The term “LTL shipping” is a commonly used term in the world of freight shipping. For people who don’t ship products often or who are new to shipping for their business, the term “LTL shipping” can be a little obscure. LTL, which stands for “less than truckload”, refers to a freight shipment that doesn’t fill an entire truck. LTL shipments are usually palletized and range anywhere from 150 to 10,000 pounds.

There are many carriers that specialize in LTL shipping, and they often specialize in different services such as residential pickups and deliveries, guaranteed services, trade show exhibits, freeze protection and transit. When products are shipped via LTL, products are moved from point to point by a number of different modes of transportation including air, rail, water and truck.

Why use LTL shipping?

Shipping locally and nationally can be stressful and time consuming for many business owners. With LTL shipping, you can get your shipments to their final destination quicker and more conveniently than with other forms of shipping. With LTL shipping, carriers move goods from many different customers on one truck. This gives businesses a more cost-effective method of shipping.


The major benefit of LTL shipping is that it minimizes costs for businesses. Instead of paying higher rates to deliver shipments by parcel carrier, businesses can benefit through lower rates with LTL shipping. Also, LTL shipments are transported at a fraction of the cost of hiring an entire truck for a shipment. When you use LTL shipping, the carrier puts all shipments from multiple businesses onto a single freight truck. Therefore, each business only pays a fraction of the shipping cost.

Many companies use LTL shipping because LTL shipments often have a quicker delivery time than full truckload shipments. With LTL shipments, there are fewer stops and weigh-ins happen quicker along the way. In general, there are fewer logistics to deal with when it comes to LTL shipping.

Items shipped via LTL shipping are carefully packaged and put into the truck prior to shipping. This ensures that packages aren’t damaged or destroyed while in transit. Damaged items are common in parcel and full truckload shipping, and for this reason many businesses prefer using LTL shipping for their business’ needs.

How shipping rates work

Unlike full truckload shipping, which has rates based on a set-in-stone system, LTL freight rates can get confusing. There are many factors that regulate LTL shipping rates, and these factors largely impact the cost of a shipment. Here are the four most important factors that determine LTL freight rates:

  • Weight: LTL freight rates are structured so that the more the shipment weighs, the less you pay.
  • Distance: Typically, the longer the distance between sender and receiver, the higher the price-per-hundred weight will be. Some LTL carriers only serve a specific geographic area, so it’s important to consider where you’ll be sending your product when you choose an LTL carrier.
  • Classification: Each piece of freight has a freight classification, and this is a huge factor in determining the LTL freight rate. There are 18 different classes, and the higher the class, the more expensive the rate will be.
  • Accessorials/Surcharges: Accessorial charges come from extra services performed by the LTL carrier that go beyond typical business to business pickups and deliveries. Examples of accessorial charges include lift gate services, residential pickup or delivery, inside delivery and limited access locations (jails, prisons, storage units, schools, etc.).