Shipping  Resources

This Is How We Do It

Shipping is in our blood. It’s the nuts and bolts of our business. Explore below for a closer look at how we make it happen.


Shipping from A to Z.

We are fluent in the language of freight. Browse our glossary of shipping terms for a closer look at how we talk about our business and the industry at large. In this section, you’ll find all sorts of information regarding the shipping process, which will give you more insight into how we get things done—and done right.


Accessorial charges

Charges made for performing services beyond normal pickup and delivery, such as inside delivery or storage charges.

Air freight forwarder

An air freight forwarder provides pickup and delivery service under its own tariff, consolidates shipments into larger units, prepares shipping documentation and tenders shipments to the airlines. Air freight forwarders do not generally operate their own aircraft and may therefore be called “indirect air carriers.” Because the air freight forwarder tenders the shipment, the airlines consider the forwarder to be the shipper.

Air waybill

An air waybill is a shipping document airlines use. Similar to a bill of lading, the air waybill is a contract between the shipper and airline that states the terms and conditions of transportation. The air waybill also contains shipping instructions, product descriptions and transportation charges. 

Articles of extraordinary value

Carriers are not liable for “documents, coin money or articles of extraordinary value” unless the items are specifically rated in published classifications or tariffs. Exceptions may be made by special agreement. If an agreement is made, the stipulated value of the articles must be endorsed on the bill of lading. Articles may include precious stones, jewels and currency. Many tariffs include restrictions on goods with values in excess of a specified amount.


Bill of lading (BOL or B/L)

A bill of lading is a binding contract that serves three main purposes:

  • A receipt for the goods delivered to the transportation provider for shipment

  • A definition or description of the goods

  • Evidence of title to the relative goods, if “negotiable”

Bill of lading exceptions

The terms and conditions of most bills of lading release transportation providers from liability for loss or damage arising from:

  • An act of God

  • A public enemy

  • The authority of law

  • The act or default of the shipper

In addition, except in the case of negligence, a transportation provider will not be liable for loss, damage or delay caused by:

  • The property being stopped and held in transit at the request of the shipper, owner or party entitled to make such request

  • Lack of capacity of a highway, bridge or ferry

  • A defect or vice in the property

  • Riots or strikes

Bonded carrier

A transportation provider U.S. customs allows the carrying of customs-controlled merchandise between customs points. Yellow is a bonded carrier.

Break bulk

To separate parts of a load into individual shipments for routing to different destinations.

Breakbulk terminal

Consolidation and distribution center. A terminal in the Yellow system that unloads and consolidates shipments received from its smaller terminals and from other breakbulks. This terminal may have its own city operation.

Example: Freight destined for Texas from several New England states will be consolidated at our Harrisburg, Pa., breakbulk terminal for forwarding to Texas.


A broker is an independent contractor paid to arrange motor-carrier transportation. A broker may work on the carrier’s or shipper’s behalf.



An industry term regarding loss or damage of goods. Carmack is governed by 49 U.S.C 14706, which states that a motor carrier must:

  • Issue the bill of lading and

  • Pay the actual loss or injury to the property

However, carriers limit their liability for release-value products and can limit their damages to $25 a pound or $100,000 a shipment.

Cartage agent

A carrier that performs pickup or delivery in areas that Yellow does not serve.

  • Cartage agents use their own paperwork while transporting the shipment.

  • Yellow does not track the shipment while it is in the cartage agent’s possession.

When Yellow gives a shipment to a cartage agent for delivery, the shipment is considered to be “delivered” in our tracking tool.

Cargo claim

A cargo claim is a demand made on a transportation company for payment for goods allegedly lost or damaged while the shipment was in the transportation provider’s possession. Pursuant to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) Uniform Bill of Lading, all cargo claims must be filed within nine months.

Overcharge or undercharge claims are demands on a transportation company for a refund of an overcharge from the erroneous application of rates, weights and/or assessment of freight charges.


A shipment for which the transportation provider is responsible for collecting the sale price of the goods shipped before delivery.


Any article of commerce or goods shipped.

Common carrier

Company that provides transportation services to the public in return for compensation.

Concealed loss

Shortage or damage not evident at delivery.


The person or place where a shipment will be transferred for the last time (destination); the individual or organization to whom the goods are addressed.


Deck trailers

Trailers with rows of tracking on each sidewall and deck load bars. The load bars fit into the tracks to form temporary “decks” on which goods can be loaded. Decks allow more goods to be loaded in the trailer, reduce damage and speed loading and unloading.

