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Glossary of Terms

Comprehensive list of commonly used freight shipping terms.

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Accessorial Service

A service rendered by a carrier in addition to a transportation service, such as stopping in transit to complete loading or partially unload.

Advanced Charge

The amount of freight or other charge on a shipment advanced by one transportation line to another to be collected from the consignee.


A fixed amount added to or deducted from a rate from origin to destination.

Back Haul

Freight secured to fill equipment which would otherwise return to base empty.

Bill of Lading

A legal contract between the shipper and the carrier spelling out the terms of the agreement.

Blocking or Bracing

Wood or metal supports to keep shipments in place in or on trailer.

Break Bulk

A location where freight is combined and redistributed.

Bulk Freight

Freight not in packages or containers such as wheat, petroleum products, etc.

Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity

Authority of certificate granted by Interstate Commerce Commission or other regulatory body to common carriers by motor vehicle or water to operate as such.

Class 1 Motor Carriers

Common or contract motor carrier having average gross operating revenues (including interstate and intrastate), of $1,000,000 or over annually from motor carrier operations.

Class and Commodity Tariff

A tariff containing both class and commodity rates.

Class Rate

A rate applicable to the class to which an article is assigned in the classification or exception to the classification.

Class Tariff

A tariff containing only class rates.

Classification (Freight)

A publication containing a list of articles and the classes to which they are assigned for the purpose of applying class rates, together with governing rules and regulations.


A term denoting that transportation charges are to be paid at the point of destination (by the receiver).

Combination Through Rate

A through rate made by combining two or more rates.

Commodity Rate

A rate applicable to a specific commodity or group of commodities or named in the tariff containing the rate.

Commodity Tariff

A tariff containing only commodity rates.

Common Carrier

A person or firm engaged in the transportation of passengers or property for hire for the general public.

Concealed Damages

A damage to the contents of a package which is in good order externally.

Concealed Loss

A loss from a package bearing no indication of having been opened.


The person or firm to whom articles are shipped.


The person or firm by whom articles are shipped.

Consolidated Center

A location where freight is combined and redistributed.

Contract Carrier

By motor vehicles, any person not a common carrier, who under special and individual contracts or agreements, transports property by motor vehicle for compensation.


The relationship of the weight of a shipment to the physical space it occupies.


The location to which a shipment is consigned.


The converter unit, equipped with fifth wheel to make semi-trailer into full trailer.


The charge made for local handling of freight on carts, drays or trucks.

Driver Salesman

Driver doing city pickup and delivery work. This person sees the customer more than any other employee.


The material used in loading a trailer which will protect the contents of the trailer from damage. It is often scrap materials such as cardboard, foam rubber or plywood.

Fifth Wheel

The device attached to a dolly or tractor, that permits attachment of a semi-trailer.

Foreign Commerce

Commerce moving between any point in the U.S. through a foreign country; or between any points in the U.S. through a foreign country; or any point in the U.S. and a point in a territory or possession of the U.S.

Free Time

The period allowed the owner to accept delivery before storage charges begin to accrue.

Freight Bill

A bill rendered by a transportation line, giving a description of the freight, the name of the consignee and shipper, point of origin, weight and amount of charges. Sometimes referred to as Revenue Bill.

General Commodities

Basically any product produced for consumer or industrial consumption.


A header, or headload are volumes of freight destined for one service center that are loaded in the nose of a trailer. They are not touched again until they reach their final destination.


The direction in which the preponderance of freight is moving.

Heavy Duty Driver

Driver doing direct city pickup and delivery work with road equipment.

In Bond

Shipments moving under United States Customs or Internal Revenue Board.


Refers to freight coming into a particular facility.


Intermodal denotes when cargo is to be moved by more than one way of transportation. For example, if a container were to be delivered by sea freight to Long Beach, CA, and after unloading be placed onto a truck for further inland forwarding, this would constitute as intermodal.

Interstate Traffic

Traffic moving from a point in one state to a point in another state, or between points in the same state, but passing within or through another state en route.

Intrastate Traffic

Traffic having origin, destination, and entire transportation within the same state.

Knocked Down

A term denoting that an article is partially or entirely taken apart (not set up).

Less Than Truckload (LTL)

A quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a reduced rate by reason of sizable weight. Weight bracket of less than 10,000 lbs. (0-9,999 lbs).

Limited Service

A service point which may or may not be serviceable pending freight specifications.

Line Haul

The movement of freight over the routes of a transportation line from one town or city to another town or city.

Load Factor

The average weight of a trailer or a group of trailers.

Log Book

A book carried and kept by Transport Operators containing daily hours of service records.

Long Haul

A distance of more than 500 miles.


Highway miles outside of a particular operating group.


