Freight Terminology 101: The Language You Need to Know to Enter the Online Marketplace

Heather Da Eira Dec 02, 2021 • 7 min read
Freight services

If you’re new to the eCommerce game, you’re probably getting up close and personal with all the ins and outs of the supply chain. You may have once thought that selling online is a fairly simple concept: you create or find a product that customers value, offer this product on an eCommerce platform, then package it and drop it in the mail. It all seems easy. Straightforward. Basic.

That’s until you actually start doing it. Once you actually enter the online marketplace, you quickly find yourself wrestling with the shipping and freight terminology you need to understand if you want to participate in the eCommerce conversation. 

It’s a daunting task. But you need to be able to speak the language of freight and shipping to take your place in the world of eCommerce— and that involves understanding this complex system that supports the delivery services you and your customers rely on.

To support you in your learning journey, we’ve put together a glossary of the eCommerce terminology you need to know to get in the game.

LTL freight services



An additional service requested for a freight shipment. Most accessorials require an additional payment that varies based on the service or carrier. Some common accessorials include liftgate services and residential delivery. 

Accessorial charges 

Accessorial charges are for administrations that are notwithstanding run of the mill transportation administrations, for example, inside delivery, private delivery, liftgate delivery, and other comparative administrations. 

Accounts Payable 

Part of the billing department in charge of paying carriers, operators, or factoring companies for services rendered. 

Accounts Receivable 

Part of the billing department in charge of collecting payment from carriers or customers for services rendered. 

Air Bill (Air Waybill) 

Documentation for an air transporter that gives data about the cargo, weight, cargo charges, shipper, proctor, and the party liable for cargo charges. An air bill is basically a LTL cargo bill, but for an air bearer. 

Air Cargo 

A form of freight shipping that uses planes instead of trucks, or trains. Air freight is usually more expensive, but also more expedited. 

Arrival Notice 

The notice that the agent gets when their cargo has landed at its destination. 

Auditing (Freight) 

Process performed by some freight brokers to confirm any additional charges before passing the final freight bill on to the customer. 



In truckload shipping, transit required to reposition a truck and its driver after the initial load they were hired to transport. It’s also known as "headhaul." 


A department at carriers or brokers in charge of invoices and payment. 

Bill of Lading (BOL) 

Document given to the carrier at the time of freight pickup with all necessary information for the shipment. This information includes: pickup and delivery locations, weight, class, commodity, and much more. 

Bonded Warehouse 

A customs-controlled warehouse for the retention of imported goods until the duty-owed is paid. 


Technique used to secure freight in the truck during full truckload shipments. 

Breaking bulk 

Separating mass comprises of breaking a heap from one shipper that is being sent to various agents.

The Break Bulk Point is the terminal or area where break bulks happen. 

Broker (Freight) 

Third party logistics provider that acts as a conduit between customer and carrier to secure freight pricing and services, among other things. 


A grouping of products shipped that are generally unassembled, similar to pallets or crates. 

Business to Business (B2B) 

Standard LTL shipment protocol that deems both the pickup and delivery location to be certified businesses, often with loading docks. If the shipment is not B2B, then additional services such as residential delivery will be required. 



In truckload shipping, capacity is determined by the amount of goods to be shipped, and the number of carriers/trucks to ship them. It is a large factor in truckload pricing.


A company or operator that transports both LTL and truckload freight. 


Common term in truckload shipping referring to the actual commodities and freight being shipped. 

Cash on Delivery 

Also known as "Freight Collect." It’s the process of paying (in cash) for a shipment at the time of delivery.

Claim (Freight) 

A charge made against the freight carrier for shipments that are damaged or lost. 

Class (Freight) 

Freight class is an identification number assigned to all freight shipped LTL that helps determine price. 

Collect Terms 

State that the consignee is liable for the cargo charges.

Commercial Invoice 

Document from the manufacturer that determines an item's value. This is often used for freight claims. 

Concealed Damage 

Comprises of harm to the substance of a bundle without the harm being remotely obvious. 


The receiver of an LTL or truckload shipment. This is the opposite of a "shipper." 


The individual or business that begins the shipmen, also known as the “shipper.” 


Anything that the freight is contained in. 


