LTL Freight

LTL Freight: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

I know you’re wondering whether LTL freight is good for you or not.

Or, when to use LTL freight, how much it costs, benefits and how it works –  among other important aspects.

This guide explains everything about LTL freight that will help you save time and money.

Keep reading to learn more.

What is LTL Freight?

Less than truckload (LTL) freight is a type of shipping used for transporting shipment that hardly requires a full 48 or 53-foot trailer.

You can also use this shipping to transport a consignment weighing between 150 and 15,000 pounds.

In LTL freight, the shipper pays for the part of the standard truck trailer their freight covers.

Other shippers and their respective consignments fill the unoccupied space.

LTL Shipping

LTL Shipping

How does LTL Freight Work in International Shipping?

LTL freight works on an aspect you would consider as a hub and spoke model.

This is contrary to traveling directly from the shipment pick-up location to a delivery station.

In this model, there are relatively small local distribution centers, which act as spokes.

In essence, shipments are collected in such spokes and transported to comparatively large hubs.

From the hubs, the consignments are sorted onto another truck to carry on with the journey to the next hub or spoke enroute final destination.

So basically, this system works by combining partial loads in a bid of creating full multi-stop truckloads.

The cost is dependent on the space utilized, shipment class, and pick-up and drop-off points.

What is the difference between LTL and FTL Freight?

LTL and FTL tend to differ from a wide range of perspectives.

Some of these varying elements of truck freight include the following;



In FTL, you utilize the entire space on the truck to ship your commodities to the respective destination.

LTL freight, however, entails shipments from various shippers sharing one trailer space.

FTL freight requires a semi-truck or full truckload.

Ideally, FTL consignments range from 150 pounds to thousands of pounds.

In this case, it is only economical if you’re shipping a substantive volume or weight.

By contrast, LTL is ideal for shipping loads, which cannot fit in a full truck but weighs around 150 pounds.

LTL freight is often shipped through a common shipper who handles freight above parcel shipping levels.

LTL carriers also accept loose freight or what’s known as pallet-free shipment more than FTL.

LTL shipping accommodates between one to ten pallets for every shipment, and the weight can range from 150 to 15,000 lbs.

On the other hand, FTL freight can carry up to at least 26 pallets with weight ranging from 5,000 to 45,000 lbs.

Your freight in LTL is handled severally due to transfers from one truck to another.

However, on FTL, your shipment hardly leaves the truck.

LTL shipping for refrigerated shipment transit times is dependent on a set of delivery routes and schedules.

In contrast, transit times for refrigerated consignment on FTL freight aren’t affected since refrigerated trucks are readily available.

When should you Consider LTL Shipping?

If you are shipping a comparatively light freight, LTL seems to be an ideal option for cost-effectiveness.

Therefore, if you’re working on a tight budget but still need your consignment to reach the destination, consider LTL freight.

LTL shipping can also be a suitable option if you don’t buy items often.

How does LTL Freight compare to LCL Freight?

In LTL freight, you purchase the portion of space on the trailer to ship your commodities.

Hence you’ll notice that in LTL, shipments tend to carry several consignments for different customers in one truck.

However, in Less than Container Load (LCL), shipments only tend to take up a portion of the container.

It involves paying for a space in a container for your shipments rather than paying for the entire container.

Both LTL freight and LCL freight are ideal for small businesses, which often ship smaller shipments.

Who are the Top LTL China Carriers?

In China, competition in LTL freight is quite intense.

Many companies are offering these services, including other ancillary facilities.

However, some of the highly-rated carriers in China include the following;

  • Deppon Logistics
  • Shenzhen Global Express Logistics
  • FedEx Freight
  • Linde Beijing International Transport Agency
  • JJ Shipping
  • UPS Freight
  • Beijing Fansite International Transport Agency
  • China Railway Special Freight Co., Ltd
  • Shengyu Freight
  • Shenzhen Marine shipping agency
  • China Railway Express

What is the Cost of LTL Shipping?

