When it comes to container pickup and delivery arrangements, there are various additional activities that may be required, which a trucking company may charge the shipper or consignee for. One of these additional activities is a chassis split. 

A chassis split occurs when a container pickup or drop-off location is different from the chassis/trailer location. This means that the truck has to make a separate trip to pick up or return the chassis. 

In this article, we’ll be taking a deep-dive into the topic of chassis splits, its associated fees, their effect on shipping lead times and how to potentially avoid them. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Different Types of Chassis Split

Depending where the chassis split occurs, there are different terms that describe them. Below you’ll find the difference between a chassis split when picking an empty container and a chassis split when returning an empty container. 

Chassis Split Pick-Up

A Chassis Split Pick-Up happens when a truck has to make a separate trip to a different location to retrieve a chassis/trailer before being able to pick up the shipping container. 

This scenario commonly occurs when a trucking company is assigned to pick up a laden container from the port, whereby the port or carrier does not provide a chassis. Therefore, the trucker is tasked to make a separate trip to pick up container chassis and then gate into port

Chassis Split Return

On the other hand, a Chassis Split Return occurs when a container is delivered to a location and the trucker is required to return the container chassis to another location.

This commonly occurs when a trucking company is assigned to return an empty container back to a carrier’s depot and is then required to return the chassis to their trailer yard, which is at a different location. 

What Is a Chassis Split Fee?

A chassis split fee is charged in the event that a trucker has to perform a trailer split, by either picking up or delivering a trailer to a location that is different from the container’s location. 

This fee is designed to offset the additional trucking charges (labor and fuel) that go into the additional trip. On average, chassis split fees range in between $50.00 to $100.00 per split.

Depending on where this is required, the chassis split fee can form part of origin or destination charges. 

Can a Shipment Incur Both Types of Split Fees?

Yes, there are instances where a trucker is required to pick up a chassis at a different location before picking up a laden container from the port. Additionally, the same shipment may also require the trucker to return the chassis at a different location when delivering the empty container back to the carrier’s depot. If a pickup and return split are required, both are separately chargeable. 

Can Chassis Splits Delay Shipments?

Yes, chassis splits can certainly delay shipments, especially when working with tight timelines. One thing that is true for all scenarios is that in order for a container to be picked up and delivered, it requires a prime mover and a chassis. 

If the location of the chassis is not nearby or if the equipment needed is in high demand and there is a trailer shortage, trucking companies will have a difficult time meeting the export loading cutoff time (LCT) or the container yard cut-off time (CY cut-off). 

When working with tight timelines and an available chassis is located far away, it may cause the laden container to be gated into the port after the deadline, ultimately delaying the shipment to the next possible sailing. 

A chassis split can also delay a final delivery of a container when the trucker is required to pick up a chassis that is located further away. On rare occasions, port storage or container demurrage charges may also apply. 

Ways to Avoid Chassis Split Fees

There are several ways that shippers and consignees can avoid chassis split fees. However, it’s important to note that some planning in advance is required so that all parties can take the required preventive actions. Let’s take a closer look! 

  • Utilize Your Own Fleet & Trailers – If space is not an issue at your facility, you may want to use your own fleet with trailers. A healthy chassis pool and dedicated prime moves will allow you to be in full control of chassis locations. 
  • Engage Truckers With Trailers – It’s a huge advantage if a trucker has their own chassis. This means that the haulage provider is not required to pick up an available trailer from another location before picking up or delivering the container.
  • Request for Carrier Haulage – Check with carriers that can arrange carriage instead of a trucker, if chassis split fees are an issue for you. Carrier haulage differs from merchant haulage, in that a carrier is responsible for arranging the container movement. Carriers will not charge a chassis split fee but in some instances or locations may charge a chassis usage fee.
  • Use Customized Chassis – There are certain types of chassis that are able to accommodate 20’ and 40’ containers. By using a trailer that can support both container sizes, it’s possible to get more efficiency out of the existing chassis pool. 

Can Chassis Split Fees Be Negotiated?

As chassis split fees are charged by truckers to shippers or consignees, they can be negotiated. It is recommended to discuss and negotiate any type of fees before engaging a trucking company. 

Information that is important for a haulage provider to assess a chassis split rate negotiation is volume, frequency, and locations. While not all truckers may be willing to negotiate, it’s always worth an attempt.

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Andrew Lin

Co-Founder & Writer
at freightcourse

About the Author

Andrew is a multi-business owner with over 12 years of experience in the fields of logistics, trucking, manufacturing, operations, training, and education.

Being the co-founder of freightcourse has given him the ability to pursue his desire to educate others on manufacturing and supply chain topics.