Ukraine: Customs fines - renewed caution


Published: 13 October 2014

The development

Members will be aware of the challenging situation with respect to making successful customs declarations in Ukraine, and thereby avoiding otherwise very significant fines.

The latest information received is that customs in the Nikolaev Sea Port have begun a very rigorous inspection campaign that has already led to vessels being subjected to significant fines.

A particular issue of concern is the sounding of the vessel's bunker tanks, which may see the customs officers conduct a full survey of all bunker and diesel oil on board the vessel during her inward clearance or immediately thereafter.

If the findings show that more fuel is on board than has been declared by the master or the chief engineer then a significant fine, amounting to tens of thousands of USD or more could be impose on the vessel, as well as a possible criminal prosecution for fuel smuggling.

Loss prevention advice

Members are referred to the Association's previous Loss Prevention Advisory 13 January 2014 and the Association would now like to advise further as follows.

Our correspondents believe that although most shipping agents in Ukraine do provide vessels with detailed arrival procedure advice in advance, it may be that the ship's master does not always fully appreciate the significance of having to comply very accurately and strictly with those requirements, especially when it comes to the details of the customs declaration.

The consequence of failing to give these matters the attention they require is likely to be a significant fine, which cannot usually be argued with at that time. A vessel will usually have to pay the full amount of the fine in to court before it is released and then the matter would have to go through the process of local legal action if the intention is to appeal the fine.

The only way this risk can be mitigated against is by adhering very closely to the shipping agent's advice, which should be detailed, and to prepare as comprehensive a pre-arrival customs declaration as possible, with close attention paid to the full quantity of all fuel and lubes on board.

Should a vessel not receive a detailed set of arrival instructions from the local shipping agent, find it is subjected to more than a cursory customs inspection, or otherwise be concerned about the call at a Ukrainian port, the master should not hesitate to contact the Association's local correspondents for immediate assistance.

Should members have further queries, they are asked to contact the Association.

The Association is grateful to its correspondents DIAS for their continued contribution to the Club's and its members' information on Ukraine and related developments.