The specific sales territory into which or out of which business is actively pursued.


Letters, numbers and/or characters placed on a package for purpose of identification.

Mileage Rate

Rates applicable according to a distance.

Minimum Charge

The least charge for which a shipment will be handled.

Mover Bill

A bill initiated to move a portion of a freight which has been separated from the main body of the shipment.


Packed one within another.


An area where business is not actively pursued and in most cases discouraged.

Operating Authority

The specific routes of coverage granted a carrier by the ICC.

Operating Ratio

The relation of operating expenses to operating revenues.


Freight leaving a particular facility.

Over Freight

Freight separated from its waybill and bearing no identifying marks.


An excess of freight over quantity billed.


Part of a shipment.

Peddle Freight

Shipments delivered from a service center to small surrounding communities beyond normal delivery.


Authority or permit granted by Interstate Commerce Commission or other regulatory body to motor carriers to operate in interstate commerce. (Much the same as a certificate).

Point of Origin

The service center at which a shipment is received by a transportation line from the shipper.

Prepaid or Prepay

A term denoting that transportation charges have been or are to be paid at the point of shipment.

PRO Number

A number or combination of numbers used to identify a Freight Bill.

Public Utilities Commission

A name usually given to a State body having control of or regulating public utilities.

Rate Bureau

An entity composed of representatives from member carriers which recommend rate and rules changes to the ICC for approval.


Repair damaged cartons or containers.

Red Label

A label required on shipments of articles of an inflammable character.


The protection of perishable freight from heat.

Regular Route Carrier

A carrier with rights over specified routes between fixed service centers.

Relay Point

A remote location where there is a change of drivers.

Revenue Bill

Normally called Freight Bill, this is a carrier's freight charges, name of shipper, name of consignee, address of consignee, number of pieces shipped, destination of shipment, weight of shipment, etc.


The course of direction that a shipment moves; designation of the carriers by which a shipment shall move.


Either a semi or a set of pups which would be dispatched in one move.

Section Seven

A section on the Bill of Lading which when signed by the shipper relieves the shipper of any responsibility for the collect freight charges, even if they are not paid by the consignee who is responsible for the charges.


A freight-hauling trailer without motor power designed to be drawn by a tractor. Constructed so that some part of its weight and that of its load rests upon, or is carried by, the towing vehicle.

Shipper's Load and Count

A term denoting that the contents of a vehicle were loaded and counted by the shipper and not checked or verified by the transportation line.

Shipping Order

The carrier's copy of the Bill of Lading showing instructions of shippers to carrier for forwarding of goods.

Short Haul

A distance of less than 500 miles. Often referred to as regional traffic.


A deficiency in quantity shipped.

Shrink Wrap

Plastic film that is placed around boxes or other small containers of freight to keep them together.

Shuttle (Driver)

An employee assigned to run units from the consolidation center to an end of the line service center and then reverse the process.

Split Pickup or Delivery

An accessorial service of picking up or delivering volume shipments at more than one place within confines of origin or destination point.

Stem Time

Non-productive time for drivers (i.e. waiting in line at customer's facility to make a delivery).

Stop in Transit to Finish Loading or Unloading

An accessorial service of stopping volume shipments to complete loading or to partially unload at points intermediate between origin and final destination when provided for in appropriate tariffs.

Straight Truck

A single pickup and delivery unit not having separate tractor & trailer units.


A charge above the usual or customary charge.

Tare Weight

The weight of a container and the material used for packing; the weight of a vehicle exclusive of its content.


A book (loose-leaf or bound) which lists a schedule of transportation rates and charges. You can view our Rules Tariff online.

Through Rate

A rate applicable through from point of origin to destination. A through rate may be either a joint rate or combination of two or more local rates.

TL Matrix

A chart detailing the minimum charges between specific divisions or a schedule of freight.

Trailer Interchange

Transfer of trailer with or without lading from one transportation line to another.

Transport Operator

Driver of intercity road equipment. Also known as, road drivers, etc.


Two semi-trailer boxes hooked in combination, drawn by a single tractor, the front unit supported by the tractor, the rear one by a dolly.

United States Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA)

The United States, Mexico, and Canada updated NAFTA to create the new USMCA. USMCA is mutually beneficial for North American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses. The new agreement, will create a more balanced environment for trade, will support high-paying jobs for Americans, and will grow the North American economy.

  • The USMCA went into effect July 1, 2020.
  • For merchandise entered into commerce on or before June 30, 2020, NAFTA rules will continue to apply.

Volume Rate

A rate applicable in connection with a specified volume (weight) of freight.


A place for the reception and storage of goods.

Way Freight

Freight dropped off at intermediate service centers from a through schedule.

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