Detention – What is it?

Detention is a very important concept used when transporting goods by sea. It often causes a lot of confusion and confuses importers with the demurrage concept that we recently wrote about. Detention means stopping and refers to the equipment (container).

Detention – What is it?

Detention usually applies to imports. This is a fee charged when the container is in possession of the customer, no matter if it is full or empty.

The fees cover the period from the moment of taking up the empty container to the port.

The length of the free-of-charge period

The length of the detention-free period can be different. Mostly it depends on the conditions offered by the shipowners and resulting from the entry in shipowners’ tariffs as well as individual terms of the contract with shipowners.

When is the fee charged?

The fee takes place when the recipient holds the carrier’s container outside the port, terminal or depot beyond the allocated free time. Detention is charged when import containers have been received, but the container (regardless of whether it is full or empty) is still in possession of the recipient and has not been returned within the prescribed time.

After the full container has been picked up by the customer, for example: when the customer takes the next seven days to return the empty container to the port, in this case, we call this period detention, and for this period the recipient will also be charged according to the shipowner’s tariff.

Let us assume that a period of 5 days free of charge is foreseen for the return of an empty container. If the recipient needs seven days to return this container, he will probably be charged for two days of detention.

Export containers and charged fees

Detention is sometimes also charged for export containers in which empty containers have been picked up for loading, and the loaded container returns to the port after an allocated free time.

Shipping lines usually provide five days free of detention fee so that the sender can pick up an empty container, load it, and return it to the port. If the container is not returned during this free time, the line will charge the container for additional days.

Detention fee

Before starting import or export, it is strongly recommended to familiarize yourself with many related concepts. The term detention, just like demurrage, is worth knowing, and it’s good to know how to avoid charging an unwanted fee.

We also invite you to read our previous article about demurrage fees.

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