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States Warehouse Process

Most of you who are involved in the import shipping process in South Africa might have at one stage or the other come across the term States Warehouse..

Sometimes there are cases where the consignees are for one reason or the other unable to clear or take delivery of the cargo that they have imported.. In such cases, at the end of the standard 3 free days given by the port, the shipping line will move the containers to a custom bonded depot generally referred to as “overstay depot” (refer to my article on Import Overstay Process)..

As per the current SARS regulation, any cargo that remains uncleared for more than 28 days is required to be moved to the States Warehouse by the shipping line.. The States Warehouse is a Govt. entity under the purview of Customs/SARS (South African Revenue Services)..

The shipping line has to do this at their own cost and risk as there is no one else to bear this cost.. Generally the uncleared container(s) is moved to the SWH and the containers are unpacked and the cargo is stored at the SWH while the shipping line takes control of the empty container.. At the same time, the shipping line generally will place a lien on the cargo..

The cargo remains in the SWH for long as, there is no contact from the consignee or importer, or at the discretion of Customs/SWH authorities who decide how long to keep the cargo open..

If finally the consignee is ready to clear the cargo, then he has to pay all the costs to the shipping line and the SWH and take release of the cargo..

However, if after a period of time (at SWH discretion) the cargo is still not cleared, the SWH includes the cargo in the list for cargo to be auctioned..

Once the cargo has been auctioned, SWH will check if the proceeds will cover firstly their costs for the unpacking, storage and auction etc.. If there is any excess amount left over from the proceeds after covering the SWH cost, the shipping line might be paid the costs that they have incurred towards moving the container(s) to the SWH, the local landside costs like THC, Cartage, Storage, Railage (and in some cases the full ocean freight) etc..

And so ends the story of the cargo that was uncleared and abandoned by the consignee..


  1. hi there]goods bought from this auction is straight away suitable for us in south africa, or do you need to have it cleared ?

  2. Hi. What are the proceedures for clearing cargo from SWH for local consumption and for in-transit or re-exportation. Is part clearance allowed?

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