An authoritative record between parties. With respect to cargo, a contract states particulars of the cargo shipment process. 

Corrected Bill of Lading (CBL) 

A document that the shipper issues to correct the first bill of landing. 

Credit Application 

Used to confirm client data with respect to credit value. 

Cubic Capacity 

The carrying capacity of a truck or other piece of equipment measured in cubic feet. 

Customer Service Representative (CSR) 

An individual that works with customers to schedule pickups, deliveries, and freight tracking. CSR works closely with drivers, dispatchers, and claims departments. 


Government authorities that collect duties on freight imports.

A Customs Broker handles all necessary paperwork and practices to get freight across the border. Customs services are not included in all freight broker services. 

LTL freight



This term refers to truckload shipping, when a driver returns to a point of origin or market carrying no freight. 

Declared Value 

Value of the freight declared on the BOL at the time of pickup, often used for claims or customs purposes. 

Deficit Weight 

Weight put on a tab with the goal that the shipment will cost less because of the rate decrease for higher loads. 

Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) 

The seller is liable for sending merchandise to the named destination and pays all expenses in carrying the products, including import obligations and assessments. The seller isn't answerable for unloading. This term is frequently utilized instead of the non-Incoterm "Free In Store (FIS)". This term puts the greatest commitments on the seller and least commitments on the buyer. No risk or duty is moved to the buyer until delivery of the merchandise at the named place of destination. 

The most significant thought for DDP terms is that the seller is answerable for clearing the products through customs in the buyer's country, including both paying the obligations and charges, and acquiring the fundamental approvals and enlistments from the experts in that country. If there is uncertainty around the guidelines in the buyer’s country, DDP terms can be an exceptionally huge risk both in terms of deferrals and unanticipated additional expenses, and ought to be utilized with caution. 

Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) 

This term implies that the seller delivers the merchandise to the buyer, not cleared for import and not emptied upon arrival at the named destination. The seller bears all expenses and risks engaged with carrying the merchandise to its destination other than import "duty". Buyer is answerable for customs obligations and assessments. 

Delivery Appointment 

Appointment set with the consignee to deliver freight. In LTL, most delivery appointments are considered accessorials and require additional payment. 

Delivery Receipt (DR) 

Also known as a Proof of Delivery (POD), this is a document signed at the time of delivery indicating that the freight is accepted in good condition. The Delivery Receipt is most often used for claims purposes. 


The confinement of a holder or cargo vehicle past the assessed time period. 


Measurement of an item's pounds per cubic foot. This is important for freight quotes and density-based freight class. 


Fee assessed by a carrier when a truck is held up at delivery or pickup longer than the time allotted for the service. 

Direct Point 

A postal district administered by contracted entities possessing gear and drivers.


The way toward booking and overseeing intra-city traffic and intercity pickup and delivery 


When freight is diverted to a different location while in transit, also known as a reconsignment. 


A charge that happens when cargo is pulled on trucks, drays, or trucks. 

Driver Collect 

A term that identifies with cargo charges. It implies that the driver gathers the cargo charges from the agent at the hour of delivery. 

Drop Trailer 

A carrier trailer that is left at a location for pickup once it’s filled at a later date.

Dry Van 

Standard truckload trailer, either 48 ft. or 52 ft. long, and neither heated nor cooled. 


Packing material used to protect freight in the trailer during transit. 


Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) 

Computer to computer transmission used primarily in freight to schedule pickups with carriers through a transportation management system. 


Estimated time of arrival. 


Estimated time of departure. 


Errors observed at the hour of trade or delivery and are identified with the physical qualities or number of bits of the cargo. 

Expedited Shipment 

Freight that is delivered faster than a standard shipment, for an additional fee. 



Equipment used in truckload shipping to transport large items or machinery. 

Free Astray 

A shipment that was emptied at or lost to an inappropriate terminal and is then charged and sent to the right terminal. 

Freight Charge 

The sum that is expected for cargo transportation. 

Freight Forwarder 

Logistics company that acts as an intermediary between the shipper and the carrier. 

Freight of All Kinds (FAK) 

A rate agreement between shipper/broker and the carrier. 

Freight Collect 

See Cash on Delivery. 


