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Are you still dependent on the carrier to send the cargo arrival notification..??

When we talk about cargo arrival notification, one contentious issue has been raging for years for both carriers and customers..

Back in 2012, I took a deep dive into the question of whether a carrier is liable if they didn’t send the cargo arrival notification to the consignee/notify..

Fast forward to 2024, the rise of real-time tracking platforms, IoT service providers, and smart containers has changed the visibility landscape dramatically putting the power in the hands of the customer..

Today, customers have unprecedented access to their cargo’s whereabouts, courtesy of carrier portals and independent tracking providers giving rise to the question of whether carriers are still the gatekeepers of this crucial cargo arrival information or whether technology has made this requirement redundant..??

The new question to the customer is, In this era of real-time track and trace, do you still rely on carriers for arrival updates, or do you have a trusted alternative at your fingertips..?? If so, what is your most trusted and go-to source of information..??

Take this quick poll and add your comment in the comments column at the end of this article if you have any additional information..

Question: Are you still dependent on the carrier for container arrival notification..??

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The back story of the question of carrier’s liability for arrival notification

As we know, the bill of lading has the Consignee and Notify fields, the details of which are provided/updated by the shipper or booking party to the carrier as part of the bill of lading instructions..

The Consignee field will have the name and address details of the actual owner, buyer, end user, bank, freight forwarder, or agent or it could just say “To Order” depending on the type of bill of lading that is issued..

Being named the consignee on the bill of lading comes with the risk and responsibility of being held accountable for many issues such as non-clearance of cargoes, late clearance, cargo abandonment, claims etc..

The Notify field on the other hand may be the details of the entity who should be notified of the arrival of the cargo.. This could be the actual buyer or receiver of the goods, clearing and forwarding agent, trader, or agent.. The Cargo Arrival Notification is sent to this notify party..

The carrier/agents at a port of discharge usually follow the above information provided by the shipper and send out Arrival Notifications to the Consignee and/or Notify..

So in terms of the question “Is a carrier liable for any costs if they don’t send the arrival notification for import cargo..??” the answer from the carrier’s perspective, would be that “they are not liable”..

From a carrier’s perspective, they only send an arrival notification as a “service to the customer” and are not obligated to do so legally.. This is displayed clearly in most bills of lading, usually next to the Notify Party field like the below example from a Hapag Lloyd bill of lading..

Are you still dependent on the shipping line to send container arrival notification..??
Image : Hapag Lloyd Bill of Lading

The relevant clauses can be found on the reverse of the bill of lading (Terms and Conditions)..

20. Notification and Delivery (Hapag Lloyd)
(1) Any failure to give notification of the arrival of the goods shall not involve the Carrier in any liability nor relieve the Merchant of any obligation hereunder.


22. Notification, Discharge and Delivery (Maersk)
22.1 Any mention in this bill of lading of parties to be notified of the arrival of the Goods is solely for information of the Carrier. Failure to give such notification shall not involve the Carrier in any liability nor relieve the Merchant of any obligation hereunder.

As per the carrier, the ultimate customer or their agents have the responsibility to track and follow up on their shipment..

The new question therefore is, in this era of real-time track and trace, do you still rely on carriers for arrival updates..?? Or do you have a trusted technological alternative at your fingertips..?? 

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiarhttps://www.shippingandfreightresource.com
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. Hi Hariesh good info and I want to give you my experience working as a forwarder for +7 years we had a shipment coming from Brazil to australia in December 2022 that particular December we took a long break from 12 Dec to start of January
    one of our current clients send containers to Australia regularly using MAERSK in CFR terms, we clear unpack and organize final delivery.
    We where on break and have an out of the office notification on email but I as an Ops manager was monitoring emails while overseas.
    Our Company was the NOTIFY party on the BL, NO PRE-ARRIVAL sent from MAERSK to us at all no NOTIFICATION or PHONE call from DP World, when we return in January we get hit with a DEMURRAGE Bill of AUD 8,000 by DP World, and DETENTION of AUD 2,200 by MAERSK we are a small forwarder, I literally beg DP WORLD and MAERSK to re-consider and give us any discount, I did not get any, client wash their hands and make us liable although he was at fault for not sending PRE-ARRIVAL Docs on time to us or notify the incoming import. In this day an age it seems impossible to miss a container but this things happen and of course the big boys MAERSK and DP wash their hands and make their money, we learn to never ever again rely on PRE-ARRIVAL and now we chase Delivery Orders and THC Invoices even earlier than before annoying carriers that reply that docs are not yet ready from their side but you learn from the big hits!!!!! so our policy do not rely on carriers PRE_ARRIVAL because when things go wrong they wash their hands and refer you to the small print

  2. Good morning,

    Yes. I will.

    I am saying can you help me with the supporting Judgement on the point that it is not mandatory for the Shipping Line to send Arrival notice to the Consignee and Shipping Line and Customer are covered under the terms and conditions of the Bill of Lading.

    • Hi Ram, there is no judgement per se on this.. The shipping lines are clear and upfront about this obligation in their bill of lading terms and conditions like the examples cited in the article.. If I come across any such judgement, will update this article.. 🙂

  3. Sign up for all of your major carriers websites so you can check dates on your own. You will often find out information is being skewed among your freight forwarders to the port data. You will be able to search by CARRIER booking, not NVOCC booking. MAKE your forwarder give you the CARRIER booking. Your customer needs to be aware of the arrival of the container so they can start the import process. The customs docs should be provided 5 days before the arrival of the container, at the very latest.

  4. I have read your post and I concur with it. I am facing a similar situation in one of my matter for my client before the Consumer forum.

    I want a supporting Judgement on the contents of your post. Please assist if you can.


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