Lebanon: Customs Fines - Liquid Cargoes


Published: 15 October 2012

Members have reported continued challenges in respect of vessels being subjected to substantial customs fines in Lebanon for alleged shortages of liquid bulk cargoes. With the assistance of Skuld Correspondent Maurice G. Mouracade & Co., the Association can provide the following update.

On occasion local practice has been that the Lebanese Customs Authorities would not authorize a vessel to discharge her cargo unless a letter of undertaking had been signed over to them by the ship's agents prior to ship's arrival/discharge confirming that any Customs fines would be settled by them (the Agent) in due course, on behalf of the vessel. Where a shortage/overage exceeding the Customs' allowance is ascertained, following the official shore tanks' measurements, a fine will be imposed upon the Shipowner according to the applicable rates. The ship's local agents may thus need to ask for counter security from the Shipowner prior to the ship's sailing.

In respect of the alleged shortage, the Lebanese Customs will only take into consideration the shore tanks' measurements figures as calculated and reported by the inspectors appointed by the Lebanese Ministry of Energy & Waters, who normally carry out their assignments autonomously under Customs' control.

At present fines are levied by the Customs after granting the following allowances:

0.7% for shortlanded Gasoline

0.5% for shortlanded Jet A1

0.4% for shortlanded Gasoil / Diesel Oil

0.3% for shortlanded Fuel Oil

2% for any overlanding

Since March 2012 Gasoil and Diesel oil have become exempted from VAT, hence any shortage exceeding the 0.4% customs allowance will be subject to a lump sum Customs' fine in the amount of LBP 100,000.- (i.e. USD 67).

With regard to Fuel Oil destined to Government Corporations / Entities : Electricité du Liban (EDL) / Ministry of Energy and Water / Tripoli Oil Installations and Zahrani Oil Installations, no customs fine should be levied as these Government Concerns are meant to pay the VAT (no Customs' dues charged) on the full consignment as declared in the manifest (B/L figure) presented to the Customs and not according to the shore tanks' measurements. This is different from the case for the private sector : who will have to pay the customs' dues and/or VAT on the actual quantity of cargo discharged/received according to the shore tanks' measurements performed by the Ministry of Energy & Waters' surveyor.

The risk of being fined increases if a discrepancy (shore over ship) exists at load port, even though this may be within the limits generally considered to be acceptable for the measurement of a bulk liquid cargo, and the Bills of lading have been issued with a load port quantity figure which is higher than the ship's figures.


The Association recommends that the Master pays particular attention to the quantity / volume of cargo declared and laden prior to signing the Bills of Lading, this figure should be as accurate as possible. If an issue arises on loading, contacting the local Correspondent for assistance would be prudent. It is also recommended that Shipowners should ensure that the charterparty includes suitable clauses that allocate the risk of fines, between the Owner and the Charterers.

The Association's Correspondents recommend the appointment of a Surveyor at the discharge Port to act on Owners' behalf (particularly for tankers carrying gasoline), as this attendance can certainly be of help when performing joint shore tanks' measurements. The presence will assist in ensuring the official survey is undertaken more carefully, and in case of error or even doubt then the P&I surveyor acting on owners' behalf can seek to insist on repeating the measurements/ calculations before the official results are issued by the official surveyor.