The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has issued its final rule on carrier detention and demurrage practices under the Ocean Shipping Reform Act 2022.


In 2021 the FMC began a fact-finding into carrier billing practices in respect of detention and demurrage. The FMC estimates that carriers billed $8.9 billion in D+D charges in the two year period 2020-2022, collecting $6.9 billion (all figures in USD), but that billing practices in respect of these charges varied widely

In 2022 the FMC issued a proposed rulemaking on carrier detention and demurrage practices including required content for invoices, timing of invoicing, and applicability to NVOCs. The final rule adopts, with some changes, the 2022 proposed rules.

Of course, the FMC has jurisdiction over US ports only; FIATA has issued a toolkit on the final rule that includes materials to support members around the world in promoting domestic consideration of similar rules.

Billing Information

The rule requires that invoices for D+D charges contain certain information, failing which the receiving party is under no obligation to pay the charges (§ 541.5). The required information is:

  1. Identifying Information
    • The Bill of Lading number(s);
    • The container number(s);
    • For imports, the port(s) of discharge; and
    • The basis for why the billed party is the proper party of interest and thus liable.
  2. Timing Information
    • The invoice date;
    • The invoice due date;
    • The allowed free time in days;
    • The start date of free time;
    • The end date of free time;
    • For imports, the container availability date;
    • For exports, the earliest return date; and
    • The specific date(s) for which demurrage and/or detention were charged.
  3. Rate Information
    • The total amount due;
    • The applicable detention or demurrage rule (e.g., the tariff name and rule number, terminal schedule, applicable service contract number and section, or applicable negotiated arrangement) on which the daily rate is based; and
    • The specific rate or rates per the applicable tariff rule or service contract.
  4. Dispute Information
    • The email, telephone number, or other appropriate contact information for questions or request for fee mitigation, refund, or waiver;
    • Digital means, such as a URL address, QR code, or digital watermark, that directs the billed party to a publicly accessible website that provides a detailed description of information or documentation that the billed party must provide to successfully request fee mitigation, refund, or waiver; and
    • Defined timeframes that comply with the billing practices in this part, during which the billed party must request a fee mitigation, refund, or waiver and within which the billing party will resolve such requests.
  5. Certifications
    • The charges are consistent with any of the Federal Maritime Commission’s rules related to demurrage and detention, including, but not limited to, this part and 46 CFR 545.5; and
    • The billing party’s performance did not cause or contribute to the underlying invoiced charges.

These requirements apply to any party issuing an invoice for D+D charges, including terminals and NVOCs; the purpose of the rulemaking is to ensure the party receiving the invoice can understand the nature of the charges, regardless of the party issuing the invoice.

Billing Practices

The Final Rule clarifies that, in addition to the shipper, consignees are proper parties to whom a carrier can issue invoices for D+D charges where the consignee has contractual privity with the carrier (§ 541.4). Where a carrier invoices the shipper, they may not also invoice the consignee.

The final rule maintains the 30-day time limit for issuing D+D invoices, running from when the charges were last incurred. Billed parties have 30 days in which to dispute an invoice, and billing parties must attempt to resolve any dispute within a further 30 days, with the proviso that the parties can agree to a longer timeframe.

NVOCs passing through carrier charges are both billing party and billed party on the same shipment, and have an additional 30 days to issue pass-through invoices.  Timelines for passing through customer disputes in respect of those charges and for resolving or attempting to resolve disputes are similarly extended.

Prohibited Practices

Carriers may only bill parties with whom they have a contractual relationship, either the party on whose account the carrier provided the transportation (e.g. the shipper) or the consignee where the consignee has privity, but to no other or third parties (§ 541.4(c)).

Simply listing a party on the bill of lading is not sufficient to establish the “meeting of the minds” that is the foundation of a contractual agreement. Thus, a forwarder acting as agent only and listed as a notify party on a carrier bill of lading that identifies the shipper should not be billed.