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Hot Shot Trucking Terminology

New to the world of hot shot trucking? Here are some everyday terms that can help you learn the ins and outs of ground transportation.

Accessorial Charge

An additional fee that’s charged for supplemental transportation services, such as tarps, layovers, and so on.

Aircraft Container

A closed container designed to fit wide-body or narrow-body aircraft; used to load cargo and goods.

Air Ride Suspension

A suspension system that supports both the dry van and tractor using airbags located under a vehicle’s axles; designed to prevent damage to freight by providing a smoother ride.

Air Waybill (AWB)

A bill of lading that includes the transportation of goods to a specific destination via domestic or international flights.


Reserved blocks or areas of cargo space on an scheduled aircraft.

Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

Prevent a transport vehicle’s braking system from tire and wheel lock-up when air brakes are applied.


Actual time of arrival.


Actual time of departure.


The process of planning for a return load to complete a round trip, or transporting cargo from the point of arrival back to the point of origin. Because it costs about the same to drive an empty truck and a full truck, the vehicle is often asked to haul cargo to and from a destination by getting a backhaul load.

Bill of Lading

A Bill Of Lading (BOL) is a required document to move freight. The document states the type, quantity, and weight of the freight. It also states the shipping from and destination locations as required by the DOT.

Blind Spot

An area surrounding a vehicle that can’t be seen by the driver when using side view mirrors, the rearview mirror, or when looking through the windshield.


A semi-truck without an attached trailer. It can also be referred to as a straight truck.

Bonded Warehouse

Overseen by customs agents, a warehouse designed to hold bonded cargo, or any foreign cargo on which a company is charged taxes, duties, penalties, or customs charges.


Refers to the point where freight is moved from one method of transportation to another.


A business or individual that serves as an intermediary between an organization or individual and an authorized transport carrier; often negotiates rates and shipping needs.

Bumper Pull Trailer

A cargo trailer that is easily attached by a normal hitch on a pick up truck or sprinter van. This trailer usually has a low payload capacity, and is used for small jobs.

Cargo Load

A cargo load includes any type of freight transported by motor vehicle, train, ship, or aircraft.

Cargo Weight

Total weight of cargo and packaging being transported.


A customs document that allows the holder to carry or send merchandise temporarily into certain foreign countries for display, demonstration, or other purposes without having to pay import duties or posting bonds.

Cartage Company

A business that offers local pickup and delivery services, usually within a particular town or city.

Coil Racks

Premade steel or wood cradles designed to hold rolled coils in place during transportation.

Combi Aircraft

An aircraft configured to carry both passengers and cargo on its main deck.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

A type of driver’s license that allows drivers to operate large motor vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds.


A commodity is any type of good that can be bought, sold, or exchanged.

Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA)

Trucking regulations and standards created to prevent accidents and keep motor carriers and truck drivers safe.


The individual, organization, or location that receives a particular shipment.


Delivery of merchandise from an exporter (the consignor) to an agent (the consignee) under an agreement that the agent will sell the merchandise for the exporter.

Consolidation of Freight

Used to handle small lots of various freight from different shipping companies efficiently and competitively; many consignments are typically placed into a single lot and sent to a single carrier for forwarding.


A carton, box, or other receptacle used to transport or store freight; can be loaded from one transportation method to another.

Converter Dolly

A trailer with a single axle or axle group that’s equipped with a fifth wheel hitch; used to turn a semi-trailer into a full trailer.

Curtain Sides

A curtain side truck or trailer is a flatbed truck with square frames on the sides that are designed to hold a tarp.


Refers to a government organization that oversees the influx and departure of goods in a particular country.

Customs Broker

An individual or company licensed by the federal government to enter and clear goods through customs. U.S. Customs and Border Protection defines a customs broker as any person licensed in accordance with Section III of Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations to carry out customs business on behalf of others.

Customs Clearance

The process of getting cargo released by customs by following certain procedures. This may include having an import license or permit, paying import duties, and submitting other required documentation.

