Shipping Glossary

Shipping Glossary

Accessorial Charges (also called “Assessorial Charges”)
Charges made for performing services beyond normal pickup and delivery such as inside delivery or storage charges.

Air Freight Forwarder
An air freight forwarder provides pickup and delivery service under its own tariff, consolidates shipments into larger units, prepares shipping documentation, and tenders shipments to the airlines. Air freight forwarders do not generally operate their own aircraft and may therefore be called “indirect air carriers.” Because the air freight forwarder tenders the shipment, the airlines consider the forwarder to be the shipper.

Bill of Lading (B/L)
A bill of lading is a binding contract that serves three main purposes: (1) a receipt for the goods delivered to the carrier for shipment; (2) a definition or description of the goods; and (3) evidence of title to the relative goods, if “negotiable.”

Breakbulk Terminal
Consolidation and distribution center. A facility in a trucking company’s system that unloads and consolidates shipments received from both its smaller terminals and from other breakbulks. This facility may have its own city operation. Example: Freight destined for Texas from several New England states will be consolidated at our Stroudsurgh, PA, breakbulk for forwarding to Texas.

Cartage Agent
A carrier that performs pickup or delivery in areas that the trucking company does not service themselves.

  • Freight is in the possession of Cartage Agent, not the trucking company.
  • Cartage agents use their own paperwork while transporting the shipment.
  • Diversified Transportation Services does not track the shipment while it is in the cartage agent’s possession.
  • When a trucking company gives a shipment to a cartage agent for delivery, the shipment is considered to be “delivered” by the online tracking tool.

Cargo Claim —A “Cargo Claim” is a demand made upon a transportation company for payment due to freight loss or damage alleged to have occurred while shipment was in the possession of carrier. Under the terms and conditions the Uniform Bill of Lading, all cargo claims must be filed within 9 months.

Overcharge Claim—“Overcharge Claims” are demands upon a transportation company for the refund of an overcharge from the erroneous application of rates, weights, and assessment of freight charges.

Any article of commerce. Goods shipped.

The person or place where a shipment will be transferred for the last time (destination); the individual or organization to whom the freight is addressed.

Delivery Receipt
Document dated and signed by consignee or its agent at the time of delivery stating the condition of the goods at delivery. The signed delivery receipt is returned to the driver for retention at the terminal as proof of delivery. The customer retains the remaining copy.

Any commodity being transported.

Freight Bill
Shipping document that gives a description of the freight, its weight, amount of charges, taxes, and whether the bill is collect or prepaid. If bill is prepaid, freight charges are paid by shipper. If bill is collect, freight charges are paid by the receiver of the goods or a third party.

Hazardous Material
Hazardous materials are defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation in accordance with the Federal Hazardous Material Law. A substance or material may be designated as hazardous if the transportation of the material in a particular amount and form poses an unreasonable risk to health and safety or property.

Hazardous material includes: explosives, radioactive materials, etiologic agents, flammable or combustible liquids or solids, poisons, oxidizing or corrosive materials, and compressed gases. For more information, go to the U.S. DOT web site at

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL)
Freight from several shippers loaded onto one trailer. Each shipment usually weighs less than 10,000 pounds.

LTL is in contrast to truckload in which only one shipment from one shipper is loaded in a trailer.

Minimum Charge
The lowest charge for which a shipment will be handled after discount and/or adjustment.

National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC)
Industry standard tariff published by motor carriers, which contains rules, descriptions, and rating for all commodities. Used to classify freight for the purpose of rating the freight bill. More information about freight classes and the NMFC can be found at

Payment Terms
Generally, the shipper is responsible for payment of prepaid shipments and the consignee is responsible on collect shipment. Payments may also be handled by a third party indicated as payer on the shipping papers.

An acronym for “progressive rotating order.” A PRO number is assigned to each shipment and serves as a tracking number and a Diversified Transportation Services invoice number.

Shipping Documents
Papers accompanying a shipment as it moves through the trucking company’s system.

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