Global Positioning System (GPS) 

A system that uses satellites to find exact positions of objects on earth. It is used in truckload freight to track carrier trucks/loads. 

Gross Weight 

The total weight of an item including packaging and palleting. 

Guaranteed Shipment 

An LTL shipment that is guaranteed for delivery by a certain time. An additional fee is paid for this service, and if the delivery time is not met, the shipping charges can be waived. 



A factor in determining an item's freight class. Items that are fragile or oversized are often hard to handle, resulting in a higher freight class. 

Hazardous Materials 

Items designated by the Department of Transportation that pose a risk to health and safety. These materials require special permits, carriers, and drivers to move. 

Household Goods 

A common shipping commodity in LTL that moves at class 150. 

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In Bond 

When freight is held by customs until fees or other charges are paid. In Bond shipments have not cleared customs. 

Inland Carrier 

A transportation line that conveys import or fare traffic among ports and inland zones. 

Insurance (Freight) 

A system where the shipper or broker agree to pay a premium for coverage in case of loss or damage to freight. Most carriers carry insurance, and third party insurance is often available as well. Coverage and deductible amounts vary. 

Interchange Point 

The place cargo is traded between two transportation lines. The exchange point postal division ordinarily determines how income is split. 


The process of using multiple carriers to transport freight to its final destination. 

Interline Freight 

Moves over the lines of at least two transportation organizations from starting point to destination. 

Intermediate Carrier 

A transportation line that takes a shipment between two transportation frameworks. An intermediate transporter doesn't begin or deliver the shipment. 

Interstate Commerce Commission 

The government association that is answerable for implementing demonstrations of Congress identifying with interstate business. 


The process of using multiple forms of transportation to move freight, such as van to train or shipping vessel. 


Less Than Truckload (LTL) 

A form of freight shipping focused on moving freight that takes up less space than a full truckload. LTL has different pricing and functions than full truckload freight shipping. 


A lift on the back of some trucks that assist in getting freight on and off the truck. Often used in place of a loading dock. 

Line Driver 

A driver that doesn't ordinarily get or deliver shipments, but moves cargo between terminals. 

Line Haul 

Comprises of hardware and individuals who cooperate to move cargo from one terminal to the next. 

Load Board 

Online message board where jobs/loads are posted allowing carriers and brokers to schedule pickups and deliveries. 


When the driver helps load or unload the truck at pickup or delivery. 



A report that portrays the shipment or the substance of a vehicle, compartment, or ship. 

Minimum Rate 

The most minimal contracted rate that may be charged. 


National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) 

Tariff containing descriptions, classifications, and rules for shipping commodities. NMFC codes are tied to freight class. This shipping term is often used in context of the NMFC number which helps to determine class for all LTL shipments. 

Freight class is an especially complicated part of the shipping/freight process, but know that each and every LTL shipment will have an NMFC number and without it on the BOL, you're more likely to get hit with a Re-Class. 


Things are “nested” when they are stuffed one inside another. 

Net Weight 

Weight of a shipment not including packaging. 

Notify Consignee 

Additional service where the carrier will call the receiver to alert them that their shipment is out for delivery. 


Origin Carrier 

The transporter that gets the cargo from the shipper. The root transporter additionally gets the bill of filling. 

Origin Terminal 

The terminal that gets the cargo from the shipper. The source terminal likewise gets the bill of replenishing. 

Over the Road 

Implies that the cargo is between terminals or inside the line pull framework. 

Over, Short, and Damaged (OS&D) 

Carrier department that is in charge of overages, shortages, and damages. They are in charge of finding lost freight and play a part in the filing of freight claims for damage or loss. 



A stage that is versatile and holds materials for capacity or transportation. 

Pallet Deck 

Metal support that enables two pallets of freight to be stacked on top of each other in a trailer. Pallet decks are usually used in line haul movements. 

Parcel Shipment 

Small package shipping that is usually handled by couriers like UPS or FedEx. 

Point of Origin 

The postal district of the shipper's area. 


The act of combining multiple shipments into one truckload to cut down on freight costs. 

Port of Entry 

An administration assigned port where remote merchandise is assessed before entering a country. 

Prepaid Terms 

Implies that the shipper or a Third Party is liable for the cargo charges. 

