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Vessels calling at Senegalese ports, particularly Dakar, continue to face customs fines and the amounts of such fines have recently increased substantially.

Gard has previously highlighted the importance of accurate customs declarations when trading to Senegal. In January 2017 we learned that even lube oil considered to be “in use”, e.g. in the engine sump tank, the hydraulic system pressure tank for windlass and winches, stern tube, etc. should be declared in the stores list. In December 2017 we were further advised that failure to declare a vessel's quantity of fire extinguishing agents, such as CO2 and foam, may be considered an infringement of the Senegalese Customs Code and may incur fines.

In a warning of 11 January 2021, our local correspondents, BUDD, emphasises that the situation in the port of Dakar has now become progressively more difficult, that the grounds on which fines are levied have become increasingly diverse and the amounts of the fines themselves have increased substantially. In one case, the initial fine demanded was for one million US dollars and demands for hundreds of thousands of dollars are becoming commonplace, says BUDD.

Now more than ever is it therefore important that Masters of ships calling at the port of Dakar are well informed about the situation. Master must ensure that seafarers’ immigration documents are accurate and up to date and also be vigilant and pay close attention when completing the formal customs documents. Any errors, omissions and/or discrepancies in documents related to ship’s stores, personal effects, goods in transit or for transshipment, including excess in cargo discharged, seafarers’ books, etc. are likely to result in substantial fines. 

Recommendations

An overview of BUDD’s detailed recommendations in order to avoid customs fines or other fines when calling at the port of Dakar, as well as some insight into the Senegalese customs requirements, is available in its Newsletter of 11 January 2021. We recommend that ship operators forward a copy of the Newsletter to all ships likely to call at Senegalese ports.

In summary, BUDD advises Masters of ships destined for Senegalese ports, and the port of Dakar in particular, to:

  • Contact the ship’s local agent well in advance of arrival to ascertain the customs and immigration regulations in force in Senegal at that given time and the documentation required.
  • Prepare all required documents in advance, before arriving in port, and ensure that all is in order.
  • Check that all consumables on board, including food, paint, chemicals, crew personal effects, bunkers and lube oil, fire extinguishing medium, etc. have been accurately listed in the proper declaration form. The accuracy of all numbers remains crucial!
  • Keep all the required documents and declarations in one single file and ask the agent to verify the documents before remittance to the authorities. Note that it may be necessary to delay the lowering of the gangway to prevent authority representatives from coming onboard until all documents have been thoroughly filled out and carefully checked.
  • Meet with the authority representatives in person and ensure that the agent is present onboard at the time when the representatives board the ship.

In case of any doubt, e.g. if asked to sign an unfamiliar document, ask for the agent’s and/or the P&I correspondent's assistance.

We are greateful to BUDD for providing the above information.