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947 - 02/14 - Cargo Shortage Fines - Turkey
The Club has recently noted a surge in Customs fines for cargo shortages and over-landing in Turkish ports.
The process of a claim by Turkish Customs arising from short delivery is as follows:
a) When cargo is short-delivered, Customs will serve a notice on the vessel’s local agent declaring the commencement of the claim. It will be stated in the notice that the relevant cargo is short-delivered and that the Agent is granted three months from the date of the notice to explain the reason for shortage, or to present a Short Shipment Certificate. It may be possible for the Agent to obtain a three-month extension of time to respond thereafter. At the end of the second three-month extension it may also be possible for the Agent to obtain a final one-month extension.
b) At the expiry of this period the imposition of a fine is unavoidable. The purpose of the fine is to compensate the Government’s loss of Customs tax arising from the shortage. The Agent/Owners/Vessel/Master are jointly and severally responsible for paying the Customs fine. As the imposition of the fine arises from Public Law, in practice the authorities will collect it from the Agent by force of law, regardless of whether the Agent represents the Owners or the Charterers.
c) At this stage the claim by Customs is not a legal action, but an administrative procedure.
d) A 25% reduction will be applied to Customs fines which are not challenged and are paid within 15 days.
e) Following the commencement of a claim by Customs, the imposition of a fine arising from short-landing can only be avoided by the presentation of a Short Shipment Certificate/Document to the local Customs authorities by the local discharge port Agent.
f) The Short Shipment Certificate/Document should advise that the short-shipped cargo was erroneously manifested. The document should give the correct figure and be issued and signed either by shippers or loadport agents, and their signature (not the contents) must be legalised by the local Chamber of Commerce and the Turkish Consulate at the loadport. If there is no available Turkish Consulate, the Chamber of Commerce should state this.
g) For Customs purposes, weighbridge figures will be final and binding, and will be used as the basis for the claim/fine. The ship’s documentation will not be accepted by the Customs authorities, and will not assist in challenging Customs fines.
The following is a template for the Short Shipment Certificate is below:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
RE: …………kg short shipped
This is to state that following investigations at the port of loading, it has been ascertained that the above mentioned quantity of …………kg was short-shipped, and manifested by mistake.
In faith of which, the present declaration has been signed by us.
Load Port Agents
Stamp & Signature
(NOTE: The Certificate must be legalised by the local Chamber of Commerce and Turkish Consulate who will confirm/authenticate the load port agent’s signature, without reference to the contents of the subject declaration. If no Turkish Consulate is available locally, this will be noted on the document.)
After submission of the “Short Shipment Certificate” to the Customs authorities, they will examine it and give their decision as to whether or not they will accept it. The authorities may also request further documents after receiving the Certificate, e.g. shore tank measurement documents, survey reports, etc.
The Customs cargo shortage “allowance rate” is 3% for solid cargo and between 0.5 - 1.0% for liquid cargoes/petroleum. For ULSD cargo it is 0.5%.
Source of information
UK P&I Club Correspondent, Turkey
VITSAN A.S, Istanbul
UK P&I Club Loss Prevention Dept