FTL and LTL transport. What does it mean and what are the ad-vantages/disadvantages?

You’ve probably heard the terms FTL (Full Truck Load) and LTL (Less than Truck Load) at least once, and you’ve wondered what the pros and cons of each type of transportation are.

When it comes to road freight, we have a lot of options. Choosing the mode of transport is not always easy. We have to take into account not only the price of transport but also the type of goods, the volume to be transported, the duration of transport and other factors.

1. FTL road transport or full truck load

1.1 What is FTL transport?

FTL is an acronym for Full Truck Load and means that the transported goods fill up the entire truck.

In general, it is easy to implement transportation when the cargo takes up all the space in the truck, but there are also situations when the FTL option is optimal for a small amount of goods. For example, if you need express or fixed-term delivery, if you have to transport high-value or dangerous goods, the FTL option is always the best choice.

1.2 Benefits of FTL shipping

  • Full Truck Load is ideal when your goods require express or fixed-term delivery. For FTL transport, the truck remains the same from the moment of loading to the destination. In the case of LTL, we may have several stops during transport and the means of transport may change from the place of loading to the destination.
  • When the safety of your cargo is a must, FTL is usually the best option. A full truckload means a continuous delivery where only the people involved in the transport have access to the cargo. In the case of groupage transport, the goods may be reloaded several times during transportation. The more manipulation of the product, the greater the chance that the product/packaging will be damaged.FTL transport involves fewer stops on the route, less risk of damage to goods, and minimization of delays caused by stops at other loading/unloading points. So FTL option ensures good`s safety and on-time delivery.
  • In general, the higher the weight/volume or value of the shipment, the more effective the FTL. In other words, if the shipper has enough goods to fill the entire truck, then FTL is the best option.

1.3 Disadvantages of FTL shipping

When the amount of goods to be transported is small, FTL may not be the most suitable mode of transport. In these situations, LTL (Less than Truck Load) is the most efficient option. However, if the cost of your shipment is close to the LTL, then you must take into account other factors related to transportation (duration, safety, transport capacity)

2. LTL road transport or groupage

2.1 What is LTL transport?

LTL is an acronym for Less than Truck Load, which means that the transported goods take up less space than a full truck.

In the case of groupage transportation, the price will proportionally depend on the volume occupied by the goods in the truck. For example, if your goods only take up a quarter of a truck, you will only pay a quarter of the cost of the entire truck. The rest of the truck will be used for other smaller deliveries, making the LTL a great choice for smaller businesses that don’t transport a lot of cargo or have a tight budget.

2.2 Advantages of LTL shipping

  • Low cost. Due to the fact that the client uses only part of the transport capacity, he pays in proportion to the space occupied by his goods in the truck. The cost of transportation is shared between all shippers.
  • Environmental friendliness. Sharing one vehicle results in lower CO2 emissions.
  • LTL carriers may offer multi-location loading/delivery services.
  • If your goods need to be delivered to multiple locations, LTL is more affordable and faster than using a truck in FTL mode with subsequent warehousing and distribution.

2.3 Disadvantages of LTL shipping or groupage

  • Delivery times for groupage cargoes also depend on the delivery of other goods transported in a truck, so your delivery may be delayed. In the case of international shipments, delays may occur due to customs formalities or temporary national restrictions.
  • Estimating the exact duration of transport. It is more difficult than FTL transport for the reasons listed above.
  • Despite the fact that groupage shipping is safer than sending a parcel through a courier company, it is certainly less secure than FTL transportation. In the case of FTL, you have one load which is carried by one truck, that travels non-stop to its destination. In the case of LTL shipping, there are more loading and unloading locations, which means more people have access to your goods. If you choose LTL transportation, we recommend discussing all transportation conditions with the carrier in advance.
  • Safety of goods and packaging. Obviously, the goods and packaging can be damaged regardless of the mode of transport. It is necessary to inform the shipper that transportation in LTL mode may involve a change of vehicles or additional manipulations with the goods, which increases the possibility of damage to the goods/packaging.

4. Comparison of FTL and LTL shipments: what to choose?

LTL transport is no better than FTL, just as FTL is no better than LTL. In choosing FTL or LTL we take into account the characteristics of the goods and the flexibility in delivery times. LTL offers advantages for shippers who need flexibility in terms of delivery, and their goods and packaging are durable. We recommend FTL when your goods are bulky or fragile and you have a fixed delivery time.

FTL – Full truckload

LTL – Groupage shipping
When the goods you send are fragile or require special shipping conditions When the goods are not fragile or are packaged properly for handling
When you need a safe pick-up/delivery and a determined route When you have flexible loading and delivery times
When you need express delivery When you need to reduce the shipping cost
When you have a huge quantity of goods When the goods you want to transport do not occupy even half of the space in the truck
When the weight of your cargo reaches the maximum allowed for transportation, even if your cargo does not take up the entire space in the truck.

Despite the fact that LTL implies lower transport costs for the shipper, the selection of FTL or LTL mode should be based on product features, delivery terms, volume, etc. Therefore, we recommend you contact us to discuss your shipping in detail.

5. FTL and LTL transport solutions from Europa Expeditie

Europa Expeditie SRL offers FTL and LTL shipping services in Romania, the European Union (Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Slovakia, Poland, Benelux, Hungary), and more. We also pay special attention to the development of cooperation with countries outside the EU, such as Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, or the UK. Our goal is to offer efficient transport solutions for all our customers, regardless of their size or industry, and to offer quality services at the best prices.


Contact Europa Expeditie to identify the mode of transport that suits your needs, to find out more about the services we offer, or to get a personalized transport offer.

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