FTL and LTL Shipping: Which One is More Fitting for You


FTL and LTL are two acronyms that you can often see in transportation. They stand for full truckload and less than a truckload shipping, and they are two of the most common transportation types. Today we will look closely at both definitions and describe their core differences.

What is an FTL?

If you order a full truckload freight service, the truck provided by the carrier will only carry your load. You will pay a set price for the vehicle regardless of the freight capacity you physically take. Sizes for these trucks include 14-footers, 20-footers, and 40-footers. In the case of FTL, less handling is required because your cargo doesn’t have to share the truck with others and typically doesn’t require consolidation or break bulk. Using FTL requires caution because you don’t want to pay more for unused truck space. However, if you are certain that your cargo will be big enough, this may be less expensive than LTL.

Contrary to LTL, FTL shipments are not subjected to a schedule. Typically, the empty truck will go to your address so that you or provided workers are loading your freight into it. The vehicle carrying your cargo can proceed directly to the consignee’s location after clearing customs without the need to stop at different locations or warehouses.

What is an LTL?

LTL freight describes when your cargo is transported alongside those of other shippers. Rates are determined by the amount of space taken by your parcel (measured in lbs per cubic foot.) Depending on the volume of your freight, using FTL may be more economical.

You will have to follow the set transportation schedule set by your service provider because your shipment must be combined with other freights before the journey starts. LTL shipments must additionally go to a distribution facility for sorting and distribution to be delivered to the consignee’s location. LTL delivery may be slower than FTL as a result of these additional processes.

Which One to Choose for Your Case?

The definitions of FTL and LTL shipping are clear to you now, so we will talk about choosing the one that suits your shipping requirements better.

As we previously discussed, FTL is typically the ultimate pick if you’re tight on time, but LTL is the to-go option for shipments that don’t require fast delivery or don’t have short time frames. Despite this, the size of your shipment, not the amount of time you require, is what matters most in this situation.

LTL freight is smaller than FTL and often weighs less than 5,000 pounds. It will only fill part of the vehicle, leaving space for more little shipments. While FTL shipments are substantially larger and frequently weigh 20,000 pounds or more, they frequently fill an entire vehicle. Shipping between 5,000 and 10,000 pounds can occasionally be done via LTL or FTL. Such shipments are referred to as “volume LTL” shipments in the LTL industry and as “partial TL” shipments in the FTL industry.

How your commodities need to be handled should also be taken into account when deciding whether to ship LTL or FTL. You won’t have to be concerned about your cargo transferring from one vehicle to another while using FTL. It lessens the chance of something being lost or destroyed in the process. On the other side, LTL shipments may be transferred more than once or change trucks before the final delivery, which increases the risk of breakage and cargo loss.

In Conclusion

The choice between FTL and LTL shipping will ultimately depend on your freight shipment’s pricing, schedule, and handling needs. For smaller loads, LTL frequently offers a less expensive choice, but if your cargo is heavy for its size, has an unusual form, or occupies more than half a truck cargo space, it makes total sense to get quotes for both options. Even though your load leaves extra room on the truck, there are situations when a full truckload is the best option.


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