What is a tailgate/liftgate and when to use it

Information on what a tailgate / liftgate is and how to use it in LTL freight shipping

An illustration of a loaded tailgate/liftgate in use

A tailgate (Canada) or liftgate (USA) is a platform at the truck’s rear, used in LTL shipping for unloading freight.

You need a truck with a tailgate/liftgate:

  • If you’re shipping heavy freight (pallets, skids, or crates that can’t be unloaded by hand)
  • If the locations you’re shipping from or to don’t have docks or forklifts

If any of the above apply to your pick-up or delivery locations, make sure to select the tailgate/liftgate when getting freight shipping quotes.

Freight carriers’ tailgate/liftgate restrictions

Tailgate/liftgate restrictions are dimensional and weight restrictions imposed by carriers due to safety reasons. Maximum freight dimensions and weight a tailgate/liftgate can handle depend on the carrier – they are usually 72” L x 48” W x 82” H and 1300-1500 lbs.

When you’re trying to get a quote, you may get a message warning you that your shipment might be oversized or overweight. If this happens and you choose to disregard the message, you may also get unfavorable rates.

Overlength warning popup

If this happens, there are a few things you can do in order to get better rates:

  • Ship to or from a carrier’s terminal. This option allows you to bypass using a tailgate altogether (as long as you have the means to pick up from/drop off your shipment at a terminal)
  • Repackage your shipment into a few smaller pallets. This way you can still use a tailgate, but the dimensions/weight will not make this service unsafe to use since each pallet can be lifted/lowered one at a time.
  • Rent a forklift. If you are not in a position to repackage a shipment, and you don’t have the means to reach a terminal, we recommend that you rent a forklift.

If you have any questions, you can chat with us, call our super-friendly Client Care team at (800) 886-4870 Ext. 1 or email us at [email protected].

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