Transshipping, Transloading and Customs: When Will My Cargo be Inspected?

customs worker

One of the most challenging aspects of shipping cargo to another country is customs. Each country has its own, sometimes very complex, laws that require the right paperwork to be filed at the right times. But, if your cargo is being transloaded or transshipped to be moved to a different country, when will customs kick in and what customs paperwork needs to be filed?

The 24 Hour Advance Manifest Rule

Many countries have what is known as the 24 hour advanced manifest rule. This rule states that in order to ship anything into any one of their ports a manifest must be filed with them 24 hours in advance of the loading of the cargo onto the shipping vessel. Note, that is prior to loading, not prior to arrival. This means that the port will know well in advance of the cargo arriving what is going to be coming into the port.

The reasons that countries do this are:

  • To identify suspect shipments or items for inspection purposes.
  • To help to prevent smuggling.
  • To identify shipments that might contain potential threats to national security.
  • To ensure cargo safety.

Typically what this means is, regardless of the reason that the cargo is entering the port, it can be inspected by customs based on the 24 hour advanced manifest rule. Here are a list of some of the countries that have enacted this rule:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • China
  • Japan
  • EU Member Countries (all 27 members)

While this list is far from comprehensive, it should give you an idea of what countries to make sure this paperwork needs filed to enter. Also, just because a country does not formally have an advanced manifest rule, this does not stop them from randomly inspecting cargo.

Failure to file the advanced manifest will prevent the load port from loading the cargo in the first place. If they did load the cargo without filing the advanced manifest, this would mean holding the entire vessel up in the destination country’s port until the paperwork and cargo containers could all be sorted out. Nobody wants this type of delay for the cargo.

Who Files the Paperwork

Typically if advanced manifest paperwork is needed for a process like transshipment, that is transparent to the party doing the shipping (in other words, you). Shipping lines will handle filling out any paperwork that is needed for their internal processes and are very efficient and knowledgeable about doing that. They do not want to see cargo held up any more than you do.

For Transloading it may be a bit more complex. Using companies that are familiar with the complexities of the transloading process is your best bet to ensure that cargo arrives on time without customs delays. For any questions on transloading or customs paperwork needed when transloading, contact Cratex Group!