Algeria: Strict new rules for car imports

Port news

Published: 17 April 2015

The Ministry of Industry in Algeria has issued a new law that will impact the shipment of cars to this country. This is part of an increasing trend of quality control, and while this would seem to be a problem for the shippers and receivers, it impacts on carrying vessels, too.

A car carrier vessel at anchorage (Source: Skuld)

The development

The Ministry of Industry in Algeria has issued a new law which will require cars imported into the country to comply with the "bill of specifications" issued by this ministry.

It will be important to ensure that any cars shipped to Algeria do comply, as otherwise they may not be discharged.

Specifically our correspondents advise as follows:


The Ministerial Decree fixing the specifications relating to the exercise terms and conditions for new car dealership business was signed by the Minister of Industry and Mines, March 23, 2015, pursuant the provisions of Executive Order No. 15-58 of 8 February 2015 concerning the conditions and procedures for exercising the activity of new car dealers.

The text, includes new regulations focused on strict safety standards set by a new specification.

The Decree states that "in addition to the safety aspect, the new requirements reinforce consumer rights, introduce devices according to safety standards for road users and market regulation through greater transparency in the interests of consumers and the economy. "

Please note that the necessary safety devices require particular that vehicles are equipped with anti-lock wheel ABS, electronic stability control (ESC, ESP), a speed limiting device and / or cruise control in plus front and side airbags and other safety equipment.


This would appear to mean that should cars brought to Algeria not be in compliance with the new rules, then they will not be discharged and hence remain on the vessel which could then find itself embroiled in a dispute over the quality and specifications of the vehicles it carries (matters over which the vessel will have no control or influence). This could lead to protracted disputes, and claims, which the vessel may need to deal with in the first instance. At the very least the vessel may find itself carrying the cars to an alternate destination, even possibly back to their point of origin.

Complying with trade regulations

It is an increasing trend that national authorities impose ever more regulations on cargoes being shipped to their countries, with more detailed specifications as to what is and is not permissible. Where these are breached, the cargo may at times be rejected in full.

Vessels have little to no control over the quality of the cargo on board (absent some significant vessel side fault in the carriage) and no control at all over the cargo specifications, and whether these meet any underlying sale contract terms or indeed any national laws and regulations.

Yet vessels can be on the front line when disputes occur about such matters.

Vessels may find themselves subjected to allegations and claims in respect of issues over which they have no control, and even be forced to provide security and handle claims, despite the fact that the responsibility may lie at the end of the charter and sale contract chain with the actual shipper / seller of the cargo. It then becomes a task to seek recourse, with all of the challenges that litigation and counterparty / credit risk bring.

It is therefore important, if certain trade regulation requirements are in place, that vessels seek to have all requisite cargo documentation provided prior to shipment so that it is clear the consigned cargo will find acceptance at the discharge port. It may be necessary to either seek specific advance notification by way of express charter terms, or at least apportion responsibility for the same clearly down the charter chain. The kind of information and documents that may be necessary go beyond export and import licenses, and will increasingly feature additional regulatory requirements as countries tighten up on rules as to what kind of cargoes (and to what specification) they will permit to be brought in.

It is also important to watch out for requests to enter information on bills of lading which goes beyond the kind of information that the vessel could check and vet. Particularly representations as to specific, and even scientific, information about cargo is problematic as the vessel may not know whether the cargo does indeed have these properties and has no reasonable means to verify the same. Yet, in the hands of a third party receiver the bill of lading - and any representations contained therein - may become conclusive evidence of the cargo as shipped and create liability and other risk exposure for the vessel should it be alleged that the cargo does not in fact meet these specifications.

Smart contracting in shipping requires a detailed understanding of the cargoes to be carried and how the risks they present can be successfully managed.

The alternative is to risk unforeseen and difficult surprises, which may come with a hefty cost.

For vessel specific enquiries, members are asked to contact their usual Skuld business unit.

The Association is grateful to Neffous Shipping & Consulting in Algeria for their contribution to this update.