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LTL stands for "Less Than Truckload" and describes a type of commercial shipping solution for freight that is too big for parcel carriers like the US Postal Service. uShip is here to help you get what you want: the best freight shipping company at the best rate. We’ll help you figure out how to ship freight, help you get the best LTL shipping rates, and give you some tips along the way. You can always contact us and we will follow up with you directly.

uShip’s marketplace makes it easy to find the best shipping options for both your LTL freight needs and your budget. Create your listing with your needs and be as detailed as possible. Once you complete your listing, the freight shipping calculator will provide instant LTL rates. You can accept one of those rates or you can take your freight shipment to auction. There, you’ll get LTL quotes from transport specialists as they bid for your business. Your LTL freight carrier will combine your shipment with other LTL freight to maximize efficiency and reduce costs.


LTL shipping is the transportation of small loads or freight that only fill a portion of a truck or trailer. Less than truckload (LTL) shipments generally weigh between 200 and 10,000 lbs but can vary depending on the guidelines of your carrier. Since most freight trailers are 8’ – 8.5’ wide, 12.5’ – 13.5’ high, and 40’ – 53’ long, carriers share the space with multiple LTL shipments from different freight carriers within a single truck.

The freight is then transported via a hub and spoke system, where it is transferred between trucks and freight centers until it reaches its ultimate destination. For example, LTL shipping from California to New York may stop at a few different freight terminals to be moved to another trailer. This ensures that the cargo reaches its destination.

LTL freight shipment in transit


LTL freight is primarily focused on pallet shipping, however, cargo can be packaged in a crate, as a bundle, or in a box. The idea is that a forklift will be able to easily move the freight as needed throughout its journey. It typically weighs between 150 and 15,000 lbs but can vary depending on the guidelines of your carrier. It is important to note that while most LTL freight companies will ship many different types of freight, they do have restrictions.

Freight transportation questions? We can help. Contact us to discuss your less than truckload needs.


Carriers take into account several factors when determining the final freight cost of your LTL shipment. They primarily include the following:

  • Freight class: Freight class is determined by liability, stowability, handling, and density.
  • Travel distance: Rates increase the further the commercial freight needs to be delivered, the carrier’s primary region, and if a second carrier needs to be brought in.
  • Fuel surcharge: Rates are calculated using several factors: gas prices changing, type of fuel, MPG, distance, and shipment cost.
  • Shipment specs: This includes the freight’s weight and dimensions.
  • Type of freight: The type of freight has an impact on the price. For example, shipping an engine versus a pallet of bricks.
  • Location Type: LTL freight not being shipped dock to dock will be more expensive. For example, shipping to a trade show or to a military base would increase the price.

Keep in mind that LTL shipping rates are considerably cheaper than transporting big items via a parcel carrier. For an inside look at what it costs to ship freight, visit our cost to ship LTL freight page tool. There, you will be able to view LTL freight shipping transactions completed through uShip and get a better idea of what your shipment may cost.


  • LTL shipping reduces costs – No matter the carrier,LTL freight is cheaper to transport due to the processes it goes through. Since the weight is relatively low, freight can be loaded onto a trailer with multiple shipments and costs are divided based on the portion of the trailer used.
  • LTL transport minimizes emissions – Rather than a truck carrying below its capacity, LTL allows multiple shipments to fill a trailer and travel with full capacity. This process reduces the amount of trucks on the road and creates fewer emissions.
  • LTL improves security – Since packages are handled more frequently with increased stops, freight shippers are encouraged to load thier cargo onto sturdy pallets and into durable crates. These protect the shipment from wear, other freight, and loss of individual packages.
  • LTL shipping provides more services – Options not readily available with alternate shipping methods, LTL offers many services including notifications, inside pick-up and delivery, lift gate, special handling, and more.
  • LTL shipping is trackable – Many carriers will provide real-time tracking that include stop-offs, pick-ups, and delivery.


Less than truckload is best for businesses who do not require the use of an entire trailer and businesses that have freight that weighs under 15,000 lbs. Other questions to keep in mind when deciding on an LTL carrier are:

  • Am I, or an agent, available to load and unload the shipment?
  • Can I consolidate and palletize my shipment?
  • Am I comfortable sharing trailer space with other freight shipments?
  • Do I understand the timeline restrictions of LTL freight?


Woman with pallet jack in warehouse


First, you’ll want to consider your time frame and needs for your shipment. Goods are typically placed on pallets, known as "palletization," and transported by a freight carrier. You’ll want to know what you’re shipping, whether it’s new or used commercial goods, and the weight and dimensions of your pallet. A standard pallet is 40 inches by 48 inches. It will also help to know if your freight requires a lift gate at pick up or delivery. Include any possible restrictions for locations, including if pickup or delivery is in a residential area.

