Demurrage discharge costs for containers

Most shipping lines require their containers to be unloaded and returned back to a port after a short period of time so that they can be re-used quickly for new shipments. If a container is not returned after usually a week (7 running days) after the vessel has discharged its containers, then the importer and sometimes the shipper (depending on the terms of shipment) can find themselves with demurrage costs.

These vary between shipping lines, but can be anything from Euro 20 each for a 20′ container and Euro 40 for a 40′ container per day for the first seven days after the initial week and then Euro 40 for a 20′ container and Euro 80 for a 40′ container thereafter. Open top and other specially equipped containers are usually charged at double these rates.

Refrigerated containers (Reefer) are usually required back at the port 3 running days after the vessel has discharged and for days 4-10 after the date of discharge the costs per container can be Euro 70 for a 20′ and Euro 110 for a 40′ per day and then Euro 110 for each 20′ container and Euro 220 for each 40′ container.

These rates can be different for different shipping lines and should be checked beforehand and everyone involved should be advised beforehand of these costs and arrangements made for the containers to be unloaded and returned to the relevant port as soon as possible.

Maria Narancic from Point to Point Export Services is an independent international trade adviser who assists organisations world wide with their international trade projects, documentation, Documentary Credits and import/export training.  She is based in the United Kingdom.  If you require any further assistance with the matters mentioned above, please do contact us by e-mail on or check out the Point to Point Export Services website at for more articles on International Trade.

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