Calculating LTL freight factors in a wide range of elements hence the need to understand what is included.

Typically, the weight of LTL freight shipment range from 100 to 20,000 pounds.

Most LTL carriers often provide discounts based on weight increase and LTL carrier weight class.

Some of the factors, which influence the cost of LTL shipping include the following;

· Weight

LTL freight carriers will always charge less per-hundred pounds the more the weight increases.

Ideally, the more the weight of the consignment, the higher the shipping cost.

· Base Rate

Different LTL freight carriers determine their primary base fare.

The base rate is based on freight classification.

However, carriers usually adjust the based rates depending on their volume needs.

· Distance

Typically, the longer the transportation distance, the higher the cost.

Most of the LTL freight carriers thus specialize in providing their services in specific regions.

Therefore, there is a need to understand the particular areas your preferred carrier often targets.

In case your area falls outside the carrier’s normal service area, it will likely require the interlining process.

And of course, interlining process entails transferring shipments to other LTL carriers hence inflating the cost.

· Freight Classification

Every freight has a specific classification, which is essential in determining the freight rates.

Some of the elements determining the freight category include handling, product density, stow-ability, value, and liability.

· Density

Density is a vital cost and freight classification determinant.

You can figure out freight density by dividing the total weight by total cubic feet.

· Negotiated Rate Tariffs

You can always negotiate tariff rates with different LTL freight carriers rather than settling for a base rate.

You can obtain best deal possible on your LTL freight if you understand your lane activity and freight data.

The bottom line is that all these factors determine the ultimate LTL freight rates to a significant extent.

Therefore, acknowledging and understanding these elements can enable you to save a considerable amount of money.

How long does LTL Shipping Take?

Several variables influence LTL freight times, depending on the specific carrier and routes.

Some of the common factors, which determine the overall LTL shipping duration include the following;

· Distance

Most trucks are restricted to the number of miles they can cover over a particular period.

Speed limits and other traffic regulations also affect delivery speed.

Ordinarily, inter-cities may take between 1-2 business days, regional shipments between 2-4 days inter-countries about 4-6 days.

· Weather

Bad weather conditions such as heavy rains, snow, mist, and others, which affect movement and visibility, may hinder LTL shipping speed.

Such weather elements can cause delays, which can be difficult to make up.

· Unexpected Delays

In LTL shipping, there are numerous aspects, which can result in unexpected delays.

For instance, mechanical breakdowns and traffic issues such as poor road and infrastructure conditions.

Such instances may affect the overall duration it takes to ship the LTL consignments.

· Route

The route for delivery destination is a vital aspect that you must consider.

In many cases, shipments, which head to sparsely populated areas, tend to take longer than otherwise.

In such situations, fewer trucks are heading in that direction; hence may cause your LTL shipment to wait longer for FTL to be assembled.

Number of Stops and Transfers

LTL shipments typically take several stops and transfers in transit.

Therefore, your consignment is likely to first head to the regional terminal, sorted onto another truck heading towards the ultimate destination.

In some instances, the number of transfers may happen more than twice, depending on the specific carrier.

The more the stops and transfers your shipment is subjected to, the longer it takes to get to the delivery destination.

Does Common Carrier Mean a Truck used for LTL Freight?

Not necessarily.

A common carrier essentially refers to any public or private entity offering shipping services of different types of consignments.

Therefore, a common carrier has enough capacity to facilitate transportation of LTL, FTL, or partial truckloads.

What is the Advantage of LTL Over other Freight Alternatives?

LTL freight has a myriad of benefits compared to other freight options.

The common advantages include the following;

· Cost-effectiveness

The truckload in LTL freight comprises several smaller consignments, which all together fill up the whole trailer.

Since your shipment is only utilizing a portion of the truckload space, it means you’ll only pay for that particular space.

