Random Scans at European Sea Ports

One of the possible hidden costs when sea-freighting goods from European ports, is that Customs are allowed to seize containers without notice on a random basis for a Customs Scan. In most ports the scanning procedure is completed on site, but some ports, such as Hamburg in Germany (as of January 2011) lack these facilities and the container has to be shipped ex Terminal to an external scan checking point.

This can be expensive. Customs are allowed to charge terminal charges (Gate In/Gate Out) and also trucking charges which together can cost from Euro 550.00 (as of January 2011) upwards. These prices (in ports where the scan check is not on site) include the following procedures.

– Container to be trucked from the Terminal to the Scanning Area
– Trucking back to the Terminal
– Scanning
– Waiting Time
– Gate-In
– Gate-Out
– Additional Terminal Handling
– Release

There is also a chance that if the scan shows an inconsistency between the export documentation and the details obtained through the scan, that the container could be delayed and may miss the vessel it was originally booked on. Apart from the additional costs which could include customs charges, detention charges and also storage and demurrage, there could be an additional problem if the goods are being shipped against a Documentary Credit and the original ship booked was on or close to the last shipment date on the Credit. In which case, the goods may be shipped late which could lead to a discrepant presentation.

Therefore, it is recommended that before arranging a shipment, that there is a check that the port has scanning facilities on site; that the description of goods on the export paperwork must allow Customs to easily identify the goods inside the container and, with Documentary Credit shipments, where possible, there is contingency built into the shipment date in case a check of this type happens.

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 info@point-point.com or check out the Point to Point Export Services website at www.point-point.com for more articles on International Trade.

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