Accessorial Charges in Truckload and LTL Freight
Understanding accessorial fees and which ones you might need
Because many shipments need more than standard pick-up and delivery options, transportation providers often offer additional solutions to customize the service. But since not everyone needs the same add-ons, they’re charged as accessorial fees. While some can be last-minute additions to the freight bill (e.g., detention charges), most are designed to ensure you’re paying only for the services you need, so the carrier can customize your shipments.
Keep reading to learn more about accessorial fees including what they are, how much they can cost and common charges to be aware of.
What are accessorial charges?
These are additional fees transportation providers charge for extra services or equipment used to complete a shipment — such as residential shipping, storage, liftgates and pallet jacks.
For example, let’s say you’re shipping boxes of desks and office furniture to a school. Because normally schools don’t have loading docks, the driver would need a lift gate to unload. Lift gates are not standard, so the carrier would charge more for this equipment. And if the driver takes the goods to a designated location inside, you would also pay an accessorial fee for inside delivery.
How much do accessorials cost?
As you might expect, the cost varies by carrier. Depending on the service(s) used, the shipper could pay anywhere from a few extra dollars up to hundreds of dollars. However, knowing what’s needed and letting the carrier know in advance will help with getting an accurate quote.
When are the charges added to the freight bill?
This depends on when the carrier was advised of the added service. If the shipper tells the carrier at the time of booking, the charges will be included on the initial bill. However, if services are added during shipping or delivery, those fees will be on the final bill.
20 common FTL and LTL accessorial charges
While several things can add to the cost of standard shipping, here are the 20 most common used with Truckload and Less-Than-Truckload shipments:
- If the weight or description noted on the bill of lading (BOL) is incorrect or blank, a carrier may levy an extra fee to correct it.
- Detention charges apply when a carrier is delayed for more than a few hours. It’s not unusual for some detention time to be accounted for in the shipping contract, so this charge typically begins when a driver is detained beyond the time noted.
- Layovers, like detention, occur when a driver is delayed for an extended period (e.g., a full day or overnight).
- Typically, shippers are responsible for loading freight and consignees are responsible for unloading. If the driver’s help is needed on either end, there could be additional charges for the added labor.
- Standard liability coverage is included with all LTL and FTL shipments, but if more coverage is needed, it can be purchased for an additional cost.
- Moving hazmat goods requires additional paperwork, permits, special handling and puts a carrier at higher risk. Because of this, the shipper could pay more to compensate for the added labor and associated risks.
- Because they usually require additional equipment (e.g., pallet jack), take more time, and sometimes require more manpower, special services like inside delivery and pickup cost extra.
- Not all trailers come equipped with liftgates — used to transfer freight from the trailer to the ground when a loading dock isn’t available. If a dock is not available and a liftgate is required, this could be an additional charge. By letting the carrier know the details up front, they can be sure to arrive at the right place with the proper equipment.
- Freight that needs to be picked up or delivered to locations with limited access (e.g., schools, military bases, prisons and construction sites) can be more challenging because they typically don’t have loading docks and may require security inspections prior to entry. Adding these requirements will typically result in additional charges.
- A lumper fee is applied when a third-party service loads or unloads your goods from the trailer (most common in the grocery distribution and food warehousing industries).
- Requesting deliveries or pickups before or after regular business hours may result in paying more.
- Transportation providers need advance notice if they’ll be moving freight that exceeds the size or weight limit of a standard shipment. By notifying your carrier up front, they can arrive prepared to load these larger, heavier goods. Meeting oversized freight requirements often results in additional charges.
- A reconsignment charge occurs when a carrier arrives at the address noted on the BOL and is then rerouted to another location to pick up or deliver.
- When a carrier cannot complete delivery at no fault of their own, they may issue a redelivery charge. This often occurs when an appointment window is required but is noted incorrectly on the BOL or not specified at all.
- Because of the complex nature and time needed to navigate a truck through residential areas, a carrier making these deliveries (home or business) may charge an accessorial fee.
- Palletized shipments that need to be sorted and segregated before final delivery are an added charge. This is most common at retail distribution centers and warehouses.
- This fee occurs if freight needs to be delivered to two or more locations, which can delay other shipments the driver is carrying.
- If the shipper needs to store freight at a carrier’s facility, a storage fee will typically be charged. This is because the shipment is taking up space in the carrier’s warehouse and/or equipment, which could keep them from being able to move other shipments.
- Shipments moving on a flatbed trailer often require straps for securing the goods in place and tarps for protecting them from the elements. Because it’s the shipper's responsibility to load, secure and cover the freight as needed, carriers often charge extra their assistance or materials are required.
- Using team drivers is beneficial if freight needs to be delivered faster. This is an added charge.
How to prepare for accessorial fees
Follow these tips to helps ensure you’re effectively managing your shipments and avoiding unnecessary fees:
- Be thorough on the BOL. The more you note on the BOL, the more accurate the price. Be sure to provide details about what you’re shipping and include information like complete addresses, the type of building or business where the freight will be picked up or dropped off, and any important points of contact.
- Give accurate weights and measurements. Noting the correct weight and measurements is critical for avoiding added charges.
- Identify the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) number for LTL shipments. Misclassified freight can lead to additional fees.
- Note special handling or equipment requirements. If your freight requires special handling or equipment like liftgates, pallet jacks or forklifts, let the carrier know in advance.
Get ahead of accessorial charges with ArcBest
Do you know what additional services you need? Whether you’re shipping FTL or LTL, we’ll help determine what’s necessary to move your shipment so that you get the most accurate pricing upfront. Get a quote and select from our list of additional services up front to avoid surprises.