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The difference between Free Time and Detention. We will explain how to count the Free Period at the port and the reference cost of Demurrage/Detention in Japan.

The difference between Free Time and Detention. We will explain how to count the Free Period at the port and the reference cost of Demurrage/Detention in Japan. | Marine Transport

There are things you need to check when shipping cargo. It’s free time and detention. If you neglect this confirmation beforehand, it will cost you when there is some trouble after the cargo arrives at the port.[br num=”2″]


What is Free Time?

It is a period of keeping cargo at the terminal for free of charge when importing cargo by sea shipment. After the Free Time, the penalty of excessing storage called “Demurrage” occurs. The length of the Free Time depends on each shipping company though. It is generally 7 to 14 days. In the case of reefer containers and dangerous goods cargo, Free Time is shorter than general cargo. It is about 3 to 5 days. Please contact the dealing forwarder for more details.

How to count Free Time

For example, if the Free Time is 7 days, when we count 7 days from? Generally it is from 0 o’clock the day after the cargo is brought into the terminal. However, it may vary depending on the shipping company. Some shipping companies may count from the day after arrival date. So please contact the forwarder in advance.[br num=”2″]

For example
· Free time: 7 days
· ETA: 1st of October
· Delivery date: 2nd of October
· Free time starting date: 0 o’clock on 3rd of October
· Free time: until 10th of October
· Demurrage occurred: From 11th of October


The case when you have to pay special attention to Free Time

We would like to introduce the situations that you better to use longer Free Time as below.

The case of importing cargoes for the first time

There is a case that customs clearance does not go smoothly for the importing cargo for the first time. There maybe some registration is required in advance or there maybe some necessary documents are missing. In this case it is risk if you are using a shipping company’s service with a short Free Time.

Especially in cases of cold cargos and dangerous cargos. Since Free Time is short, if there is a mistake and cargo can not be taken out because of the custom clearance problem, it will lead to a big loss(big Demurrage). Therefore, we have to pay special attention.

The case of mistake on the B/L description

If there is a mistake in the description of B/L, the cargo will not pass the custom clearance. Even though the Forwarder amends the B/L, there is the case that the shipping company manifest is not changed. In this case, the cargo will not be able to take out. Longer free time is safe as insurance.

No storage space in the delivery destination

There are also many requests to keep cargo at the terminal as long as possible. Since the storage space of the delivery destination is full, there is no place for cargo delivered, so you can effectively use the Free Time even in such a case. ※ The shipping company does not recommend using the port as the warehouse.

After a long holiday

It is better to be careful about Free Time before and after long holiday. Because the vessel goes into the port continuously during the holidays. Also, after the holidays shipping companies and forwarders have to make accumulated import documents all at once which is likely to make more mistakes.

Moreover, after long holidays you may not be able to arrange trucks immediately. Especially when using reefer containers or dangerous cargos, the Free Time is short compared to general cargo which need to be cautious.


Extension of Free Time may be possible in some cases

Generally, Free Time can be confirmed by forwarders at the time of booking. As mentioned above, Free Time can be utilized effectively in various ways, so if you know that you need long Free Time in advance, you should ask the forwarder to extend the Free Time.

Please note that there is a case that you can extend and cannot extend.[br num=”2″]

There are also some customers who wish to extend the Free Time after the arrival of the cargo. As you may know, the unexpected troubles will occur in the intenational trade. In this case, it is uncertain if it can be extended, but you can negotiate with the forwarders in case you can extend.


What is Detention?

Containers taken out from the terminal must unload cargo and return container with empty to the depot. Since the shipping company has to use the containers repeatedly, they ask you to return the containers back as soon as possible. So if the return period has passed, you will be requested a Detention charge. The free period of Detention depends on the shipping company, but it is generally 7 to 14 days in the dry container.

How to count Detention

It will be counted starting from the container picking up date from the terminal.

For Example
· Detention free time: 7 days case
· Container pick-up date: 10th of October
· Detention free time: Until 17th of October
· Detention occurrence: From 18th of October


Cost example of Demurrage and Detention

When Free Time expires, Demurrage and Detention will occur.

The cost of the Demurrage and Detention depend on the dry container and special container (flat rack, open top, tank container) and also depends on container size as well.

We will introduce the reference price of the cost as below. Since the actual cost varies depending on the shipping company, please check to the forwarders in advance.

Example of Demurrage Charge in Japan

For dry containers (per 1day, per container)

Day 1-3: JPY 6,000 / 20 ‘, JPY 12,000 / 40’
Day 4-6: JPY 12,000 / 20 ‘. JPY 24,000 / 40’
Day 7 -: JPY 18,000 / 20 ‘JPY 36,000 / 40’

For Flat Rack / Open Top / TANK containers (per 1day, per container)

Day 1-3: JPY 10,000 / 20 ‘, JPY 20,000 / 40’
Day 4-6: JPY 20,000 / 20 ‘. JPY 30,000 / 40’
Day 7 -: JPY 30,000 / 20 ‘JPY 40,000 / 40’

Example of Detention Charge in Japan

For dry containers (per 1day, per container)

Day 1-4: JPY 2,000 / 20 ‘, JPY 4,000 / 40’
Day 5-: JPY 4,000 / 20 ‘. JPY 8,000 / 40’

For Flat Rack / Open Top / TANK containers (per 1day, per container)

Day 1-4: JPY 7,000 / 20 ‘, JPY 7,000 / 40’
Day 5-: JPY 21,000 / 20 ‘. JPY 21,000 / 40’


Special Free Time to Japan proposed by HPS Trade

We are exporting many containers to Japan every month. Therefore, we are in good relationship with shipping company, and when cargo is exported to major Japanese ports (Tokyo · Yokohama · Nagoya · Osaka · Kobe) by a specific shipping company.

We will be able to propose Free Time for up to 21 days. If you need a long free time from Thailand to Japan, please contact us.



It is better not to spend the extra expenses on trade transactions. There is no problem if smooth trade transactions can be made with cargo, documents, supplier situation, but it will be beneficial to take longer free time in case if there is a mistake.

The length of Free Time depends on the type of container and destination, as well as shipping company and forwarder.
Why don’t we make a smooth trade arrangement by confirming firmly in advance?