Shipping 101

Shipping 101

When you work in the freight world it is easy to get caught up in the jargon and forget that knowledge that seems basic isn’t for people who aren’t in the industry so here's a crash course into the freight world.

Important Documents

Bill of Lading (BOL): a detailed list of the goods shipped in the form of a receipt given by the carrier to the person consigning the goods. The shipper should present this completed document to the carrier at the time of pickup.

freightview bol

Delivery Receipt (DR): Also referred to as a POD (proof of delivery). This is basically what it sounds like-- a receipt that confirms the delivery has been made. It will show date and time of delivery. It is also where the consignee should make notations if the freight is damaged or short.

Inspection Certificate: This is called different things sometimes. Weight & Research certificate or Weight and Inspection. These are all the same thing. This is a legal document that documents when a carrier changes the weight or class on a shipment.


These are additional services added onto standard shipping procedures. These will come at an additional cost form the carrier. Some examples include Lift gate pickup or delivery, residential pickup or delivery, inside delivery, etc. 

Freight Class and NMFC Numbers

Carriers rate and ship freight based on freight class. Freight classes and NMFC numbers are defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). The NMFTA is responsible for maintaining industry-wide guidelines and an NMFC catalog for everyone to abide by. Using the right freight class and NMFC is important for ensuring proper billing. Freightview has a density based freight calculator to help you figure out yours class.  

Fuel Surcharge

This is a flat rate that incorporates fuel into your shipping cost. This will change based on average fuel cost. This will update weekly. 


This is an abbreviation for hazardous materials. When you are shipping Hazmat you will need to specify that and notate the UN number which identifies dangerous goods and puts them into different categories. These are set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

PRO Numbers

PRO numbers are numbers assigned to shipments that are generally used for tracking. To learn more you can read this previous post covering PROs in more detail.


SCAC stands for Standard Alpha Carrier Code. This is a privately controlled US code that is used to identify a carrier. It was developed in the 1960s by the NMFTA.

Shipping Modes 

LTL Freight: LTL stands for less-than-truckload. This is when a shipper only needs part of the space in a trailer, and will have their freight riding along with freight from other shippers too.

TL Freight: TL stands for truck load. Most trailers are 28 feet. This is used when freight takes up too much space to share with any other freight or weights over 15,000 pounds. It can be used when a shipper just wants to ensure their freight isn’t banging up against other crates, pallets or boxes. It may cost a little more upfront, but with certain kinds of freight it means there is less of a chance for damage to occur and may be worth it.

Parcel: Parcel shipping is shipping smaller, lighter, boxed items. Parcel shipments are typically 150 pounds or less.

Understanding Payment Terms

These are terms you will notice on the BOL and the DR.

Prepaid - this means the charges are paid by the shipper

Collect - this means the charges are paid by the consignee aka recipient of the freight.

Third Party - Third party means someone who is not the shipper or the consignee is the one paying.

There is a lot to learn within the industry, but with this basic info you can feel confident contributing to the conversation or asking questions about freight.

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