Transhipment errors

Every year ITIC deals with claims that result from errors by agents dealing with transhipment cargo. The following two claims are typical examples of the things that can go wrong. In one case no declaration was given to the authorities and in the other case the information given to the cargo interests was wrong.

An agent in Argentina failed to declare the cargo as transhipment cargo within 15 days of the vessel’s arrival in Buenos Aires. This was a simple oversight in the agent’s office. The obligation to make the declaration is strictly enforced and an automatic penalty of 1% of the value of the goods was immediately imposed. In this case the penalty was US$ 122,204. The agent who had failed to make the necessary declaration had to pay the sum the authorities demanded.

In the other case an agent in the Dominican Republic was involved in the transhipment of two containers that arrived from Cuba with a final destination of Haiti.

Under Dominican Customs Law, in common with many customs regimes, cargo awaiting re-exportation can only be held in storage without paying the relevant customs duties provided time limits and other regulations are complied with.

The agent kept in regular contact with the shipper who was waiting for some documentation to be provided by the consignee in Haiti. As time passed the agent obtained an extension of the time limit for storage of the containers. Unfortunately when reporting to the shipper the agent made a typographical error and the email read that the extension expired on the 26th January when it should have said the 6th January. The result was that the cargo was impounded by customs when the containers were not exported before the deadline. Ultimately a penalty of just over US$ 25,000 was settled by the agent.

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