Freight Accessorial Charges: What Are They, Fees, and More

CloudTrucks Team


Table of Contents

Shipping goods is seldom as cut and dry as simply picking up a load at point A and delivering it to point B. Oftentimes deliveries will change, run over time, or will need specialized tools to handle - all of which cost time, money, or resources. So, what are accessorials? What are the reasons for accessorial charges, and what types are there? Thankfully, we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate this murky and often costly aspect of the logistics industry.

What Are Accessorials?

Freight carriers bill accessorial charges to their customers when additional transportation services, such as unpacking, liftgates, and detentions are used to complete a delivery. These additional services are not initially covered in the base rate fee and are added to your freight invoice once billed. Freight carriers regard these charges as accessorial pay.  

Reason for Freight Accessorial Charges

Most accessorial charges can be anticipated and included on the initial bill. The reason for these charges may include:

  • Additional distance and time: Many times, shipments may need more time to arrive at their destination or even require extra stops. This delayed process can add up accessorial fees.
  • Special handling or equipment: Some deliveries tend to need special handling or equipment that requires loading or unloading a shipment, such as a lift gate for facilities without loading docks.
  • Special permits and escorts: Loads that exceed legal dimensions or weights may require special permits, which in turn can add onto accessorial charges

Unfortunately, not every service or resource will be known before a shipment is loaded. When this occurs, the carrier will add the relevant accessorial charges to the invoice after the load has been completed during the freight audit process

By paying attention to shipment details and planning ahead, shippers and receivers can minimize the occurrences of unexpected accessorial charges, resulting in a more profitable trucking business in the long run.

A thorough understanding of your supply chain will enable you to better anticipate accessorial fees

Types of Accessorial Charges

1. Liftgate

Trailers are designed to unload onto loading docks or ramps. If a shipment calls for delivery to a location without a loading dock or ramp, a specialized trailer equipped with a liftgate is required to unload the freight. 

2. Re-consignment

This fee occurs when the delivery destination is changed after the load has already been picked up.

3. Layover

Layover charges occur when there is a failure to load or unload a truck during its scheduled appointment time. Lengthy layovers cause a chain reaction throughout the supply chain, causing potentially significant productivity losses. As a result, the freight carriers and other shipping and receiving facilities may have to reschedule multiple deliveries. You can minimize the chance for a layover fee by planning your loading/unloading schedules and staging the shipments near the dock ahead of time. 

4. Stop Charges

Stop charges occur anytime a carrier must make additional stops to pick up or deliver goods to complete the load contract. 

5. Detention

Detention is similar to layovers but occurs for a shorter time. These are when drivers are forced to wait longer than their allocated free time while loading or unloading. As with layovers, planning shipments, dock operations,aiming for fast load/unload times, or establishing a drop and hook system, goes a long way to minimize how much a shipper/receiver pays in detention fees.

6. Fuel Surcharge

This is one of the most common accessorial fees and is found on 93% of bills to offset the high cost of gas and diesel. Its billed as a variable rate and determined by the weekly update on the U.S.  Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) website.

7. Blind Shipments

When a distributor or seller does not want the buyer to know the origin of a shipment, or by whom it was produced, a blind shipment is used. A third party often facilitates such shipments to ensure the information is not accidentally disclosed to the buyer. 

On the other hand, a buyer can also request a blind shipment, if they do not want the producer or distributor to know they are purchasing/using their products. And, on occasion double blind shipments are also requested, where neither the distributor nor the buyer are in the know about the origin/destination of the load.

8. Truck Ordered and Not Used

Truck ordered and not used is often abbreviated as TONU. It is an accessorial charge, that as its name implies, is used when a truck is ordered then canceled. This can occur for a variety of reasons, such as the buyer found a better price on the product elsewhere, or the shipper did not have enough of the item in stock to create the load.

9. Sort/Seg

Sort/Seg is a short for sort and segregate. It is a process carried out at the destination when the shipper wants to verify the entire shipment made it to its destination. This is a full audit of the goods shipped and is a time consuming process involving lumpers (workers who specialize in loading and unloading trucks), warehouse personnel, and the truck driver. Often the truck is detained while the audit process is carried out.

10. Limited Access Pickup/Delivery

Limited access pickup/delivery is a charge made by the carrier for loads that require extra time or special measures in order for delivery to be made. Such instances may include areas prone to high traffic congestion, military bases where special access must be acquired, and locations that are difficult to navigate.

Accessorial Charges - Trucking

How to ‍Plan to Anticipate Accessorial Charges

Planning for accessorial charges includes familiarizing yourself with your shipping facilities, the products you are shipping, and the receiver’s facilities and logistical practices. A thorough understanding of your supply chain will enable you to better anticipate accessorial charges and will make it easier for you to utilize the following tips:

  1. Provide thorough, detailed information on your Bill of Lading (BOL): Include any special handling instructions or legal requirements pertinent to the carrier (i.e. bulk liquid containers which require a tanker endorsement). 
  2. Weights and measurements should be accurate: Ensuring the load is within legal weight limits and distributed correctly in the trailer is essential to avoiding the costly process of having the shipment reworked. 
  3. Include any additional handling or equipment considerations: These include liftgates, pallet jacks, or forklifts. Letting the carrier know ahead of time can avoid surprise charges.
  4. Know your National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) number for LTL shipments: Understanding your NMFC number will help classify your shipments and its costs. 
  5. Thoroughly audit all line items on the BOL: Communicating expectations through every part of the shipment will ensure that your BOL is correctly filled to reduce any room for error.
  6. Even with thorough planning, unexpected situations can arise: Across the entire logistics chain, from brokers to freight carriers to shippers and receivers, everyone should be prepared to exercise a degree of flexibility to keep things moving smoothly. 
  7. CloudTrucks negotiates on behalf of drivers: There are no surprise accessorial charges in any of our shipments. These expenses are built into the route payment, so the price you see is what you get. And, of course, if something unexpected happens, our Operations Team is available 24/7 to iron out the details and resolve the situation. 

You can eliminate the headache and budget shortfalls caused by unexpected accessorial charges or expenses and enjoy greater price transparency, Instant Payments, and 24/7 on the road support with CloudTrucks. Want to drive for us? Sign up today or give us a call at (469) 250-1214 to get started.

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