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Outside The Box

A Moving And Shipping Blog

3 Types of Items that Cannot be Shipped by Freight

Posted in Blog on May 25, 2016, tagged with freight classifications, freight shipping, shipping mistakes

If you’re wondering, “What items can I ship by freight?” or “Why can’t I ship this item by freight?” wonder no more. There are a few different reasons why it may not be possible to ship something:

  1. In some cases, the root issue is liability — certain items are too valuable and/or high target items for theft to make them worth the risk to handle and transport.

  2. In other cases, certain types of items cannot be shipped via freight due to governmental regulations.

  3. Finally, sometimes LTL (less-than-truckload) and FTL (full truckload) carriers refuse to accept certain items as a matter of company policy.

Now that you know why some types of items can’t be shipped, let’s take a closer look at what these three categories include.

1. Items of Extraordinary Value

LTL carriers, FTL carriers and moving companies may refuse to handle certain items due to their value. Different carriers have different policies regarding these items, so if you see something on the list you want to have shipped by freight, you should check with the carriers bidding on your job. Carriers may be willing to accept certain items if they have the appropriate insurance coverage and specialize in the transport of valuable merchandise. Items frequently excluded from freight shipping due to extraordinary value include:

  • Articles of antiquity
  • Bank bills
  • Bullion
  • Credit cards
  • Currency (especially paper currency)
  • Deeds
  • Drafts
  • Fine watches
  • Furs
  • Jewelry (costume jewelry is OK)
  • Lottery tickets
  • Manuscripts
  • Marble figures/statues
  • Mechanical drawings
  • Original artwork
  • Passports
  • Postage stamps (current stamps and collectibles)
  • Precious metals
  • Precious stones
  • Rare books
  • Securities
  • Stock certificates
  • Valuable papers of any kind not otherwise noted

2. Restricted or Prohibited Items

Another group of items that cannot ship via freight are those excluded to government regulation or due to an extremely hazardous nature. In addition, carriers that lack the proper storage and stowage equipment to maintain the right temperature will refuse certain items, such as refrigerated items. Finally, certain items (such as canoes) may be prohibited by certain carriers because of their size, shape, difficulty to stow and difficulty to handle. Items that generally fall into this category include:

  • Acids
  • Aerosols
  • Ammonia
  • Ammunition
  • Antifreeze
  • Appliances
  • Asbestos
  • Assembled guns
  • Automobiles
  • Batteries with acid
  • Beer
  • Bleach
  • Canoes
  • Carbon black
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Combustible materials
  • Commodities with elevated temperatures
  • Contraband
  • Corpses
  • Corrosive liquids
  • Corrosive materials
  • Cremated remains
  • Diagnostic specimens
  • Distilled spirits
  • Dynamite
  • Ethanol and gasoline mixture
  • Explosives
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fireworks
  • Flammable materials
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fresh-cut flowers
  • Frozen foods
  • Fruit, fresh or frozen
  • Gasoline
  • Gun parts
  • Hazardous waste
  • Heavy appliances
  • Human body parts
  • Human organs
  • Infectious substances
  • Kerosene
  • Lamp oil
  • Large computer monitors
  • Large televisions
  • Lighter fluids
  • Live animals
  • Live insects
  • Live plants
  • Livestock
  • Machinery
  • Matches
  • Mattresses
  • Motor oil
  • Non-hazardous waste
  • Paint
  • Paper or pulp board sheets
  • PCBs
  • Pesticides
  • Photocopiers
  • Poison gas
  • Pornographic materials
  • Pottery
  • Propane tanks
  • Radioactive materials
  • Records and other data containing personal financial information (e.g., social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers)
  • Shellac
  • Signal flares
  • Slab marble
  • Slab stone
  • Sterno
  • Tanning beds and booths
  • Taxidermy items
  • Tobacco products
  • Toxic by inhalation materials
  • U.S. Mail
  • Used fluorescent light bulbs
  • Used tires
  • Used tires (for scrap, salvage, waste)
  • Vehicular glass
  • Video gaming machines
  • Weed killer
  • Windshields
  • Wine

3. Items Prohibited by Company Policy

To be sure of what is possible — to answer the question, “What can I ship by freight?” — address specific questions to the carrier you are considering. Within the world of LTL freight carriers, there is a great deal of specialization. For instance, some carriers specialize in the transport of perishable items or hazardous materials. If you have items to transport that fall into both categories, you may be forced to hire two separate LTL carriers. Companies that specialize in moving household items also specialize in various ways:

  • FTL only. Some movers only accept full truckload quantities. These carriers are expert at handling large-scale moves, such as an entire office or very large home. For smaller offices and smaller households, an LTL carrier will be more efficient in terms of service, and far more affordable.

  • Standard items only. Some freight companies handle only basic household items — they may do a very good job in this area, but are not equipped to handle large appliances, antique furniture, artwork, etc. If you have valuable items that fall into the list at the top of this article, it pays to partner with a shipping company that has a strong track record in moving such items. Beware of companies that claim to handle any type of item, but cannot back it up in terms of customer testimonials, certifications, etc.

  • Geography. Some carriers specialize in certain areas of the country, or even in certain metropolitan areas. This may be due to licensing restrictions or internal business strategy.

From these examples of specialization, you can see that what you can ship by freight sometimes depends not on the item you are shipping, but on the amount of item(s) you have to ship, the pickup point and/or the destination point. Finally, large, oversized items — such as pianos, refrigerators, china cabinets, etc. — are not easily handled by all LTL shippers. If you have an item falling into a “grey area,” check. You don’t want to find out that your carrier can’t handle the product when they show up at your door.

Looking to transport a hard-to-ship item? We specialize in items that are difficult to handle, such as those pianos, refrigerators, and china cabinets. We’ve been in the business since 1989, and have built strong business relationships throughout the shipping industry. If you have an item to ship and have not been able to find a carrier to accept it — check with us! We may be able to arrange transport for your item(s) in a way that is safe, secure and economical. And, if for some reason you have an item that cannot be shipped via freight under any circumstances, we will help you identify another method of transport to get your item from point A to point B. Whatever company you choose to move your hard-to-handle item(s), make sure to do your homework. Make sure you select a freight company with a solid track record, solid liability coverage, and solid maintenance and quality control processes to ensure top performance.