What Are Transportation Accessorial Fees?

Definition & Examples of Transportation Accessorial Fees

Trucker driving a delivery

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Transportation accessorial fees are any extra costs that a shipping company charges beyond standard pick-up, delivery, and drop-off charges. These fees can be fixed or variable, and they can apply to any form of shipping.

Learn more about the kinds of transportation accessorial fees that you might get from a carrier.

What Are Transportation Accessorial Fees?

Any cost that isn't a simple per-mile shipping charge is a form of a transportation accessorial fee. Commercial carriers are often called upon to perform services other than just transporting a shipment. Truck drivers may have to load or unload trailers, wrap pallets, or make additional stops, and those services aren't included in the per-mile shipping rate charge.

It would be unfair to customers to charge the fees as part of the per-mile rate because not all customers will require similar additional services. These extra services come with unique costs, and it would be too difficult to average out all the costs without overcharging customers who only require simple shipment services.

Shipping companies introduced transportation accessorial fees because they're the only fair way to charge a customer for a la carte services.

How Do Transportation Accessorial Fees Work?

The amount and application of transportation accessorial fees vary by the type of fee. Different types of fees address different aspects of transportation. Consider these examples.

Not all companies will charge the same fees for the same services. Some companies may even include some of these services as part of their per-mile shipping costs.

Shrinkwrap: This is a fee that is chargeable when the shipper requires the driver to shrinkwrap pallets.

Pallet jack: When a driver is required to load or unload a trailer with a pallet jack, a pallet jack fee may be tendered. 

Layovers: Time costs money. A layover fee may be charged to the shipper if they are the cause of the layover. If the layover is the carrier's responsibility, then the carrier pays out-of-pocket.

Truck ordered not used (TONU): Having a load fall through is inevitable. Most contracts will have a clause allowing for a TONU. These clauses usually include a pre-established cut-off time, and the fee will only be charged if the truck is canceled after that cut-off time has passed.

Detention charges: Detention charges happen when the shipper fails to load or release the driver and/or trailer in a timely fashion. Some detention time will be built ​into the contract.

Deadhead: Deadhead is a fee for when shippers are charged empty miles for the preferred use of a carrier's equipment.

Tolls: Carriers may charge shippers for tolls incurred during loaded miles.

Circuitous miles: These are miles accrued due to shipper-required out-of-route stops.

Fuel surcharge: The fuel peg is the price on which contract pricing is based. Carriers may obtain fuel cost information from the Department of Energy's website. A surcharge is added according to the current price of fuel. For instance, on the carrier's pricing table, the surcharge might be $0.05 if the current rate of fuel is between $3.509 and $3.559.

Fuel surcharges save the carrier the burden of having to accurately forecast fuel prices to stay in profit.

After-hour deliveries: A carrier may charge a shipper for after-hour deliveries if the carrier typically only delivers during business hours. This is not a particularly common fee—many companies include it in the basic per-mile costs.

Border crossing: Similar to tolls, carriers may charge shippers any border-crossing fees.

Cash-on-delivery (COD): Some carriers may be willing to receive COD payments at the time of delivery. In doing so, they might charge an additional fee to handle the money.

Non-dock deliveries: This is another uncommon fee for truckload carriers, but it is possible to incur one. If a driver has to deliver to anywhere other than to a dock, the carrier may charge additional fees to cover the labor.

Diversion miles: Upon arrival at a shipper or the end receiver, the carrier is sometimes told to drive to a different location. In this case, divergent miles may be charged. There will typically be a ceiling mileage of which the carrier is willing to drive at no additional charge.

Additional stops: Should a shipper require the carrier to stop at more than one location to pick-up or deliver the load, than the carrier may charge an additional fee per stop.

Storage: If a carrier must store a shipper's delivery, then the carrier may charge a storage fee, either by the hour or by the day.

Key Takeaways

  • Transportation accessorial fees are any shipping fees beyond a simple per-mile charge.
  • These fees account for the costs of extra services, such as shrinkwrapping shipments or crossing international borders.
  • Transportation accessorial fees help to minimize the basic costs of shipping.