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LTL Freight Shipping: How to Move Your Freight with LTL Carriers?

LTL Freight Shipping & LTL Quotes

Don't have time to compare thousands of quotes from LTL carriers? Let us handle it for you! At GoShip, we make quoting LTL freight shipments easier than ever with our self-service online tools. Get an instant quote and list of competitive shipping rates from our contract carriers with the touch of a button. GoShip helps you plan, execute, and manage your shipping operations at the highest level. 

What Is LTL Shipping and How Does It Work? 

LTL stands for less than truckload, which means a typical LTL shipment takes only a part of a freight trailer's space. LTL freight shipping is a transportation method when your shipment takes only a part of the carrier's trailer. Your freight is stacked into pallets, crates, large boxes, and is combined with shipments from other businesses into a single trailer. This makes LTL freight shipping a reliable and cost-efficient solution for shippers and businesses that have small amounts of goods. It is more flexible than a full truckload mode and offers many benefits to individual shippers and small businesses. 

LTL freight is usually combined in hubs, facilities, or distribution centers, and is unloaded in special terminals, where receivers can pick up their orders. LTL shipments can be handled multiple times while in transit. This means that it's the most affordable way to ship your larger-than-parcels items without the cost of a full trailer. The remaining space is filled by other companies, each only having to pay for a portion of the trailer being used.

When to Use LTL Shipping Mode? 

If you are considering LTL freight as an option, make sure you understand how it works and what do you need to do in order to successfully ship your items.  

LTL freight shipping is perfect for you, if: 

  • Your shipment is beyond parcel size limits. If your freight is larger than standard parcels and can be fitted on a couple of pallets or crates, it is a perfect option for LTL. Typically, less than truckload shipment will include from 1 to 7 pallets of freight. So if your load is beyond size limits but not enough to take the entire trailer, you should try LTL. 
  • You can pack and load the freight by yourself. LTL carriers will often expect you to have the shipment fully prepared before loading. It is highly recommended to pack and secure your freight before the start of the shipping process. To get some help with preparation services, you can address our reliable partner - TaskRabbit, that offers extra hands when you need to pack, load, or unload your goods.
  • You understand the time specifics of LTL freight shipping. Because LTL involves shipments from multiple shippers that ship to different destinations, it often takes longer to deliver freight. Depending on the destination and route, LTL shipping takes 2-5 days on average. 

ltl freight driver inspecting truck

How to Ship LTL Freight? 

It is easy to ship LTL freight with our online shipping platform. GoShip proprietary technology takes your shipment information and references our carrier network to match your shipping requests. We use multiple best practices to provide you with the best, most accurate LTL quotes by using multiple carriers and taking weight and dimensions into account. 

You can also choose additional services, like liftgate, inside delivery, residential delivery, etc. You can get quotes instantly and book a shipment without extra communication. This makes the shipping process faster and easier for you. With transparent tracking and updates, you can control your shipment in real-time. To learn more about the exact process, read how to get a quote

What Are the Types of LTL Carriers? 

An LTL freight carrier is an individual or a company, that provides less than truckload transportation services to shippers and third parties. To better choose a carrier for your type of shipment, it's important to understand different types of LTL carriers:

  • Local carriers. Local or small carriers form a majority of freight carriers in the US, accounting for 60% of all motor carriers. They usually operate within small areas up to100 miles. Typically, local carriers don't have a lot of equipment but can be a better solution if you are interested in last-mile delivery or special services.
  • Regional carriers. This type of LTL carriers is somewhere in between, moving freight through the local yet bigger area, or a region. They usually have more trucks and cover an extensive territory. Regional LTL carriers often work with other carriers to fulfill transportation gaps.
  • National carriers. The largest players in the game are called national carriers. These are large companies that operate throughout the country, have tons of equipment, and industry expertise. Sometimes, these carriers can offer better rates and service levels. GoShip works with all types of professional carriers to match your transportation purpose.

How Much Does LTL Freight Shipping Cost?

There are many factors that affect LTL freight rates, but there are a few key things they are based on. LTL rates greatly depend on the freight class, a special shipping code that is determined by National Motor Freight Traffic Association. Freight class is determined by the density, freight stow-ability, ease of handling, and liability of an LTL shipment. 

At GoShip, we use our freight class calculator to automatically determine your freight class for you. The distance your LTL load will travel hugely affects the final cost.

What Factors Determine LTL Shipping Costs?  

If you want to maintain the cost-effectiveness of your supply chain, get familiar with the key factors that define the price of LTL freight shipping.


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, we do this research for you and match your freight with the best lane and best price. 

Freight Class 

Freight class is determined by the size, weight, and density of your freight. If you have a lower-class freight, it means that it's 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. 

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. 

What Is An LTL Freight Class? 

An LTL freight class is a specific classification, created by NMFTA (National Motor Freight Traffic Association) to categorize LTL freight. LTL freight class is based on a number of characteristics and pricing differentiation.  

