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The Extra Mile

Shipping Tips

5 Basic Steps to Shipping Freight

The Yellow Team | July 5, 2022

    Image of a Yellow employee pushing a pallet

    This simple, step-by-step guide with illustrations is designed to help first-time shippers, as well as those who need a quick refresher on how to ship freight.

    Are you new to freight shipping and wondering how to get started? If so, or even if you’re an infrequent shipper who needs a quick refresher on the dos and don’ts for preparing your next less-than-truckload (LTL) shipment, we’ve got some helpful tips.

    Here are five simple steps you can take to successfully ship LTL freight and avoid costly delays and damages.

    Step #1: Package and Stack Your Shipment Carefully

    Proper packaging prevents damage and saves money. All freight needs to be protected with proper packaging in compliance with the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC), which sets the standard for moving commodities throughout the United States.

    Stacking Tips:

    • Stack cartons squarely on a skid with no overhang.
    • Box flaps and corrugations in the packaging should be stacked facing up. 
    • Make the top surface as flat as possible. 
    • Secure cartons to the skid with banding, stretch-wrap or breakaway adhesive.

    How NOT to Stack and Load a Shipment

    Improper stacking of cartons can lead to serious damages to your shipment. These images illustrate what poor stacking, loading and the dreaded “overhang” of cartons look like:

    Illustrations showing improper stacking
    Illustrations showing improper loading

    Step #2 Label Every Part of the Shipment Properly


    Every piece of your shipment should be labeled in places where they can be easily identified. Complete names and addresses must be visible on each piece to ensure your entire shipment arrives intact. The shipper and consignee information must match the Bill of Lading (BOL) information exactly, and your labels must be legible and complete.


    Label Placement Tips:


    • Place labels securely on the long and short sides of each piece. 
    • Department of Transportation (DOT) hazardous material labels are required when shipping hazardous material.
    • Unless specifically provided for elsewhere in the NMFC, address markings must be affixed appropriately as shown in the following illustrated examples. The label locations shown indicate the top, side or end of each item. If more than one location on an item is shown, you may choose which one to use for the label.
    Illustrations showing examples of proper labeling

    Step #3: Complete Your Shipping Documentation


    The most important document in any LTL shipping process is the Bill of Lading. It is a legal contract between the shipper (you) and the carrier (Yellow). The BOL states exactly what is being shipped, where it’s coming from and where it’s going. It is a receipt for goods, a contract of carriage and a document of title.


    You can buy BOLs from office supply stores. The Yellow BOL is available at no charge from your Yellow customer terminal, or you can complete one on our Bill of Lading page online and print a copy.


    Step #4: Arrange for a Pick-Up


    Call your Yellow customer terminal to request a pick-up for your shipment. Or you can request your pick-up online on our Pick-up Request page. When your Yellow driver arrives to pick up the shipment, give him or her the completed Bill of Lading.


    Step #5 Track Your Shipment


    After pick-up, use our online Track Shipment page to follow your freight as it moves through our system to final delivery. Your entire shipment moves through our system with only one tracking number (called a PRO number) to follow. If shipped on a pallet, your freight will remain on the pallet. Individual boxes are not separated from the rest of your shipment.


    In Summary 


    There’s a lot more to know about LTL shipping, but the above steps will get you started on moving your freight safely and efficiently. This basic guide is a handy resource that you can quickly reference to successfully complete the process and avoid cost incurred due to delays and damages.


    As you ship more LTL freight, you may want to up your game on trucking industry knowledge. For more information about shipping, please refer to our glossary of commonly used shipping terms here.

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