Delivery receipt

Document a consignee or its agent dates and signs at delivery, stating the condition of the goods at delivery. The driver takes the signed delivery receipt to the terminal for retention. The customer retains the remaining copy.


The act of sending a driver on his/her assigned route with instructions and required shipping papers. Yellow maintains contact with drivers throughout the day by phone, radio or satellite communication.


A platform, generally the same height as the trailer floor, where trucks are loaded and unloaded.


Converter that provides an extra axle and fifth wheel and is used to connect multiple trailers. 


Vehicle configuration in which a tractor pulls two trailers connected by a dolly or jifflox.


Also known as connecting road haulage.

  • The hauling of a load by a cart with detachable sides (dray)
  • Road transportation between the nearest railway terminal and the stuffing place


Electronic data interchange (EDI)

The electronic transmission of routine business documents, such as purchase orders, invoices and bills of lading, between computers in a standard format. The data formats, or transaction sets, are usually sent between mainframe computers. Learn more in the EDI Resource Center.


An exception is any delivery in which the recipient or driver notes a problem on the delivery receipt before signing it. Typically, exceptions concern shortage and/or damage.

Exclusive use

A shipper pays a premium rate for the sole use of a trailer. The trailer will be sealed at loading, and the seal number is recorded on the manifest. The seal number is verified before the trailer is unloaded at destination. When a shipper requests an exclusive-use trailer, no other freight may be added to the unit even if space permits.

Exempt product

Products that are exempt from federal regulation, such as agricultural and forestry products.


Final Mile

The last step in a freight shipment’s journey. Also known as “last mile,” final mile is the route from the nearest terminal to a destination like a home or a business. 

FOB destination

Under this arrangement, title and risk remain with the seller until it has delivered the goods to the location specified in the contract.

FOB origin

Title and risk pass to the buyer at the moment the seller delivers the goods to the carrier. The parties may agree to have title and risk pass at a different time or to allocate shipping charges by a written agreement.

Free along side (FAS)

A basis of pricing meaning the price of goods alongside a transport vessel at a specified location. The buyer is responsible for loading the goods onto the transport vessel and paying all the costs of shipping beyond that location.

Free on board (FOB)

An acronym for free on board when used in a sales contract. The seller agrees to deliver merchandise, free of all transportation expenses, to the place specified by the contract. After delivery is complete, the title to all the goods and the risk of damage become the buyer’s.

Freeze Protection 

A service that keeps freight from freezing in cold weather by monitoring outdoor temperatures, providing special handling procedures (like access to warm rooms throughout the network) and keeping freezable shipments moving on our faster network.


Any product being transported.

Freight bill

Shipping document Yellow prepares to confirm shipment delivery and indicate payment terms (prepaid or collect). The document describes the shipment, its weight, the amount of charges and taxes and whether the bill is collect or prepaid. If the bill is prepaid, the shipper pays the shipping charges. If the bill is collect, the consignee pays the shipping charges.

Freight broker

Any person that sells transportation without actually providing it. The term usually refers to an agent for truckload shipments, matching small shippers with carriers. Freight brokers often do not accept any responsibility for their shipments. 

Freight forwarder

A freight forwarder combines less-than-truckload (LTL) or less-than-carload (LCL) shipments into carload or truckload lots. Freight forwarders are designated as common carriers. They also issue bills of lading and accept responsibility for goods. The term may also refer to the company that fills railroad trains with trailers. 


Gross vehicle weight (GVW)

The combined weight of the vehicle (tractor and trailers) and its goods.


Hazardous material

Hazardous materials are defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation in accordance with the Federal Hazardous Material Law. A substance or material may be designated as hazardous if the transportation of the material in a particular amount and form poses an unreasonable risk to health and safety or property. Hazardous material may include an explosive, radioactive material; etiologic agent; flammable or combustible liquid or solid; poison; oxidizing or corrosive material; or compressed gas.


In bond

Shipments move under bond from point of entry to an interior U.S. destination for clearance or to another border location for clearance.


Shipment moves by more than one mode of transportation (ground, air, rail or ocean).



Converter that provides an extra axle and fifth wheel and is used to connect multiple trailers. 


Less-than-truckload (LTL)

A shipment weighing less than the weight required for the application of the truckload rate. With most shipments weighing less than 10,000 pounds, an LTL carrier will use a nationwide network to efficiently move goods from origin to destination.


Movement of goods between cities or between Yellow terminals, particularly between origin terminal and destination terminal, excluding pickup and delivery service.


