What is LTL Shipping?

ltl shipping

What Is LTL Shipping? 

LTL or Less-Than-Truckload Shipping is the transportation method where a carrier combines multiple loads into a single trailer. Shippers use LTL shipping when they don’t have enough freight volume to fill an entire truck container and want to save shipping costs. Compared to other types of transportation, LTL trucking can be a useful solution for small businesses and individual shippers. When you’re sharing the truck capacity with other shippers, you only pay for space you actually use.

What Does LTL mean in shipping?

LTL stands for less-than-truckload, which means that this shipping mode suggests you use only a part of a carrier’s trailer.

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How does LTL shipping work?

LTL shipment ranges from 1 to 6 pallets, crates, large parcels or other shipping units that don’t fill up a freight carrier’s truck. This allows the driver to haul more than one specific load to better utilize the trailer.  This method is useful when the freight shipment weighs between 150 and 20,000 pounds. LTL shipping operates from terminal groups. You have smaller local terminals that connect to the larger terminals.

What is an LTL carrier?

An LTL carrier is a person or a company that owns the equipment and specializes in moving LTL freight across the country or internationally. There are different types of LTL carriers, and most of them have different tariffs and freight shipping requirements. It’s important to have a wide choice of LTL carriers to find the perfect option for your load.

What are the benefits of LTL Shipping?

  • Lower costs: LTL shipping requires only partial use of a trailer, which means you will only pay for the actual space you use. Other shippers utilizing the trailer will pay for the remaining.
  • Shipment security: Most LTL carriers require palletizing your freight. Palletizing increases the security of your goods from damages while in transit. Your carrier will make sure freight is loaded properly and is secure no matter what.
  • Additional service options: LTL shipping will provide you with additional benefits such as the lift-gate service at pickup or delivery, residential (also known as “non-commercial”) service at pickup or delivery, inside delivery, notification prior to delivery, freeze protection, and more.

What factors determine LTL shipping rates?


Typically, the longer the haul, the higher the price. Some LTL carriers only serve a specific region, and transferring the shipment to another LTL carrier will increase the cost. At GoShip.com we do this research for you and match your freight with the best lane and best price.

Freight Class

Freight class is defined by a variety of factors. It is determined by the weight and density of your freight. If you have a lower-class freight, it means that its heavy, dense, and difficult to break making it easy to handle. Higher-class freight is typically lighter, less dense, and difficult to handle due to being fragile. At GoShip.com, we utilize our freight class calculator to determine your class, so you don’t have to!

Additional Charges

Services that go above the normal pick-up and delivery require additional fees. These could include lift gate use, inside delivery, limited access delivery, or freeze protection.

How do I prepare my LTL shipment?


It’s important to always make sure the address for pick-up and delivery is correct. After you book a shipment with GoShip.com, you will receive a bill of lading (BOL). The bill of lading is the most important document in the shipping process. So, it is crucial to provide accurate, exact information and avoid mistakes. Ensure that the document is correct before turning it over to your carrier.

Shipment information

Accurate dimensions are very important to you and the carrier. The carrier relies on accuracy to maximize their capacity and prevent any fees toward your shipment. This also applies to the weight, freight class, density, address destination, etc. If any of the necessary data is inaccurate or uncertain, the shipper can end up paying fees and additional charges. To avoid delays and unwanted costs, double-check your shipment information.

Packaging and labeling

Palletized loads are the best solution for consolidating and securing your freight. Make sure you place the heaviest items toward the bottom and secure your labels on the side. There are many other types of LTL freight packaging to use. Just make sure to communicate it with your carrier or shipping company to avoid misunderstanding. Labeling your items will help carriers understand how to handle your freight properly. So, if the goods have some special handling requirements, don’t forget to mention that and label accordingly.

What is the difference between LTL shipping and FTL shipping?

There is a difference between less-than-truckload (LTL) and full truckload (FTL) shipping. When your freight only requires partial space in a trailer, it is the LTL shipping. Whereas freight that requires the full trailer or exceeds the weight limit is known as full-truckload.

When should I use LTL Shipping?

 If you are shipping freight that is over 150 pounds, or 1 to 6 pallets, consider using LTL shipping. Using an LTL freight provider will not only provide competitive rates and expert advice, but the advantage of shipping LTL on a pallet vs. small parcel is that LTL would be less susceptible to damage in transit.

Benefits of LTL Shipping with GoShip.com

GoShip.com is here to make your life easier by being the connection between you and the carrier. Let us use our advanced industry knowledge and our experienced qualified carriers to assist you with your LTL freight. All it takes is an easy and free quote to view the most competitive rates from our vast carrier network, allowing you to choose your best option.

  • Instantly compare LTL quotes from our trusted carrier network.
  • Get the lowest rates for your LTL freight shipping needs.
  • No need to contact a freight broker
  • Custom solutions to meet your business needs
  • Online tools to book all your shipments and email tracking options
  • Years of experience in the LTL and transportation industries

Our years of experience in the LTL and transportation industries let us provide you with tailored, custom solutions to meet your business needs. No matter if you’re an individual shipper or a small business, we can serve all of your LTL shipping needs!

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Effective 3/18/20 please be aware that any shipments to carriers that are consigned to non-life sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania or California will be delayed until restrictions are lifted. These shipments may be subject to additional fees, including return shipment fees.  Non-essential businesses include public-facing industries such as entertainment, hospitality, and recreation facilities. Please reach out to customer_service@goship.com with any concerns. Please see the downloadable files for more details.

Life Sustaining Business Pennsylvania (86 downloads)

California Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers (89 downloads)