3PL provider or the provider (operator) of logistics services is an organization that provides comprehensive services in the field of logistics for customers: transportation, freight forwarding, warehousing, customs registration, and so on. Abbreviation 3PL means Third Party Logistics. In other words, the term is a synonymous to the conception of outsourcing, which means transfer of a part or of all the logistics functions to a third party, which is the provider of logistics services.
In most cases these are the transport services that are transferred to the logistics providers. Unlike ordinary freight, 3PL providers do not simply provide different types of transport services. They perform the entire range of activities necessary for the movement of goods throughout the supply chain, including freight forwarding, reception, shipment and storage of goods in warehouses, insurance of goods, customs registrations, cargo transshipment and many more. The most serious logistic operators are specialized in international transport. They demand experience and specialized knowledge from the companies . As an example we may look through logistics services in the field of international transport of goods by PTL Group. The company offers a wide range of transportation (road and air transportation, marine, multimodal) of various cargoes: oversized and bulky loads, collective consignments, as well as dangerous freights.
Along with the 3PL you may meet the other terms: 1PL, 2PL, 4PL and even 5PL. unfortunately, the views on the definitions of these terms strongly vary. Here is one of the most common variant, which will help to understand the difference between these concepts.
It should be noted that many experts do not consider it right to allocate logistics service providers at all levels, except for 3PL, because 3PL is just a third-party logistics. So except the two main parties - the producer and the consumer, there is a third - a company that provides logistical services for the first two. From this point of view definitions 1PL, 2PL, 4PL, 5PL etc. are very doubtful.