Freight Shipping Terminology 101

As a mid-Michigan freight broker, our staff at Atran has extensive knowledge of the freight shipping industry’s terminology. Here are some terms to know whether you’re new to the industry, or just want to brush up on freight terms.


These are the costs incurred once a shipment is delivered. These costs can be added as a result of an error between the freight traits quoted and the delivered shipment details of weight, class, and dimensions. Adjustments may also be added for any additional services performed such as a liftgate.

Back Haul

When a carrier is looking for freight for the return trip back to their home base, they are looking for a “back haul.” Carriers are usually willing to charge a little less to get this freight back “home.”

Bulk Freight

This is freight that is not contained in packages or containers.


A person or company who ships freight for a fee.


Used for less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments, a freight classification is assigned to a product in order to apply transportation charges.


Containers are truck trailers without wheels, and are one of the most common freight shipping methods in the United States and abroad. They come in standard sizes to make sure that they will fit on standard trucks, rail cars, and container ships.

Less-than-Truckload (LTL)

Any shipments that take up less than 12 feet of floor space on a trailer and/or weigh less than 7,000 pounds can qualify as an LTL freight shipment. LTLs are also referred to as “larger partials.”


A shipment delivery is considered “time-critical” when the delivery time is set to the earliest possible time.

Transit Time

The total shipment time from pick-up to delivery.

Volume LTL

Shipments weighing more than 5,000 lbs, consisting of six+ pallets, and/or taking up 12 - 32 feet of trailer space will qualify as a Volume LTL load. These shipments are too large for a common carrier but not a full truckload.