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  • Writer's pictureJodie

Difference between Demurrage and Detention

When it comes to shipping goods by sea, demurrage and detention are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different things. In this article, we'll explore the difference between demurrage and detention. Also, why it's important to understand these terms if you're involved in the shipping industry.


Demurrage is the cost of keeping a container in the port beyond the agreed-upon time limit. Demurrage charges are typically assessed on a per-day basis, and can add up quickly if container is not taken out from the port in a timely manner. The purpose of demurrage charges is to encourage timely and efficient cargo handling, and to prevent containers or cargo from occupying valuable space in a port for extended periods of time. Demurrage charges are typically the responsibility of the cargo owner or consignee, and can vary depending on the size and value of the cargo, as well as the port and carrier involved. Detention

Detention, on the other hand, is a charge that's applied when a container is held beyond the agreed-upon time limit for return to the carrier (usually the designated depots). Detention charges are assessed on a per-day basis, and can also add up quickly if cargo is not returned to the carrier in a timely manner.

The purpose of detention charges is to encourage the prompt return of containers to the carrier, so that the carrier can make the container or cargo available for use by other customers. Similarly, detention charges are the responsibility of the consignee.

In conclusion, understanding the difference between demurrage and detention is important to help you avoid costly charges and ensure timely and efficient cargo handling. In Malaysia, different shipping lines have different demurrage and detention charges. It also depends how many days of free period you are getting. For shipments with large number of containers, we always advise consignee to apply for long period of free days. It is especially important to have more demurrage days if you foresee problems in customs clearance or if your shipment involves import permits or licenses. We as your freight forwarder in Malaysia can offer advice pertaining to your shipments, whether it's coming in via Port Klang, Penang Port or Johor Port. There are many factors to take into consideration, including the planning of your containers delivery. If you need assistance in areas of demurrage and detention, kindly reach out to Multi-Trans at or drop us a WhatsApp message at +6019-387 3128.

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