Package and Kilo Limitations of 148 Countries & Ratification of Conventions


* NOTA BENE: The number of States party to the Hague, Hague/Visby and Hamburg Rules is sometimes difficult to determine, for various reasons. Certain States do not ratify or accede to international conventions, but become parties to conventions merely by enacting national legislation. Sometimes this national legislation differs in certain details from the international convention on which it is based (e.g. the United States Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1936, which differs slightly from the Hague Rules 1924 on which it is modeled, notably as regards the package limitation). Sometimes, States ratify or accede to an international convention, such as the Hamburg Rules, without formally denouncing the international convention on the same subject to which they were formerly party. There is also sometimes a problem of determining, when a State divides into two or more States (e.g. the former Yugoslavia), whether some or all of the resulting new States are parties to the convention which previously bound the former State before its fragmentation. A similar problem exists with determining the position of some former colonies after independence.

1. The value of gold would be based on current value of gold (about US $9,000.00). Argentina also has a limitation of 400 Argentinean gold pesos per package/piece (approx. US $7,321) under its Shipping Act, No. 20.094, sect. 24.

2. Australian COGSA has been amended as part of a compromise to forestall the imposition of the Hamburg Rules in Australia. Specific provisions for the amended act are to be worked out at a later date.

3. Austria has a domestic limitation of liability of 10,000 ATS per parcel or unit of value (7,031.5 euros) under its Commercial Code.

4. Has not renounced the Hague Rules as required by Article 31 of the Hamburg Rules, thereby creating a conflict between conventions.

5. Has not incorporated Hamburg into its code such that it is in doubt if its courts will apply Hamburg.

6. See note 4, also has not incorporated Hamburg into its national code, such that Hamburg would not be applied by its courts.

7. No limitation for delay.

8. For delay, the limitation is 2.5 times the freight, not exceeding total freight payable.

9. China has devised its own rules, using some features of H/V and Hamburg. Under its Maritime Code 1993, arts. 56 and 277, the H/V limitations of 666.67 and 2 SDR prevail, but their conversion into Chinese currency is "... computed on the basis of the method of conversion established by the authorities in charge of foreign exchange control of this country...." China also has a limitation for delay equivalent to the amount of freight payable on the goods delayed (Chinese Maritime Code, 1993, art. 57). Domestically, there is no limitation on delay.

10. For domestic trade and trade between Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, each country has added the Hamburg Rules to its code, but retained H/V's limitation, one-year time for suit, and defense of error of navigation or management of the ship.

11. Denmark also has a limitation for delay of 2.5 times freight on the goods delayed, not exceeding the total freight. Domestic limitations are the same as international limitations.

12. Egypt invoked Article 31(4) of Hamburg to defer denunciation of H/V for five years until Nov. 1, 1997, such that Hamburg only applied to voyages between contracting states through Nov. 1, 1998.

13. See note 10.

14. Germany ratified the Hague Rules 1924 and later incorporated the Hague/Visby Rules 1968/1979 into its Commercial Code (the Handelsgesetzbuch, or "HGB"), but without ratifying either of the Visby Protocols. Germany therefore remains a contracting state of the original Hague Rules, involving certain obligations under international law to other Hague Rules states, but nevertheless strives to give the widest possible application to the Hague/Visby Rules as incorporated into its HGB. The Introductory Law to the Commercial Code (Einführungsgesetz zum Handelsgesetzbuch, or "EGHGB"), at art. 6, accordingly contains special choice of law rules for bills of lading. Under that provision, the Hague/Visby Rules as enacted in the HGB apply to the carriage of goods by sea under a bill of lading if: 1) the application of the Hague/Visby Rules or the application of the law of a Hague/Visby Rules country has been agreed by the parties; 2) the bill was issued in a Hague/Visby Rules country; 3) the load port and the port of destination are situated in a Hague/Visby Rules country; 4) the load port and the port of destination are situated in Germany and the goods are carried aboard a ship flying a foreign (i.e. non-German) flag; or 5) the load port and the port of destination are situated in Germany and the bill of lading was issued in a country that is neither a Hague Rules country nor a Hague/Visby Rules country.

Where, however, the bill of lading is issued in a Hague Rules country (including Germany) and: 1) the carriage is from a country that is party to the Hague Rules (including Germany) to a country that is party to the Hague Rules; or 2) the load port and the port of destination are in Germany and the goods are carried aboard a ship flying a foreign flag; or 3) the load port is situated in a country that is neither a Hague Rules country nor Hague/Visby Rules country and the port of destination is situated in a Hague Rules country, only the 666.67 S.D.R. package limitation applies. The 2 S.D.R. per kilogram limitation of the carrier, as enacted in the HGB, does not apply in those cases.

The ratification of the Hague/Visby Rules by the former German Democratic Republic expired when that country was reunified with the Federal Republic of Germany.

15. Ghana, by its Shipping ACt, No. 645 of 2000, para. 414(b) has limitations of 167,000 units of account for a ship with a tonnage not exceeding 500 tons; plus 167 units of account for each ton from 501 to 30,000 tons; plus 125 units of account for each ton from 30,001 to 70,000 tons; plus 83 units of account for each ton in excess of 70,001 tons.

16. Internationally, the package limitation is the one that applies on the forwarder's bill of lading (often, Hague/Visby). Domestically, there is no package limitation.

