Glossary of Shipping Terms

Listed below are important shipping and logistics terms used frequently throughout the industry.

Freight Shipping

The physical process of transporting cargo, goods, or commodities by truck (full truckload or less than truckload), train, boat, or aircraft. More on freight shipping.

International Freight Shipping

The physical process of transporting goods and merchandise from one country to another. More on international freight shipping

Third-Party Logistics

A third-party logistics provider (3PL) provides outsourced logistical services to support their supply chain management. Third party logistical services can include transportation, warehousing, picking, packing, inventory forecasting, order fulfillment, packaging and freight forwarding. More on third-party logistics.

North American Freight Shipping

The physical process of transporting cargo and commodities throughout North America.

Logistics Services

Planning, implementing, and controlling the efficient and effective forward and reverse flow of goods and services between the point of origin and the point of consumption. More on logistics services

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Shipping

The transportation of smaller freight loads that are unable to take up the entire cargo space of a truck.

Full Truckload (FTL) Shipping

The transportation of large cargo shipments that take up the entire truck.

Intermodal Shipping

Transporting goods in intermodal containers or vehicles by using multiple modes of transportation, such as rail, ship, or truck, without the cargo being handled when changing between modes.

Specialized Freight Shipping

Transportation that requires specialized equipment or specifications due to the shipment's size, weight, shape, or delivery time.

Hotshot Shipping

A premium, same-day shipping service that sends a dedicated truck to handle one shipment exclusively in order to meet a specific deadline.

Hazmat Shipping

The safe and secure transportation of dangerous goods from one location to the next.

Crane Services

Supports pick up or delivery sites that are missing the required equipment for loading and unloading freight that is too heavy for forklifts.

Appointment Freight

Freight that is delivered at a time and date established by the consignee. Certain stipulations, such as calling or notifying the consignee before delivery, are met accordingly.

Flat Deck Trucks

Usually used for moving bulky, heavy, or large pieces of equipment, as this type of truck has no roof or sides.

Step Deck Trucks

Similar to flat deck trucks, this type of truck has no roof or sides and is ideal for transporting larger loads, especially loads that require additional height clearance.

Double Drop Trailers

Used for moving otherwise oversized loads, such as large pieces of equipment that can easily be driven up and onto the deck.


Provides additional deck space by combining two slightly smaller flat deck trailers to create 60 linear feet of deck with a weight capacity of over 90,000 pounds within Canada.

Temperature Controlled Trucks

Used for the transportation of materials or goods that require additional heat or cool air, such as food products or water-based adhesives.

Dry Vans

Used primarily for retail applications, this enclosed trailer provides the dry and safe transportation of even the most delicate types of freight.

Air Freight Shipping

The transportation and shipment of goods, cargo, or merchandise by a chartered or commercial air carrier.

Ocean Freight Shipping

Exporting or importing cargo from one port to another through the use of shipping lines.

Freight Tracking

Allows customers to use a PRO number to track the process of their shipment from the time it leaves the warehouse until it arrives at its destination.

Freight Company

Allows customers to use a PRO number to track the process of their shipment from the time it leaves the warehouse until it arrives at its destination.

Cross-Border Shipping

The transportation of cargo that needs to cross over the border between two countries, such as Canada and the United States.

Freight Shipping Rates

The cost of delivering freight from one location to the next, usually determined by the dimensional weight (weight and volume) of the cargo.

Bill of Lading (BOL)

A document that serves as a contract between the shipper and the carrier and includes information about all aspects of the freight shipment.


The storage of goods in a facility for a specified period of time or until the goods are ready to be shipped.

Supply Chain Management

The broad range of activities required to plan, control, and execute the flow of goods through the distribution process in the most cost-effective way possible.


Incoterms are trade terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) that are commonly used in both international and domestic trade contracts. Incoterms, short for "International Commercial Terms", are used to make international trade easier by helping buyers and sellers in different countries understand one another. They help to clarify at what point the ownership, freight cost and liability transfer from one party to the other.


LCL is short for Less than Container Load. It is a term used to describe the transportation of small ocean freight shipments not requiring the full capacity of an ocean container.


FCL is short for Full Container Load.


ISF stands for Importer Security Filing. It must be filed with US Customs 72 hours prior to the ship's departure from origin country.


LFD stands for Last Free Day (at port) before storage starts.

Arrival Notice/Manifest

A document sent by the steamship line or airline, letting you know your goods have arrived. It has all the details on it and this document is submitted along with other commercial documents for clearance.


MAWB stands for Master Air Waybill. It is issued by the forwarder for air shipments. This AWB is shown from agent to agent.


HAWB stands for House Air Waybill. It is issued by the forwarder for air shipments. This AWB shows actual shipper and consignee details.

Original BOL

An original document printed by the steamship line and required at destination to release shipment.

Express Bill of Lading

This term is used when the supplier/shipper issues an express bill of lading, which means that no original copy of the BOL is required by the destination forwarder to release shipment

Surrendered BOL/Telex Released

When an original BOL is stamped "Telex Release" or "Original Docs Surrendered", this means that the buyer has satisfied the suppliers/shippers requirement to release the shipment for the destination forwarder to then release to the customer.


PSS stands for Peak Season Surcharge. A Peak Season Surcharge is implemented by steamship lines at certain times of year


GRI stands for a General Rate Increase which is issued by steamship lines at their discretion.

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