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What is a Change of Destination Request and how should it be handled..??

Image for COD

You may have heard of the term Change of Destination (COD) in shipping operations.. This article describes what is a change of destination request and how it should be handled..

In my previous post about Parts of a bill of lading, I explained in detail regarding the port of discharge (POD) and place of delivery..

You also read in the post about Bill of Lading that when a B/L is issued as a Combined Transport B/L, the shipping line is directly responsible for the delivery of the container to the Place of Delivery nominated in the Bill of Lading.. 

A Change of Destination (COD) is a request asking the shipping line to discharge/transport the container to a destination other than the one mentioned in the Port of Discharge or Place of Delivery fields in the Bill of Lading issued..

This is a very important request and one that can create several problems if not handled properly.. In this article, we will discuss how to handle a Change of Destination request and its implications..

A COD is requested due to a variety of reasons chief among which are :

  • The original buyer has withdrawn from the contract and the seller has found a new buyer in another country while the shipment is on the water
  • The contract between buyer and seller was upto the Port of Discharge, but the buyer now wants the shipping line to deliver the cargo to his door at his cost and risk
  • The contract between buyer and seller was upto door on a Combined Transport B/L, but the buyer requires the cargo to be terminated at the Port of Discharge so he can perform the inland haulage

When a COD request is received by the shipping line they have to :Image for verification

  1. Firstly ascertain whether the requesting party has the authority to request a COD.. This authority could vary based on the type of bill of lading issued and at what stage of negotiation the bill of lading is.. For example :
    • If the bill of lading issued is a Straight Bill of Lading and the shipper is still legally in possession of the bills of lading, only the shipper can request the shipping line for the COD..
    • If the bill of lading issued is an Order Bill of Lading consigned To Order of Shipper, but the bill of lading has already been endorsed by the shipper to the consignee, then only the consignee can request the shipping line for the COD..
  1. The COD request should be received before the container reaches the destination and the manifest has been filed with customs.. In a lot of countries, Customs don’t allow for a change of destination once the container has been landed..
  2. If the COD is acceptable to the shipping line and customs, then a Manifest Corrector must be actioned by the lines agent requesting this COD, changing the destination and a copy of this manifest corrector must be sent to the discharge port agent (new and old) and also submitted to Customs..
  3. It is very important that the manifest be amended, failing which the container might be delivered to the wrong destination attracting additional costs for the defaulting party..

A question posted by a reader (Yusuf) was :

“My question particularly relates to the legal implication on the Shipping Line when ‘redirecting’ a container.

As you are aware, it is common practice in SA to redirect shipment between Johannesburg & Durban.

The redirection is exercised at the request of the Consignee/consignee agent, usually without the knowledge or permission of the Shipper. Is this legal? Can it not be considered a breach of contract between the Shipper and Shipping Line?

An example: A shipment is booked for final destination Johannesburg, The Consignee requests the shipment be redirected for final destination Durban. The consignee takes release of the shipment, ex Durban. Enroute to Johannesburg, the container is hijacked. Can the Shipper not make a claim against the Shipping Line for allowing the container to be released in Durban instead of Johannesburg?”

(For those of you that might not be aware, Johannesburg is an inland dry port in South Africa and Durban is a sea port in South Africa which is normally the gateway to Johannesburg)

In response to Yusuf’s question – A COD cannot be generalized as requiring only the shippers permission.. Based on the various types of bills of lading issued and at what stage the bill of lading is at present and who the bill is consigned to, the shipping line may or may not require the shippers permission..

But for a redirection, the shipping line surely has to check and ensure that their liabilities are covered before proceeding with the redirection and the most important aspect is that a manifest corrector is passed..

In your cited example, if the shipping line has accepted the consignee’s request without checking the status of the bill of lading and getting required approvals (where required) from the shipper and actioning manifest correctors, they might well be exposed to a claim..


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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
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. Hello, I want to ask
    When the container is on board and the vessel in sea way
    Can to the shipper ( the exporter) to ask to stop the delivery in the trans-shipment port for some days or some weeks ?
    until the importer will be ready to pay the Goods invoice

    then later the shipping company re-ship the container again from the trans-shipment Port to the final destination port ?

    • Hello Farouk, yes this is generally possible if the shipping line is given enough notice.. However, it must be noted that in most cases, port storage costs at transhipment ports are quite high and if there are many containers in the shipment, it might be quite a bit..

  2. Dear Sir
    Pls look below information and suggest me
    ONE 40 FEET CONTAINER FROM BANGLADESH TO LONG BEACH PORT/Los_Angeles.BUT USA CUSTOMER NOT INTERESTED TO RECEIVE THIS GOODS AND HE RETURN SHIPPING DOCUMENT TO SHIPPER IN BANGLADESH. I live in france and had an agreement with shipper bangladesh.So now we will retun this shipment in my port Antwerp/Belgium. Bangladesh to long beach port shipping line was WAN HAI. But Unfortunately Wan Hai has no service in Europe. So what will be shipping process and document process to return this container in ANTWERP. Belgium
    My company in France but i use ANTWERP PORT
    Pls suggest me .

    • Hi Ahamed, the only option would be for the cargo from the container to be unpacked and repacked into another container of a line that has a service from LA to Antwerp.. Who is the current owner of the cargo..

  3. Hi,
    There has been incessant redirection of shipment which POD is Apapa to TINCAN by the shipping line without any any request from the consignee or shipper. This shipments is then transferred to offdock customs yard for clearance. Some time , it takes 40 days or more before the transfer is done.
    Whose responsibility to do the container transfer?
    Do we have claim from the shipping line for this action as they claim shipments are redirected because of the congestion at Apapa port.