Pro Number 

Tracking and identification number given to freight once it is picked up and in transit. 

Proof of Delivery (POD) 

Also known as a Delivery Receipt (DR), this is a document signed at the time of delivery noting damage or loss, or indicating that the freight is delivered as expected. PODs are valuable in the filing of freight claims. 


Rate Base 

A distributed arrangement of rates. 


Invoice discrepancy where the carrier invoices the shipment at a higher or lower class than noted on the BOL. 


Type of equipment that is temperature controlled, most often a refrigerated truck used to transport perishable items. 

Release Value 

The estimation of the merchandise that is set by the shipper as the bearer's maximum risk.

Return Authorization 

Documentation confirming that the shipper has authorized the return of the cargo. 


Invoice discrepancy where the carrier invoices the shipment at a higher or lower weight than noted on the BOL. 


Here's a shipping term that you might be familiar with if you've ever had a change of plans with your freight. A reconsignment happens when freight that is already in transit is re-directed from one delivery location to another. 

This charge can vary based on how far apart the delivery locations are. For instance, if the new location is just down the street, the charge will probably be minimal. However, if freight was heading to Toronto and is being reconsigned to Vancouver, you will be in for a hefty reconsignment fee. 

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Safety Rating 

estimates the security of a company. A security rating depends on what number of miles has been driven between any forms of accident. 


Used to ensure that a trailer isn't opened during travel. 


The sender of a freight shipment, and the opposite of a consignee. Shippers are responsible for getting the BOL to the carrier at the time of pickup. 

Short Shipment 

When freight is delivered, but is missing pieces as notated by the BOL. 


The point at which the measure of cargo delivered is not exactly the measure of cargo received at pickup. 

Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) 

The Department of Transportation gives this code to each cargo transporter to distinguish between them. 

Step Deck 

Type of equipment used in truckload shipping for larger pieces. 


Tare Weight 

Tare weight is the heaviness of the bundling materials. 


In transportation, a tariff refers to any fees, agreements, or rules that a carrier has in relation to a broker or customer. 


Terms state who is answerable for paying the cargo charges. 


Carrier hub where freight is loaded and unloaded during LTL transit. 

Third Party Billing 

Third Party Billing is where neither the shipper nor the proctor is liable for paying the cargo charges – rather there is an outsider who is liable for the charges. 

Third Party Logistics Provider (3PL) 

A freight broker that acts as a go-between for customers and carriers. 3PLs often have discounted freight rates and offer customer service. 


The act of tracking a shipment from pickup to delivery. 


A tractor is the power unit that pulls trailers. There are two kinds of tractors: single axle and double axle. Single axle tractors are normally utilized for pickup and delivery while double axle tractors are ordinarily utilized for line hauls. 

Transit Time 

The time between when a shipment is picked up and delivered. Standard LTL shipments have estimated transit times. 

Transportation Management System (TMS) 

A web-based tool that assists customers in scheduling pickups, creating BOLs, tracking shipments, and more. 


Triples allude to one tractor pulling three trailers. 

Truckload (TL) 

A type of freight shipping that specializes in moving freight that takes up a full truckload of space. Truckload shipping is different from LTL and has its own carrier and pricing structures. 



The manufacturer or distributor of a product. Many carriers will make pickups directly from vendor warehouses. 

Volume Quote 

A type of LTL quote for shipments that are larger than the standard LTL size, but smaller than a full truckload quote. 



Warehousing is the storing of products. 


Document used by the carrier containing relevant shipment information such as pickup and delivery locations, also known as a Bill of Lading (BOL). 

Weight and Inspection Certificate (W&I) 

Document created by the carrier when a shipment is reweighed or re-classed. W&I certificates contain the date, location, and agent responsible for the discrepancy. They are used in freight claims. 

Freight services

While the concept of moving large shipments from point A to point B may seem fairly simple, the logistics of doing so are more complicated. If your business will in one form or another depend on freight services, it makes sense to familiarize yourself with the different aspects of the industry, including freight jargon. In fact, this is one of the key steps of getting your business from point A to point B.

Wherever you are on your eCommerce journey, we’re here to help. Contact us today, and let’s have a conversation about how we can help you take your business further. 

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