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Guide To Freight & Haulage Services

Collectively freight and haulage companies transport large and heavy goods by air, sea, train and road. However, to be more specific, freight refers to transportation by air, sea and train, while haulage refers to transportation by road. Here we give you the low down on each sector individually:


The haulage industry is significant in the UK as it is estimated that there are over 100,000 transport operators. Haulage is the business of moving things by road, and many goods producers rely on road haulage services to get their products to their destination whether itís another UK business, or a port so it can be shipped abroad.

UK haulage operators need a licence to be able to transport goods commercially and these are given by the Department of Transport. To get the licence haulage companies and haulage contractors, no matter how big or small, must meet the basic licence criteria otherwise will not be allowed to legally offer road haulage services.

If a haulage company or haulage contractor has been given a licence it means the Department of Transport has checked:

  • the haulage company has an acceptable operating centre
  • the haulage company has an acceptable maintenance system
  • the haulage company owner is of appropriate financial standing and good repute
  • the owner of the haulage company or an employee is professionally competent
  • all the legal requirements that a haulage company must comply with are met.

When it comes to haulage there are a number of options to choose from, although most companies offer general haulage services, which includes anything the Government doesnít require the haulage firm to have a special certificate for, or specialist training to carry. General haulage companies may carry goods such as construction material, timber, palletised goods, coal, and fertilizers.

If you require haulage services that involve a tanker, crane vehicles, a car transporter, heavy haulage vehicle, refrigerated vehicle or anything else other than the normal road freight vehicles then you will need a haulage firm that offers specialist services. Along with a specific type of vehicle haulage, companies providing specialist services may also need to provide specially trained staff to drive the goods to their destination and get a special certificate from the Government to allow them to transport the goods legally. For example companies carrying waste in tankers need a pollution certificate, and drivers carrying dangerous goods need a special training certificate from the Department of Transport.


‘Freight services’ refers to the moving of goods around the country and across the world by air, sea or train. The type of freight services you use will depend on the type of goods you are transporting and their final destination. For example large and heavy goods destined for the USA or Europe may be transported by ship, while lighter goods going across the world could be moved by freight plane. Despite the growth of the haulage and air freight industries, freight trains continue to play an important part in this sector, moving heavy goods, such as stone and concrete beams from one end of the UK to another.

If you are considering using freight services to move goods then you will probably need to contact a freight forwarder, who can help you find the most appropriate and cost-effective type of freight service for your needs.

A freight forwarder’s duties involve finding safe routes and carriers, booking transport cargo space, dealing with transport rates, insurance and schedules, making calculations by weight, volume and cost, and working as a go-between for carriers and clients. There are currently more than 2,000 companies operating as freight forwarders in the UK, including local, national and international firms, and you can find contact details for these in our listings section.

Whether you choose air freight, train freight or ship freight, there will be a number of options available to you, which will help to ensure you get your goods to the right place at the right time. These options include same day services, express services and chartered freight