Customs Invoice

A document required by some foreign countries to verify the value, quantity, and nature of the shipment by describing its contents and showing necessary information such as the consignor, consignee, and value.

Dangerous Goods

Also known as hazardous materials, refers to any substance that poses risk to one’s health, property, or safety while in transit.


Delivery duty paid.


Delivery duty unpaid.


Driving a commercial truck without cargo. Mileage calculated from a point of dispatching to the point of pick up. .

Declared Value

The overall value of a shipment that’s declared by the sender.

Dedicated Fleet

A group of ground transportation vehicles, often trucks, that are only used to move freight for a dedicated customer.

Dedicated Trucking

When a business frequently services the same organization or location. A driver will pick up goods at the same place and deliver them to a dedicated customer.

Department of Transportation (DOT)

Government agency that manages all federal highway, railroad, air, maritime regulations, and functions.


A fee charged by a carrier for equipment retention that surpasses the allotted time, which is often caused by delayed loading or unloading.

Dimensional Weight

Calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of a shipment, then dividing the cubic size of the package by a predetermined dimensional factor to determine a chargeable size amount. Carriers charge for freight based on the dimensional weight or actual gross weight, whichever is greater.

Direct Ship

The method of delivering goods directly from the supplier or the product owner to the recipient while only stopping for fuel.

Distribution Center (DC)

A facility that stores goods and materials until they’re shipped to retail stores; serves as a bridge between customers and suppliers.

Dock-High Vehicle

A vehicle that meets standard loading dock height, eliminating the cost of labor and handling. The vehicle can be pulled up to the loading dock, and a forklift or pallet jack can be driven inside to load or remove the cargo.


Refers to the handling of a shipment from the sender to the recipient.

DOT Number

License given to for-hire carriers and brokers from the Department of Transportation.


Also known as a twin trailer, a double is a combination of a tractor with two semi-trailers that are connected using a converter dolly.

Dovetail trailer

A trailer used to haul vehicles or other equipment with wheels.


A full or partial duty rebate from a government on customs duties assessed on imported merchandise that is subsequently exported. It will vary from country to country.


Low-priority cargo or goods used to meet transport capacity to avoid a shipment from coming in underweight.


A tax imposed on imported goods by the customs authority of a country; it’s generally based on the value of the goods or other factors such as weight or quantity.

Duty Status

Refers to the current status of truckers. On-duty drivers are working or ready to work while off-duty drivers have no obligation or responsibility for their vehicle.

Electric On-Board Recorder (EOBR)

A device, typically mounted on the cab, that records driving data such as speed, RPMs, idle time, and other information that may be helpful to trucking management.

Electronic Data Interchange

A digital exchange of data that provides the ability to send and receive bills of lading, shipping documents, shipping invoices, statuses, and remittances. Helps decrease overall expenses and avoid errors.
Escorts: Motor vehicles that use flags or flashing lights to help with the transportation of especially large cargo on roads and highways, ensuring that the truck has enough space.


Estimated time of arrival.


Estimated time of departure.

Excess Value

The declared value of cargo shipment that exceeds the carrier’s liability limit.

Exempt Carrier

A business that moves cargo exempt from Interstate Commerce Commission economic standards and regulations.

Expedited Delivery

Expedited delivery is a shipment that must arrive at its intended destination quicker than usual.

Express Delivery

Often the fastest method of delivery, express delivery can be used by customers to send goods within 1-3 business days.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

An agency within the Department of Transportation that prevents motor vehicle-related fatalities and accidents through safety regulations.


Flaggers protect work zones by directing traffic flow to the appropriate lanes in construction areas.

Flatbed Trucking

This method of transportation is used to move wide-loads or oversized goods with a truck and open deck trailer.

For-Hire Carrier

A transportation carrier that’s paid for hauling third-party cargo.


Refers to the transportation of material goods and commodities.

Freight Carriage

This means that the seller pays the freight for the transportation of goods to their intended destination, but responsibility for loss or damage to the goods is transferred from the seller to the buyer once the goods have been delivered.

Freight Class

Given by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, the freight class identifies the size, value, and transportation difficulty of a particular shipment.

