How to avoid Customs fine for cargo discharged in excess?
by JC IMPOUTOU - Sept. 2006
In accordance with the provisions of article 285 -2°, f of "Code des Douanes", excess of weight, number or quantity declared is a breach of law (contravention of second class). The provisions of article 267 of the same Code attribute this breach of law to the Master. Fine is imposed to the ship via her local Agent. It is possible, legally speaking, to avoid exposing the ship to Customs fine. Circular n° 10202/DGD OF 25 FEB 2004 from General Director of Customs Administration states : “to allow vessels’ Agents to have enough time for issuing SYDAM Manifest and submitting complementary manifests, the period of time given to them for issuing complementary bills of lading, after validation of main manifest, is extended from 3 to 8 days”.

The application of this Circular has revealed to be inappropriate regarding bagged cargoes which discharging operations can take more than 8 days after validation of the main manifest.

The Abidjan port Customs sub-division ECOR has decided to make intelligible application of this Circular. It leaves 7 calendar days between the end of the discharging operations and imposition of fine for cargo discharged in excess. Meanwhile, vessel’s agent has the possibility to issue and submit a complementary manifest, putting the excess cargo in order and avoiding Customs fine to the vessel.

In a recent case we have dealt with, one well known local Agents have been obliged to pay a fine of principle imposed on the vessel “L.L…” due to late submission of complementary manifest. This document was submitted to Customs Administration two weeks after the excess was noted ( at the end of the discharge).

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