Saturday, June 10, 2023
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Import Overstay process

In this article, we will look at an extension of the import process  which is called “overstay” process..

The port gives 3 free days from date of discharge for any import container coming into SA.. The customer has these 3 days in which to pick up the full from the port.. If for any reason (most popular reason – documentation not being ready) the customer is unable to uplift the box from the port, the shipping lines will generally move the container from the port as an “overstay” to what is known as an “overstay depot” (some people wish they could do the same when the in-laws overstay their welcome hee hee)..

The overstay depot will be a customs bonded depot where the container is kept until such time the customer produces the documents required by the shipping line (refer to Unlike the port, the overstay depot does not offer any free storage days and the storage meter starts ticking the moment the container is offloaded at the depot.. The shipping line/their agent choose the depot to which the overstay containers are moved to..

Once the customer provides the relevant docs to the shipping line, they will issue what is known as a DRO (Delivery Release Order) to the respective depot based on which the depot will release the full container to the customer..

PS : the customer has the option to leave the container in the port (he has to advise the shipping line in advance if this is his intention), but the storage costs at the port are quite exorbitant compared to the overstay depot..


  1. Hi Hariesh,

    What are the rules for shipping lines regarding actually moving the boxes to their overstay depots? We’ve had a number of incidents where the SL has not moved the box to their OVS depot, and we incur some serious terminal storage charges. Some SLs say they are not obliged to move the boxes within port free time, or even at all. How can we argue this?

    • Hi Lorenzo, technically they are not obligated.. But generally they would.. Its also incumbent on the consignee to advise the SL to move it to overstay if they are unable to clear in time.. It is in the interest of the consignee..

  2. Hi Rithwaan, they were just notifying / warning you that the container would be moved to overstay once it had been discharged (offloaded) from the vessel, because your documents / telex was not in place within their cut-off time, which was 48hrs prior to berthing at that time. There have been big changes to overstay cut-offs as of the end of last year, so cut-off times have now become even longer before berthing for most shipping lines.

  3. Good day

    Yes it is and thus the SA one of the major shipping lines is demanding this and if you do not comply your container will be moved to their depot when it lands and we are forced to do carrier as well…this is if you do not comply 48 hrs prior vessel berthing.

    Now in all my years I have never ever come across such bullying tactics.

  4. Good day

    This is great information…..just a question wrt to overstay…
    Can overstay be charged for a container that has not landed ie: it is still on board but the shipping line want to charge you overstay as they claim if they do not have release documents 48hrs prior berthing of vessel they will charge overstay….

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