When importing products overseas, you’ll come across the terminal handling charge. It is one of the common fees associated with ports. Today’s blog explains terminal handling charges from the following 4 aspects:

What are Terminal Handling Charges (THC) in shipping?

Terminal Handling Charge, THC, refers to the cargo handling and operations fees imposed by terminal operators when goods enter or exit seaports and airports. These fees are intended to cover the processing costs of port facilities and services. THC encompasses various processing of goods such as unloading, loading, stacking, etc. Usually, THC includes:

Containerized cargo loading and unloading fee. This involves the costs associated with labor and the use of specialized equipment and tools like cranes.

Charges for transporting cargo between the vessel/aircraft and the terminal yard/warehouse at the port.

Fees for the maintenance and inspection of terminal equipment to facilitate the smooth and safe handling of goods in the port.

Understand 3 types of THC meaning with examples

OTHC (origin terminal handling charges)

OTHC or OHC stands for Origin Terminal Handling Charges. It means the terminal handling fees at the departure port. Sometimes, these charges are also known as Loading Port Terminal Handling Charge, abbreviated as LTHC.

Suppose you purchase 20,000 watches from China to be shipped to Germany, and the supplier is located in the Guangzhou business cluster. In this case, terminal handling fees at Guangzhou port are OTHC.

DTHC (destination terminal handling charge)

DTHC, or Destination Terminal Handling Charge, refers to fees associated with unloading containerized cargo from airplanes or ships to the warehouse or yard at the destination port.

Still use the aforementioned batch of watch shipments as an example. Assuming the destination port is Hamburger Hafen in Germany, terminal handling fees incurred at the Hamburger Hafen port are called DTHC.

THC at transshipment port

If your containerized cargo needs to be transshipped, the transshipment port will also impose terminal handling charges.

If a shipment originates from Tianjin Port in China and undergoes transshipment at Busan Port in South Korea. There, unload the containers from one vessel and load them onto another for onward shipping to the Long Beach Port in the US. During the transshipment at Busan Port, there exist THC fees for the handling operations involved in the transfer.

Terminal handling charges calculation

The specific amount of terminal handling charges depends on various factors, including the port, shipping route, the type of goods, etc. Differences in berthing availability, labor costs, equipment expenses, and charging policies among ports in different countries contribute to THC fee variations.

Compared to ports in the US, THC fees in Chinese ports are generally much more affordable. Within China, there are differences in THC among various ports; for instance, the THC at Shenzhen port is higher than that at Ningbo port.

THC fees for special cargo are typically higher due to the need for additional manpower and specialized equipment during handling. For example, delicate items like glassware require careful handling by port workers. Heavier or larger items may require collaboration among multiple individuals to ensure safety and minimize the risk of damage.

In practice, freight forwarders will pay THC and other port fees when arranging your shipments. You, in turn, need only pay the corresponding fees to the freight forwarder.

Typically, for FCL (Full Container Load) freights, THC is charged per container, with varying fees depending on the container size.

Example of THC fees at Ningbo Port, China

Suppose there is a shipment of general cargo that needs to be transported from China to the US by sea, with Ningbo Port as the departure port. Then,

THC charge for a 40-foot General Purpose (GP) or High Cube (HQ) container at Ningbo Port is about $157 (exchange rate 7).

THC charge for a 20-foot General Purpose (GP) container at Ningbo Port, the THC charge is around $105 (exchange rate 7).

At the same port, the THC fees for containers of the same size are fixed and generally do not vary significantly.

While for LCL (less-than-container load) freights, THC is charged on the basis of the specific cargo volume and is not fixed. This leads to confusion in LCL shipment THC charges. Chances are that some forwarders may collect it arbitrarily.

Reading here, I believe you now have a general overview of THC meaning and fees in international shipping. While THC fees are unavoidable, you can prevent unreasonable charges by using a reliable freight forwarder. If you don’t have a familiar forwarder to handle shipments from China, make sure to contact us for a reliable forwarder.

As a leading sourcing company in China, JingSourcing has helped 4000 clients source and ship a wide range of products from China at good prices. We have established long-term partnerships with experienced freight forwarders to help you save on THC fees and other port charges in China. More importantly, we provide the best shipping rates, reducing your overall shipping costs—the most significant expense in the entire overseas sourcing process.

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