LTL vs. FTL Shipping: What Is the Difference?

Large semi truck hauling freight on the open highway in the western USA under an evening sky to demonstrate ftl shippingBusinesses that require freight carrier services have multiple options to transport their goods. Among the most common transportation methods in North America include LTL shipping (Less Than Truckload) and FTL shipping (Full Truckload). Hence, it is essential to understand what LTL and FTL freight shipping entails, including the differences between these two forms of cargo. With that, this explores LTL and FTL freight, highlighting the differences between these transportation methods.

What Is LTL Freight?

Less than truckload freight (LTL freight) involves shipping relatively small freights from one location to the other. LTL freight carriers typically transport small freight shipments for different businesses, with the load sharing space on one semi-trailer. Each client pays specific amounts based on the semi-trailer’s freight portion.

Typically, LTL freight provides an economical transportation mode for businesses, including comprehensive utilization of the LTL shipment carrier’s fleet. Some features and benefits of using LTL shipping include:

  • More service options
  • Security and tracking
  • Minimized costs for small companies
  • Flexible shipping
  • Minimal environmental impact

What Is FTL Freight?

Full truckload freight (FTL freight) is the shipping of larger shipments, where an entire load from a single company occupies the whole semi-trailer. These shipments are often destined for one client, meaning a business uses the FTL shipping carrier to transport larger loads to a specific location. Some features and benefits of FTL freight include:

  • Security and tracking
  • Offers faster shipping than LTL
  • Suitable for high-risk or delicate loads
  • Ideal for large shipments
  • Cost-effective for larger shipments

What Is the Difference Between LTL And FTL Freight?

LTL and FTL freight are among the most common forms of transportation for businesses. However, there are significant differences, and understanding them will help determine which shipping method works for you. The major differences between FTL and LTL freight shipping are:


When shipping freight, size is the most critical factor that determines the transportation method to use. LTL shipments are best for smaller loads that weigh up to 5,000 pounds, while FTL freight involves loads that fill most portions or the entire truck, often weighing 20,000 pounds or more. In some cases, shipments weighing between 5,000 and 10,000 can be considered LTL or FTL freight.


While LTL freight entails smaller shipments and leaves room for more loads in a single semi-trailer, it tends to be cheaper since you will only pay for the portion of the occupied space. Contrarily, FTL loads occupy significant parts or the entire truck, making them costly because you are paying for more space in the truck. Therefore, if you are shipping smaller loads, choosing FTL freight can result in higher transportation costs.


Some businesses may require swift shipping of specific goods but find it hard to choose between FTL and LTL freight. Even when you have a smaller shipment and need it shipped quickly, consider using FTL shipping. LTL freight entails multiple stops to unload smaller loads to different destinations. This consumes more time, delaying the delivery loads. However, FTL freights transport loads for a particular business, averting several stops. It makes pick up and delivery of goods quicker than LTL.


Some freight can be delicate or high-risk, especially when a business requires fast pickups and deliveries. FTL shipment is an ideal transportation method for fragile and high-risk shipments since the loads remain on the truck until unloaded. This has limited risks of damage or missing items because the truck is destined for one client. However, LTL may switch trucks or transfer the load several times before reaching its destination, unlike FTL shipping. That increases the risks of damage or missing goods besides delaying delivery.

LTL Vs. FTL: When to Use Either One

You should consider several factors before choosing FTL or LTL freight for your load and business needs. For instance, if you are shipping more than 12 pallets in a single cargo or fragile product and prefer timely pickups and deliveries, FTL freight is ideal. However, you can choose LTL if you are shipping 12 pallets or less, have a flexible delivery time, transport products that can withstand frequent handling, or look to reduce transportation costs.

Choosing an appropriate shipping method is essential for businesses looking to save time and money. At Veltri Logistics, we can help you get more insights into FTL and LTL freight. Contact us today to learn more!

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