Shipping Lingo Explained: Most Common Shipping Terms Used in Freight Industry

Shipping Lingo Explained: Most Common Shipping Terms Used in Freight Industry

In the world of shipping freight, there are many common shipping terms. Shipping lingo might seem like a language all its own, but knowing what these freight terms actually mean is important to your success.


  • Accessorial: Extra services on freight shipments.
  • Accessorial Charges: Charges for extra services.
  • Accounts Payable: Billing department personnel that make payments.
  • Accounts Receivable: Personnel in the billing department collecting payments.
  • Adjustments: Costs happening after shipment delivery.
  • Agent: Professional with some decision-making authority to represent someone else.
  • Air Bill: Air transportation documentation about shipment.
  • Air Cargo: Freight that flies by plane.
  • Air Freight Forwarder: Indirect air carriers who do pickup and deliveries.
  • Arrival Notice: Agents receive these when cargo is at its destination.
  • Articles of Extraordinary Value: Must be listed in published classifications for liability coverage.
  • Auditing: Determines additional charges prior to the final bill.
  • Axle Load: Weight that freight puts on roads.


  • Backhaul: Transit for repositioning a truck after an initial load.
  • Beneficial Owner: Property rights of freight belonging to someone else other than the shipper.
  • Billing: Business department handling payment and invoices.
  • Bill of Lading: BOL documentation is given to the carrier when freight is picked up.
  • Blind Shipment: The receiver and shipper aren't aware of each other.
  • Blocking and Bracing: Wood or other supports that keep shipments in their place during transit.
  • Bogie: Rail shipping terms for a wheeled frame to move containers.
  • Bonded Warehouse: Customs warehouse to keep imports until duties are paid.
  • Bracing: Technique to secure freight in a full truck.
  • Breaking Bulk: One heap is distributed from a single shipper to various agents.
  • Break Bulk Point: Place where break bulks happen.
  • Broker: 3PL connects customers with carriers.
  • Brokerage License: Mandatory document brokers need to make arrangements for freight shipping.
  • Bulk Freight: Not in containers or packages.
  • Bundle: Products grouped together, usually unassembled.
  • Business to Business: B2B shipments happen between companies.

shipping lingo
  • Carmack: Damaged or lost goods.
  • Capacity: Number of trucks necessary to ship goods.
  • Carrier: Handles truckload and LTL freight.
  • Cartage: Reference to freight and commodities being shipped.
  • Cash on Delivery: Cash paid for freight when it's delivered.
  • Chassis: Wheeled frame with locking devices for container security.
  • Claim: Charge against the carrier for lost or damaged shipments.
  • Class: Freight class assigned to any LTL shipment.
  • Collect Terms: Consignee is a liable party for cargo charges.
  • Commercial Invoice: Manufacturer document stating item value.
  • Commodity: Shipped goods for commerce.
  • Common Carrier: LTL carriers move freight for multiple clients at once.
  • Concealed Damage: Damage to freight that isn't obvious.
  • Consignee: Shipment receiver.
  • Consignor: Shipper who starts shipment.
  • Consolidation: Combining shipments to reduce freight costs.
  • Container: What freight is inside?
  • Contract: Written agreement between two parties.
  • Corrected Bill of Lading: New document fixing previous BOL.
  • Credit Application: Confirms a client's credit value.
  • Cross-Town: Trailer delivered from a railroad while en route.
  • Cubic Capacity: Cubic feet measurement of a truck's carrying capacity.
  • Customer Service Representative: CSR working with customers.
  • Customs: Government authorities collecting duties.
  • Customs Broker: Handles paperwork for getting freight over a border.

  • Deadhead: Truck driver returns without freight.
  • Deck Trailers: Allow for more goods per trailer.
  • Declared Value: Freight value listed on BOL.
  • Deficit Weight: Tab weight for shipment to get a lower rate.
  • Delivered Duty Paid: DDP is liable to the seller.
  • Delivered Duty Unpaid: DDU is when a seller delivers merchandise without import clearance.
  • Delivery Appointment: Time when consignee will deliver freight.
  • Delivery Receipt: Also known as POD or proof of delivery.
  • Demurrage: Cargo held past assessment time period.
  • Density: Weight per cubic foot.
  • Detention: Carrier fee when truck remains at pickup or delivery longer than scheduled.
  • Direct Point: Postal district administered by contracted bearers.
  • Dispatching: Handles freight traffic.
  • Diversion: Reconsignment is when freight gets diverted while en route.
  • Dock: Loading and unloading platform.
  • Dolly: Converter connects more trailers.
  • Doubles: Tractor pulling two trailers.
  • Drayage: Charge for pulled cargo.
  • Driver Collect: Cargo charges gathered at delivery.
  • Drop Trailer: Carrier trailer left for later pickup.
  • Dry Van: Standard truck trailer without HVAC.
  • Dunnage: Packing material to protect freight.

