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Less Than Truckload Carriers

Mar 26, 2011

Much of the freight moved out of the U.S. to Canada, Mexico and to the Americas is carried by Ltl carriers in consolidated shipments.  The alternative by truck is to use Ftl – full truckload – carriers but most shipments are not large enough to make that cost effective.  Ltl carriers transport goods in semi-trailers 26’ to 53’ long using a tractor truck.  In some instances these trailers are placed onto freight trains for transit.

Ltl carriers will pick up your shipment at your warehouse’s loading dock and take it to a hub where it is consolidated into a full trailer load headed for a particular destination.  Simply have your cargo packaged onto pallets and secured with banding or shrink-wrap.  You will need to know its weight and volume.  If the load requires re-weighing by the Ltl carriers, and there is a discrepancy, additional costs may be incurred.  Once the load is sorted and packed the Ltl carriers will move the entire truckload of international freight to its destination for sorting and delivery.  The transit time is longer than if you ship a full truckload because of the extra handling and sorting time required.

partialLoad-300x225.gifWhen you use Ltl carriers you will need to know the freight class of your goods.  This classification is determined by a variety of factors and affects the freight quote you receive. The freight class is determined essentially by how complicated it is to ship the goods.  Liquids, hazardous materials, fresh or frozen foods, and other cargo require special handling instructions or trailers equipped to move them and so are placed into a more expensive freight class.  Cargo that is exceptionally fragile will also be more expensive.  Automobiles, motorcycles, and chemicals are just a few of the types of international freight that have their own freight class.

For international freight shipped via Ltl carriers it is important that you have the proper paperwork compiled.  This includes a commercial invoice, the certificate of origin, and the shippers export declaration.   The destination country will also have import documents which must be in order for the international freight to successfully make it through customs.  Handling all of these details can be time consuming and complicated.  For this reason, many of those who ship via Ltl carriers prefer to arrange for the shipping through transportation brokers, also known as freighting agents or freight forwarders.

These brokers offer many advantages.  They have instant ability to access a network of Ltl carriers that cover the routes needed to get your international freight delivered.  They will be able to find the lowest current costs for your shipment and the most expedited service.  In addition, they offer a comprehensive freight quote that covers all of the costs associated with shipping.  These transportation brokers offer insurance since Ltl carriers assume only limited liability.  They also prepare the necessary paperwork, determine the freight class of your cargo, handle foreign payments, arrange for warehousing cargo when necessary, and much more.  If you have questions about the freight class of your goods they will help to answer them.

Rather than trying to tackle all of these details yourself, one call to a transportation broker will get you a freight quote in just a few minutes.  Most forwarding agents also have an online freight calculator on their website.  Simply fill in the step by step details on the freight calculator software and a freight quote will be generated in minutes.  When you establish a relationship with one or more transportation brokers you will find them to be of great help when you need to get international freight moved quickly, securely and affordably. Their process streamlines the details and takes the headache out of getting your cargo into the hands of your foreign customers.