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Trucking Industry Overview - Industry Terms

Affected IRM: X.XX.X

"This document is not an official pronouncement of the law or the position of the Service and cannot be used, or cited, or relied upon as such."

Industry Terms


Industry Term

Definition of Term


Converse of line-haul; movement of freight from point of destination to point of origination. Part of the overall movement of door to door service.

Bill of Lading

Shipping documents which transfers title to the goods.


A two axle truck with the van permanently attached to the chassis.

Bingo Stamps

Trip permits issued by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for each intrastate freight move.

Break bulk Agent

Breaks down a container into its various shipments; deconsolidator.

Cargo Handler

Person that loads freight onto dock and into trailers; also known as swampers, lumpers, stevedores, longshoremen.


An ocean vessel, airfreight, or common carrier in the business of transporting goods or persons.


To transport goods between the freight terminal and cargo carrier.


Uncollectible account receivables that reduce the cash received from factored invoices.


Basically long, thin, steel frame on wheels, which attaches to truck tractors to haul containers.

Co loader

A freight forwarder that consolidates shipments with another freight forwarder.

Common Carrier

A for hire carrier who holds itself out to the public to engage in the transportation of freight at published rates between a group of points which they are authorized to serve.


The company or individual that receives the shipment of freight.


Purchases container space at a volume price for resale to freight forwarders. Practice of taking several small separate shipments of freight and organizing them into one container.


A large metal box used to store freight on ocean vessels and rail cars. Once the vessel arrives in port, the container can be loaded onto either a truck chassis or a railroad car. They usually come in 20 or 40-foot lengths.

Container Freight Station (CFS)

Customs bonded warehouse.

Contract Carrier

Firms whose transportation service is limited to individual contracts, which are tailored to the specific needs of a shipper or a group of shippers.

Custom Delivery Order

Delivery order prepared by a customs house broker.

Customs House Broker

A licensed agent authorized to pay customs duties and take possession of goods coming through Customs. No one may act as a Customs House Broker without a Customs House License.

Because customs duties may range up to 20 percent plus on some products, the consignees, for cash flow purposes, may elect not to clear customs at point of entry, but instead, through the services of a Customs House broker, wait until the goods are shipped inland before clearing customs and paying the duties.

Custom House brokers have to post a $500,000 bond, to insure that if the goods are damaged or stolen during transportation, the duties on the goods will still be paid to Customs.


Driving the tractor without a container.

Delivery Order

A copy of the invoice containing the shipper, consignee, destination, description of goods, and weight.


A fee charged by the shipping companies if the container is not returned timely.


A fee charged by the railroad if the trailer is not returned timely.


The person who arranges the pickups and deliveries of freight and prepares the drivers' manifests


Areas used to load and unload freight from one trailer to another. This is the structure that a trailer backs up to. (Terminal).

Door to Door

Pickup at the shipper's dock (door) and delivery to the consignee's dock (door) that is handled by the same company.

Door to Ramp

Pickup at the shipper's dock (door) and delivery to the ramp of the railroad, ocean ship or airline carrier.


Pulling a trailer or container (cartage), the charges for transfer and cartage between stations, or to and from vessels on carts or trucks.

Exempt Carriers

For hire carriers who engage in moving specialized commodities that are exempt from government regulation. Most notable of these exempt categories are unmanufactured agricultural commodities.


Oversees operations on the dock.

Free Time

Amount of time (days) the container can be used without any charges. Varies with the type of container and mileage distances.

Free Zone

The area within a certain radius of the port of entry or harbor where a for hire carrier is not required to be licensed by the ICC to transport freight between states.

Freight Broker

An agent for the independent contractor that arranges jobs for independent contractors.

Freight Forwarder

An agent who makes the arrangements for the transportation of freight from the shipper to consignee. The freight forwarder issues a through bill of lading from the origin to the destination, and takes full responsibility of the freight while it is in transit.

Glider Kit 

This is a kit to construct a tractor. It does not contain an engine or a transmission. It may be subject to Excise Tax.

Haul away

Trailer used to move cars and trucks

House Airway Bill 

Air freight bill of lading for a single shipment of freight.

Interline (line haul)

Agreement between shipper and transportation company that specifies the modes of transportation and identifies the specific carriers to be used.


The transfer of equipment from one carrier to another.


Term used in describing transportation of freight combining the use of railroads and trucks, usually for long distances. Competitors to intermodal transportation providers are the long haul trucking firms.

