Maritime import: understanding damage and dirt in the container!

Maritime import: understanding damage and dirt in the container!

In the field of maritime imports, care for cargo and the transport process is fundamental. Often, for certain reasons, damage can occur, which compromises the integrity of the cargo and service.

According to maritime law, damage is defined by any harm caused to the cargo or the ship during the journey, that is, between loading and unloading.

According to Law No. 6,288, in case of signs of damage or any violation, the Lack of Damage Statement (TFA) and the Notice of Receipt of Cargo are the documents containing the main information on the status of the container and cargo.

However, these documents do not have a category standard when it comes to damage. For these and other reasons, it is important that you know exactly what is characterized as damage and also how to avoid this type of problem. Continue reading and learn more!

What is damage in maritime import and what are its categories?

Damage present in maritime imports can be divided into two main categories.

Gross or common damage

When cargo suffers accidents or goes through situations that endanger the ship and crew, it may end up suffering profound damage. In such cases, the cargo will also suffer damage.

For example, if cargo becomes wet with seawater in an attempt to extinguish a fire or explosive charges need to be thrown overboard, the expenses will be borne by all involved and benefited.

Therefore, the carrier must bear the losses, as the damage was voluntary and caused by the need for survival or physical maintenance of the crew and the vessel itself.

When a case of gross damage is declared, each owner of the cargo is charged, usually from 2% to 7% of the sum of the cost of the goods and freight.

These extraordinary expenses are covered by international transportation insurance, in accordance  with the York-Antwerp Rules, created in order to standardize transport contracts and the resolutions of problems generated by the gross damage.

It is essential, therefore, that the importer never carries out an import without contracting an international transport insurance policy.

Simple or specific damage

In this case, the malfunction is caused by situations where human action was not the cause of the damage. Storms, high winds, and damage caused by the crew (without theft) are some of the most common scenarios of this event.

So-called simple damage refers exclusively to damage to the cargo, not to the crew or ship. In the case of a simple breakdown, compensation for the damage shall be borne by the owner of the cargo or the insurer responsible.

What is the letter of protest and what is its importance?

In the event of damage during the maritime import process, there are certain duties to be performed by the insured party to make sure that their rights will be intact.

After the issuance of the TFA, depending on the situation, inspections and sending a letter of protest may be required by the insurers.

When the damage is located, it is essential that the sender writes a letter of protest. This document will have the role of informing the carrier that the cargo has not arrived as agreed and that legal measures should be taken.

The letter of protest must be sent within 10 days of receipt of the order.

Another detail of this document is that there is no protocol for its submission. Therefore, it can be sent by email, mail and even on the border of the order receipt document itself.

The data to be included in the letter are consignee/importer data,  commercial invoice data and other general shipping information.

In accordance with article 754 of the Civil Code, the letter of protest is a vital document to establish the process after damage.

In addition to sending the letter, it is necessary to inform the insurers of the damage immediately, so that they contact commissioners and analysts to verify the problem.

How to avoid damage and dirt in the cargo?

It is interesting to know how to avoid a scenario of damage or dirt that will compromise the integrity of the container and its cargo. Therefore, we are presenting some basic information to help with cleaning and protection when transporting cargo in containers.

Container cleaning

Container cleaning

Generally focused on NOR Containers, cleaning, deodorization and decontamination is required for use in food shipments, chemicals etc.

One suggestion is to sweep the container inside with a brush suitable for removing waste, dust, earth, sand etc. It is important not to leave any liquid on the surface of the container, so that it does not cause oxidation or rust.

Precautions with the flooring

It is important to avoid oil stains or nails on the floor, which are typically used to secure the cargo to the container.

These objects are potentially hazardous, can cause damage to future loads that will be allocated in space and need to be removed prior to return.

Rubber seals

The seals end up wearing out over time, so it is important to be careful to observe them when making any movement of the container and request the necessary replacements whenever necessary.

In addition, it is essential to pay extra attention when there is stuffing to avoid contact and damage to the rubber.


Containers end up wearing out over time and with contact with liquids.

Rust is a natural process in this environment, which must be avoided through basic care and properly reported by importers when present in the equipment.

Therefore, it is very important to make reservations in the documents when collecting the container. This is to avoid problems in the return.

Crushing, cuts, holes, scratches etc.

Generally caused by the use of forklifts, these are necessary points to be included in the previous inspection when using the container. You should be extra careful when it comes to the NOR Container.

It is essential to note that if the container is returned with any damage not found in the document or contract, a repair and/or cleaning fee will be charged for the equipment.


We have talked about what kind of damage exists, what the letter of protest is, and we also indicate some tips to avoid damage and dirt in the container.

Remember that containers are collected at the port of origin in good condition for use and must be returned under the same conditions at the port of destination. The document attesting the conditions that containers are made available and delivered is called EIR (Equipment Interchange Receipt).

It is the responsibility (and right) of the exporter to inspect the container and make reservations in the EIR upon collection, and may even refuse them, avoiding problems in the return of the container at the port of destination by the importer. These responsibilities are provided for in the clauses on the back of the bills of lading (BL).

By relying on a qualified logistics operator, it will not only analyze the best container option to carry out its import, but will also act effectively in the event of damage.

If you have any questions about the matter, please contact us! If you want to carry out a maritime import with attention to all the most relevant points, click and request a freight quotation now!

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