Shipper vs. Carrier: What’s the Difference?


While ordering products and having them delivered to your business may appear to be a straightforward operation, the logistical infrastructure required to convey goods from a supplier to a buyer is extremely complex.

To purchase items from a supplier, you do not need to comprehend every part of the consignee shipping procedure. However, in order to correctly comprehend the information on your bill of lading, you should be familiar with the typical terminology that will appear on it.

Shipper vs. Carrier: What’s the Difference?

To assist, we have produced this shipper vs. carrier comparison chart. Every bill of lading includes the terms “shipper” and “carrier.” Despite the fact that these phrases are commonly used in the freight transportation industry, many buyers frequently mix them up.

We will describe what these two entities are in more detail below. Furthermore, our specialists respond to frequently asked queries such as “Who is the shipper?” Let’s get started if you want to better comprehend the interaction between the carrier, shipper, and consignee.

What Is a Shipper?

The shipper is the supplier in a commerce transaction. For instance, a shipper may be the guy who provides the firm with crucial components that you include in your production operations. Traditionally, shippers are responsible for preparing your products for transportation and packaging them in an approved container. This also includes making sure that your parcels are delivered on time. For example, if you are shipping from China to Mexico, the time of delivery is a part of their responsibility.

While shippers and sellers may be the same entity, this is not usually the case. Some firms, especially smaller ones, may cooperate with a distributor or fulfillment center. The fulfillment center provides packaging and shipping services to the actual seller.

What Is a Carrier?

Once your products are readied for shipping, they are given over to the carrier. A carrier is an entity responsible for transporting the merchandise to the buyer or consignee.

Carriers may utilize numerous transit means to convey items, including planes, maritime freight, and truck lines. Examples of carriers include Uber Freight, USPS, and UPS.

Comparing Shippers and Carriers

To assist you in better grasping the relationship between a shipper vs. carrier, we take a deeper look at some other significant phrases you will encounter while selling or purchasing freight.

Bill of Lading

The bill of lading is a document that is issued by the carrier. It contains essential information necessary to move a consignment.

Information contained in the bill of lading comprises the destination quantity and type of cargo sent. Every bill of lading will list the three entities that are crucial to the freight shipment procedure – the carrier, shipper, and consignee.

The bill of lading is a legal document, which is why it plays such a vital part in shipping. Specifically, the bill of lading serves three roles.

First and foremost, a bill of lading is analogous to a title in that it demonstrates ownership of the items being delivered. In addition, the bill of lading functions as a contract that documents the agreement between the carrier and shipper for the delivery of the goods.

Finally, the bill of lading works as a receipt, which proves that the carrier gained custody of the freight from the shipper.

Liability and Ownership

When a shipper and consignee enter into an arrangement, the former is responsible for delivering products to the latter. If they fail to do so, then they may have to offer a refund to the consignee or might be susceptible to legal action. However, the shipper is not solely responsible for delivering the items to the consignee.

Once the shipper passes the freight to the carrier, the transporting entity then assumes liability and ownership of the goods. If the cargo is damaged, delayed, or lost while in route, the carrier will frequently be responsible for bearing these costs.


Depending on the country that products are originating from or being transported to, the shipper may be referred to as the consignor. These terms can be used interchangeably, as both relate to the entity supplying the items being sent.

However, the shipper/consignor may not be the same entity as the seller. For example, the seller may contract with a distributor to act as their shipper or consignor.


The consignee is the third entity specified on the bill of lading. This entity is the party to whom the cargo is “consigned” or allocated. While the consignee is normally the buyer, this is not always the case. In some jurisdictions, the consignee stated on the bill of lading will be the buyer’s banking institution.

Unless otherwise stated, the freight is only to be released to the consignee or an authorized representative. If the consignee wishes the freight to be transferred to another entity, this individual or company will be identified as the “notify party” by the consignee.

Do Shippers Work Directly With Carriers?

Typically, yes, shippers will work directly with carriers. When a shipper prepares a goods for a consignee, they will schedule pickup with the carrier.

The carrier will then react to the designated pickup place, retrieve the freight, and deliver it to the consignee. Once the carrier gets control of the freight, they are liable for it until it is delivered to the consignee.

Ready to Learn More About Freight Carriers and Cargo Shippers?

The shipper vs. carrier comparison above can help you better grasp the information included in your bill of lading. However, the relationship between shippers and carriers is simply one component of the product distribution lifecycle.

If you would like to learn more about cargo shippers, freight carriers, or the logistics sector as a whole, check out additional blogs from FreightWaves Ratings. You may also sign up for our monthly email subscription to ensure that you can keep up with the newest developments in the transportation and logistics sectors.


Is a Shipper a Carrier?

No, shippers and carriers are distinct entities. The shipper is also known as the seller in a product transaction and is responsible for ensuring that the products that are purchased are delivered to the buyer or consignee.

Who Is the Carrier in Trucking?

Carriers in the trucking sector are commonly referred to as “freight carriers.” The carrier in the trucking sector is the company that utilizes its trucks and trailers to carry the shipper’s merchandise to the consignee.

Who Is the Shipper?

The shipper is the product supplier. The shipper and consignee enter into an arrangement and then facilitate the delivery of the product using a carrier.


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