Freight Shipping Glossary

This page is a detailed listing of freight shipping terms known as the freight shipping glossary. It is organized like a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. This is a very valuable tool for any person involved in commercial freight shipping.

How to use this “Freight Shipping Glossary”.

The terms are displayed in summary format. This makes it very easy to find the shipping subject you are looking for. To see the answer or details for a particular shipping term, click on the plus symbol next to the question.

In trucking, a backhaul is a hauling cargo back from point B to the originating point A. Since it costs almost as much time to drive empty as fully loaded. Hence the term “Backhaul”. This makes economic sense, since it helps to pay for the operating expenses for the trip back to the originating point A for the trucking company and/or trucker.

A good example of a backhaul is the following scenario. A freight company contracted to moves loads of oranges from Florida to the Northeast. The truck unloads in New York, but has to head back to Florida as soon as possible for additional loads. Since the truck will go back empty or full, the freight company will be willing to move a load at a discounted freight rate.

Since the popularity of freight load boards in the mid 1990’s, the use of backhauls has declined. Trucking companies will post their available empty equipment way in advance before even heading out with the original load.

The bill of lading is a legally binding document providing the driver and the carrier all the details needed to process the freight shipment and invoice the shipment correctly. The bill of lading from carrier to shipper can be used as an evidence of the contract of carriage by the fact that carrier has received the goods and upon the receipt the carrier would deliver the goods. Since the Bill of Lading is a legally binding contract, it is very important that shippers and freight managers understand the terms (prepaid, collect, section seven, etc) and know how to complete the bill of lading.

A party other than the shipper or consignee (receiver) that is ultimately responsible for paying the freight shipment charges. This is common when a distributor will ask from their supplier to delivery directly to their customer.

A blind shipment is when the shipper and/or receiver don’t know who is the actual sender or receiver of the freight. The bill of lading will show the owner of the goods as the shipper or receiver. The carrier will help facilitate the actual shipment. A common use of “Blind Shipment” is when a distributor drop ships an order from the manufacturer directly to their customer. The bill of lading will show the distributor as the shipper. This may be referred to as a “Half Blind Shipment” since the shipper (manufacture) will post the distributor name as the shipper. The customer will think it comes from the distributor. For more information, please visit our Blind Shipment page.

Accessorial charges are charges made for performing services beyond normal pickup and delivery. Examples include inside delivery, lifgate service or storage charges.

A freight broker is an independent contractor paid to arrange motor carrier transportation. A broker may work on the carrier or shipper’s behalf. In the United State freight brokers must be licensed by the US Department of Transportation and must have a trust fund (bond) at least in the amount of $75,000.

Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation (rail, ship, and truck), without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. The method reduces cargo handling, and so improves security, reduces damage and loss, and allows freight to be transported faster. Reduced costs over road trucking is the key benefit for intermodal freight delivery, as well as reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In North America, the term Intermodal is mostly use for rail freight using the formula of truck-rail-truck, door to door. An example would be moving freight from the east coast (i.e. Newark) to the west coast (i.e. Los Angeles) by rail. Rapid Express Freight will handle the entire process.

A pro number is a unique shipment number assigned by each carrier to a picked up shipment. It is used to track the shipment. In most cases, the pro number will be the same as the freight invoice number.