    I really need your professional view on this recurring nightmare.

    • Hi Afis, this is something that may be unavoidable in cases of port congestion.. Lines can decide on the best course of action for the discharge of the containers if a specific port is congested heavily and that means the ships waiting which will in turn add to further congestion.. If this is happening regularly then you could switch carriers who call Tincan as eitherways you say the containers going there..

  4. Hi,

    My question is based on government agencies powers e.g. Border police,Customs etc. Can they for example detain a container for examination that is on a Durban manifest and say they want it inspected at a depot in Johannesburg since the delivery address is in Johannesburg. Where and how does the shipping line & the clearing agents feature in this scenario.

    What are both their roles in this scenario where the government agency wants a container on a Durban manifest inspected in Johannesburg?

    Who is liable for the cargo wether delivered by road or rail en route to Johannesburg from Durban as per the agency instruction to be inspected at a depot in Johannesburg?

    • This would mean that the container will be moved to JHB under embargo (still under customs supervision until inspected by a customs official and released). Container cannot be opened or unpacked until inspected and released 🙂

  5. Hi Sir ,

    I need to know how much are usually COD charges on average . My customer is requesting me to change Final destination from kismayo somalia to mogadishu somalia. The vessel of msc will be first going to mogadishu as per route and then to somalia . But the bl is issued for kismayo . I need to know how much on average cod charges are . My agent is saying its between 6,000 USD to 17,000 USD for 5 x 20 ft fcl . Shipping line is msc

  6. I have an export order and L/c for export. In L/C transshipment is not allowed. I came to know through my freight forwarder that no direct vessel is available from Chennai to port of destination. The liner shall change the container from one vessel to another under same same bill of lading. Is it commercially ok to ship and claim through the L/C as no transshipment is allowed.
    Please clarify on this.


    • UCP 600 will allow a bill indicating that the goods will or may be transhipped, provided the entire carriage is covered by one and the same bill. A bill indicating that transhipment will or may take place is also acceptable under UCP 600, even if the credit prohibits transhipment, but only if the goods have been shipped in a container, trailer or lash barge as evidenced by the bill

  7. Dear,

    I would like to know if it is possible to make a COD but only for a part of the BoL ?
    So, is it possible to split the BoL at destination, and say that for a part, it is not the definitive desnation and have to continue ?

    Best regards,

  8. my Shipper wants to change of consignee after customs manifest already field and containers at POD from 1 month…. ???

  9. how can make letter request for take out the container for deposit in port from same port, actually its is still in port for free zone trading company warehouse for empty.

  10. Hello, i have a question,

    delivery terme is DDP

    The port of discharge is ZEE and the place of delivery is lille (france). we want to change the place of delivery (because we have 2 warehouses) the second warehouse is based at 25km of the first.
    do you think that a COD is mandatory in that case.
    please what is the average fees of COD in that case they are asking 350 €

  11. Hi Hariesh, the redirection of FCL cargo manifested for JHB via road was initiated by a Customs Letter of concession in December 1999. Do you perhaps have a copy of that letter. My internet searches have come up with nothing.

  12. Questions:
    In case of war / warlike operation, destination port is closed and liner request for COD about 800km away from destination.
    1) is this considered ‘force majure’?
    2) currently at transhipment port incuring demurrage charges
    3) CIF. Insurance is still in effect, but for how long?
    4) it’s on TELEX RELEASE.
    5) liner requesting consginee approval for COD. While B/L back clause:

    “21.Matters Affecting Performance
    If at any time the performance of the contract evidenced by this Bill is or is likely to be affected by any Force Majeure hindrance, risk, delay, difficulty or disadvantage of whatsoever kind which can not be avoided by the exercise of reasonable endeavours, the Carrier (whether or not the transport is commenced) may without notice to the Merchant treat the performance of this Contract as terminated and place the Goods or any part of them at the Merchant’s disposal at any place or port which the Carrier may deem safe and convenient, whereupon the responsibility of the Carrier in respect of such Goods shall cease. The Carrier shall nevertheless be entitled to full freight and charges on Goods received for transportation, and the Merchant shall pay any additional costs of carriage to and delivery and storage at such place or port. ”

    Need some insight on this matter.

    Thank you.

  13. Can my BL still read port of discharge: Durban and final delivery: Johannesburg if I want my container to move from Durban to Johannesburg by road haul under carrier haulage?

    • Hello Claudine, yes whether by road or rail, if the carrier is undertaking the carriage of cargo from Port of Discharge to Place of final delivery, they can show POD as Durban and FDE as Johannesburg..

  14. Based on the above, I think its a normal route. Vessel discharges @ Durban as the port and truck inland to final destination Johannesburg

  15. As a practice carriers do seek the consent of shipper when a consignee of a BL requests for diversion of container. Further, carrier has to make necessary corrections in the manifest to authenticate POD / place of delivery .

    Ramana Murthy R S V

    • I also agree that the consultation and permission of the Shipper should be necessary.
      However, I am not sure if this is common practice in SA, especially when ‘redirecting’ between JHB & DBN.
      Hence, I seek confirmation as to whether it is indeed obligatory on the Shipping line to obtain the Shippers permission before processing a COD?

    • Hi Yusuf, as discussed in the post above, a COD cannot be generalized as requiring only the shippers permission.. Based on the various types of bills of lading issued and at what stage the bill of lading is at present and who the bill is consigned to, the shipping line may or may not require the shippers permission.. But for a redirection, the shipping line surely has to check and ensure that their liabilities are covered before proceeding with the redirection and the most important aspect is that a manifest corrector is passed..


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