A Brief Guide to LTL Shipping & its Types

LTL shipping is one of the most cost-effective ways to move orders that do not require a full truckload space. Better known as less than truckload shipping, any freight or carrier business that takes less than 10,000 lbs. can utilize ltl shipping. 

But as a beginner, determining the hotshot truck requirements and deciding whether you require LTL shipping or not, is crucial. Moreover, it is important to know that all shipping businesses do not need LTL. Your business model determines whether it is needed or not. 

The best possible option for your freight business will depend on your location and where you intend to send your shipment. 

Full Truckload Shipping vs LTL Shipping 

The core value of LTL shipping is focused on cost-effectiveness. It consolidates multiple shipments from different shippers and from different locations to provide an exceptional service at a relatively lower price. 

However, entering the LTL market is not an easy task. It has a handful of requirements and you must be definite that it is a viable option for your business. To make things easier to understand, here is a quick comparison between full truckload and less than truckload shipping. 

  • LTL Shipping:

LTL carriers basically do not have a single truck for their shipment. They use multiple trucks to move the shipment between different terminals. They are extremely balanced and profitable networks as they have to maintain the lane density. 

  • Full Truckload Shipping:

There is just one shipment and one carrier or truck involved in full truckload shipping. They deliver the shipment straight to the destination. The carrier can easily move an entire full truckload of shipments, to required destinations. 

Entering the LTL shipping industry is comparatively tougher than full truckload shipping. There are several barriers in entering LTL shipping and you have to consider all the factors before stepping into it. 

Types of LTL Carriers:

Now, when you are entering the LTL shipment industry, you must know about the types of carriers involved. Many shippers work with different LTL providers to gain a balanced capacity and rate for their business. 

There is absolutely no perk pick for the type of LTL carrier that you must pick. But understanding the different ones and then choosing one wisely, is certainly the right decision to make. 

Here are the top preferred types of LTL carriers that one must know about. 

National LTL Carriers:

This type of carrier offers border-to-border and coast-to-coast coverage. They more often operate on dense freight networks. Their business model is focused on hub and spoke models. 

National carriers are extensive and large. They usually work with sophisticated business operations. They are one of the most recognizable types of carriers in the industry. 

Multi-Regional LTL Carriers:

With multi-regional LTL carriers, the service areas are quite large and are made up of more than a single region. You can also boost the capacity and coverage in multi-regional LTL carriers. If you do not require full coast-to-coast coverage then this carrier type might be beneficial for you.

The only drawback of this type is that if you freight outside of their given capacity, you will need another provider.  

Regional LTL Carriers:

Regional LTL Carriers offer their services within a defined area to a group of states. They have a dense network within the specified region and hold a strong presence too. Moreover, they offer a wide coverage within the region. However, they do not offer their services, outside their selected region. 

If your pick and drop is within the carrier’s coverage area, you can use this type of carrier and benefit from it largely. However, if you have shipment in other regions too, then this might not be the best bet for you. 


One of the biggest complications that an LTL shipper makes is to make a decision, based purely on cost basis. There is a lot more to consider and evaluate and you must do so before picking an LTL carrier. Consider the network density, available equipment and services being offered before you make a choice. Lastly, you must be confident that it is making business easier for you in all positive ways. 

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