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Transportation terminology

We debunk and simplify the most used terms so that you can distinguish the important from the irrelevant. The following is a list of widely used terms which will help you with deciphering bills, articles, comments, and communications made by transportation professionals and the mainstream media in reference to everything transportation. Whether you are new to the transportation industry, are a seasoned veteran, or just want to better understand transportation terminology, this comprehensive reference guide is for you.


Transportation terminology: Do not be afraid, just ask!

seize the opportunity to ask questions and learn to understand how things work. If ordering transportation, and the associated communication, becomes too complicated, remember that shipping and logistics is a transparent and straightforward operation. Seize the opportunity to ask questions and learn to understand how things work. It often helps to highlight and validate the skills of your freight forwarder.

Transportation terminology

  1. Adjustments

Costs incurred after a shipment has delivered. These costs can be added for a discrepancy between the freight characteristics quoted and the delivered shipment details of weight, class, and dimensions.

  1. Alliance

Group of airlines or ocean carriers, who coordinate and cross-list schedules; sell capacity on each other’s flights/voyages,

  1. Accessorial Charge

Amount billed for additional, supplemental or special services provided. A carrier’s charge for accessorial services such as loading, unloading, pickup, and delivery, or any other charge deemed appropriate. It is a carrier’s charge for accessorial services such as lift gate, two-person crew, and inside delivery. Examples include Tarps, Dunnage, layovers, detention, etc.

  1. Agent

An enterprise authorized to transact business for, or in the name of, another enterprise. it is a person who transacts business on behalf of another person or company with full or limited decision-making authority. A local moving company authorized to act on behalf of a larger, national company. In shipping, an agent may supervise customs procedures, documentation, or insurance. This person may also receive a portion of any monetary gain from a transaction as payment.

  1. Bill of Lading (BOL)

Transportation terminology: It is A transportation document that is the contract of the carriage containing the terms and conditions between the shipper and carrier. The bill of lading (BOL) is the legally-binding contract between the shipper and the carrier. It describes the nature of the cargo, the amount of cargo by weight, size and/or a number of pieces, and the origin and destination of the cargo. In the event, the customer does not understand or consent to statements on the bill of lading.

  1. Air Waybill (AWB)

Transportation terminology: It is a bill of lading for air transport, which serves as a receipt for the shipper. A document issued by a carrier to a shipper that supplies written evidence regarding the receipt of goods, the mode of transportation and the arrangement to deliver goods at the requested destination to the lawful holder of the bill of lading.

  1. Backhaul

Transportation terminology: It is the process of a transportation vehicle returning from the original destination point to the point of origin. Unpacking or disassembling a portion or all contents of a consolidated shipment for consignment or delivery. Freight movement in a direction (or lane) of secondary importance or light demand. The backhaul can be with a full, partial, or empty load.

  1. Container

Transportation terminology: A single, rigid, sealed and reusable metal box in which merchandise is shipped by vessel, truck, or rail. A container looks like a truck trailer with no wheels and is now among the most common freight shipping methods. Air Freight containers ULD or unit lead devices) are available in a variety of shapes and sizes.

  1. Partial

Transportation terminology:  The truck used to compile multiple shipments from several customers in order to utilize the entire truck.

  1. Trans-Load

This is standard practice at international U.S. borders where carriers can only operate in one country and must pass off the load to a carrier authorized to transport loads in the country of the load’s destination.

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