In the long run, you end paying a fraction of what normal full truckload consignment would ordinarily cost.

· Eco-friendliness

LTL freight process results in comparatively few trucks carrying full loads instead of more trailers transporting less than their capacity.

The net effect, in this case, is a reduction of emission since it lessens the number of trucks required to deliver goods to respective destinations.

· Inventory Safety

LTL shipping uses palletized shipments.

Therefore, combining a consignment onto a pallet or crate creates greater stability for the shipments throughout transit.

This secures the inventory and prevents them from any potential damage when in transit.

And hence making LTL freight an ideal option for transporting fragile shipments over other alternatives.

· Easy Tracking

LTL freight carriers enable you to track the shipment at varied stages of the delivery process.

It provides status updates and notifications when the consignment reaches the hub.

Moreover, recent developments in tracking have enabled more granular insight into where your LTL shipment is.

· More Service Options

Ordinarily, most LTL freight carriers provide various special service options you’re unlikely to get from other shipping alternatives.

Some of these services include handling, freeze protection, inside pick-up, and delivery, among others.

· Faster Delivery Times

In many instances, LTL freight tends to be faster as far as getting your products in the hands of your end-users is concerned.

Ideally, you don’t need to wait for the customers to place a particular quantity of orders to fill up the whole truck.

What is Freight Class in LTL Shipping?

It refers to a standardized system of classification for various shipments shipped via LTL freight.

The essence of freight class is to establish constant parameters between LTL freight carriers.

This classification system guarantees customers of receiving unbiased prices when shipping freight.

Freight class in LTL shipping is often assigned to a shipment depending on a specific commodity or density of freight being shipped.

How do you Choose a Forwarder for LTL Shipping?

When looking for an ideal forwarder for LTL shipping, you need to be meticulous to obtain the right one.

Some of the ways of determining the right one include the following;

· Experience

Experience is a fundamental element when choosing an LTL shipping forwarder.

An experienced forwarder will facilitate the movement of your consignment irrespective of the prevailing conditions.

Experienced LTL shipping forwarders also understand various aspects of dealing with issues hence guaranteeing efficiency.

· Formidable Network

An ideal forwarder should have a host of networks in various sectors surrounding LTL shipping.

The essence here is to help in facilitating efficiency of shipping your LTL consignment.

· Accreditation

If possible, ensure you pick an LTL freight forwarder with relevant certifications from respective bodies overseeing operations of this trade.

It is important since it demonstrates the reliability of such an entity or individual discharging these tasks.

· Good Reputation

Forwarders depend on their reputation and connections to drive their business.

You can always check from the relevant bodies and associations to determine whether they are suitable for your needs.

You can find details of a reputable LTL freight forwarder by doing background research.

Moreover, you may choose to review their financial statements to determine their capacity.

·  Cost-effective and Understandable

An ideal LTL freight forwarder will offer their services at affordable rates.

At the same time, they help you to understand and strategize with you on means to decrease the shipping costs.

Can you Consolidate Packages for LTL Shipping?


Consolidation is one of the core elements of LTL shipping.

Ideally, whenever the volume goes up, it means shipping unit cost per unit goes down.

Practically, it thus implies consolidation of the shipments whenever possible as a way of obtaining a higher total volume.

Packaging consolidation for LTL shipping is advantageous; it enhances higher service levels, faster transit times, and pricing simplicity.

However, you always need to figure out if and where the shippers have enough quantity to take advantage of freight consolidation.

What are the Limitations of LTL Freight?

Some of the shortcomings of LTL freight include the following;

LTL freight

LTL Freight

· Higher Risk of Damage

Since LTL shipment rarely stays on one truck throughout the shipping period, consignments become prone to damage.

In essence, the shipments are often loaded and unloaded at every terminal along the way.

Thus, you need to follow the industry-standard guidelines for packaging the shipment securely.

· Longer Transit Time

LTL shipments often take more time to get to the respective delivery destinations.

