Argentina: Customs fines


Published: 2 November 2012

The Situation

Members are at risk of significant fines being imposed should the vessel fail to properly and accurately declare its stores, provisions, fuel and other material on board, upon arrival at an Argentinian port. Members are referred to the Associations' previous advices found here under "Lessons to be learned" : Issue No 8 of June 2010 "Incorrect custom declaration - undeclared items".

When a vessel is cleared in Argentina by the customs authorities on arrival at the first port of call, all spares and stores are required to be declared in the ship's Store List. Lack of declaration or any inaccuracies will constitute "prima facie" an infringement of customs regulations, particularly a breach of section 962 of the Customs Code.

The Customs Code provides in Art 962, for fines and confiscation of goods found in infringement when:

  • goods are hidden
  • goods are situated at places reserved for crew access
  • when the goods are in hands of a crewmember and
  • when the goods had not been opportunely declared before the customs service

Fines can amount to hundreds of thousands of USD, especially in cases concerning the mis-declaration of carried bunker fuel and lube-oil.

Items that need to be declared are listed in general terms under section 507 of the Customs Code, which reads:


They are ''ship's store list'' the catering supplies and supplies of the vessel , fuel, spare parts, gear, utensils, groceries and other merchandise being on board the vessel for their own consumption and for its crew and passengers.


This is quite a wide definition and can include the vessels TV, video recorder, PC, etc. or 'miscellaneous' stores such as paint on board the vessel.


Members are recommended to ensure that declarations are complete and accurate before arrival in order to avoid potential delays, detentions and fines.

In particular, care must be taken not to give any declaration that - even inadvertently - appear to over-declare or otherwise "duplicate" the items carried on board. If a "shortage" is found, a fine may be imposed.

Such may occur for instance where the vessel declared [x] litres of paint and then attaches a purchase order or receipt for the paint, which also states that quantity. This may give the appearance that twice the actual carried amount is on board the vessel. Quantities should therefore be carefully stated, and only once.

The following is an example summary from an agent as regards the declarations that should be presented to Customs House at the inward clearance (IMO forms are accepted):

  • Ship's electronic equipments: TV sets, DVD systems, CDs & DVDs, Video players, Video tapes, Computer sets, Printers and scanners, Fax and photocopy machines, Software, Cameras, Microwave, Refrigerator, Washing machine, Coffee machine, Smoke signals, Flares, Portable VHF, etc.
  • Provisions list: Fresh and frozen food, Vegetables, Fruits, Coffee, Flour, Meat, etc.
  • Bunkers and lubricants: Fuel oil, Marine diesel oil, Fresh water in metric tons; Lubricants (engine-cylinder-deck) in liters.
  • Paints, solvents, thinner: Quantities in liters.
  • Chemical products: Including Acetylene and oxygen bottles (both full and empty ones).
  • Full set of stores inventory and spare parts: Deck, Engine, Accommodation; including Spare propeller, Anchor and shackles, Wire ropes (new and old), Containers, Tools and lashing materials.
  • Pharmaceuticals and medical stores
  • Bonded stores: Cigarettes in sticks, Alcoholic and soft drinks, etc.
  • Crew's personnal effects: Signed by each crewmember, including all electronics that belongs to them, cigarettes, drinks and every other personal effect.
  • Arms / Ammunitions / Animals / Cargo in transit / Dangerous cargo list and others
  • Last ten ports of call list
  • NIL list

Members trading to Argentina should ensure that the vessel is prepared in advance to meet the local legal requirements in this regard, and the ship's agent should assist in this process - particularly to check a draft declaration before it is made in order to counter-check against possible mistakes that could result in penalties.

If in doubt members should contact local correspondents and the Association in advance of arrival in order to resolve issues before they result in an infringement and a fine.

Prepared with assistance from Pandi Liquidadores S.R.L.