Flexport’s business model is a simple, straightforward markup of our freight costs. The freight rates we pay are set by our underlying carriers, and may fluctuate as carriers adjust their rates up or down. Ocean carriers apply two main types of rate adjustment: General Rate Increase (GRI) and Peak Season Surcharge (PSS).
Depending on the timing of your quote request, one or both of these may impact your freight charges.
When Flexport provides a quote, it is inclusive of any applicable General Rate Increase and/or Peak Season Surcharge, so long as the GRI or PSS for the given period have been announced.
Traditional forwarders often don’t include the GRI or PSS in their quotes, in an effort to make their pricing appear lower.
At Flexport, we believe in transparency, and our quotes will always reflect the full amount we expect to invoice (with the exception of customs duties), including additional fees such as GRI and PSS.
GRI is a general rate increase that all ocean carriers may choose to apply for an upcoming month, for U.S.-bound shipments. U.S regulation requires that carriers must announce any GRI at least 30 days in advance. Therefore, carriers tend to announce GRI on the 1st of a given month, to take effect the 1st of the following month. For example:
Example Carrier’s rate for July: $1000/40’
On July 1, Example Carrier announces August 1 GRI of: $500/40’
On August 1, the new rate will be: $1500/40' ($1000 base rate + $500 GRI)
The GRI may vary significantly from month to month. It may also vary between different carriers and trade lanes.
Even though carriers must announce a GRI 30 days in advance, they are free to lower rates at any time. As a result, freight rates tend to lower from week to week over the course of a given month, and then jump back up in the next month as a new GRI takes effect. At other times, the GRI may hold throughout the month, so it’s not always possible to predict how rates will change.
PSS is a variable surcharge that carriers may apply during times of peak demand. PSS may be applied at any time of year, but tends to be more common before the fall/winter holidays and before Chinese New Year.
In practice, PSS functions similarly to GRI. Carriers announce it monthly as an additional fee on top of the base rate, though it may be canceled or mitigated at a lower rate.
How do GRI and PSS factor into my Flexport quotes?
Carriers may postpone, cancel, or implement GRI and/or PSS at a lower-than-announced rate. Other freight forwarders might charge you for the full amount of the surcharges as initially announced, even if they have been implemented at a lower rate.
At Flexport, we incorporate GRI and PSS as they are implemented, which means that our rates will always include the actual rate of any applicable surcharges. We don’t guess or overcharge.
Each quote we share with you has a clearly marked validity date. If your cargo ships within that period, then you’ll pay that pre-agreed price. If you ship after the quote's expiration date, we will create a new, updated quote, which may change to incorporate market GRI, if applicable.