Understanding misdeclaration charges

Misdeclaration fees and surcharges are complicated. Find out what they are, how they work, and how to avoid getting hit with them.

Updated over a week ago

Misdeclaration charges are additional costs or surcharges billed by your carrier. They are sometimes also called post-booking charges, and you are charged these if the carrier finds that the parcel they have picked up is different to what they were expecting. For example, if a parcel is heavier, lighter, or a different dimension to what was booked.

This article contains information about the most common charges, and gives you some tips and tricks for avoiding them. For a full list of the various surcharges and a description of each, see the Misdeclaration article.


How Shippit charges for misdeclaration

If you are using your own rates, the carrier quotes you an initial booking price at the time of dispatch. The quote does not necessarily equal the final invoice charge, instead, the carrier issues you an invoice after the delivery has been completed, based on corrected freight costs as well as any applicable surcharges. For example, you might receive an initial quoted price of $20 at dispatch, but be invoiced $25 after delivery.

To avoid this, Shippit charges the initial booking price immediately when the booking is confirmed. We assume that the weight and dimensions of your items are the same as what the carrier measures. When the carrier has completed the service, including remeasuring the parcel, Shippit is issued with the final charge. We can then bill the difference, if there is one, as part of an additional invoice, called the misdeclaration invoice. For example, you might $20 up front for the initial quoted price, and then pay the additional $5 later on.


Shippit Misdeclaration invoices

You can expect your misdeclaration invoices about three or four weeks after the order booking date. It can take a little longer if the carrier invoices Shippit later.

The misdeclaration invoice is different in appearance to the Booking invoice. Booking invoices include the word "deliveries" in the body of the description, and are available to download within your Shippit account. Misdeclaration invoices include the word "misdeclaration" in the body of the description. Misdeclaration invoices are emailed to you by Shippit, and are not currently available within your Shippit account.

Features of a misdeclaration invoice

You might notice some confusing things on misdeclaration invoices from time to time. Here are some of the most common things.

Multiple charges for a single order

This can happen if the carrier invoices some additional charges at a later date than others. Check the description to determine the charge type.

'Extra' in the invoice description

You'll see 'extra' in the invoice description if there is a charge difference between the surcharge that was already paid at the time of booking, and the surcharge based on the carrier's corrected measurement. For example, if an item was declared to be 99kg and the Heavy Residential Surcharge already paid was based on >=30kg, $64.50 ex GST, and the carrier's corrected weight registers this item at 100kg, which comes with a Heavy Residential Surcharge of $193.00 ex GST, the 'extra' surcharge payment is the difference only, or $128.50 ex GST. This can also occur with Length Surcharges where the carriers measures an item to be longer than declared.

Billed for cancelled orders

If you cancel an order through Shippit, you might still be billed for it through misdeclarations if the carrier collected or delivered the order. The Cancelled status on Shippit is terminating, so any subsequent movement of the item is not updated within Shippit. This means that you can only check whether or not the item has been serviced by checking the carrier connote on the carrier's tracking website. When you cancel an order in Shippit, make sure you physically retrieve it from the collection area to prevent it from being turned over to the carrier.


Charged Weight

Parcels are invoiced by charged weight, which is the greater of either dead weight or volumetric weight. If an item is bigger than it is heavy, the carrier uses the volumetric weight as the charged weight when they invoice you.

Dead weight is the actual weight in kilograms that an item registers on a scale. Volumetric weight, or cubic weight, is the overall size of an item, measured in volumetric kilograms. You can calculate the volumetric weight by multiplying the length, width, and height of the parcel in centimetres, and dividing by a cubic ratio. The most common cubic ratio is 4000 for most Australian and New Zealand carriers. Most carriers in South-East Asia use a cubic ratio of 5000. Some carriers also use a cubic ratio of 3000 for some higher weight brackets. If you want to check what cubic ratio your preferred carrier is using, contact the Shippit support team.

When you get a quote through Shippit, it calculates the charged weight using the dead weight and parcel dimensions you enter during booking. The carrier measures the actual parcel when they receive it at the depot, and charges you for any differences. To get the most accurate quote from Shippit, make sure you enter the dimensions and dead weight of your parcels accurately.

