Accessorial Charges

These charges are for services outside of the normal pickup and delivery of goods. A few examples of additional charges you might find on your bill include wait time, bunkers, storage, and packing.

Bill of Lading

This is a document that a carrier issues to whoever is shipping the goods. It simultaneously serves as a receipt, a contract, and a title of ownership.

Bonded Warehouse

These warehouses are controlled by customs and allow imported goods to be stored until any duties owed are paid.

Cubic Feet (CBF/CF/CFT)

This term essentially serves the same function as a cubic meter, the primary difference is that in a cubic foot, the “cube” is characterized by foot-long edges as opposed to meter-long ones.

Cubic Meter (CBM/CM)

This is a unit of volume that describes a cube where each edge is one meter long. It is often used to describe what size shipment can fit on a carrier vessel.

Destination Delivery Charge (DDC)

This is a fee that is charged based on container size and is applied to cargo. This charge is “accessorial” and is added to whatever the base price is for freight. This charge covers the costs to lift the cargo off the vessel, the cost of drayage within the terminal, and the cost of gate fees.

Documentation Fee (DOC)

One of the fees that a shipper must pay to have goods transported either domestically or internationally.

Freight Prepaid (FPP)

This is a term often used on a bill of lading to communicate that the shipment cost has already been paid. Although this is a nice way of allowing the receiver to avoid paying shipment costs, it also means the freight cost is nonrefundable.

Full Truckload Shipping (FTL)

This term refers to a shipping method where an entire trailer-load is contracted out to a single customer. Cargo remains with a single, dedicated trailer over the course of the shipment and is not handled en route. It is a very time- and cost-efficient way of shipping goods for shippers who need to move large amounts of cargo.


HAZMAT is an abbreviation for “Hazardous Materials.” These types of goods range from explosives to corrosives and must be communicated to the carrier before transport. 


This term refers to shipments that involve two or more modes of transportation.

Less Than Truckload (LTL)

Less Than Truckload is a term that describes a method of shipment where multiple customers’ goods are mixed on a single trailer. Freight on these trailers are often handled at various points along the shipping route.

Packing List

This a detailed list that describes all items in a shipment, letting each party know how the goods should be handled.

Peak Season Surcharge (PSS)

A Peak Season Surcharge is a fee that was proposed to account for the high volumes that carriers have to transport during peak shipping season. This is generally considered to last between the summer and November of each year. During this time carriers are able to negotiate rates because they are not desperate for freight.

Piracy Risk Surcharge (PRS)

This is a charge that carriers often add to their prices in order to mitigate the threat of piracy when shipping goods via ocean liner.

Port Congestion Surcharge Or Pieces (PCS)

This is a charge rendered to shippers in the instance that there is some sort of disturbance or other delay at the port when the shipment arrives. This could include a strike, lockout, work slowdown or stoppage, or another labor-related disruption.

Port Security Fee (PSF)

A Port Security Fee is a charge that port authorities in North America have the right to issue to carriers in order to recover the costs of any expense related to security in and around the port.

Said to Contain (STC)

This is a term often used on a bill of lading where the carrier acknowledges receiving a certain quantity of packages but is unaware of the exact nature or value of the contents. This helps to limit the carrier’s liability in the instance of an insurance claim.

Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED)

This is a document that serves two main purposes. First, it serves as a census record of U.S. exports, and second, it is a regulatory document that is required for any shipment where the commodity’s value exceeds $2,500.

Terminal Handling Charge (THC)

This term refers to the charges collected by authorities at the ports to cover the costs of handling equipment and performing maintenance. The exact costs vary from port to port based on the amount of handling and maintenance done at each one.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

A Value Added Tax is a tax placed on goods whenever there is valued added to the product through a stage of production or at final sale. A manufacturer might pay a VAT on all the supplies he or she purchases to go toward the final product, and that tax is often passed onto the consumer.

Weight or Measure (W/M)

This is a term that refers to the weight or volume of cargo that is used to determine the freight rate on export goods.