freight terms definitions
  • Electronic Data Interchange: EDI is digital transmission to schedule pickups.
  • Embargo: Events preventing freight handling.
  • ETA: Estimated time of arrival.
  • ETD: Estimated time of departure.
  • Exceptions: Errors observed in regards to qualities or quantity of cargo.
  • Expedited Shipment: Freight delivered faster than usual.
  • Exclusive Use: Premium rate for using trailer by itself.
  • Exempt Product: Products exempted from federal regulation.

  • Flatbed: Transports larger items.
  • FOB Destination: Seller carries risk until delivery.
  • FOB Origin: Buyer carries risk until delivery.
  • Free Astray: Shipment sent to the wrong terminal.
  • Free Along Side: Also known as FAS.
  • Free On Board: Also known as FOB.
  • Freight: Product getting transported.
  • Freight Bill: Shipping document for delivery and payment terms.
  • Freight Broker Professionals selling transportation but not actually offering it.
  • Freight Charge: Sum expected for cargo transport.
  • Freight Classification: Determined by multi-factor formula.
  • Freight Forwarder: Logistics business serving as intermediary.
  • Freight of All Kinds: FAK is a rate agreement between carrier and broker or shipper.
  • Freight Collect: Also known as COD.


  • GPS: Global positioning system from satellites.
  • Gross Weight: Total freight weight with palleting and packaging.
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: GVW combines the weight of goods and vehicles.
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: Manufacturer specified vehicle max operating weight.
  • Guaranteed Shipment: LTL freight to be delivered by a particular time.


freight shipping terminology
  • Handling: A factor in ascertaining freight class.
  • Hazardous Materials: Risks to health or safety.
  • Household Goods: Common LTL shipping commodity, class 150.


  • In Bond: When customs holds freight pending charges or fees paid.
  • Inbound Freight: Shipments that are coming from their vendors.
  • Inland Carrier: Transportation line involving traffic among inland zones and ports.
  • Insurance: Premiums for coverage for damage or loss of freight.
  • Interchange Point: Where cargo is moved between two different transportation lines.
  • Interline: Process of using more than one carrier to move freight.
  • Interline Freight: Freight using interline routes.
  • Intermediate Carrier: These don't start or deliver shipments but connect other transportation frameworks.
  • Interstate Commerce Commission: Government association that implements Congressional decisions in interstate business.
  • Intermodal: Using multiple transportation forms to move freight.


  • Jifflox: Connects multiple trailers with fifth wheel and extra axle.


  • Less Than Truckload: LTL freight shipping doesn't use a full truckload of space.
  • Liftgate: Can replace a loading dock as a loading/unloading freight lift on the back of some trucks.
  • Line Driver: These professionals usually move cargo in between terminals.
  • Line Haul: Driver and hardware moving cargo between terminals.
  • Load Board: Online interface where carriers and brokers arrange job loads.
  • Lumping: Drivers help to load or to unload trucks.


  • Manifest: Report indicating shipment included.
  • Minimum Rate: Lowest possible contract rate.
  • Motor Carrier: Individual compensated for doing motor vehicle transportation.
  • Motor Property Broker: Freight broker who makes shipping arrangements.
  • Multimodal Transportation: Involves two or more modes.


  • National Motor Freight Classification: NMFC codes relate to particular freight classes.
  • Nested: Nested freight is stuffed inside each other.
  • Net Weight: Shipment weight without packaging.
  • Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers: NVOCC is a kind of ocean freight forwarder.
  • Notify Consignee: Extra service when a carrier lets the receiver know a shipment is out for delivery.
  • Not Otherwise Indicated: NOI is a general class rate not listed in NMFC.