Minimum charge

The lowest charge for which a shipment will be handled after discount and/or adjustment.

Multimodal transportation

Shipment moves by more than one mode of transportation (ground, air, rail or ocean). 


National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC)

Industry standard tariff published by motor carriers containing rules, descriptions and rating on all products moving in commerce; used to classify goods to rate the freight bill. 

Non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCC)

A type of ocean freight forwarder. NVOCCs book space in large quantities for a reduced rate, then sell space to shippers in lesser amounts. NVOCCs consolidate smaller shipments into a container load that ships under one bill of lading.


One Yellow

The process of aligning Yellow’s trucking businesses into one super-regional LTL network and a single platform to serve shipping customers throughout North America.

Order notify

Also called negotiable bill of lading, this is a shipment requiring the consignee to surrender the original endorsed bill of lading at delivery. A shipper may use this method to guarantee payment for goods shipped. It’s most commonly used with truckload shipments.


Site where the shipment first enters the Yellow system.

Over the Road

Long trucking hauls that can take multiple days. While regional drivers make runs that take one to two days, over-the-road drivers can spend weeks on the road, often on coast-to-coast hauls. 


Number of units received is in excess of the quantity shown on shipping documents. Overages should not be delivered to a customer. They’re returned to the terminal unless the terminal receives more information while the driver is making pickups and deliveries.

Overcharge claims

The payor of the shipping charges files an overcharge claim to dispute a discrepancy in charges that can stem from overpayment, weight or description corrections, etc.


Payment terms

Generally, the shipper is responsible for payment for prepaid shipments, and the consignee is responsible for payment for collect shipments unless a third party is indicated as payor on the shipping papers.

Pick-up and delivery (P&D)

Local movement of goods between the shipper (or pick-up point) and the origin terminal or between the destination terminal and the consignee (or delivery point).

PRO Number

“PRO” stands for “progressive rotating order.” A PRO Number is a 10-digit number assigned to each shipment and is used as a tracking number and a Yellow invoice number.


Reference Number 

Any number unique to a shipment that can be used to track that shipment. A reference number can be an invoice number, a sku number or another unique number.  


Shipping charges the transportation provider receives for transporting goods.


Shipper’s agent

A shipper’s agent is not a carrier, freight forwarder or broker. Shipper’s agents generally arrange for truckload or container load shipment transportation. Shipper’s agents commonly provide services related to warehousing or loading and unloading. 

Shipping documents

Papers accompanying a shipment as it moves through the Yellow system, including bills of lading, packing slips, customs paperwork, manifests and shipment bills.


The number of units received is less than the quantity shown on shipping documents. The outstanding units may be delivered later.

Spot volume

Large-volume shipment from a single customer that weighs more than 10,000 lbs or takes up all the trailer space so no other shipment can be loaded. Shipments may be split between equipment, cross docked, co-loaded or transferred using a nationwide network to efficiently move goods from origin to destination.


A fully optimized trucking network of terminals and lanes that operates nationwide through a hub-and-spoke delivery system. 



A tariff is a document setting forth applicable rules, rates and charges to move goods. A tariff sets forth a contract for the shipper, the consignee and the carrier. Since Jan. 1, 1996, motor carriers are not required to publish tariffs. However, in accordance with federal law, tariffs must be provided to a shipper on request. 


Yellow building and grounds where shipments are prepared for local delivery or transportation to other terminals.

Third party

A party other than the shipper or consignee that is ultimately responsible for paying the shipment charges.

Truck tonnage

The weight (in tons) of a shipment transported by truck.

Truckload (TL)

A shipment of cargo over 10,000 lbs. that may fill a given truck either by bulk or maximum weight. Traveling from origin to destination on the same equipment and not cross docked or transferred through a nationwide network. A shipment that is not co-loaded with other customers.

Truckload carrier

A trucking company that specializes in hauling a trailer load or more of freight at a time for individual shippers, typically delivering to a final destination location directly rather than to a terminal. An LTL carrier consolidates cargo for a number of shippers on the same truck, and typically delivers the entire load to a terminal before making individual deliveries.


UN number

An internationally accepted four-digit number used to identify hazardous material.


Velocity Center

A high-volume distribution center that acts as a regional hub in a shipping network, handling more freight movement than a terminal. 



A waybill is a non-negotiable document prepared by or on behalf of the carrier at origin. The document shows origin point, destination, route, consignor, consignee, shipment description and amount charged for the transportation service. 


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