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Freight Shipping Checklist for Domestic US Shipments

For shippers who are just beginning to manage logistics (because everyone starts somewhere, right?) A smooth shipment is ensured by being informed about what to expect in a process that can be confusing. In order to assist shippers in moving their freight confidently, we have compiled the most popular freight shipping checklist items.

Handy Freight Shipping Checklist


Choose how you are going to ship your freight

Choose the type of freight shipping you want to use: LTL, FTL, intermodal, or flat-rate pallet shipping. In general, FTL is for full truckloads, which offers the advantages of faster delivery and no truck transfers, while LTL is for partial truckloads, which may take longer to deliver freight. Refer to our guide on the various types of freight if you are unsure of what kind of freight is best for you.

Package your freight

Your freight should be palletized. Make sure your pallets are in good shape (not cracked, broken, or with exposed wood damage). For delicate items, use sufficient padding or bubble wrap, and for boxed items, use protective foam or peanuts. Make sure the palletized freight is shrink-wrapped tightly to prevent individual boxes or items from shifting around or coming loose during transit. Discover more about packaging in our article on the major shipping blunders to watch out for. 

Measure and weigh the packaged freight

To determine the cost of your shipment, you must have an accurate weight for your fully packaged goods. Having the accurate weight and dimensions will ensure that there are no surprises on your invoice because freight is frequently calculated based on class. While the truck is traveling, inaccurate weight can also cause issues for the carrier, delay your shipment, and even result in fines. Some shippers find that flat rate pallet shipping is preferable because it offers greater shipping cost predictability.

Complete your Freight Bill of Lading 

Your bill of lading, which is used to create your invoice and to validate your shipment at the point of pickup and delivery, is a crucial document. The following details are contained in the bill of lading:

  • Items being shipped (description, number, value)
  • The weight of the shipment
  • The originating location
  • The pickup date and time
  • The destination

The carrier signs your Bill of Lading at the time of pickup and it serves as a proof of the transaction. A typical error made by shippers is failing to have the bill of lading prepared at the time of pickup. This results in frustrating delays for the carrier and a hasty completion of the document by the shipper, which leads to errors.

Shipping Hazardous Materials

A completed SDS, or Safety Data Sheet, must be submitted with the Bill of Lading if hazardous materials are being shipped. The SDS is a document that details the chemical composition of the shipment, any potential health risks to people or the environment, safety precautions for handling and storing the materials, first aid and firefighting advice, suggestions for handling leaks and spills, and instructions for disposal of the materials. 

Assess the Pickup Location Facilities

Is there a dock at the pickup location, or will the carrier have to bring a liftgated truck? It is likely that your shipment will need to be rescheduled for pickup at a different time if the pickup location lacks a dock and a liftgate is not requested. You should be aware that the liftgate service is extra.

City pickups

Is the pickup location in a downtown area with scarce parking? Be aware that if there are not enough temporary parking spaces for trucks or docks, picking up large freight in urban areas can be challenging.

Rural pickups

Is the pickup location in a remote area with rough roads or with little room to back up, if necessary? Be sure to let the carrier know if your pickup location faces any of these potential difficulties so that they can be ready with any specialized equipment that may be required to handle the pickup.

Get a Quote

Always get in touch with your broker or carrier to confirm the cost of shipping your cargo. The cost to ship your freight may change over time unless you have contracted for a flat rate pallet pricing structure, so it is best to have the price agreed upon in writing beforehand. By doing this, there will not be any unneeded surprises when you get your invoice!

Have your freight’s weight and dimensions on hand when requesting a quote, as well as your preferred shipping method (LTL, FTL, etc.), any special handling instructions for the items, the pickup location’s address and details, and the destination location’s address and details. 

Schedule Your Pickup 

When you are prepared to arrange pickup, get in touch with your carrier to secure a time and date. Be sure to have someone at the pickup location ready and available with a completed Bill of Lading because some carriers will need a window of when they will be able to pick up your freight. Additionally, confirm that there will be a space available for the carrier’s truck if the pickup location has a dock facility.

Assess the Destination Facilities

It is crucial for the carrier to be ready for any unique requirements at the destination, just like when evaluating the pickup location. Indicate that a liftgate is required for delivery if the destination lacks a dock. Give adequate notice if parking or maneuvering a big truck will be difficult.

If inside delivery is required, make sure to request it in advance so that the appropriate carrier can be assigned. Deliveries are typically made to a dock or the exterior of a building. Be aware that “inside delivery” does not refer to a specific location inside a building; rather, it only refers to delivery inside the building’s front door.

Tracking During Transit

Most shipping companies will give you status updates while your cargo is in transit, particularly if it will take several days or needs to be transferred from one truck to another. 

Schedule Your Delivery

Deliveries are typically only made during regular business hours, never on the weekends or after midnight. The carrier will typically call ahead before delivering. Be sure to have someone available to sign the Bill of Lading and accept delivery, just like with pickup.

Choose CHP for Your Freight Shipping and Logistics

We hope that this freight shipping checklist was helpful to you!

Through a broad network of elite partners, CHP has offered efficient logistics and trucking services in addition to our intermodal and brokerage services. We have specialized freight handling experience spanning decades, giving us special capabilities that other carriers lack. We make working with us simple by providing 24/7 support that allows you to request rate quotes, arrange pickups, and follow shipments in real time.

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