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What is a freight accessorial?

What is a freight accessorial?

Freight accessorial definition.

Here at Freightquote by C.H. Robinson, we define freight accessorial services as anything that goes beyond the basics of dock-to-dock transportation. Accessorials commonly include the need for special equipment and services such as liftgates, non-commercial destinations and inside pickup and/or delivery.

Once determined, freight accessorial fees will be added to the shipper’s invoice upfront. It is also common for accessorial fees to be added at the time of billing. Accessorials most commonly occur with - but are certainly not limited to - less than truckload (LTL) shipments.

Reasons for a freight accessorial charge.

There are several different reasons that a freight accessorial fee may be charged, but they typically fall within three categories: administrative, delivery or equipment. Let’s break these down:

  • Administrative. These types of charges are typically due to an error with the bill of lading (BOL) that’s been caught at the carrier terminal. Administrative charges are the most preventable, as they can be avoided with a double-check for accuracy. 
  • In Transit. Delivery charges are very common and typically occur when a delivery window was missed. While there can be several reasons for missing a delivery window, having to redeliver the shipment or seek another route will tack on added fees depending on how long it delays the process.
  • Equipment. Sometimes a shipment will require extra equipment, but it must be carefully detailed in the BOL. If the type of needed equipment is not specified, there will be an added fee for a) the time it takes to correct the issue and b) adding the equipment itself.

 Common types of freight accessorials.

Accessorial fees can be a flat fee or charged by the time the specialized service takes to complete. Added fees are inconvenient and can slow the entire shipping process, so it’s important to know the common types of freight accessorials. 

Some of these include:

Truckload accessorials.

  • Detention. When a shipment is held up at either the initial or final destination, fees could begin to accumulate. While some leeway is always included in the shipping process, any amount of time that exceeds what is planned for will lead to a detention fee.
  • Truck ordered and not used (TONU). TONU is usually accounted for through a contract clause. If a truck is ordered and not used after the cut-off time established in that clause, however, there will be an added charge.
  • Additional stop. Multi-stop shipments are common, but can sometimes become unpredictable. The additional fee applied here is to account for the potential delays that can occur in between each stop.
  • Layovers or redelivery. If a shipment was never picked up or does not make it to its final destination during its slated window, it will cause a layover or have to be redelivered. This could occur for many different reasons, such as not having the right equipment or a delay along the driver’s route. Layovers and redeliveries cause major setbacks for all involved, so these are considered one of the largest accessorial fees. 

 LTL accessorials.

  • Liftgate. A liftgate is required when a final destination does not have a designated loading dock for freight to be lowered to the ground. Not all trucks have liftgates, so it must be specified from the start if a shipment will need one. If a liftgate needs to be used and hasn’t been accounted for, there will be a domino effect of other fees such as redelivery and delays.
  • Reclassification and reweigh. This particular fee is specific to LTL shipments. If accurate dimensions are not taken from the get-go, it can lead to a reclassification and reweigh that will disrupt the process and tack on serious fees. 
  • Sort/seg. A sort/seg accessorial fee occurs when a shipment that’s already been palletized has to be broken up and redistributed. If freight has to be moved from one pallet to another, a fee will be charged. This typically occurs at bonded warehouses, cold pack storage centers, or big box retailer distribution centers. 
  • Inside delivery. Deliveries that need to take place inside the delivery facility require special equipment. This often takes extra time, so an accessorial fee will typically be applied upfront. 
  • Overlength charge. If the dimensions of the product being shipped are particularly long, a charge may be made. This fee is to make up for the amount of additional space the freight is taking up on the trailer. Carriers will usually already have an overlength charge minimum length in place, meaning they will begin charging once the freight goes over that specific measurement. 
  • Residential pickup/delivery or limited access. Sometimes, a driver will encounter a pickup or delivery in which they don’t have direct access to the location. This may be a residential area or other private locations such as a hospital or church. A fee will be added to the bill if it is not specified ahead of time that a truck will not have access to a pickup or drop off area.


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