Beware of local laws

Venezuela, in common with many countries, has regulations to protect domestic shipping. Foreign flagged ships can obtain a permit when there is no local tonnage capable of performing the required service within Venezuelan waters. The permit is usually given for 30/60/90 days. When the service is complete, customs formalities must be finalised before the vessel leaves for international waters.

A foreign flagged ship was operating between two ports in Venezuela under such a temporary admission permit. The ship’s agent, a member of ITIC, failed to request the Customs Authorities to carry out the necessary formalities. The agent mistakenly assumed that the ship was going to do another local voyage. In fact, the charterers had ordered the vessel to Port Everglades. In order for the Customs Authorities to carry out the necessary formalities the vessel was obliged to return to port. If they had not done so, the ship would be at risk of arrest and her owner liable for a fine upon her return.

A claim was made against the ship agent for the lost time and additional bunkers consumed. The claim was settled for USD 36,000.

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