2 | uShip LTL Instant Rates

Book your LTL Instant Rates shipment in 6 easy steps:

  • 1. Create Your Listing: Choose a pallet, crate, box, or other item describing your packaging. Then, enter the dimensions including packaging in your measurements. Include the weight. We recommend using a scale for accuracy and to avoid LTL rebills. Enter your preferred pickup date. We find it's best to book before 11:00 am for same day pick up. Next, enter your origin zip code and pick up location type. Then do the same for destination zip code and location type. Be sure to select the most specific location type possible. Finally, select the shipping services you'll need for both pickup and delivery. For example, do they have a dock, forklift or do they need a lift-gate service?
  • 2. Pricing: uShip gives your rates from over 30 national and regional LTL shipping companies in a matter of seconds. Services include consolidated, standard, and guaranteed. Sort by price, transit time, or feedback rating from past uShip customers. When you click on a carrier, you're taken to their profile where you can see rules, tariffs, and feedback from other businesses who have used this freight shipping company. Check out their on-time rating and damage percentages as well. Select the rate and carrier you prefer.
  • 3. Bill of Lading: The Bill of Lading is one of the most important documents in the shipping process. Include the names, contact information, and email addresses for the people at both ends of the shipment. That way, you'll both receive the Bill of Lading via email at the time of booking. Note that the origin and destination city can be changed, as long as the zip code is correct. If the zip code changes, this will potentially change the rate, and the shipment may need to be re-quoted. The Bill of Lading includes the pickup time and instructions. At least a 3 hour pickup time frame is required. Also, include things like bay number at the loading dock. The Bill of Lading also includes shipment contents. Be specific and include details where possible. Reference numbers help ensure easy pickup and delivery.
  • 4. Insurance and Checkout: Here, you'll see a breakdown of shipping costs, as well as an option to purchas uShip Commercial Cargo Insurance for a small cost. Carrier liability insurance usually only covers cents on the pound, so it's smart to consider extra coverage. Once you've made your insurance selection and entered payment information, select "Complete Booking."
  • 5. Booking Confirmation: You can review your Bill of Lading for accuracy and print it if you like. The first page includes tracking information as well as helpful tips for ensuring a successful shipment.
  • 6. Confirmation Email: This includes booking confirmation and the pickup number from your carrier. If you need to reschedule, or check a driver's ETA, have this number handy when calling the carrier.

Keep in mind, LTL Instant Rates may not be available, but don't worry, you can take your freight to our uShip Marketplace and have LTL carriers compete for your business.

3 | LTL Shipments Through the uShip Marketplace

After you create your shipment listing, you’ll receive quotes from LTL shipping companies as they compete for your business. You are also able to ask questions and talk directly to the carriers while maintaining your privacy - we encourage you to check out their LTL carrier profiles as well.

Each transporter on uShip has their own carrier profile with their transport history, safety records and customer rated feedback. Review these profiles to get a good sense of the LTL carrier bidding on your shipment. Most transporters have a photo of their equipment on their profile as well as any certifications or licensing they obtain. Looking into profiles and talking with the carriers will help you feel confident you’re choosing the best LTL transport company for your job.

Once you’ve selected the LTL freight delivery service that’s best for you, contact them directly with any concerns, additional details or questions you may have. Share any third-party contact information that can make your shipment run smoothly. While your LTL carrier will have a copy of the bill of lading, it’s a good idea to print out your own copy as well. Have payment completed at the agreed upon time and let us know if you run into any issues. We’re here to help before, during, and after your LTL shipment.

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LTL trucks in a line on the road


LTL shipments are more susceptible to damage since it is handled and transferred repeatedly, so it's important to prepare your LTL freight properly. If you are shipping your commercial goods as LTL freight, it should be consolidated into one large, palletized shipment. Minimizing the number of individual packages reduces handling time and decreases the likelihood of damage.

Properly load and secure goods onto pallets to protect the shipment during transportation.

  • Stack goods with the heaviest items on the bottom and refrain from any overhang.
  • Use straps and shrink wrap to ensure goods properly stay together.
  • When packaging your LTL shipment, aligning goods on the pallet is best practice. Staggering is okay but is 33% weaker.

Create and place a label on each pallet. Make sure the complete address information, postal codes of the shipper and consignee, and phone numbers are present and visible.

LTL Insider Tip: If shipping a piece of machinery or an auto or boat part, fully crate the item to be shipped. This is a rule for almost all freight carriers.

Warehouse of LTL shipments


Freight companies charge for additional services that go beyond the normal LTL shipment procedures. These services are called accessorials. These services are required depending on the nature of your shipment and can be added during the quoting process. The most common types of accessorials are:

  • Liftgate: This is used when there is not a loading dock or forklift available to load or unload the freight.
  • Limited access pickup and delivery: This is required when the location is limited access for a carrier, such as a church, school, home business, strip mall, rural location, trade show, or government location.
  • Inside pickup and delivery: Applies anytime an LTL carrier enters a building to obtain or unload cargo.
  • Expedited: This service can be added if you need your goods to arrive at their destination faster than the quoted amount of time.
  • Lumper Services: A lumper fee is added when a third-party service is used to load or unload pallets from a trailer. This is typical for a grocery store.
  • Detention: If the driver is delayed for any reason due to your actions, you will be charged per minute the driver waits.
  • Storage: This LTL fee is assessed when you need the shipping company to hold your freight for an extended amount of time.

LTL Insider Tip: Make sure to review all pickup and delivery documents before signing as these services sometimes get added without you knowing.

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