17. See note 4.

18. Has not incorporated Hamburg into its code, such that Hamburg would not be applied by its courts.

19. India adopted the

20. Japan provides that the carrier is not liable for pure economic loss or for consequential loss.

21. See note 5.

22. See Korean Commercial Code (revised), art. 789-2, in force January 1, 1993; Rok Sang Yu & Jongkwan Peck, "The revised maritime section of the Korean Commercial Code" [1993] LMCLQ 403 at p. 408; Capt. In Hyeon Kim, "An Introduction to Korean Law Governing Carriage of Goods by Sea" (2005) 36 JMLC 447. Although Korea has adopted a 500 SDR package limitation in its Commercial Code, the country is not party to any international carriage of goods by sea convention. Therefore, under Korean law, the parties to a contract of carriage may validly incorporate the Hague Rules, even if only in part, into their bills of lading and may extend those Rules, as so modified, to modes of carriage to which they would not otherwise be applicable (e.g. carriage on inland waterways). See The Tasman Discoverer [2002] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 528, [2002] 3 NZLR 353 (N.Z. C.A.), where the parties to a bill of lading covering a shipment from Korea to New Zealand, by way of a Clause Paramount in the bill, provided for a package limitation of "£100 Sterling, lawful money of the United Kingdom", rather than £100 gold value in accordance with arts. 4(5) and 9 of the Rules, and also extended the application of the Rules to "carriage by inland waterways". The Clause further provided that "the Hague Rules shall be construed accordingly", which the New Zealand Court of Appeal held plainly indicated that the parties to the bill had agreed to modify the Hague Rules in these respects, as they were entitled to do in the absence of any "overriding national legislation". See Paul Myburg, "'All That Glistens': The Gold Clause, the Hague Rules and Carriage of Goods by Sea" (2002) 8 New Zealand Business News Quarterly 260-265.

23. Has not renounced the Hague or H/V Rules as required by Article 31 of the Hamburg Rules thereby creating a conflict between conventions.

24. See note 18.

25. Liberia acceded to the Hamburg Rules on September 16, 2005, but the Rules come into force for Liberia only on October 1, 2006. The package and kilo limitations of that country will then become 835/2.5 SDR.

26. See note 18.

27. The Hague Rules 1924 apply to West Malaysia (i.e. the Malaysian Peninsula) pursuant to sect. 1 of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1950. The package limitation is: £100 gold value. The Hague Rules 1924 also apply to East Malaysia (i.e. Sabah and Sarawak) pursuant to the Merchant Shipping (Applied Subsidiary Legislastion) Regulations 1961 of Sabah and to the Merchant Shipping (Implementation of Conventions Relating to the Carriage of Goods by Sea and to Liability of Shipowners and Others) Regulations 1960 of Sarawak. The package limitation in both cases is £100 gold value.

28. Mexico acceded to the Hague/Visby Rules on May 20, 1994, but they came into force in that country only on August 20, 1994.

29. Limitations on delay are the same, but the carrier can contract out of them.

30. The Hamburg Rules have not been enacted into domestic law in Nigeria, such that the Hague Rules must be applied by the courts.

31. See note 10.

32. Paraguay acceded to the Hamburg Rules on July 19, 2005, but the Rules come into force for Paraguay only on August 1, 2006, at which time the package and kilo limitations will become 835/2.5 SDR.

33. See note 1.

34. See note 6.

35. See Art. 170(1) of the "Merchant Shipping Code of the Russian Federation" which gives effect to the usual Hague/Visby package/kilo limitations of 666.67 and 2 "units of account" respectively, the higher of the two prevailing as usual, in the absence of any higher declaration of cargo value by the shipper on the bill of lading. The term "Unit of Account", as one would expect, is defined at Art. 11 to mean Special Drawing Rights (SDR's) of the International Monetary Fund, for the purposes of various Articles of the Code mentioned there, including, inter alia, Article 170. You will find an English translation of that Code at:

36. See Malaysia, note 27.

37. See Malaysia, note 27.

38. See note 4.

39. If there is no actual fault or privity, the limit set to SGD $156.36 for each ton of the ship's tonnage (Ss. 135 and 136 of the Merchant Shipping Act).

40. Slovenia is a party to the Hague Rules, but incorporated most of the Visby Rules into national legislation by the Maritime Code of 2001, including the Hague/Visby package/kilo limitations.

41. See note 10.

42. For international inland water, see "Convention de Strasbourg sur la limitation de la responsabilite en navigation interieure, 4 novembre 1988."

43. See note 4.

44. Turkey in 1955 adopted the Hague Rules 1924, with its limitation of 100 pounds sterling per package or unit, but in 1956 (without repealing the 1955 enactment), the Turkish Parliament enacted the Turkish Commercial Code, art. 1114 of which established a limitation of 1,5000 Turkish lire per package or unit, and that limitation was increased to 100,000 Turkish lire in 1983. It appears to be the limitation actually applied in Turkey. See The Ebn El Waleed [2001] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 270 (Fed. C. Can.). Turkey has no limit of liability for domestic carriage. See the Commercial Code, art. 762.

45. If foreign law is applicable, the current value of gold would be used. Under the Hague Rules, that would be about US $9,000. Under H/V, it would be about US $7,000.

46. Venezuela adopted a Law on Maritime Commerce on February 9, 2002.

47. See note 18.

For the definitions of

For the status of the Hamburg Rules, see the website of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) at:

Multimodal Transportation of Goods Act, 1993, Act No. 28 of 1993, which was assented to by the President of India on April 2, 1993 and which was deemed to come into in force (retroactively) on October 16, 1992. This statute establishes a multimodal transport regime for international shipments outbound from India and includes much of the Hague/Visby Rules. Goa, when it was a separate State, was a party to the Hague Rules, but is now subject to Indian law since being annexed by India in 1962. Hague, Visby and Hamburg Rules, and for other useful information see Tetley's Glossary of Maritime Law.

Staff Author