Understanding LTL Shipping Terms: A Quick Guide

Image of a forklift carrying a pallet of boxes

Unlock the essentials of LTL shipping with our comprehensive guide!

Shipping has its own language, full of terms that might seem confusing at first. But don’t worry, we’re here to simplify it for you with our comprehensive LTL Shipping Terms Guide. Whether you’re shipping a big load or just a few items, understanding these terms is essential for a smooth shipping experience.

From accessorial services that cover extra steps in shipping to electronic Bill of Lading (eBOL), which is just a digital shipping form, our guide breaks down the essentials. Learn about freeze protection for cold-sensitive items and why guaranteed service might be necessary, saving you time and stress along the way.

Accessorial Services

This term refers to any transportation service that extends beyond standard dock-to-dock delivery, often requiring unique equipment or handling, such as liftgates for delivery to non-commercial locations or specialized arrangements for inside pickup and delivery.

Additional Service Fees

Fees applied for services that exceed standard delivery and pickup operations, including but not limited to, inside delivery or storage fees.

Axle Weight

The total weight distributed across each axle of a vehicle on the road.

Bill of Lading (BOL)

A crucial document in shipping that outlines the specifics of the cargo, including origin, destination, payer information, and contents. It must be provided to the carrier at the time of pickup for LTL shipments.

Blind Shipment Charge

A blind shipment occurs when the identity of the shipper is concealed from the consignee. This practice is typically employed when a customer prefers to keep the source of the product confidential.

Bracing and Blocking

Methods using wood or other materials to secure cargo within a container or on a trailer to prevent movement during transit. This is a common practice among shippers to safeguard their freight, typically provided by Volume and Full Truckload carriers rather than LTL services.

Central Hub

A primary location where shipments from various terminals are consolidated for further distribution.

Cargo Coverage

Insurance that protects the shipper from financial losses if cargo is damaged or lost, covering incidents like accidents, natural disasters, or other unforeseen events.

Load-to-Truck Ratio

The demand ratio of available loads to trucks within a specific area.

Damage Claim

A request for compensation filed against a carrier for loss, damage, or overcharge.

Commercial Bill

A document listing the details of the shipment, including the goods shipped, and the addresses of the buyer and seller, used for customs and insurance purposes.

General Carrier

A carrier that consolidates freight from multiple shippers for delivery, operating under a standard rate and route system.

Consignee (CNEE)

The recipient of the shipped goods.

Consignor (CNOR)

The party who sends out the goods, also known as the shipper or seller.


A standardized box used across different transportation modes, facilitating the movement of goods from one mode to another without direct handling of the cargo itself.


A warehousing strategy where incoming cargo is directly transferred from one vehicle to another, bypassing storage, to consolidate shipments.

Cubic Capacity

The volume capacity of a cargo area, measured in cubic feet, which determines how much freight can be transported, especially for lightweight goods.

Declared Value (DV)

The shipper-stated value of a shipment, influencing shipping charges and limiting carrier liability.

Department of Transportation (D.O.T)

The U.S. federal agency responsible for governing transportation regulations.


The organization and management of carrier operations, including scheduling and communication with drivers.

Distribution Center

A storage facility for goods awaiting distribution to retail locations.


Changing a shipment’s destination while in transit, incurring additional charges for the extra distance covered.

Door-to-Door Service

Transportation from the sender’s location directly to the recipient’s location.

Dry Van

A standard, enclosed trailer not equipped for temperature-sensitive cargo, typically loaded through the rear doors.


Materials used to protect and secure cargo during transportation.

Electronic Bill of Lading (eBOL)

This refers to the electronic version of the Bill of Lading document, enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of the documentation process for Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipments.

Envoy Logistics

A subsidiary of Sutton Transport, Envoy Logistics offers comprehensive logistics solutions, including freight brokerage, additional insurance services, and custom logistics planning. They specialize in optimizing supply chains for efficiency and cost-effectiveness. 

Excessive Length

An additional fee for cargo that exceeds standard dimensions, often more cost-effective than full volume rates for elongated items.

Flatbed Trailer

An open trailer suitable for goods that need to be loaded from the sides or top, not requiring a raised dock for loading.


A motorized vehicle used to lift and move heavy loads, essential for loading and unloading freight.

Freeze Protection

Freeze Protection: A service ensuring that temperature-sensitive freight is protected from freezing, tailored to the specific freezing point of each product. This service assesses whether the product can still be viable after thawing if it does freeze.

Freight Invoice

The bill issued by the carrier for transportation services rendered.

Freight Classification

A system that categorizes commodities for shipping based on weight, density, and value, affecting the cost of transportation.


The total weight of a fully loaded truck, including the cargo and the vehicle itself.

Gross Weight

The combined weight of the vehicle and its cargo, including passengers if applicable.

Guaranteed Service

A premium service ensuring delivery of freight before the close of business hours, typically between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

Hazardous Materials (Hazmat)

Dangerous goods that require special handling and certified carriers due to their potential risk.

Hours of Service (HOS)

Regulations determining the maximum driving hours for commercial drivers within a 24-hour period.

Hub-and-Spoke System

A logistics model where LTL shipments are routed through central hubs for sorting before delivery, resembling the structure of a bicycle wheel.

