One of the costs associated with the transportation of goods is the handling expenses at the terminal.

While it is true that a significant portion of these costs is fixed, it is also true that not all of them are, and there are ways to reduce the unavoidable expenses.

That’s why we have created a guide to save on terminal handling charges.

If you’re involved in container transport or the logistics sector and want to learn how to minimize the cost of handling at the terminal, don’t miss the following lines.

Let’s start by clarifying the concept of “terminal handling expenses” and their purpose.

What are Terminal Handling Charges (THC)?

The terminal handling charges definition encompasses all expenses related to the loading, unloading, and handling of containers at a port terminal.

These expenses are necessary to ensure proper handling and storage of goods during transit, and they inevitably impact the total cost of each shipment.

What is the purpose of terminal handling charges?

Terminal handling charges serve several key purposes. First, they guarantee efficient and safe operations at the terminal, helping to prevent damage to goods.

Secondly, they cover the costs of personnel, equipment, and maintenance required for proper container handling.

Additionally, they contribute to maintaining security and service quality at the terminal, benefiting all parties involved in international trade.

What charges include THCs?

Terminal Handling Charges (THC) encompass various aspects related to container handling. Let’s look at some of them:

Handling charge at the terminal of origin and destination (OTHC)

OTHC (Origin Terminal Handling Charges) and DTHC (Destination Terminal Handling Charges) are expenses associated with handling containers at the origin and destination terminals, respectively.

These charges cover the necessary activities for loading or unloading containers at the origin terminal and preparing them for final transportation. Similarly, at the destination terminal, they involve receiving and unloading the containers.

Line-out charge

Line-out charge are associated with the documentation and procedures required to remove containers from the origin terminal.

These include preparing the necessary documents, customs procedures, and any other activities related to container departure.


Storage charges refer to the costs incurred for keeping containers at the terminal for a specified period.

This may include temporary storage prior to shipment, waiting for customs inspection, or any other situation that requires containers to be kept at the terminal.


Documentation expenses cover the costs related to preparing and processing the necessary documents for container handling at the terminal.

These include issuing cargo documentation, invoicing, and other administrative procedures required by port and customs authorities at both the origin and destination.


Security expenses are associated with measures and systems implemented to ensure the safety of containers and goods within the terminal.

These typically encompass surveillance tasks, access control, security inspections, and other aspects related to the safeguarding of containers and/or goods.


Maintenance charges arise from the regular maintenance of facilities and equipment at the terminal.

This category includes the maintenance of cranes, forklifts, various storage systems, and any infrastructure required for container handling.

How to avoid terminal handling charges

As mentioned at the beginning of this guide to save on terminal handling charges, although the margin is not very wide, it is possible to reduce costs associated with this logistics task through various strategies. Here are some examples:

Freight handling and traffic

Efficiently plan how your goods are handled and transported. Make sure to plan well in advance to avoid unnecessary delays and utilize efficient loading and unloading methods.

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Choose ports and terminals that are well-connected to your supply chain. Doing so can significantly reduce land transportation costs and improve overall efficiency.


Thoroughly study, analyze, and compare the available facilities at different terminals, selecting those that offer competitive rates and quality services. If demand limits your options, opt for the terminal that provides the best value for money.

Use SOC Containers

Consider using Shipper Owned Containers (SOC). As containers owned by the shipper, they can help you avoid some terminal handling expenses.

Terminal handling fees in the main ports

When calculating terminal handling charges, it is crucial to consider the handling rates at major ports.

Each port may have its own fees and criteria. Research and compare the rates of all ports that you believe are suitable for transporting your goods before scheduling shipments.

How are container rates calculated?

Container rates are calculated based on factors such as container size, cargo type, transport distance, and specific policies of each terminal. It is important to understand all these factors and negotiate fair and competitive rates.

Where are handling fees paid per terminal?

Generally, terminal handling fees are paid directly to the port terminal or the corresponding port authority. Familiarize yourself with the payment procedures and deadlines to avoid any delays or issues during the process

Who pays the Terminal Handling Charges?

Terminal handling charges are typically the responsibility of the shipper or cargo owner. However, conditions may vary depending on the terms of the transportation contract. It is important to clarify this responsibility before shipping, as it can significantly affect the costs involved.