The formula to calculate volumetric weight in kilograms is:

length (cm) x width (cm) x height (cm) / cubic ratio

For example, if a box of pillows with 2kg dead weight has dimensions 70 x 40 x 40cm, and the cubic ratio is 4000, the volumetric weight of the parcel is 28kg. This means the charged weight is 28kg, which is the figure used by Shippit and the carrier for invoicing.


Common causes of misdeclaration charges

This section contains more information about some of the more common, and commonly misunderstood, surcharges, along with some ideas for avoiding them.

Residential surcharges

Some carriers charge an additional fee for orders picked up or delivered to residential addresses. These are charged per consignment based on the charged weight. For example, TNT charges heavy residential fee for consignment weight thresholds greater than or equal to 30kg, and greater than or equal to 100kg charged weight. If an item is deemed to be under-declared, and the newly measured charged weight exceeds a threshold, a heavy residential surcharge is applied on top of the freight cost difference as part of the misdeclaration charges.

What is classified as a residential addresses is solely determined by individual carriers, and is often based on ease of access. Although residential addresses are commonly understood to mean a place of residence, such as a house or apartment, carriers can classify an address as residential at the discretion of their drivers. Note, however, that non-residential or business addresses are determined by the type of property and the geography only. Registering a home address as a place of business does not exempt it from being deemed residential by the carrier.

If your place of business is classified by the carrier as a residential address, surcharges can apply for picking up parcels. If the parcel is also being delivered to a residential address, the surcharge is doubled: charged on pick-up and delivery. In this case, we strongly recommend that you choose a carrier that does not use residential surcharges.

If most of your deliveries occur between business addresses, you can choose to exclude residential surcharges in the initial booking price. Note that even if you exclude residential surcharges, you might still get a misdeclaration charge if a carrier deems you are performing residential pickups and deliveries. If you think a business address has been incorrectly classified as residential, and you have received a surcharge that you believe to be inaccurate, contact the Shippit Support Team.

Manual handling

When Shippit calculates your quotes, it includes manual handling charges to ensure the quote is as accurate as possible. However, sometimes carriers apply manual handling charges based on an item profile if they deem the item to be non-compliant with their automated conveyor system.

Carrier depot staff determine whether a package enters through the automated sortation system, or are manually handled. This is done to minimise the risk of packages clogging, damaging, or being damaged in the sortation system. There are many reasons why items might need to manually handled, including:

  • Size and weight - if an item is too small for the sortation system, it can slip between the conveyor rollers. If an item is too big, it might not fit on the conveyor system. In some cases, these items require palletisation to be compliant with occupational health and safety, which can add considerable misdeclaration charges.

  • Fragility - fragile items cannot go on the automated sortation system as they risk breakage.

  • Poor packaging - items that are poorly packaged and may come apart during sortation need to be repackaged.

  • Unusual shape - anything that is not a typical-sized box including satchels, cylindrical tubes, flat pack items, tyres, or drums. Satchels can fall between conveyor rollers, cylindrical items can roll off and be lost, and flat pack items won't move along the conveyor rollers properly.

  • Liquid - due to risk of the package bursting and liquid damage on the conveyor.

  • Dangerous goods - these require a specialised handling process which incur manual handling and dangerous goods fees.

Manual handling increases additional charges for misdeclarations, but also take much longer to travel through the depot. To minimise items from incorrectly entering the manual handling route in the depot:

  • Refer to the Shippit Packaging Guidelines for packaging recommendations

  • Place unusually shaped items in a firm and secure cardboard box

  • Do not use "Fragile" stickers on items that are not actually fragile

  • Use triangular mailers instead of cylindrical tubes

  • Make sure the packaging is strong and secure

If you frequently ship liquid or fragile items, you can choose to include manual handling charges to all items at the time of booking. If you want to adjust this behaviour, contact the Shippit Configuration team through the Shippit app.

Manual handling reason

Included in quote or billed

Length based (too long or too short)

Included in quote, but billed post-booking if carrier deems incorrect initial input

Charge weight based (too heavy or too light)

Included in quote, but billed post-booking if carrier deems incorrect initial input

Unusual shape (satchels, tubes, flatpack, tyres, drums, fabric rolls, etc.)

