What is a Liftgate Fee?

A liftgate, also known as a tail lift, is a mechanical device on the back of a delivery truck that is used to lower items from the vehicle to ground level.

A liftgate fee is an extra charge added to a shipment when it requires a liftgate for unloading, either because the item is too large or too heavy for manual handling.


When is a Liftgate Service Required?

A liftgate service may be required in various situations, primarily based on the type of cargo being delivered and the facilities available at the destination. 

Here are common scenarios when a liftgate service is necessary:

  • Heavy or Bulky Cargo: A liftgate is often required when delivering heavy or bulky items that cannot be easily lifted or maneuvered by hand, such as large appliances, industrial machinery, or oversized furniture.
  • Palletized Shipments: Deliveries on pallets, especially those with significant weight or size, typically require a liftgate for safe and efficient unloading, especially if the destination lacks a loading dock or forklift.
  • No Loading Dock: Facilities  without a loading dock or raised platform often rely on liftgates to bridge the height difference between the delivery vehicle and the ground or floor level.
  • Limited Access: Tight or constrained access points, narrow alleyways, or locations with limited space for traditional unloading methods may necessitate a liftgate for the precise positioning of goods.
  • Residential Deliveries: Residential locations often lack the equipment and infrastructure found at commercial or industrial sites, making liftgate services essential for safely delivering heavy items to homes or small businesses.
  • Elevated Platforms and Loading Docks: Liftgates can be useful when the loading dock is lower than the truck bed, aiding in the gradual and controlled lowering of cargo to match the dock’s level.
  • Accessibility Challenges: Locations with steep inclines, uneven terrain, or other accessibility challenges may benefit from a liftgate that can ensure a smooth and safe unloading process.
  • Safety and Efficiency: Even when manual unloading is technically possible, using a liftgate can enhance safety, reduce the risk of injury to personnel, and expedite the unloading process.


Frequently Asked Questions About Liftgate Fees 


How is the Liftgate Fee Applied in Shipping?

When you use a liftgate service in shipping, the fee is typically applied per location, not per individual operation of the liftgate. For instance, if you have goods loaded onto a truck using a liftgate at the port and later unloaded at your destination using the same liftgate, this entire process is usually covered by a single liftgate fee. This fee encompasses both loading and unloading as part of one shipment to one destination. However, if your shipment requires stops at multiple locations where the liftgate is necessary, in most cases, you can expect to pay a separate fee for each of these locations.


What is the Role of Freight Forwarders in Coordinating Liftgate Services?

Freight forwarders, as key service providers in the shipping industry, manage and streamline shipping operations, which can include coordinating liftgate services when necessary. This involves understanding the specific requirements of each shipment and ensuring that all necessary resources, such as liftgates, are available and integrated effectively into the shipping process. 

It is their responsibility to work closely with carriers to arrange liftgate service as part of the delivery, ensuring that the cargo is handled appropriately during pickup and delivery. This includes overseeing the operational aspects and ensuring that the liftgate service is performed in an efficient manner. The expertise of freight forwarders in managing these complexities allows clients to focus on their main business operations, knowing that their cargo is being handled by professionals. 


What is the Importance of Liftgate Services in Delivering Palletized Shipments?

Liftgate services are vital for efficiently delivering palletized shipments, especially in locations without a loading dock. Palletized goods, due to their bulk and weight, often require mechanical assistance for safe and efficient loading and unloading. A liftgate, which is a mechanical platform attached to the back of a truck, serves this purpose effectively. It facilitates the movement of palletized cargo from the truck to the ground level, ensuring the goods are handled safely and minimizing the risk of damage or injury. 

In scenarios where the receiving site lacks the necessary equipment to offload heavy pallets, liftgate services become an essential part of the process. In order to accommodate all requirements for this type of shipment, freight forwarders can arrange the necessary liftgate services, ensuring that the right equipment is available at the point of delivery. 


Are Liftgate Fees Standardized, or Do They Vary from One Company to Another? 

Liftgate fees are not standardized, and they can vary from one company to another. The specific policies, pricing structures, and fee amounts for liftgate services can differ significantly among different delivery and logistics providers.

Factors that can influence the variation in liftgate fees include:

  • Company Policies: Each delivery company may have its own pricing policies for liftgate services based on their operational costs, market competition, and business strategies.
  • Service Offerings: Some companies may include liftgate services as part of their standard delivery service, while others may charge extra for it. The inclusion or exclusion of liftgate services in the overall pricing can vary.
  • Location: Liftgate fees may vary by geographic location or region due to differences in operating costs, regulations, and market conditions.
  • Type of Delivery: The  size, weight, and nature of the goods being delivered may also impact the liftgate fee. Heavier or oversized items may incur higher fees.
  • Additional Services: Some companies may offer additional services in conjunction with liftgate delivery, such as inside delivery or setup, which can affect the overall cost.


Can I Request a Liftgate Service when Scheduling a Delivery, or is it Automatically Included? 

Whether you can  request a liftgate service when scheduling a delivery or if it’s automatically included depends on your freight forwarder and the delivery company’s policies. Some companies include it by default, especially for specific shipments or locations. Others allow customers to request it during booking, either online or through customer service. Availability may vary, so it’s essential to inquire about the service and associated fees when scheduling your delivery to ensure your needs are met and avoid any misunderstandings.

The bottom line is that if you know you’ll need a liftgate, you should definitely let your freight forwarder, trucking company, or other service provider know in advance.


What Is a Liftgate Truck?

A liftgate truck is a specialized commercial vehicle intended for efficient cargo handling. It is equipped with a hydraulic or electric platform at the rear, known as a liftgate, which simplifies the process of loading and unloading goods. This mechanism is particularly useful for loading or unloading heavy or large items, as it safely lowers cargo from the truck to the ground level.

A liftgate truck is typically used in scenarios where loading docks are not available. The use of liftgate trucks is essential to a variety of industries, including retail and construction. They are especially useful for deliveries to residential areas or small businesses without specialized unloading equipment. 

The liftgate itself operates with controls that allow it to raise and lower items smoothly, reducing the need for manual lifting and minimizing the risk of injury. Generally, these trucks can come in a variety of sizes and weight restrictions, making them suitable for a wide range of cargo types. 


Why Are Liftgates Useful for LCL Shipping?

Liftgates play a pivotal role in Less-Than-Container-Load (LCL) shipping, enabling seamless loading and unloading of cargo, particularly when the consignee’s facility lacks a loading dock or when palletized goods pose handling challenges. These hydraulic platforms elevate and lower cargo, facilitating effortless transfer between trucks and ground level, optimizing the LCL shipping process.


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