Labor Leasing

The practice of leasing employees (both drivers and office staff) instead of hiring them. The labor leasing company is responsible for paying employment taxes and filing the tax returns.

Less Than Truck Load

A shipment of loose freight, as opposed to a full sealed container.


Porthaulers who transport freight from the harbor to the railroad.


Movement of freight from the point of origination to point of destination


Ocean carrier cargo handler that loads and unloads freight at the harbor.


Cargo handler of fruit, vegetables, dry goods and agricultural products that is usually paid by cash.


Schedule of freight pickups and deliveries.

Master Airway Bill

Summary of the house airway bills for a single container

National Motor Freight Traffic Assoc. Inc.

An organization that compiles and sets tariffs for various states, including California. A yearly fee is paid to use their classifications and tariffs. A similar organization is the Western Motor Tariff Bureau.

Non Vessel Operating Carrier (NVOCC)

A consolidator of freight for an ocean carrier that is regulated by the Federal Maritime Commission.


Loading freight at the shipping end, point of origination.


Unloading freight at the receiving end, final destination.

Over The Road

Transportation by tractor and trailer from one metropolitan area to another metropolitan area.

Owner Operator 

A truck driver who owns and operates his or her own vehicle.


Where the trailer is loaded onto a rail car.

Piggyback Agent

Shipper's agent that books and schedules freight on railroad.


A subhauler that picks up freight at the harbor and hauls it to the operations terminal or to the consignee.

Pre Note

Preliminary freight invoice used to schedule freight moves and prepare the final freight bill.

Prime Carrier

A general common carrier with operating authority with either the PUC, ICC, or both depending on the type of hauling, intrastate or interstate.

A Prime carrier must post a $15,000 subhauler (surety) bond with PUC/ICC.

Designation as a prime carrier allows the company to solicit
business directly from a shipper. If the company does not have the prime carrier designation, it can only work for another prime carrier as a subhauler.

Private Carrier

Business that is registered with the PUC to transport and deliver their own goods. Most of their operations are moves of less than 100 miles. This industry segment's average length of haul is 51 miles.

Ramp to Door

Pick up at the railroad and delivery to the consignee's door.


Refrigerated trailer.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

Used to locate a product or asset in transit anywhere on the globe. RFID tags can be as small as a grain of rice.


The individual or company sending the freight to the consignee.

Shipper's Agent

A transportation broker that arranges movement of freight.


Hauling empty trailers back to the rail yard or container company.


Cargo handler that loads and unloads freight from vessels at the harbor (longshoreman).


An owner operator that hauls freight for a prime carrier.


A truck driver's assistant that loads and unloads freight during the delivery of goods (lumper).


The rate that the carrier charges for the hauling of freight.

These rates must be filed with either the PUC or the ICC depending on which agency is controlling.


Dock where freight is loaded or unloaded


This is the power unit that pulls the trailer.


The vehicle that is pulled by a tractor in hauling freight- container.

Trailer Interchange Agreement

Agreement between the carrier and container companies that spells out the amount of free time allowed, and the demurrage or detention fees to be charged for delays.


The process of moving freight from ocean containers to domestic containers and vice versa.


The act of unloading freight from a container trailer and loading it into a trailer bound for the consignee.

Truck Load (TL)

A sealed trailer or container.


Where goods are stored prior to delivery or distribution.


Tractor with a short turning radius that is used to pull trailers or containers within the freight yard and not intended for highway use.




Automated Broker Interface


American Truckers Association


Container Freight Station


Customs House License


Cost, insurance, freight


Cost, not freight


Container on flat car


Collect on delivery


Container Yard


Department of Transportation


Freight All Kinds


Free on Board


Federal Maritime Commission


HAWB House Airway Bill


International Air Shipper's Association


International Air Transport Association


Interstate Commerce Commission


Lift on/lift off


Less than Truck Load


Master Airway Bill


Motor Transportation Broker


Minimum Weight


North American Free Trade Agreement


Non vessel operating common carrier


Overland common point (revenue class)




Over the Road


Proof of delivery


Point of entry


Personal Liability/Property Damage


Public Utilities Commission


Roll on/roll off


Radio Frequency Identification


Surface Transportation Board


Truck Load


Trailer on flat car (that is, piggyback)


Vessel operating common carrier (such as, ocean carrier)

Chapter 3 | Table of Contents | Chapters 5, 6, & 7

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 05-Mar-2015