Freight Forwarder

An individual or business that oversees shipments for a third party. They are similar to a freight broker but often handle international shipments.

Freight Terminal Recovery

The process of locating a lost or delayed shipment, then offering a quick, expedited way to get the shipment to its destination.

Fuel Surcharge (FSC)

A standard charge for moving freight that’s set on cents per mile or percentage of the line haul amount and is based on the weekly U.S. National Average Fuel Index.

Full Truckload Carrier

A trucking company that usually designates an entire trailer load to one customer.


Refers to a major airport or seaport; it can also refer to the port where customs clearance takes place when transporting internationally.

Gooseneck Trailer

A trailer with a small turn radius; it’s typically used to haul larger, heavier loads than bumper pull trailers.

Gross Vehicle Weight

The maximum amount of total loaded weight of a commercial vehicle; determined by the manufacturer.

Ground Expedited Services

This is a rushed or expedited method of transportation that relies on ground vehicles, such as trailers or trucks.

Harmonized System

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (or Harmonized System) is a system used for classifying goods in international trade; administered by the World Customs Organization and updated every five years.


Hazmat refers to hazardous materials or toxic chemicals that may be dangerous to one’s health, property, or the environment. This can include nuclear waste, radiological substances, and more.

Hot Shot Delivery

Small cargo loads that must be delivered to a certain location within a short period of time.

Hot Shot Trucking

Hot Shot Trucking is for more time-sensitive loads within a specific timeframe, and usually to a single customer or location. Hot shot loads are usually delivered using medium-duty trucks for a single shipment known as a "Hot" shipment.

Hours of Service

Commercial service hours established by the U.S. Department of Transportation; when commercial vehicle drivers can engage in interstate trucking activities.

IATA Designator

Two-character airline identification code assigned by the IATA when dealing with reservations, timetables, tickets, tariffs, and air waybills.

Import Certificate

A document issued by the government of the destination country that describes the commodities being imported.

Import License

A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods. It’s also known as an import permit.

Import Restrictions

A no-tariff or tariff obstruction imposed by an importing nation to limit the number of goods entering the country from other countries.


Maintained by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), this is a codification of terms used in foreign trade contracts that determine which parties incur costs and at what specific points.

Insurance Certificate

Used to prove insurance in case of loss of damage or liability in the event of an accident. Certificate shows the amount of coverage to cargo while in transit.

Interchange Agreement

An agreement made between two individuals or businesses to switch or take over a trailer to pick up and deliver goods. This is often used along border towns between U.S. and Mexican organizations.

Intermediate Consignee

The bank, forwarding agent, or other intermediary (if any) that serves in a foreign country as an agent for the exporter, the purchaser, or the ultimate consignee.

Intermodal Transportation

The movement of goods that involves multiple modes of transportation, such as rail and air or air and water.

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Established in 1945, the IATA is a trade association that serves airlines, passengers, shippers, travel agents, and governments, promoting safety through baggage checks, tickets, and waybills.

Just-In-Time (JIT)

A manufacturing system that requires the use of small, regular deliveries of supplies to reduce on-site inventory. When used correctly, supply is delivered just before it runs out of stock.

Landing Gear

Retractable devices used to support the front of a semi-trailer when not attached to a tractor.


A regular route that companies often travel; also known as a dedicated run.

Last Mile

The final movement of an item before reaching its destination; also known as the final mile.


When a driver or pilot is delayed by the shipper or receiver while transporting a shipment for at least one day.


A lower deck type 3 container; it’s the most commonly used container in passenger aircraft.

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL)

The transportation of smaller goods or shipments that don’t require an entire truckload.


A removable platform that can be attached to the back of a trailer or truck; can be used to move goods from the ground to the trailer.

Line Haul

The monetary rate for moving items.

Line Haul Driver

A truck driver who follows a set route from one destination to another and returns home following each workday.

Load Permits

Regulations and limits that certain vehicles, such as trailer homes, tractors, cranes, and other large industrial vehicles must adhere to. Laws can vary within each state, and some extremely large loads require escorts.

