specific services, equipment, or situations that require additional resources or effort from the carrier. Examples of LTL accessorial charges include liftgate fees, residential delivery fees, inside delivery fees, appointment fees, fuel surcharges, detention charges, reweigh charges, and others. These charges vary between carriers and can significantly impact the total cost of shipping an LTL shipment, so it’s essential for shippers to be aware of and account for these charges when planning and budgeting for their shipments.

LTL Pricing Index

The LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) Pricing Index is a metric or measurement that tracks and represents the changes in pricing within the LTL freight industry. It provides insight into the prevailing rates and pricing trends for transporting smaller freight shipments that do not require a full truckload. The index takes into account factors such as freight volume, market demand, fuel costs, carrier capacity, and other market dynamics. By monitoring the LTL pricing index, shippers and carriers can assess the market conditions and make informed decisions regarding freight rates, negotiations, and overall cost management strategies.

Less Than Truckload (LTL)

Smaller shipments that don’t require a full truckload. LTL or partial truckload is generally slightly larger parcel shipments (150 lb +) but don’t require the usage of an entire truck.

Logistics Order Management

Logistics order management refers to the end-to-end process of overseeing and coordinating the fulfillment of customer orders within the logistics and supply chain operations of a business. It involves activities such as order creation, order tracking, inventory management, shipment planning, transportation coordination, and order status updates. The goal of logistics order management is to ensure efficient and timely order processing, accurate inventory control, and effective coordination among various stakeholders to meet customer demands and expectations. It plays a crucial role in optimizing the flow of goods, minimizing delays, and providing a seamless customer experience throughout the order fulfillment process.

Logistics Order Management System

A logistics order management system (LOMS) is a software application or platform designed to streamline and automate the various aspects of logistics order management. It provides a centralized platform for businesses to manage and track customer orders, inventory, shipments, and related processes. A LOMS typically includes features such as order creation, order tracking, inventory management, warehouse management, transportation management, and reporting/analytics. It helps businesses improve order accuracy, optimize inventory levels, enhance shipment visibility, streamline communication with suppliers and customers, and overall improve operational efficiency within their logistics and supply chain operations.


Managed Transportation Solution (MTS)

A managed transportation solution is an outsourced service that optimizes and oversees an organization’s transportation operations, including planning, execution, and analysis, to improve efficiency and reduce costs.



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.


Semi Truck

A semi truck, or tractor-trailer, is a heavy-duty truck consisting of a tractor (cab) and a trailer. It is used for long-distance transportation of large quantities of goods.

Shipper of Choice

A shipper of choice is a highly regarded and preferred shipper by carriers due to their reliability, efficiency, fair practices, and strong relationships. Being a shipper of choice brings benefits such as better service, rates, and capacity.

Spot Rate

The price quoted for immediate settlement on a commodity, a security or a currency. The spot rate, also called “spot price,” is based on the value of an asset at the moment of the quote. As a result, spot rates change frequently and sometimes dramatically.

Strategic Carrier Sourcing

Strategic carrier sourcing is the process of carefully selecting and partnering with transportation carriers based on predefined criteria and business objectives. It involves conducting market research, evaluating carrier capabilities, negotiating contracts, and establishing long-term relationships to optimize transportation services, cost-efficiency, and overall supply chain performance. The goal of strategic carrier sourcing is to align transportation resources with the specific needs and goals of the business while ensuring reliable service, competitive pricing, and operational effectiveness.



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.


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


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.

Transportation Management System (TMS)

A Transportation Management System (TMS) is a software solution designed to help businesses manage their transportation operations efficiently. A TMS Transportation Management System can help businesses optimize their logistics processes, reduce costs, improve customer service, and gain real-time visibility into their supply chain.

Truckload Accessorial Charges

Truckload accessorial charges are additional fees applied by carriers for extra services or circumstances beyond standard truckload transportation, such as detention, driver-assist, or expedited service fees.

Truckload Freight (TL)

A truckload is defined as freight weighing 23,000 pounds or more or that occupies half or more of a trailer’s capacity.



Typically, which cargo will be subject to VACIS exams are decided by U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) before arrival of cargo at port of discharge. Authorities at the container terminal make arrangements for CBP to inspect the cargo. VACIS exams can be determined at random, or for suspected or actual law violators

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


A non-negotiable document prepared by or on behalf of the carrier at origin. The document shows origin point, destination, route, consignor, consignee, shipment description and amount charged for the transportation service


Zone Haulage Rate

The rate for which the carrier will undertake the haulage of goods or containers between either the place of delivery and the carrier’s appropriate terminal. Such haulage will be undertaken only subject to the terms and conditions of the tariff and of the carrier’s Combined Transport Bill of Lading.

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LTL Negotiations White Paper

Download our LTL NegoTIATIONS WHITE PAPER today

The goal of any Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) negotiation is to source carriers that will provide great service to your freight, your facilities, your customers, and your suppliers at a fair market price.

However, shippers typically run into trouble when negotiating because they lack the information on how it operates.

To help, we’ve created a white paper on the best practices our experts have accumulated over our 30 years in logistics.

In this guide you will learn:

  • The carriers’ operations and needs
  • The freight data to collect
  • Tips and tricks for negotiating