Logistics Glossary


What Is a Carrier?

The term carrier refers to any individual or company offering for-hire transportation services. Common carriers provide services to any individual or company that requires (and pays for) these services, whereas contract carriers work exclusively for certain companies/entities on a long-term basis.

Private Carriers

Private carriers are companies that own the fleet of vehicles they use for transporting their goods. In this case, the transporting of goods is not the main point of the business: The company has the necessary capacity to transport their own goods, but such fleets are not available for hire by anyone else.

The Role of a Carrier

The carrier’s role is to ensure a smooth transport of the goods once having received the shipment from the shipper. The carrier is then responsible for carrying the goods from the shipper and delivering it to the buyer or consignee.

It’s usually up to the shipper to ensure that the goods are safely packaged prior to being transported. The shipper is also responsible for checking that the shipment’s contents are present and correct, and accurately described in the waybill.

The shipment recipient only has a single responsibility: To make any claims for lost or damaged cargo on time. Usually, such claims can be made for up to six years afterward, but for shipments by sea, the period is usually one year.

Everything else is up to the carrier, who can be held liable for almost anything that goes wrong during the transport process. This is a big responsibility, so be sure to choose a reliable carrier company.

Road Carriers

Companies must ensure that their drivers are not required to drive for long periods without a break, and individual drivers need to monitor their own levels of alertness. If something unforeseen causes a delay on the trip, drivers should take a break when necessary, even if this means a delay in reaching their destinations.

Most places have explicit laws about how many hours truck drivers can be on the road and how much rest they need in between routes. Many countries also require drivers of trucks to pass a specialized test before they are allowed to drive these tricky vehicles. Drivers need to be physically fit (with good eyesight, reflexes, etc.), and they need to demonstrate a knowledge of specific road rules or safety precautions relating to their vehicles.

When a private vehicle is involved in a road accident, the vehicle owner is responsible for paying any damages. However, freight vehicles are normally owned by companies, rather than individuals, and driven by employees of the same company. This means that, in most cases, liability rests with the company, rather than the individual.

Because the carrier is normally liable for any loss or damage incurred, it’s in their best interests to ensure that your shipment arrives safely at its destination.

How to Find a Carrier Company

One way of finding a good carrier company is to do an informal survey:
- Ask lots of people what carrier services they use
- See if there is any name that comes up most often
- Reach out to the most named company and see if they fill in your needs

Alternatively, some companies maintain databases of carriers, complete with all the information you’ll need to choose the right carrier and get in touch.