Carriers allow a certain amount of time for consignors and consignees to load and unload their goods for vehicles, ships, and aircraft. Demurrage refers to the problem of exceeding the allotted time due to circumstances outside the carrier's control.

Demurrage charges vary from country to country and by the carrier. Furthermore, a fee is applied to each container and each day after a designated free time, which varies from carrier to carrier.

A variety of reasons can lead to demurrage. These include
  • The documents were not received in time for customs clearance by the consignee.
  • Consignee received insufficient or incorrect documentation.
  • Customers, police, or other authorities have stopped the container for inspection, and it may take longer than expected to inspect the cargo.
  • The consignee did not know that the cargo had arrived and could not clear customs in time.
  • The consignor does not have the funds necessary to clear the container on time.
  • Shipper and consignee are at odds.
  • The cargo received was different from what was ordered

Consignees are usually responsible for demurrage and settlement of these charges, even if these may be attributable to another entity like the shipper or consignee.

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