Mostly, the freight class is defined by a shipment's density. This way, bigger and lighter shipments with low density will cost more to ship, than dense and heavy freight. All commodities are divided into 18 classes,  from Class 50 to Class 500, and a unique NMFC code is attached to each commodity. The reight class plays a prominent role in defining the final shipping costs of LTL transportation. 

ltl freight carrier loading pallet onto truck

How to Prepare LTL Freight for Shipping? 

It is important to know how to prepare your LTL freight shipment for transportation to eliminate the risks of possible logistics disruption.


It's crucial to always make sure the pick-up and delivery addresses of your shipment are correct. After you book a shipment with GoShip, you will receive a bill of lading (BOL). The bill of lading is the most important document in the shipping process. Ensure that the document is filled out correctly before turning it over to your carrier. 

Shipment information 

Accurate dimensions are very important to you and the carrier. The LTL carriers rely on accuracy to maximize their capacity and prevent any unexpected fees. This also applies to the weight, freight class, density, address destination, etc. To avoid delays and unwanted costs, double-check your shipment information. 

Packaging and labeling 

Proper packaging is crucial for LTL freight shipping. LTL shipments are handled numerous times before arriving at their destination, so they need to be secured in a proper way. It's highly recommended to stack your freight onto pallets or crates if possible. There are several types of the most commonly used packaging methods:  

  • Crates 
  • Pallets 
  • Boxes 
  • Bundles 
  • Barrels 

To make the shipping process easy and fast, pack your freight accurately before loading. Use tapes and seals to keep the shipments tight, fixed, and consolidated. This will significantly reduce the chances of freight damage. To fully prepare your LTL shipment, we recommend referencing our GoShip packing guide

small business owner reviewing bill of lading for ltl freight

LTL vs FTL: What Is the Difference Between LTL and FTL Shipping Methods? 

There is a difference between less than truckload (LTL) and full truckload (FTL) shipping modes. In LTL shipping, your freight does not take an entire space in the trailer. Also, there are other shipments from different shippers combined with your freight. Basically, in LTL, you share the truck space with other shippers. In full truckload, you pay and use the entire freight trailer and deliver your goods with no additional stops. 

How GoShip Can Improve Your LTL Freight Shipping?

Instant quotes 

Through our user-friendly interface, you can get immediate access and compare hundreds of quotes from different LTL carriers. That means you don't have to request the price and wait for a response from multiple carriers. Instead, you have all the available rates by your hand and can choose an option that fits you most. The self-service design means there's no need to contact a freight broker to move your LTL load. All you need to do is enter basic shipment information, and pick your carrier! GoShip provides you with the lowest rates for your LTL shipping needs. To better understand the process, read our guide on how to get a freight quote

LTL carrier network 

With our online shipping platform, you get access to a wide network of experienced carriers. This way, you don't have to search for shipping providers and can start shipping right away. Whether you're an experienced supply chain professional or an industry novice, GoShip is your one-stop shop for all your LTL transport needs. 

Online billing and invoicing 

You don't have to worry much about invoicing since GoShip provides basic paperwork online. We also audit extra charges for additional services and notify you about any payment changes. If any issue with payment occurs, we provide on-time support. 

Insurance options 

Sometimes, carrier liability is not enough to guarantee goods' safety. We care about your shipments and provide a reliable freight insurance option. We partner with Falvey Insurance Group, industry professionals that help our customers with all required paperwork. Read more about our freight insurance options. 

Shipping to Canada 

Apart from cross-country shipping, GoShip provides shipping to and from Canada. If needed, we can help you with a customs broker. A professional broker will help you with all the documents, customs clearance, and more. 

What LTL Freight Services Do We Provide? 

  • Liftgate pickup. The liftgate is a piece of special equipment at the rear of the truck used to simplify loading and unloading. If you need assistance in loading your freight, consider choosing this option. A liftgate is used for almost every residential delivery, but make sure to discuss it before scheduling a shipment, since it is considered an extra service. 
  • Inside-deliveryInside delivery is when your freight is delivered right to the door of your facility or residence. There are two main types of inside delivery: residential and commercial. If you don't request inside delivery, the driver will just leave the shipment at the exact same place where it was unloaded from the truck.
  • Temperature-controlled shipping. With GoShip, you can choose refrigerated equipment if your shipments require temperature control. 
  • Limited access shipping. The limited access category actually covers a substantial number of locations like private houses, schools, churches, etc. It is important to define if your delivery access is considered remote by the carrier. 
  • Freight insurance options. Often, carrier liability is not enough to guarantee a shipment's safety and cover the value in case of damage. GoShip wants to secure our customers and offers full-coverage freight insurance options. 
  • International shipping. Apart from cross-country shipping, we also provide shipping to and from Canada. If needed, GoShip can assign a professional customs broker that will help you with all the required documentation and customs clearance.