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What is Full Truckload Freight Shipping?

"Truckload" is one of those terms that gets used a lot in freight shipping. It's also one of those terms that carry the potential for misunderstanding, in part because you'll also come across its two modes: Full Truckload (FTL) and Less than Truckload (LTL).

What exactly does truckload mean, and when should you use it for your freight shipping? This breakdown will help you make sense of it all.

Truckload shipping defined

Truckload shipping refers to moving enough freight to fill an entire trailer or intermodal container. The confusion can creep in with the acronyms. Here's how to keep them straight:

  • If your freight fills the entire truck and/or is the only item on a truck, it's FTL.
  • If it's packed on a truck with other shippers' freight, it's LTL.

When to use FTL freight

When should you consider using full truckload shipping? Here are some rules of thumb:

  • You have a full trailer's worth — 53 feet — of cargo.
  • You don't necessarily have a full truck, but you have more than a normal LTL shipment (generally greater than 15,000 lbs. or more than 6 pallets).
  • You're looking to save on shipping costs. If your freight is large enough to require FTL, it can be more cost-effective to send it that way, rather than via multiple LTL shipments.
  • You have a time-sensitive delivery. With a full truckload, your shipment will take a direct route to its destination. And typically means it'll arrive faster than an LTL shipment, since the driver will make multiple stops to load or unload additional freight.
  • You need a specialty service such as a dryvan (a trailer fully enclosed from the elements), a flatbed or a refrigerated shipping container (also known as a "reefer").
  • You have high-value cargo. Because your freight stays put in the trailer from start to finish, there's less chance it can get stolen or dropped off at the wrong location.
  • You have fragile cargo. Since it'll be the only item on a truck that goes straight from point A to point B, there's significantly less potential for damage.

Partnering with Worldwide Express for freight shipping

Is FTL right for you? Worldwide Express can help you find the right answer. We've been in the shipping business for more than 25 years, and we help move more than 25 million shipments every year. We also work with more than 44,000 FTL carriers, so we can meet every freight shipping need you have.

But it's more than about the numbers. Our business is based on helping your business gain momentum and grow. That means we'll work with you to help keep your costs low, keep our eyes open for roadblocks and find ways for you to ship smarter via our national carrier networks and resources.

Ready to get started? Request a freight shipping quote today and let Worldwide Express help you uncover smart solutions for your shipping needs.

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