Local Driver

Refers to a city driver who picks up and delivers shipments on a city route and returns home following each shift.


A book carried by drivers and pilots to record service hours and duty status within a 24-hour day.

Long Combination Vehicle (LCV)

A combination of a tractor-trailer that has two or more trailers and may surpass 80,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight.

Long-Haul Trucking

Long-haul truck drivers specialize in making extended multiday or even weeklong trips that often cross several states or even countries.

Lowboy trailer

A trailer with a low center of gravity, which is often used for extremely heavy loads. It can help drivers meet height limitations when moving an especially tall shipment.

Lower Deck

The compartment located below the main deck of an airplane or ship.

LTL Carrier

A trucking company that combines less-than-truckload deliveries going to different locations in a single vehicle.

Main Deck

The deck on which the major portion of a payload is carried; also known as the upper deck of an airplane or cargo ship.

Managed Transportation

Refers to transportation where a third party oversees all shipping and logistics issues from initial tendering to delivery.

Motor Carrier Number

A license given to for-hire carriers by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration.

National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC)

A standardized set of commodity classes based on handling, liability, density, and stowability in intrastate, interstate, and foreign commerce.


No value declared.

Over-the-Road Driver

A driver who travels cross-country on overnight trips, usually driving more than 100,000 miles annually.

Overnight Freight

A shipping service that delivers overnight or the next day; the order usually must be made by a certain time.


A commercial truck driver who owns and drives his or her own truck.


Refers to pickup and delivery.

Packing List

A shipping document issued by the shipper to the carrier. It identifies detailed information of the shipment, including package count, product count, measurement of each package, weight of each package, and so forth.

Pallet Jack

A pallet jack, also known as a pallet truck is a tool used to lift and move pallets. Pallet jacks are the most basic form of a forklift used by hand and are intended to move pallets within a warehouse, truck or trailer.


A truck used to transport multiple shipments from different customers; it can make transit times longer due to multiple deliveries.


The maximum amount of freight weight a truck is licensed to scale. .

Peddle Run

A delivery route with frequent stops.


Permission granted by states that allows carriers to move freight that surpasses legal weight and size restrictions.

Pilot Cars

A pilot vehicle is used to escort trucks and trailers with large loads, processions of vehicles, and more.


Warning notices placed on each side of a trailer that indicate the presence of hazardous materials inside.

Private Carrier

A business that runs trucks and transportation vehicles to mainly move its own products and materials.

Professional Truck Driver

An individual who makes a living transporting freight over land using a licensed vehicle.

Pro Forma Invoice

An invoice provided by a supplier prior to a shipment that informs the buyer of the goods being sent, including value, weight, size, and so on.

PRO Number

A number assigned to a package or shipment to track progress from initial handling to the final destination.

Proof of Delivery (POD)

A signed paper or electronic document showing proof that a shipment has been received at the correct location.

Pup Trailer

A short semi-trailer with a single axle that’s typically between 26-32 feet long.

Rack and Tarp

Also called a rack tarp, this device can be placed over a flatbed trailer to protect cargo or goods underneath.


Refers to any transportation by train.


A device used to raise the height of a truck’s cargo floor to the height of a loading dock. ,
Rate Confirmation: A document that confirms the cost of service agreed upon by the shipper and carrier or shipper and broker.


An insulated trailer with a self-powered refrigeration system; primarily used to transport food or medical supplies.

Rush Delivery Service

Rush deliveries are shipments that must be dropped off or picked up, processed, and delivered much faster than standard shipments.

Same-Day Delivery

A mode of delivery that ensures customers receive their goods on the same day as ordered.


A truck trailer that’s supported by a fifth wheel attached to a dolly or tractor in the front and its own wheels in the back.


The individual or organization named in the bill of lading as the consignor, exporter, or seller. The location where the freight is being picked up.

Shipping Mark

The letters, numbers, and symbols placed on the outside of cargo for identification purposes.

Shipping Weight

The gross weight of a shipment, including its crates, boxes, and containers.


A compartment that sits behind the truck’s cab that can be used for sleeping.

