Make shipping decisions

Next make some decisions based on the information you’ve gathered and requirements such as governing regulations, contract, or tender of service requirements.

Packaging and equipment

Determine whether you need anything special in terms of packaging, protection equipment, or a trailer such as flatbeds, box truck, tanker, etc.

Accessorial services

Decide whether your shipment requires services above the basic transportation service of moving goods from point a to point b -- also known as accessorial services or accessorials.

  • Additional stops - the TSP is required to make more than one stop for pickup or delivery
  • After Hours, Weekend or Holiday Service - pickup or delivery is required outside normal business hours as defined by your agreement with the TSP
  • Dual Driver Service - the shipment requires two drivers
  • Exclusive use - the trailer is locked and sealed at origin and only the shipper's load is permitted on the trailer
  • Extra Labor - the TSP must provide persons to load or unload freight
  • Forklift Service - the TSP is required to provide a forklift for loading or unloading the van
  • Fuel surcharge - a charge to cover the fluctuating cost of fuel
  • Hydraulic lift gate service - a hydraulic platform to lift freight from ground level up to the level of the truck when freight is picked up or delivered
  • Notification Charge - the TSP is required to notify the receiver to schedule delivery
  • Special Permits - shipment requires the TSP to acquire special permits such as oversize or overweight limits


Choose the mode(s) you will use. The mode is a method of transportation, such as rail, motor, air, water, pipeline, or multimodal (two or more modes).

Your shipping urgency and any special handling requirements determine which mode of transportation you select. Each mode has unique requirements for documentation, liability, size, weight and delivery time. Hazardous materials, radioactive, and other specialized cargo may require special permits and may limit your choices.

Certain shipments may require two or more modes (multimodal). For example to ship via air, rail, or ocean you may need to arrange to have the cargo delivered by a truck to the air, rail, or ocean carrier.

Container requirements

Transportation service providers (TSPs) usually bundle cargo into larger units that can be easily handled, moved, and stacked. The customary cargo unit varies by mode and vehicle. If you don’t have enough cargo to fill a unit, you may need to get the TSP to consolidate your goods with those of others.

Mode Customary cargo unit What to do if your cargo doesn't fill a unit
rail container
  • What size containers are available?
  • Will the shipment fill a container or less than a container load (LCL)?
  • If LCL, you will need the cargo consolidated by a TSP.
motor truckload
  • What size truckloads are available?
  • Will the shipment fill a truckload or less than a truckload (LTL)?
  • TSPs may charge for dimensional or actual weight when shipping small parcels or LTL.
air pieces or pallets
  • Is the shipment going in pieces or on a pallet?
  • Ship pieces (not on a pallet) via a small package delivery service.
water container
  • What size containers are available?
  • Will the shipment fill a container or less than a container load (LCL)?
  • If LCL, you will need the cargo consolidated by a TSP.

Procurement method

Select the procurement option that best suits the situation.

Use one of our options

  1. Transportation Management Solutions Services 2.0 (TMSS 2.0)

    Use TMSS 2.0, our automated solution to manage your freight and household goods (HHG) shipments from booking a shipment online to settling the final bill.

    Participating TMSS 2.0 TSPs consent to comply with a GSA tender of service, an agreement that includes rates and rules for performing general freight services for federal agencies.

  2. Multiple Awards Schedule (MAS) Transportation and Logistics Services Category

    Find pre-qualified contractors under the package delivery and packaging services subcategories.

Use another agency's transportation contract

  • The agency issuing the contract must have:
    • statutory authority to procure transportation on behalf of other agencies or
    • a delegation of authority from the GSA Administrator to procure transportation on behalf of other agencies.
  • The contract must allow its use by other agencies.

When shipping small parcels use the mandated solution, the Department of Defense’s Next Generation Delivery Services (NGDS) contract unless you have an approved exception.

Contract directly with the TSP

You must use the acquisition rules under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 47 Transportation.

Negotiate a government rate tender

A rate tender is an offer from a TSP to an agency for service rates and charges. You can negotiate a government rate tender under the authority of a government traffic statute, Title 49 U.S.Code Section 13712 for truck [PDF] or Title 49 U.S.Code Section 10721 for rail [PDF].

Find additional information on purchasing transportation at the Federal Management Regulations Subpart B—Acquiring Transportation or Related Services.

Last Reviewed: 2023-02-24