Did you know that Customs is empowered by law to auction overtime cargoes so as to free up space in the port and also recover government revenue? Overtime cargo in Nigeria is a real-time bottle-neck situation that requires

According to Vicky Haastrup, the Chairman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), “…not auctioning those cargoes that have been in the port for a time longer than necessary does not serve the best interest of the government and the operator.” 

She made this statement at the 2019 Annual Stakeholders’ Appreciation Night organized by Nigerian Shippers’ Council.

This is the point, the Nigeria Customs Service is actually empowered to free up the space in the port by auctioning overtime or unclaimed goods at the port. 

Space, STOAN Boss said, is vital at every port and “a situation where overtime cargoes are allowed to take up substantial space at the port is not healthy enough”.

[Read More]: Manual Customs Processes, Overtime Cargo at Port Wasting Billions of Naira.

In today’s post, you’ll understand customs requirements on overtime cargo and this is coming to you for one of the following reasons. 

1. You have called to enquire about overtime cargo

2. You want to be informed and prepared so as to avoid a situation

3. You’re concerned about about the cost of storage

4. To know how long a cargo could last with Nigeria Customs, and how long before being auctioned

5. you have a case and would like an Agent to proffer the solutions for.

Everyone in the categories above need to understand some very important facts about Overtime Cargo and the Nigerian Customs requirement. I hope this post answers all the numerous questions, including the concerns on storage cost and the cases of outright seizure of cargo for whatever reason.

First, you should know that the case with Overtime cargo may be directly related to Detention or Demurrage, depending on time and surrounding circumstances. 

Read more about Demurrage & Detention here.

What is Overtime Cargo?

An importer may fail to clear his or her cargo at the port for a specifically long period of time. 

Cargo seized and detained under the Customs and Excise Management Act ICEMA are commonly known as overtime cargoes.

Any goods imported into Nigeria is subject to the provisions of the Customs and Excise Management Act,(ICEMA) Seizure, Custody and Release. Accordingly any cargo which has remained at the port for a period of more than 90 days without clearance is regarded as overtime cargo.

What does customs do with seized goods in Nigeria?

The moment the 90 days wait time elapses, the cargo is subject to seizure. And all seized cargo in this category is auctioned under the Customs e-Auction platform.

Be informed that Demurrage begins after 7 days of non-clearance of goods at Customs. 

Although there are several reasons for seizure to take place, one of which is failure to meet up with importation requirements.

The e-Auction platform offers a brilliant solution to the problem of bidding. Here, the winning bidder takes 100% of the product. This is one of the distinguishing features of the e-Auction platform, which at the same time guarantees it provides transparency of bidding.

Please note, the principle of bidding sales is that the highest and most advantageous bidder takes the object sold. It’s quite popular not only in the industry of automobiles, but some others as well.

However, if the importer is still interested in the overtime cargo, he is required to pay for duty and all other charges in order to retain his ownership. 

But under certain circumstances, the importer may reject those parts of the cargo which have been exposed to danger. It must be emphasized that the decision to retain or reject all or a portion of an overtime cargo for duty purposes rests exclusively with the importer.

So, regardless of whether the importer is still interested in the cargo, the moment the items are sold out (auctioned and sold), he loses the shipment.

Some possible causes of Overtime Cargo

The cases of Overtime cargo are connected with time overlap, just as demurrage. While demurrage begins after 7 days, cargo seizure takes place after 90 days of non-clearance.

The possible cause of Overtime cargo may be any of the following

1. Failure on the part of an importer to prepare financially for the shipment’s arrival or at the time of arrival. 

2. Failure to comply with proper documentation as at when due or prior arrival of shipment.

3. Inability to provide requested documentation as at time of arrival and request by Customs, leading to lateness.

4. inability to pay required duties and other charges as at when expected.

Things you should do before you import

To avoid certain issues with Customs, there is a great need to make proper preparation in terms of finance and documentation. These two factors are capable of causing a huge loss on your business. 

1. Contact a reliable Customs Agent who is up-to date 

2. Understand the customs requirement of the commodity imported

3. Understand the danger of failing to clear your goods on time. This attracts Demurrage, and leads to Overtime Cargo

4. Make an effort to clear your goods within 90 days from the date of arrival at the seaports and 30 days at the airports.

5. Provide correct declaration of goods. False declaration attracts forfeiture. 

6. Do not use fake documents, as it is a criminal offense

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