This is always a result of freight taken back to the carrier terminals for consolidation with other goods going the same route.

As a result, the transit time is always estimated hence not assured.

· Unsuitable for many Pallets

The cost of shipping LTL shipments may be unfavorable for consignments with more than eight pallets or weighs over 10,000 pounds.

In such instances, it may be relatively cost-effective to use FTL or partial shipping.

What Information do LTL Carriers require to Provide a Freight Quote?

In most instances, you’ll need to provide some basic details to obtain an LTL shipping quote from your preferred carrier.

Remember LTL freight quote is only accurate as of the information you provide to acquire it.

The information you’d need to provide include the following;

·  Origin and Destination

The pick-up point and drop-off location are the fundamental elements in getting an LTL freight quote from your preferred carrier.

In the freight business, they are referred to us as the shipper and consignee.

Therefore, you need to provide the state, city, and zip codes for both the shipper and consignee.

· Cargo Details

Cargo details consist of three essential components, which you ought to understand, and they include the following;

  • Unit count – It refers to the number of handling units you are transporting
  • Dimensions – This is the length, width, and height of the handling unit from the exterior points.
  • Piece count – This refers to the quantity of items on every handling unit.

· Weight

Weight is a vital element, especially when it comes to developing your freight rate.

Typically, all LTL freight rates are dependent on the weight of the shipment.

You shouldn’t estimate the weight of you your shipment because if you do, you must be ready for charges to change after pick-up.

· Freight Class

You’ll need your freight class if, at all, you are obtaining an LTL rate from a common carrier.

Of course, it can be a bit challenging to determine your freight class.

In case you’re uncertain, ensure to inquire from an expert, especially your LTL freight forwarder.

· Ancillary Services

In some instances, you’ll require special services from the carrier, which don’t come easily with the ordinary business.

Therefore, you need to outline the specific special services to make it possible for the carrier to generate a comprehensive quote.

Do carriers offer LTL Freight Pick-up Goods?


Most of the LTL freight carriers provide pick-up goods.

They have structures in place to ensure the coordination of pick-up of shipments from different destinations is effective.

This is vital since it helps in facilitating the shipping process of the different consignments.

It also helps in reducing delivery time, which is critical as far perishable shipments are concerned.

What is the Ideal Load Weight for LTL Freight?

Typically, the ideal load weight for LTL freight often varies from one carrier to another.

However, the suitable LTL shipment would weigh between 151 and 20 000 pounds.

Some carriers enlist the minimum weight as 100 and maximum weight as 10,000.

While at it, the load should never contain more than six pallets in size.

But in some instances, some carriers carry up to eight pallets.

What are the Ideal Tips for Packaging LTL Freight?

In LTL shipping, lost or damaged shipments are the major causes of delays, additional charges, and other related issues.

To prevent or reduce such happenings, it is recommended to ensure the packaging of your LTL shipments correctly.

Some of the vital areas to focus on in packing LTL freight to ensure they arrive in good shape and condition include the following;

Understand the minimum packaging requirements – Make sure you follow all the rules and regulations guiding the packaging of LTL freight.

Figure out the items’ weight, dimension, handling, and liability as outlined in the regulations.

Keep the loading options in mind – Loading options are essential when it comes to cost-effectiveness.

For instance, you can package freight to load vertically rather than horizontally.

This latter is likely to ship for less since the volume of space is reduced.

Select the right pallet, box, or crate – This is an important measure for preventing everything from misplaced items to crushed boxes.

Of course, there are stipulated maximum loading weights for such packaging materials.

Therefore, it’s vital to ascertain you’re following the right guidelines.

Use protective materials – once you choose the right external packaging material, use other substances to cushion freight, and provide stability.

Some of the available options include paper padding, bubble wrap, loose-fill, and foam cushioning, among others.

Correct labeling – All LTL freight shipments must be labeled before pick-up.

Ensure you clearly indicate the shipper’s and consignee’s details.