Sliding Fifth Wheel

A fifth wheel that can be moved to adjust how weight is distributed on a tractor’s axles.

Sliding Tandem

A device found at the rear of a semi-trailer that helps adjust the weight distribution between the axles and fifth wheel.

Specialized Heavy Haul

Refers to any cargo or shipment that goes over a state’s legal limit size (height, weight, width).

Sprinter Van Deliveries

Shipments, packages, or cargo that are transported and delivered using a sprinter van.

Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC)

A unique four-letter code used as a way to identify transportation businesses.

Straight Truck

A vehicle that hauls cargo in a body attached to its chassis.


Strong vinyl cords created to hold down freight on a trailer.


The Air Cargo Tariff and Rules (TACT) gives air cargo professionals the necessary information to efficiently transport air cargo across the world.

Tandem Axle

A pair of axles and suspensions that are close to one another designed to increase the payload of a truck or trailer.


A large motor vehicle created to carry liquids or gases. Some may have insulation or pressurized storage to haul hazardous substances.

Tare Weight

The total weight of a tractor and trailer when the vehicle is empty.


A driver team or two individuals who alternate driving and resting. This is often used for rushed shipments.

Temporary Importation Under Bond

A process where goods may enter U.S. customs territory free of duty for a limited period of time due to the importer posting bond for double the total amount of taxes, duty fees, and so on.

Through Trailer Service (TTS)

When a shipment remains in the same trailer during the entire cross-border journey from the U.S. to Mexico.

Tilt Deck Trailer

A trailer that has the ability to tilt when loading and unloading; capable of handling especially large or heavy loads by effectively utilizing truck space.

Time-Critical Freight

A variety of shipment options for urgent cargo that requires special care and handling and must be delivered urgently.

TL (Truckload) Carrier

Also called FTL; refers to carriers who transport full truckloads, which require a lot of freight to make this method economically effective.

Total Transit Time

The amount of time between when a shipment is picked up and when it’s delivered. Transit time can change according to the transportation method used and chosen route.


A truck that pulls a semi-trailer using the help of a fifth wheel attached over the rear axle.

Tractor Trailer

A combination of a semi-trailer and tractor.


When a shipment is moved from one trailer to the next during its journey. This is often used to meet legal transportation requirements.

Transportation Management System (TMS)

A tracking system used to monitor shipments, oversee loads, and communicate with other parties.

Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)

Mostly used in ports; a credential required to gain unescorted access to certain secure areas of Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA)-regulated facilities or vessels.


The movement of an exported product through an intermediate country before routing it to its final destination country.


A tractor, trailer, or truck that has three axles placed together at the rear.

Trip Leasing

The process of leasing a business’s truck to another transportation company for a single use.

Truckload (TL)

Refers to a full truckload; often loaded into a semi-trailer between 25-53 feet long.

Truck-Mounted Crane

A device mounted on the body of a truck that is used for loading and unloading especially heavy cargo,

Truck Order Not Used (TONU)

When a shipper cancels an order after a truck has been dispatched. This often results in extra fees.

Ultimate Consignee

The individual receiving exported goods for their designated end use.

Unit Load Device (ULD)

A closed container designed to fit wide-body or narrow-body aircraft; used to load cargo and goods.

Urgent Freight

Describes a shipment or multiple shipments that need to be transported and delivered quickly using air, truck, or rail transportation.

Value for Customs Purposes Only

The value submitted on the entry documentation by the importer. It may or may not reflect information from the manufacturer.


A motor vehicle with rear or side doors and panels used to move small packages and goods.

Warehouse Management System (WMS)

A system that tracks and oversees all activities within a warehouse.


The process of storing goods until they’re ready to be shipped.

White-Glove Logistics

A specific form or order fulfillment that ensures damage-free transportation and delivery, installation, and removal of debris.

Without Reserve

A term indicating that a shipper’s agent or representative is allowed to make definitive decisions and adjustments abroad without the approval of the group or individual represented.

We hope you found this glossary of air and ground transportation terminology helpful! For a free quote, contact us here.

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