Inside Delivery

This service involves the driver transporting the shipment beyond the initial entryway of the delivery location, ensuring it crosses the first interior threshold.

Insurance – Liability

his refers to the coverage carriers offer for freight shipments, where compensation limits are determined by the nature of the goods and their assigned freight class.

Insurance – Limited Liability

This insurance covers losses or damages to freight, holding carriers accountable only for damages directly resulting from their negligence.


The specific route taken for freight transport from origin to destination.


A delay requiring a driver to halt operations, potentially overnight, due to scheduling issues for loading or unloading.

Less Than Truckload (LTL)

Shipping for cargo that does not fill an entire trailer, allowing for the consolidation of smaller shipments to optimize space and cost.

Letter of Authority

A permit allowing carriers to operate across state lines and engage in interstate commerce.


A hydraulic platform on a truck used to move goods from ground level to the trailer, essential for locations without loading docks.

Line Haul

The transportation of freight between distant cities, supported by a network of hubs, equipment, and personnel.

Request a Quote

A feature on the Sutton Transport’s website that offers users a quick way to get pricing for a shipment.

LTL Tariffs

A detailed rate chart for LTL shipments, based on origin, destination, weight, and freight class.

Lumper Service

A service involving the manual unloading of cargo and its breakdown into smaller units, as per the receiver’s instructions.

Motor Carrier Number (MC Number)

A unique identifier for carriers, allowing them to operate across state lines and enabling regulatory tracking.

Multi-Stop Shipments

Deliveries requiring multiple pickup or drop-off points.

Net Weight

The weight of the cargo excluding the weight of the transport vehicle.

National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC)

A standard that classifies goods for transport, facilitating uniform pricing across the industry.

National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA)

An organization specializing in freight classification, packaging standards, and transportation codes.


A portable platform for consolidating shipments, facilitating easier handling and movement of goods.

Pallet Jack

A manual tool for lifting and moving pallets within a warehouse or loading area.

Pickup and Delivery (P&D)

The process of collecting and delivering freight, often referred to as the final mile of delivery.

Partial Truckload (PTL)

Shipments that are too large for LTL but do not require a full truckload, typically occupying a partial space in the trailer.

Post-Delivery Adjustments

Expenses incurred after the delivery of a shipment, often due to differences between the quoted and actual shipment details like class, dimensions, weight, or for any supplementary services provided.

Purchase Order (PO)

A document issued by a buyer to authorize a purchase from a supplier.

Proof of Delivery (POD)

A document or electronic record confirming the delivery of a shipment, including details of the recipient and delivery time.

PRO Number

A unique tracking code for shipments, allowing for easy monitoring. “PRO” stands for progressive number, indicating each step of the delivery process.

Pup Trailer

A shorter trailer used for deliveries in tight spaces or combined with another trailer for longer hauls.

Receiving Dock

The area where goods are unloaded from a transport vehicle.


The process of changing the delivery destination or consignee details while the shipment is enroute, subject to additional fees.

Residential Delivery Charge

A fee applied for deliveries to non-commercial locations, typically homes or residential areas.

Sales Representative

A dedicated professional available to assist you with any inquiries regarding your shipment, billing, or services. Sutton Transport sales representatives are empowered to make decisions on behalf of our company or clients, ensuring a smooth and efficient handling of your logistics needs, from customs and documentation to insurance processes.

Shared Truckload

A shipping option where multiple shippers share space on a single truckload for efficiency and cost savings.

Sort and Segregate (Sort and Seg)

A service requiring the verification and counting of all items upon receipt, ensuring complete delivery.

Stackable Freight

Refers to goods that can be safely stacked and loaded one on top of another, optimizing space utilization during transport.

Sutton Transport, Inc.

A Midwest-based LTL trucking company known for reliable, timely deliveries. With over 40 years in business, Sutton specializes in LTL and volume shipping, boasting a high on-time and intact delivery rate.

Tailgate Service

A delivery requirement where the driver must move cargo to the rear of the trailer, typically for locations without loading docks or equipment.

Team Driving

A method where two or more drivers alternate driving shifts, allowing for nearly continuous travel, ideal for urgent freight.


A facility where freight is sorted and transferred for further transportation.

Third-Party Logistics (3PL)

A service provider managing logistics operations for another company, encompassing a range of services from transportation to warehousing. (See Envoy Logistics)

Transit Time

The duration from the pickup to the delivery of a shipment, excluding non-business days and holidays.

Transit Time Calculator

A tool provided by Sutton Transport for calculating transit time from an origin zip code to a destination zip code.

Truck Ready

Indicates that a carrier has been assigned and is prepared to collect the shipment.

Volume LTL

Shipments that exceed standard LTL size but do not require a full truckload, offering a middle ground for larger shipments.

Weekend Delivery

A specialized service offered with additional charges, requiring coordination with the terminal manager at least 48 to 72 hours in advance for scheduling.

White Glove Services

Premium delivery services featuring specialized handling and equipment for sensitive or high-value shipments.

Wrapping Up Shipping Terms

Getting to know shipping terms doesn’t have to be complicated…it can save you a lot of headaches! Keep this page bookmarked as your quick reference guide for all things LTL. Got questions or ready to ship? Sutton Transport is here to help. Reach out to us for personalized support and discover how we can streamline your shipping needs.