What Happens When Cargo Is Abandoned by Consignee?6 min read
abandoned cargo

Cargo could be abandoned or unclaimed for numerous reasons, ranging from the importer or owner being unable to pay import duties to not having the correct permit. Eurosender informs about the main causes of a cargo abandoning and what happens when containers are abandoned by the consignee.

What will happen with the content of the abandoned cargo?

Shipping crates that are not moving will lead to a loss of money for one of the parties involved in the process. Abandoned containers may become a burden to the shipping line or freight forwarder. Shipping lines cannot afford to hold containers in the storage for a long time.

In such cases, the shipping company will try to get rid of the cargo and avoid additional expenses. To get rid of abandoned cargo, often times, freight companies hold auctions to sell the goods

When the cargo is abandoned, the shipping company has a right to:

  • Unpack the load from containers.
  • Place the shipment into a bonded store.
  • Sell the cargo.
  • Offset all costs incurred from the proceeds of the sale.
  • Take legal action to recover the difference between the sale price and the costs incurred.

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Selling abandoned shipping containers

When a container is abandoned, the shipper or the freight forwarder can decide to dispose of the content through an auction. Shipping line may sell the cargo by public or private auction. Customs authorities will then organise the auction. Customs officers allow the general public to view the goods and vehicles in advance and, it also announces the abandoned cargo auctions date in the print and broadcasting media.

If the sale price does not cover the costs incurred by the shipping company, then there is a provision in international law for action to be taken against the shipper.

The list of goods and vehicles to be sold are available in different customs’ centres. Usually, customs are not giving any guarantee on the condition, quality or quantity of the goods sold at the abandoned cargo auctions.

What causes demurrage charges to the shipment?

Demurrage charges, or penalties, may apply to the contracting parties if:

  • Fails to load and unload the vessel within a specific time;
  • Return the containers later than agreed; or,
  • Does not unload the shipment within the agreed time frame.

The cargo stays at the terminal for free during the agreed period. After that, the cargo must be moved out, or additional charges will apply. Many times, when faced with the obligation to pay additional costs, the buyer decides to abandon the cargo.

If it is agreed that the shipment may proceed further to another port, it will first be dispatched. The dispatch in shipping means that the cargo is ready to move forward to the designated destination.

Who pays for the storage of the abandoned cargo?

If the vessel is held up at the terminal or port after the free time has expired, the shipper has to pay demurrage charges. Usually, the demurrage fee increases the longer the cargo is kept at the terminal.

The dispute between the shipper and the shipping line or freight forwarder may last long, leading to a high demurrage charge. This is the reason why many shippers decide to abandon the shipping container instead of paying the demurrage fees.

Why is cargo abandoned??

There could be multiples reasons for a cargo to be abandoned. The most common are:

  • The cargo is not cleared by an importer.
  • The receiver doesn’t have an import permit or licences.
  • Importer can’t pay the import duties and demurrage charges.
  • Buyer is not satisfied with the quality of goods.
  • The shipping was delayed, and the consignee doesn’t need it anymore.
  • The shipment is damaged.
  • The disputes between shippers and consignees.

Who is liable for abandoned cargo?

In most cases, the shipper is liable for the abandoned cargo. If the cargo is not cleared by the importer and the Bill of Entry is not filled out, the cargo is considered abandoned.

Bill of Entry is the customs document to be filed for import clearance. From the moment a cargo arrives at the port of discharge, the importer has limited time to fill the import documents.

It is the importer’s responsibility to track the shipment for proper delivery without delays. In case the consignee fails to complete necessary import clearance procedures and formalities on time, the cargo is automatically declared as uncleared or abandoned.

Sometimes, the cargo is rejected by the consignee due to the low quality of goods that are being transported. To avoid the rejection of cargos by customers, the shipper should discuss all the client’s requirements and provide high-quality products.

Rejected goods after customs clearance of the imports are in the buyer’s custody.

What are the reasons for cargo delays?

Shipping goods may take more time than what was planned due to variety of reasons:

  • The most common is the weather as it influences almost all means of transport. Extremely bad weather conditions may require additional time and costs. It may shift the delivery time for 1-2 weeks in some cases.
  • Also, some tech malfunctions of the vehicle or vessel usually influence the delivery. However, the delay in such cases is not long.
  • The problems at customs. The identification of violations may lead to the apprehension of containers that may affect the time of delivery of your cargo. So, make sure that you have all the documents in order.
  • Shipping during some of the busiest periods of the year may also end with cargo delays. Try to avoid peak seasons and delivery during big holidays if you don’t want to take the risk. Sometimes, the cargos are abandoned because of too long transit period. If it is crucial for the consignee to receive the goods on time, a delay in the delivery could be a reason for declining the shipment.

Does Eurosender offer container shipping services?

Currently, Eurosender does not specialise in shipping containers, but our team of logistics experts will tailor make a shipping quote according to your requirements for any other service!

Our platform offers logistics services for Individuals, start-ups, as well as small and medium-sized businesses. You can find more information about our services directly on our website or read our blog section to get more additional information.