Prepare the shipment

Properly prepare your shipment to avoid delays, damaged cargo, costly fees, and other issues.

Select a Transportation Service Provider (TSP)

When choosing a TSP, base your decision on best value, factoring in the characteristics shown below. Whenever possible, choose TSPs that use alternative fuel vehicles and equipment. Visit the SmartWay® to learn more.

TSP characteristic Question to ask when evaluating the TSP
Reliability Has the TSP met your expectations in the past for issues such as meeting shipping schedules?
Safety How's the safety record? Look up the TSPs safety record for the motor vehicles.
Expertise What is their ability to fulfill requirements?
Customer service Does the TSP provide prompt service for such things as shipment tracking?
Price What is the total cost including added accessorials such as labor, blocking, and bracing?

Package and label your shipment

  • Make sure shipping boxes are sturdy and properly secured.
  • Make sure shipments are properly labeled.
  • When loading cargo onto pallets:
    • Make sure it does not extend beyond the pallet.
    • Shrink wrap cargo to secure it to the pallet.

Download tips on packaging and labelling your cargo [PDF - 33 KB] and post them wherever you prepare shipments.

Ensure an accurate bill of lading (BOL) is created

What is a BOL

The BOL is the basic transportation contract between the TSP and the shipper, the person or organization responsible for packing and preparing freight or household goods to turn over to a TSP. It details the type, quantity, value, and destination of the goods being transported. A BOL is required to accompany every shipment except for domestic small packages in which case the shipping label usually acts as the BOL.

When is a BOL required

The bill of lading is required to accompany every shipment except for domestic small packages in which case the shipping label usually acts as the BOL. Your agency policy may require other transportation documents to be included with a shipment.

Who creates the BOL

The TSP usually creates a BOL however many agencies, when acting as shippers, choose to create their own BOL and require the signed BOL be submitted for payment. If the TSP creates the BOL, make sure it accurately reflects your shipment.

What to include in a BOL

If a BOL is required by your agency, then create one and make sure it includes:

  • A detailed cargo description including details such as weight, volume, measurements, routing, hazardous cargo, or special handling designations
  • A declared value of the cargo

What are additional uses of the BOL

  • If your cargo is damaged, you will need the BOL when filing a damage claim.
  • The TSP uses the BOL to determine the type of equipment or any special precautions necessary to move the shipment.

Last Reviewed: 2023-02-24