One-Stop Shop for Shipment Terms

When you’re shipping freight, it’s important to be aware of the different terms that are used in the shipping industry. By understanding these terms, you can communicate more effectively with your shipper and ensure that your goods are shipped according to your expectations. Here’s a rundown of the important ones:

When you’re shipping freight, it’s important to be aware of the different terms that are used in the shipping industry. By understanding these terms, you can communicate more effectively with your shipper and ensure that your goods are shipped according to your expectations. Here’s a rundown of the important ones:

Air Brake

The air brake system on tractors, which uses compressed air, is made up of lines, valves, tanks, and a compressor.

Air Waybill

Shipping document that airlines use. Similar to the bill of lading. Only applies when picking up or delivering to an airport or freight forwarder.

Accessorial charges (also called accessorials)

Standard shipping does not include any extra services, so if you require additional ease of access for your product, it will come with an extra fee from the carrier. These are called "accessorials" and can be things such as:

  • Collect on delivery (COD)
  • Fuel surcharge
  • Inside delivery
  • Arrival notification
  • Insurance
  • Lift gate service
  • Inside pick up
  • Residential service

Back Haul

A return shipment, or "back haul," refers to a situation where a carrier finds another shipment going back to the original location instead of returning with an empty trailer.

Bill of Lading (BOL)

A legal document that acknowledges the carrier has received the freight as described. It also obligates the carrier to deliver that same freight in good condition to the consignee. Every shipment requires one BOL.


A tractor driving without a trailer hitched to it.

Bulk Freight

Refers to items that are not packaged or containerized, which are typically transported via tankers, grain trailers, and sometimes regular van trailers.


A less formal name for a shipping container is “box.”


Any person or entity that transports goods on an asset operating under their DOT-approved authority.


A cab-over-engine is a type of truck or tractor in which the cab sits over the engine on the chassis.

Cargo Claim

A request for reimbursement from the shipping company for merchandise that was either damaged or went missing while in transit. You have nine months to submit a cargo claim form.

At Revolution Trucking, we pride ourselves on a 99.8% no-claims rate. If you're looking for safe, reliable freight shipping, contact Revolution today.

Carrier Liability

A carrier is liable for loss, damage or shipment delay unless it was caused by a natural disaster, an act of public enemy, the shipper's own actions or the goods' inherent nature.


Cartage is the process of transporting goods by land (rail or road). The transportation is usually for short distances.

Cartage Company

A carrier that delivers and picks up locally. Cartage carriers typically utilize dock high box or straight trucks to move freight. Often, cartage carriers pick-up and deliver to airports in support of air freight forwarders.

CDL (Commercial Driver's License)

An operator's license, which allows individuals to operate commercial motor vehicles exceeding 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.

Check Call

Communications from a shipper, broker, or carrier dispatcher getting updates from the driver on the status (location, ETA, etc.) of the shipment progress and any other pertinent information.

Clearance Lights

The lights located on top of both the front and back ends of your trailer.

Class I Carrier

Any carrier who earns more than $5 million per year in operating revenues.

Class II Carrier

A classification of carriers based on annual operating revenues. These range from $1 - $5 million annually.

Class III Carrier

Carriers earning less than $1 million in annual operating revenue are classified as class III carriers.

Collect on Delivery (COD)

The shipping company is responsible for billing the customer prior to delivery with a COD (collect on delivery) shipment. The additional work required by the carrier comes at an extra fee.


Any article of commerce. Goods shipped. This is the freight on your truck.

Common carrier

A company whose primary function is to provide transport for members of the public in exchange for a fee.

Concealed loss / concealed damage

Damage or shortage not obvious at delivery.


The final stop for a shipment, where it will be transferred to the person or place to whom the goods are addressed.


A metal box designed to transport freight. Containers for shipping internationally are 20 ft (LCL) and 40 ft (FCL) long and can be transported by ocean liner, rail car, or container chassis trailer on public roads. Domestic containers are up to 53 feet long and made of lighter construction.

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Container Chassis

A type of trailer designed for holding and transporting a shipping container.


The person or place who receives your delivery.


The amount of space, measured in cubic feet, that is inside a shipping container.

Delivery Receipt

Document a consignee or its agent dates and signs at delivery, stating the condition of the goods at delivery. The driver takes the signed delivery receipt to the terminal for retention. The customer retains the remaining copy.


The ratio of a shipment's weight to the amount of physical space it occupies.


Drayage is the transport of goods over a short distance in the shipping and logistics industries. Drayage is often part of a longer overall move, such as from a ship to a warehouse.


Driving a tractor-trailer that is not carrying any cargo or freight.


