A Beginner’s Guide to LTL Shipping

A Beginner’s Guide to LTL Shipping


At first glance, LTL shipping methods can seem intimidating. After all, LTL is just one of the many services that fall under the 3PL umbrella. Over the years, LTL services have increased in popularity, and it’s extremely common for companies in the United States to utilize LTL methods. Luckily, we can help you untangle the mystery behind this freight shipping service. We’ve created a general list of items to keep in mind when considering LTL shipping.


A quick definition

LTL stands for “less than truckload,” meaning shipping providers travel long distances to transport a full truck of shipments from different companies. They combine partial loads to create a full load. Your freight travels and makes stops at terminals for other shipments, and it’s unloaded and reloaded into different trucks at every stop. However, there are less stops and weigh-ins than full truckloads (FTL).

To reduce damage, LTL shipments often come in wood crates or on wrapped pallets. Therefore, every order is contained into one unit (or pallet).

It’s easy to get LTL and FTL shipping confused, but this quick guide demonstrates the differences. One of the key differences is pricing; LTL rates are pre-established while FTL rates vary depending on the day.

Typically, a carrier’s LTL rates are based on classes, weight, size, delivery speed (or service type), and discount rates. Rates also vary if you receive accessorial charges (meaning the carrier performs more duties than originally stated in the bill of lading.


Requirements for successful LTL shipping

We strongly recommend reading through our requirements below for a smooth LTL experience.

  • Shipments must weigh under 20,000 pounds; otherwise, it’s best to transport these shipments via another shipping method.
  • A shipment’s bill of lading (BOL) must be accurate and complete before shipping. This document contains all the information needed to help parcels arrive at their destinations on time.
  • Shipments need to be on pallets or crates to accelerate the unloading and reloading process.
  • You need to monitor your shipments to give your customers accurate estimates on their parcels’ arrival times. Tracking this information ensures maximum customer satisfaction.
  • Accidents happen. Acquire insurance for your freight to avoid costly charges later.



LTL shipping offers a host of benefits. Generally, it works well for small, frequent shipments. Thus, we typically recommend that small businesses utilize this type of shipping service. Often, smaller businesses don’t need the space and want to save money as their company grows.

Here are just a few of the benefits of LTL shipping:

  • It allows flexibility — LTL shipping is generally quick and convenient, whether you’re shipping regionally or nationally. This is because, when compared to FTL, there are less logistics in the shipping process. Additionally, LTL carriers can be flexible with you and offer numerous services that many FTL shipping providers don’t. You can choose from a number of service types, including standard, expedited, or guaranteed shipping. You also have the option for lift gate pickup and delivery and more.
  • It’s environmentally friendly — With shipping from the same truck, you’re cutting down on the number of trucks traveling and transporting shipments. Using LTL shipping services is a great way to reduce emissions!
  • It’s cost effective — Because your shipments don’t fill the entire truck, you only need to pay for the space you’re filling. Sometimes, LTL freight can even be cheaper than shipping individual parcels. While it takes more work to prepare your shipments, the savings through LTL are worth it.
  • It creates lasting partnerships — Carriers want to work with you to increase satisfaction and ensure they’re exceeding your expectations. As a provider ourselves, we understand that every client has different needs. This is why providers like us go above and beyond your expectations. Seasoned professionals can help you save time and do what’s best for your parcels.


Why it might not be right for you

Some of the disadvantages of LTL shipping include:

  • Longer transit times — With numerous stops, carriers may delay your shipments. This means you’ll need to budget more time to ensure your parcels will arrive on time.
  • More planning — Because carriers are making various stops and shipping numerous parcels, you’ll need to stay up-to-date. There are a lot of details to focus on, such as freight class, pickup and destination locations, and more. Paying attention to these factors is key to successful shipping processes.
  • Increased damage risk — Carriers are unloading and reloading your parcels at several stops per trip, so be sure you wrap your products carefully to decrease the risk of damage. Make sure your parcels are not going to be larger than the pallet, and it’s a good idea to secure your items with shrink wrap for additional protection. If you have sensitive cargo, consider a different shipping method.

For large, heavy shipments

Do you have a larger or heavier shipment? Consider partial (or full) truckloads.

We suggest using full truckloads when your freight is too large to share space with other parcels. When you utilize FTL services, you use entire trucks dedicated to your shipments. These trucks will travel point-to-point.

Partial truckloads are a marriage of LTL and FTL services. They offer numerous benefits, including fast transit times and limited freight handling.

Above all, the shipping method you choose ultimately depends on your shipment size, budget, and desired deliver times.


If you do decide to utilize LTL shipping services, make sure you choose the right provider for your needs. In many cases, you get what you pay for—and choosing the right LTL provider can be difficult, if not scary, as a result. Diversified Transportation Services offers nearly 30 years of industry experience, so we know how to make LTL simple, seamless, and as effective as possible. Plus, we offer our wealth of knowledge at a competitive price, making us the ideal choice for all 3PL services.

In addition to LTL shipping services, we offer FTL, volume and partial TL, and more. We’re a top-tier shipping and logistics company, and we’re a reputable destination that will get your shipments out on time. For questions regarding our services, contact us today.


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