Where applicable, make sure the precautionary labels are applied accordingly and secured with adhesive, tapes, or staples.

You can always use a tag in case the labels don’t adhere.

Is it Necessary to use a Third-party LTL Freight Shipping Company?


You may consider using a third-party agent to facilitate shipping your LTL shipment.

There is no regulation, which restricts the use of 3rd party LTL freight shipping companies.

The most important thing is making sure that the specific 3rd party LTL freight company complies with all the stipulated shipping policies.

Who Bears the Liability in LTL Freight Shipping?

It is the responsibility of the LTL freight company to bear the liability when shipping a consignment.

The shipper takes control of the shipment immediately; it is issued from the seller.

The buyer only takes responsibility when the shipment is signed off after delivery by the shipper and declaring it is in good condition.

However, the degree to which the carriers accept liability in LTL freight is dependent on different qualifiers.

If the incoterm is on the FOB contract, the seller loads the shipment at their own risk and can be held accountable for negligence in loading.

Once the cargo is loaded, the career accepts liability for damage.

However, under many standard contracts and regulations, the carrier is not liable for damage arising from the following aspects;

  • Inadequate packaging
  • Acts of nature
  • Acts of public enemies

Can you Track your Shipment in LTL Freight?

Absolutely correct.

One of the main advantages of using LTL freight is that it is relatively easy to track your shipments in transit.

You can use several measures to track your LTL consignment.

Most of the LTL freight carriers have integrated their systems with different effective tracking platforms.

Therefore, you can choose to track the shipment directly from the carrier’s website as long as you obtain the tracking number for the same.

Another option would be to seek the services of a third-party tracking company.

In this case, you need to have an online tracking application for tracking your LTL consignments.

It is often regarded as the best alternative for tracking LTL freight shipments due to reliability.

The only issue with using 3rd party tracking company is that it can be somewhat expensive.

What Paperwork is required for LTL Freight?

The documentation needs for LTL freight depend on many things, such as the type of products you are shipping.

Even so, the most fundamental document for this type of freight is arguably the Bill of Lading.

In principle, this document must always be completed in the hands of the carrier during pick-up.

Bill of lading contains useful information such as consignee’s information, shipment date, type of packaging, freight class, types of goods, and dimension.

Other paperwork, which you might require for LTL freight include;

  • Commercial invoice
  • Insurance certificate
  • Test report where applicable
  • Packing list

Who Benefits most with LTL Shipping?

If you’re a small business owner, you stand a chance of being the greatest beneficiary of LTL shipping.

Principally, you’ll be saving considerable costs when using this mode of shipping for your consignments.

And this is also beneficial, especially if you are not a frequent buyer.

What are the Best Practices when using LTL Freight?

When preparing LTL shipments, there are essential things you need to keep in mind.

Notably, these may include dimensions, paperwork, labeling, and packaging.

In terms of dimension, when measuring the length, width, and height of shipments, round up to the next inch or a couple of inches.

For your carrier to make the most use of trailer capacity, you need to get accurate measurements.

It also allows you to avoid paying excess fees.

When it comes to documentation, always make sure you complete the Bill of Lading to complete shipping transactions.

This document works as a receipt for your products, and it should be as detailed and precise as possible.

In regards to packaging and labeling, they need to be in good standing.

Always load your shipments on pallets to help in condensing the space they’ll cover in the truck.

Set heavier items on the bottom of the pallets to prevent them from damaging the light ones.

Additionally, always purpose to make your labels entirely visible from the outside of the pallet.

In LTL freight, always take advantage of the tracking services the carrier offers.

In case your preferred shipper hardly provides tracking services, seek a third party, or implement your tracking technology.

And now, we would like to hear from you.

Maybe you can tell us your experience with LTL freight.

Or, ask us anything you need to know about LTL freight.

BanSar offers a perfect solution for all your LTL freight needs – contact us now.

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