  • Order Notify: Alternative name for a negotiable bill of lading
  • Origin: Where a shipment enters a freight system.
  • Origin Carrier: Transporter who gets shipper cargo.
  • Origin Terminal: Terminal receiving cargo from the shipper.
  • Over the Road: Cargo in between terminals.
  • Over, Short, and Damaged: OS&D is a carrier department that finds lost freight or handles loss and damages.
  • Overage: Units in excess of the quantity listed on shipping documents.
  • Overcharge Claims: When a payor files a claim in regards to a discrepancy of quantity shipped.


freight shipping terms
  • Pallet: In LTL terminology, this is a versatile stage for holding materials.
  • Pallet Deck: Metal support for holding two pallets at once.
  • Parcel Shipment: Small packages are usually shipped through FedEx or UPS.
  • Payment Terms: Prepaid shipments are handled by shippers, with consignees responsible for collecting shipments.
  • Pickup and Deliver: P&D is local goods movement between shippers and destinations.
  • Point of Origin: A shipper's postal district.
  • Pooling: Combining multiple shipments to one truck to save money.
  • Port of Entry: A port where inbound goods get assessed before entry into a country.
  • Prepaid Terms: The shipper is responsible for any cargo charges.
  • Pro Number: Tracking number for freight once in transit.
  • Proof of Delivery: POD is a signed document of freight delivery happening.


  • Rate Base: On the list of freight terms, this one means a distributed arrangement of various rates.
  • Reclass: Invoice discrepancies where a carrier invoices a shipment differently than BOL classification.
  • Reefer: Temperature-controlled equipment used in refrigerated trucks.
  • Release Value: Merchandise estimation as dictated by shipper.
  • Return Authorization: The first shipper conveys this archive for cargo return approval.
  • Revenue: Shipping charges a provider gets for moving the goods.
  • Reweigh: Invoice discrepancies when BOL weight doesn't match the actual weight.
  • Reconsignment: Freight already en route gets redirected to a different destination.


  • Safety Rating: This estimates how secure a company is based on mileage vs accidents.
  • Seal: In this freight terms glossary, a seal is necessary to make sure a trailer is closed while in transit.
  • Shipper: The originator of the freight shipment.
  • Shipper's Agent: They make arrangements for transportation, such as loading, unloading, or warehousing.
  • Shipping Documents: Papers that travel with a shipment.
  • Short Shipment: Delivered freight that is missing pieces listed in the BOL.
  • Shortage: When delivered cargo doesn't exactly measure the cargo picked up.
  • Spot Volume: High-volume shipments over 10,000 pounds.
  • Standard Carrier Alpha Code: DOTs give out SCACs to transporters for unique identification.
  • Step Deck: Kind of equipment useful for shipping bigger pieces.


ltl terminology
  • Tare Weight: In a freight glossary, this is how heavy bundling materials are.
  • Tariff: Rules, agreements, and regulations carriers must follow with brokers or customers.
  • Terms: These state who is responsible for cargo charges.
  • Terminal: Hub for loading and unloading LTL cargo.
  • Third Party Anyone who pays shipment charges but isn't consignee or shipper.
  • Third Party Billing: Someone other than the proctor or shipper pays cargo charges.
  • Third Party Logistics Provider: A 3PL is a freight broker between carriers and customers.
  • Through Rate: This is the distance between delivery and point of origin.
  • Time-Critical: These freight shipments need delivery ASAP.
  • Time-Definite: Delivery is guaranteed for a specific day or time.
  • Tracing: Following a shipment en route.
  • Tractor: Power unit pulling trailers.
  • Transit Time: How long shipment travel takes.
  • Transportation Management System: TMS is an online tool for customers.
  • Triples: Single tractor that pulls three different trailers.
  • Truck Tonnage: Weight being transported via truck.
  • Truckload: TL involves full truckloads.
  • Truckload Carrier: Trucking company hauling more than one trailer of freight.
  • Truckload Definition: Cargo shipment over 10,000 pounds that fills a truck by volume or max weight.


  • UN Number: This piece of freight shipping terminology refers to four-digit international numbers that denote hazardous materials.


  • Vendor: In shipping terms definitions, this is the distributor or manufacturer of a product.
  • Volume Quote: LTL shipment quotes are bigger than standard but smaller than FTL.


  • Warehousing: This freight terminology refers to storing products.
  • Waybill: A carrier document also known as the bill of lading.
  • Weight and Inspection Certificate: Abbreviated as W&I, a carrier creates this document for shipments that get reclassed or reweighed.


Knowing these freight terms definitions can help you understand the various freight shipping terms that get thrown around in this industry. Your company can benefit from your comprehension of shipping vocabulary because you'll better understand the terms and conditions of your freight shipments. Every shipment usually involves a contract, and shipments moving across international borders will have even more paperwork that needs to be handled. Do you need a freight shipping company to handle moving goods and products for your business? Contact us to get a quote at your earliest convenience.

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