Billed as part of misdecs

Fragile

Billed as part of misdecs

Liquid

Billed as part of misdecs

Poor packaging

Billed as part of misdecs

Dangerous goods

Billed as part of misdecs

Palletisation

Due to Australian occupational health and safety standards, any item that weighs 30kg or more must be mounted onto a skid or pallet. This is because a forklift must be used when moving the item. The item needs to be declared with the pallet attached. If you give an item like this to a carrier without a pallet, the carrier palletises the item, measures and weighs the item with the pallet attached to get a new charged weight.

For example, TNT uses 1.2m x 1.2m pallets which are larger than average. This can easily add over 100kg volumetric weight in freight costs as part of misdeclaration charges, as well as the over 100kg heavy residential surcharge, which can add several hundred dollars to the cost of the booking.

Fuel surcharges

Fuel surcharges are charged as a percentage of the freight charges and it can fluctuate on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the carrier. This can be included as part of the difference in freight costs per charged kilogram, and does not appear as its own charge.

This table includes information about the fuel surcharges for different carriers:


Minimising misdeclarations

There are lots of things you can do to minimise your misdeclaration charges. Here are a few things to try.

Declare weight and dimensions accurately

When you enter item measurements in Shippit, it's important to make sure that they are as accurate as possible. For multiple-parcel consignments, each parcel's charged weight is calculated, rounded up to the nearest kilogram, and then added together with the other parcels charged weights to determine the total consignment weight.

Review Shopify's dimension imports

If you use Shopify as your e-commerce platform, check the imported dimensions. Shopify defaults to using a package dimension of 0.2 x 0.2 x 0.2m. Make sure each parcel is edited to the parcel's actual dimensions. This is particularly important for larger parcels where the volumetric weight will be used to calculate the charged weight, and to make sure any oversize or over-length surcharges are included during quoting to ensure an accurate booking price.

Review presets

Presets can be convenient for automatically populating parcel dimensions. However, they are only recommended if you use a set of standard boxes, such as parcels with a consistent volume. Avoid using presets for satchels, because their volume can vary depending on how full they are. The preset dimensions are often set at the average, not the maximum, which means any satchel that is stuffed more than the average incurs misdeclaration charges. To prevent this, each loaded preset must be checked against the actual item's weight and dimensions and adjusted accordingly.

Declare weight and dimensions of each parcel in its packaged form

Only weigh, measure, and declare the parcel in Shippit after it has been completely packaged in its final form. Pay special attention to bulkier items where under-declaring 1-2 cm on each side can translate to several kilograms of additional volumetric weight, as well as fragile items where additional outer protective layers might be required.

Check external dimensions of boxes

When boxes are ordered from the manufacturer, the dimensions reported are the internal dimensions. The corrugated cardboard can add a few centimetres to each dimension, which can increase the volumetric weight by a few kilograms. Construct, measure and declare the boxes' external dimensions and set those as default dimensions if they are used in a preset.

Pack parcels securely

Carriers use 3D laser technology to re-measure the dimensions of collected parcels. Make sure the parcels are completely taped down on all sides, as loose flaps can erroneously extend the parcel's dimensions during the measuring process, leading to misdeclaration charges. See Packaging Guidelines.

Palletise bulkier items

Items over 30kg dead weight must be palletised on a skid or pallet, and declared with the pallet included. Failure to do so can result in the carrier performing the palletisation and charging the difference in Misdec costs, along with any associated heavy residential costs. For more information, see the Palletisation section.

Review potential surcharges for each carrier

See the Carrier surcharge matrix to review the full scope of surcharges associated each carrier.


Disputing misdeclaration charges

If the misdeclaration charges came about because of a mistake made by the carrier, Shippit can try to retrieve compensation for you. Carriers have strict requirements for disputing their measurements, so we require some information from you to dispute misdeclaration charges.

🚨Warning! Make sure your Shippit account is paid up to date while the dispute is under investigation with the carrier, to make sure your account doesn't get suspended.

To dispute a charge, provide evidence from Section A, along with evidence from either Section B or C.

Email your evidence to the appropriate support team for your region:

Section A

  • Tax invoice to confirm the contents of the order

and Section B

  • A picture of the final packaged product against a tape measure showing the true length, width, and height

  • A picture of the item's true dead weight (for example, on a scale)

or Section C

  • A website link to the product showing the final boxed weight and dimensions

Did this answer your question?