When a shipper or consignee keep carrier equipment for loading or unloading longer than the allowed time, you will get penalized with an additional fee.


The act of sending a driver on his/her assigned route with instructions and required shipping papers. Dispatchers maintain contact with drivers throughout the day by phone, text or email.

Dock Lock

A safety device that hooks to a trailer's bumper when backed to a loading dock. This prevents the trailer from pulling away while anyone is inside, including the forklift driver.

Drop and Hook

Picking up another loaded trailer after taking a loaded trailer to a shipper/receiver and dropping it off..

Dry Freight

Freight that does not need to be refrigerated otr temperature-controlled.


A cargo control system that is designed to make tying down your shipment easier. These are the rows on each side of the box or along the floor in a sprinter or cargo van where ratchet straps hook in.


When a driver has to unload the trailer by himself.


A fourth-party logistics provider, or 4PL, gives clients a “control tower” view of their supply chains and manages a mix of warehouses, shipping companies, freight forwarders and agents.

Free on board (FOB)

The seller agrees to deliver merchandise, free of transportation expense, to the place specified by the contract.

FOB destination

Under this arrangement, title and risk remain with the seller until it has delivered the goods to the location specified in the contract.

FOB origin

The title and risk of the goods are transferred from the seller to the buyer when the seller delivers them to the carrier.

Freight bill

A shipping document used to confirm shipment delivery and indicate payment terms (prepaid or collect) and that describes the shipment.

Freight bill and audit

A freight audit is a business process where the company’s freight bills are examined, adjusted and verified for accuracy.

Freight Broker

A company (middleman) that operates between the shipper, carrier, and consignee. A broker arranges various transportation carriers to move freight on behalf of someone else. They are not accountable for the cargo and usually do not have control over it.

At Revolution Trucking, we offer a full-service brokerage, in addition to being an asset-based carrier and 3PL with managed transportation capabilities.

Freight forwarder

A freight forwarder combines less-than-truckload (LTL) or less-than-container-load (LCL) shipments into full container or truckload lots. Freight forwarders are designated as common carriers and can issue bills of lading and accept responsibility for goods. Freight Forwarders typically operate offices near airports or shipping ports. There are two types of forwarders, domestic and international.

Freight Lane

The route on which a large amount of freight flows back and forth. Frequently just called a “Lane.”

FCL (Full Container-Load)

A full container-load shipment is when a shipper pays to transport an entire 40-foot container. The great majority of intermodal freight is done this way.

GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating)

The maximum weight, as specified by the manufacturer, that an axle can support.

GCW (Gross Combination Weight)

The combined weight of a combination vehicle, such as a tractor-trailer, when it is carrying cargo.

GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight)

The total weight of a vehicle is the combined weight of the vehicle, tractor, trailer, and their contents.

GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)

The total weight a vehicle can carry, as rated by the manufacturer. This includes the weight of the freight and the weight of the vehicle.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists hazardous materials, and the United States Department of Transportation regulates their transportation.

Hundredweight / CWT

100 pounds. A common shipping weight unit. Corresponds to 100 pounds

Intermodal Shipping

A system of uniform containers that can be transferred by various means of transport, such as marine vessels, trucks, and railways. Freight doesn't have to be discharged each time it's shifted from one mode to another.

Inside Pickup / Inside Delivery

If a driver must go beyond the front door or loading dock to pick up or deliver a shipment, it is considered an inside pickup or delivery.

Jake Brake

An engine detain that helps to slow diesel engines through the release of compressed gas.

LCL (Less-than-Container-Load)

LCL, or groupage, as it is otherwise known, refers to shipments that take up only a portion of the entire 40 foot container, and is shipped alongside other merchandise from other shippers in the same container. Sometimes 20 foot containers are used for LCL shipments. Historically, LCL also stands for less-than-carload. However, before interstate trucking became popularized, railroads offered this type of service (LCL), but it has since dissipated.

Landing Gear

Retractable legs on a trailer help support the weight of the trailer when it's not attached to a tractor.


Per day accessorial fees charged by a carrier when loading or offloading of the freight is delayed more than 24 hours or overnight.

Loaded Call

After the trailer is loaded and bills are signed at the shipper's location, a call is made to dispatcher.

Lift Gate Service

If the shipping or receiving address doesn't have a loading dock, manual labor is required to load and unload the shipment. A liftgate is a platform at the back of some trucks that can raise and lower cargo from ground level to the truck. This service comes at an additional cost.


Moving freight from one location to another.

LTL (Less-Than-Truckload)

LTL (less-than-truckload) shipments are smaller shipments that don't require a whole truck. These shipments are combined by an LTL carrier with other shipments going to the same destination.

