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Common Freight Shipping Terms Explained



You’re probably familiar with some of the most common shipping terms if you work in the freight industry. But if you’re not, it’s essential to understand what they mean and how they impact your business.

Freight Class

Freight class is a classification of goods based on their physical characteristics. This information is used by carriers when determining the most cost-effective way to transport freight and can be found in any shipping contract or rate quote.

Freight classes include:

  • Dry Cargo – These are general items that aren’t sensitive to changes in temperature or humidity, such as non-perishable food products, clothing, and machinery.
  • General Cargo – This type of cargo includes items that could potentially spoil (such as fresh produce) but are not inherently dangerous.
  • Perishable Cargo – Delicate products like flowers and seafood fall into this category because they’re vulnerable to damage if not transported quickly enough after being harvested/harvested at their peak freshness level.
  • Hazardous Cargo – Items like flammable liquids and gases are considered “dangerous” because they pose a potential fire risk during transit; these types of shipments require special treatment such as proper packaging material selection and labeling requirements before being loaded onto trucks/buses/rail cars etc..

Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading is a document that is used to describe the goods that are being transported and to transfer ownership of the goods from the shipper to the consignee. This document also serves as a receipt for the goods.

The terms “bill of lading” and “waybill” are often used interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings. A waybill simply refers to a document that contains an itinerary for shipments; it does not necessarily transfer ownership or describe what has been shipped.

Common Carrier

A common carrier is a company that transports goods or passengers for hire on regular routes. This means that the common carrier will deliver your shipment, but they are not responsible for it being damaged or lost along the way. All other types of carriers (except private carriers) have some level of protection from liability in case anything goes wrong with your shipment.


To be intermodal, your freight must be shipped in the same mode of transport for the entire journey. For example, if you’re shipping a car via rail and then trucking it across state lines, this would not be considered intermodal because the car changed modes (from train to truck).


LTL stands for Less-Than-Truckload and refers to shipments that are not full truckloads. This is a common shipping term you need to understand when shipping freight with a carrier, as it’s used by your shipper or delivery company to describe any shipment that isn’t a full truckload (FTL). According to Flock Freight experts, “LTL carriers generally carpool freight.”

The freight shipping industry is a complex one, with many terms and processes to keep track of. This article might have helped you understand some of the common freight shipping terms you may run into so that if you see each other at the dock or in an office down the road, you can say hi!

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