Importers and exporters alike always run into questions differentiating demurrage and detention for their shipping containers. And what is the free time detention?
Detention takes place when a consignee holds on to the container for a carrier but that container is physically located outside of the terminal, the Depot, or the port. The same timeline applies here such that the container has been stored beyond the allotted free time. With imported containers, it does not matter if the container is empty or full. If it is still in possession of the consignee and is not returned in the provided length of time, it faces detention.
For example, if the free time detention is 5 days at which point and empty in port container must be returned to the steamship line after it has been picked up, if the consignee takes 7 days rather than 10 to return this container to the appropriate location then the steamship will charge the consignee for 2 days of detention.
For export containers, detention gets charged when an empty container has been picked up for loading and is not returned within the allotted time frame. Most steamships will offer 5 free days during which time the shipper can pick up the empty container, load it, and bring it back to the port. If that container is not brought back within the five-day timeline, the line is likely to charge detention for the additional days during which time that container remains in the possession of the consignee. So consignee need to note the free time detention to avoid paying more fee.
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