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What are the main documents needed to book a load?

Ready to book a load with a freight broker or shipper, but not totally sure what documents you need? Let’s talk about each of the documents you need to book a load and we will show you examples of each!

Onboarding with the Freight Broker or Shipper

Onboarding Packet

Onboarding refers to the process of integrating a new partner or employee into a business. In the trucking industry, brokers or shippers will onboard carriers into their carrier network. An onboarding packet is not essential, but it will package all your onboarding documents nicely. These include your W-9 form, proof of operating authority, certificate of insurance, contact information, references, and any other special certifications or endorsements your trucking business may have.

Let’s look at a few of the items typically found in an onboarding packet that a freight broker or shipper will require you to provide:


A W-9 form is a tax document used in the U.S. by businesses and individuals to provide their taxpayer identification number (TIN) to other entities, such as clients, customers, or employers. It's used to report income paid to the entity and is crucial for tax reporting purposes. TIN is a general term used by the IRS to refer to a variety of identification numbers such as a Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN). As a business owner, you will likely be using your EIN when filling out the W-9 form.

Operating Authority

Operating Authority refers to the legal permission granted by regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the U.S., to operate as a carrier in the transportation industry. It involves obtaining the necessary licenses, permits, and registrations required to legally provide transportation services. The document shared with customers looks something like this:

Certificate of Insurance

A Certificate of Insurance or COI verifies that the carrier has the required insurance to operate legally and cover potential liabilities.

Before booking a load with a freight broker or shipper, both parties will need to sign a contractual agreement. The freight broker or shipper typically provides these agreements, but occasionally the carrier will be asked to provide their own standard contract for both parties to sign.

Shipper-Carrier Agreement

A Shipper Carrier Agreement is a contractual arrangement between a shipper and a carrier. This agreement outlines the terms of transportation similar to the Broker Carrier Agreement. It establishes the legal obligations and expectations of both the shipper and the carrier throughout the transportation process.

Broker-Carrier Agreement

A Broker Carrier Agreement is a legal contract between a freight broker and a carrier outlining the terms and conditions of their working relationship. It specifies the responsibilities, obligations, and expectations of both parties regarding the transportation of goods. The agreement covers aspects such as rates, payment terms, liability, insurance requirements, and procedures for handling disputes. This document ensures a clear understanding of the partnership between the broker and the carrier.

Booking the Load

After you have successfully onboarded with the shipper or freight broker, you are ready to receive a load tender, which means receiving the load offer through a crucial document called the rate confirmation.

Rate Confirmation

Rate Confirmation is a document that outlines the agreed-upon freight rate for a specific shipment between a shipper (or freight broker) and a carrier. It confirms the financial terms of the transportation service, including the agreed-upon payment for transporting the goods from the origin to the destination. The Rate Confirmation typically includes details such as the pickup and delivery locations, shipment dates, commodity information, and the negotiated freight rate. It serves as a contractual agreement between the parties and helps ensure transparency and clarity regarding the financial aspects of the transportation arrangement. The rate confirmation is typically viewed as an addendum to the broker-carrier or shipper-carrier agreement.

To officially book a load, the carrier must sign and return the rate confirmation. After the shipper or freight broker has received the signed rate confirmation, the load has been booked!

Bill of Lading

While you technically do not need a Bill of Lading to book a load, you will need it to legally transport the load from the shipper to the consignee.

This legal document outlines the details of the shipment, including the type and quantity of goods, shipping origin and destination, and terms of the agreement between the shipper and carrier. It serves as a receipt for the goods and a contract of carriage.

Considering you’ve made it to the end of this blog, we assume you may be in need of these documents. Well, lucky for you, we’ve already created templates that can be found on our FREE Resources page as well as our Store. Check them out!


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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. Contents may not be relied upon as a substitute for the FMCSA's published regulations. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.


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