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Emergency vs. Expedited Shipping


Emergency and expedited shipping services are not interchangeable. Which service is right for your shipment? Find out below.

Need something shipped as quickly as possible? There are multiple freight shipping options available for businesses and private citizens who are looking to coordinate a pick-up or delivery with a short timeframe. Typically, this means either emergency, expedited, or same day shipping.

Though emergency and expedited shipping both focus on getting cargo where it’s needed as quickly as possible, these services are not interchangeable, and the ideal service will depend on the individual circumstances of your shipment. The best freight shipping companies will work with you to find the best shipping solution for your cargo, timeline, and budget, including:

  • Coordinating special equipment or vehicles, such as refrigerated trucks for temperature-controlled medical supplies, or air-ride suspension for fragile machinery
  • Professional moving crews with experience transporting your cargo, including fragile, valuable materials
  • Dedicated customer service and timely updates on the status of your shipment

Keep reading to learn more about emergency, expedited, and same day shipping, as well as when to use each service.

Emergency Shipping

Emergency shipping services specialize in getting life-saving supplies into areas affected by natural disasters, as well as evacuation zones, as quickly as possible. Businesses and private citizens can both use emergency shipping services to send goods, supplies, and resources to areas impacted by events like hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and more. The most commonly shipped items are:

  • Crates of food and water
  • Medical supplies
  • Heavy equipment
  • Generators
  • Construction materials

TSI offers local and long distance emergency shipping services in the contiguous United States, as well as air and ocean freight for US territories and most international destinations. As long as seaports and airports are open, we can get cargo and supplies where they are needed most.

When to use emergency shipping services:

  • If you’re shipping supplies and recovery materials into a disaster area
  • If you’re shipping supplies to an evacuation zone
  • If you’re shipping supplies out of a disaster zone, such as items from a skilled nursing facility to a safe area outside the path of the storm

Expedited Shipping

The main goal of expedited shipping is to fast-track the shipping process in order to get your cargo to its final destination as quickly as possible, which makes this type of service ideal for time sensitive deliveries and last minute shipments. Businesses and private citizens can utilize expedited shipping. Unlike emergency shipping, almost anything can be transported using expedited shipping services.

Time sensitive deliveries may include:

For businesses

  • Trade show materials
  • Temporary office equipment
  • Covering gaps in your regular delivery service (for example, if you have extra holiday shipments)
  • Shipping parts and supplies needed to repair critical machinery
  • Transporting supplies to medical facilities.

For private citizens

  • Furniture you need to get to a loved one as quickly as possible
  • Bulky items, such as sports equipment, that needs to be delivered ASAP

Last minute shipments may include:

For businesses

  • Rush orders from customers
  • Express deliveries
  • Inventory replenishment to meet a manufacturing deadline
  • Replacing incorrectly shipped items, or items that were damaged in transit

For private citizens

  • Shipping your valuable or sentimental belongings to safety ahead of impending natural disaster.
  • Sending last-minute holiday gifts to loved ones

Typically, fast-tracking the shipping process is achieved in one of two ways:

  • Streamlining truck freight by ensuring trucks don’t stop along the way to reload (which is common for LTL shipments), or by using two drivers who work in shifts.
  • Sending cargo via direct or indirect air freight.

Expedited shipments typically take 2-3 business days, and can be utilized for both long distance domestic and international shipments.

When to use expedited shipping services:

  • Time sensitive deliveries, such as trade show materials, supplies required to make critical repairs, and medical supplies.
  • Last minute shipments, such as rush orders from customers, inventory replenishment, or express deliveries.

Preparing for Natural Disaster

The best way to prepare for natural disasters like hurricanes or wildfires is to create a plan for how you’ll handle the storm well in advance. Keep reading our emergency preparedness resources for our tips on preparing for disaster and to learn how you can help after disaster strikes.


More Emergency Preparedness Resources