LCV (Long Combination Vehicle)

Any truck with two or more trailers that operate on the Interstate System and have a gross vehicle weight (GVW) above 80,000 pounds.

Low Boy

A trailer that is flat and open, with a low body so it can carry large or wide items; including construction equipment or other very heavy and bulky items.

Minimum charge

The lowest possible charge for a shipment after discount and/or adjustment.

NMFC Number

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) assigns item numbers to all products that can be shipped by an LTL carrier. The NMFC number distinguishes what you are shipping and its LTL freight class. This number is important because it helps the carrier determine how to handle your product and ship it safely.

Non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCC)

NVOCCs are ocean freight forwarders who book large quantities of space at reduced rates, then sell that space to shippers in smaller amounts.


Situations where a driver does not have to load or unload the freight.

O/D Pair

Used to create an Origin-Destination Matrix, this is a description of movement in a certain area and is used to assess the demand for transportation.

Overcharge Claim

A refund claim for an overcharge resulting from the incorrect application of rates, weights or freight charges.

Out of Route

If a driver travels beyond the set mileage amount for distances between cities, any miles in excess are deemed "out of route" miles. In freight forwarding, that typically utilizes zone rings for pricing, this is also referred to as "beyond" charges.


Additional freight that shouldn't have been shipped.


A driver who is an independent contractor and owns his own trucks, trailers, or other equipment.

At Revolution Tucking, we have a trusted carrier network of vetted partners, including many owner-operators, to get your shipment to its destination on time.

Packing Slip

Separate from the BOL, this is an itemized list of all items on the pallets in your truck. Not all shippers use these.

Pallet / Skid

A small shipping platform, typically measuring 40x48 inches. Goods are placed on this platform for handling and shipping.


Pickup and delivery.

Pay Load

The heaviness of the freight being shipped.

PRO or Tracking Number

A reference number assigned by the carrier to identify and track your shipment.

Peddle Run

A shipment that has multiple, often frequent deliveries.

Proof of Delivery (POD)

A Proof of Delivery (POD) document is written evidence verifying that a shipment has been delivered with all items intact. The receiver signs the POD to confirm delivery.

Ratchet Straps

Also called tie-down straps, are highly helpful when transporting cargo in a vehicle. The ratchets allow users to ensure the straps are taut and the items tied down securely to the E-Tracks.

Reweigh and Inspection Fee

If the carrier believes that your shipment's weight or class is incorrect, they will charge you a fee to reweigh and re-classify it.


A refrigerated trailer is a cooled space created by a refrigeration unit that is attached to the outside of the trailer. Sometimes this is referred to as a temperature controlled or temperature validated trailer depending on the specifications.


A security band that is placed on the trailer door latch to ensure that the doors have not been opened and the cargo is untouched. Seals are never broken by drivers and are designed to ensure the truck is never opened during transit.

Shipper / Consignor

The individual or business responsible for footing the bill of goods being transported from one location to another.


Fewer than the expected number of units were received than shown on the shipping documents.

Skid Puller

Also called pallet pullers, these are used to pull pallets to the rear of trailers for easy fork lift access and are designed with a single scissor action that allows for wide jaw opening.


A driver who moves trailers and parks them in a terminal yard. Sometimes referred to as “Yard Dogs.”


A third-party logistics company is a freight service that typically manages the storage of freight in warehouses or distribution centers, along with coordinating the inbound and outbound movement of freight. It usually manages the buying, scheduling, and billing for the shipped cargo.

At Revolution Trucking, we offer 3PL services with managed transportation capabilities as part of our hybrid model. This means we're prepared to move your critical freight by any means necessary.

Tare Weight

Tare weight is defined as the total weight of tractor and trailer when the vehicle is empty, meaning there is not any product in the trailer. Tare weight can also be called unladen weight.


A document which outlines the rules, rates and charges for moving freight, and sets forth a contract between the shipper, consignee and carrier. Carriers are not required to publish tariffs but must provide them to a shipper on request.

TL (Truckload)

A shipment of freight that exceeds 10,000 pounds which is sufficient enough to fill a trailer.

TL Carrier

A trucking company that only delivers one customer's goods at a time as opposed to an LTL carrier, which typically carries the products of various clients.

Tow Straps

More durable and thicker than a ratchet strap, tow straps have metal hooks at each end and are used to pull skids to the end of the truck for easy unloading.

Trip Number

The number assigned to each shipment you haul. It will always start with the year and month in which the shipment is hauled followed by a numerical sequence. For example 2021050001 would be from 2021 shipped in May (05).

Volume Rate

A rate that applies to a specific amount of freight, typically measured by weight.


A "Waybill" is 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.

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