What is Freight, and What Types of Freight Are There?

If you own a trucking company, you know that freight is defined as any cargo that is transported in bulk. You may take a truck full of tennis balls across the country one day and transport medical equipment between two states the next. 

Sometimes, you may transport goods from the manufacturer to the store where they’re sold. If yours is a delivery company, you’ll take things right to the consumer. More often than not, you’ll transport cargo from warehouse to warehouse.

Sometimes, you may only be around for part of your freight’s journey. You may pick up products at the airport, the railroad station, or the docks. It’s helpful to know a bit about each kind of freight transporter you work with. 


Freight trains have been transporting goods across the nation ever since the 1800s. Today it’s an $80 billion a year industry. Freight trains transport different kinds of goods. Trains are often used for large cargo such as lumber and coal.

Cranes and forklifts are employed when loading and unloading cargo. According to Simplex Group, if you’re transporting lumber, you may need some special training on how to handle this cumbersome cargo.

Trains are known for carrying hazardous materials. If you’re picking up this type of cargo, you may need special permits depending on the state you’re in.


Products that come from overseas in small quantities will often travel by air. It’s less often used for the transportation of domestic products. It’s by far the most expensive kind of freight. 

Before you pick up products at the airport, you’ll have to fill out certain paperwork. If you want everything to go smoothly, you should fill out that paperwork well in advance. You should send the paperwork to the airport at least one business day before you make your pick-up. 

You’ll need a release letter, a bill of lading, a delivery order, and an air waybill. A bill of lading is a list of the goods in a shipment with many details. A freight release verifies the bill of lading. It confirms that freight charges for the shipment are paid. It allows for the cargo to be released. 

Your truck may be inspected before you’re allowed to drive onto airport property. Airports are busy places, and you’ll have a limited amount of time to load cargo.

Ocean Freight 

Most products that come to the United States from overseas are transported by boat. It’s an inexpensive but time-consuming way to get products from one part of the world to another. 

There are port truck drivers whose job is to transport products from the dock to where they’ll be picked up by another truck. If the cargo is getting on a train, the port driver will take it to the railroad station. Many drivers are independent contractors, but some work for the port. 

Picking up ocean freight can be lucrative, but be aware of the fees involved. You may pick up the freight from the docks or from a warehouse that is close by. You may have to pay a fee of $50.00 for docking. You must pay this fee in cash. You may also have to pay customs fees. You’ll need all of your paperwork to pick up this cargo as well. Your client should reimburse you for these fees as long as you specify these expenses in your contract.

Complying with Trucking Laws

Whenever you pick up cargo from another type of carrier, you’ll need to fill out paperwork and record that paperwork electronically. The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration will want to ensure that your vehicle was inspected before and after your trip. If you carry hazardous material or material that requires special training or handling, they’ll want to know that as well.

If you don’t keep these records complete and up to date, you may face fines from the FMCSA. If you’re a new company, you may fail your new entrant audit, and they may shut you down. It’s best to hire a trucking compliance company familiar with the ocean, air, and railroad regulations.

Running a trucking company is a fun and exciting job. If you work with other kinds of transportation companies, you’ll help keep America fed, warm, and comfortable. 

Interesting Related Article: “Freight Dispatch Services: Profits and Demanded Features