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Cargo ship loaded with containers close to coast

Advice, Loss Prevention

Senegal: Dakar custom fines

SENEGAL  P&IFRANCE P&I our correspondent in Senegal has provided us with the following information.


We would like to draw the attention of all ship operators calling in Dakar on the fact that the Customs Authorities have over the last weeks shown a regain of interest in the details provided in ships’ declarations of manifests, ship stores and bunkers. Failure to comply with the provisions of the Senegalese Customs Code has resulted in very important fines being levied.
It must be clearly understood that, regardless of the nature of the discrepancy or error made by the Master when filling these declarations, due to the very broad definition made of “smuggling/contraband” by the a.m. Customs Code, any such omission can lead to fines which may reach up to four times the value of the concerned goods.

A specific attention has to be paid to small fishing boats approaching vessels at anchorage and offering to trade local goods such as for example seafood or fish against diesel oil. While the crew may (wrongly) believe that they are far enough from the coast not to be spotted by the authorities, they must be made aware that, in most cases, the very same fishermen having just traded with them head up straight to the Customs Office once the deal is completed, to inform them of such, thus leading to the immediate opening of a smuggling investigation against the concerned vessel.

We therefore highly recommend all Clubs and their Members should inform their Masters and ship’s crews accordingly, instructing them to refuse any attempt made by locals to trade with them or buy something from the vessel, since the import on Senegalese grounds of any good featured onboard a vessel (including but not limited to stationeries, stores diesel oil or paints) without prior proper customs declaration is strictly prohibited and subject to criminal prosecution.

The safest Customs practice we would recommend for a Master arriving in Dakar would be the following one:

– Request in writing from his ship Agent well in advance all latest customs requirements and prepare his Senegalese customs declarations also long before arriving in port;

– Check thoroughly that all consumables featured onboard, including food, paint, stationery, crew personal effects etc. have been accurately listed into the proper declaration form;

– In case of any doubt, ask the vessel’s agent;

– Keep all customs declarations in a specific file to be controlled by the ship agent before their official release to any Customs officer boarding the ship;

– Welcome the Customs officers in person in company of the ship agent when they come on board for formalities;

– Refuse to make any trade with anyone – foreigners or locals – at any stage of the call, including whilst en route to the port.

If for any reason the documentation is not ready by the time the vessel berths, it might be prudent to delay access to the ship by keeping the gangway up after the agent’s boarding, until all declarations are completed, controlled by the Agent and ready to be handed to the Customs Officer.

Masters/Crews should under no circumstance try to enter directly into any sort of “negotiation” with the Customs Officers. They are sworn officers and any attempt to openly bribe them would automatically result in the Master’s imprisonment and the vessel’s detention

But most of all, in case of any Customs-related difficulty, please ensure that Master and Agent contact the local P&I correspondent immediately. Indeed, while such problems can resolve amicably in their early hours, the situation can quickly crystalize administratively past a certain point.


 Member Alert is published by The Swedish Club as a service to members. While the information is believed correct, the Club cannot assume responsibility for completeness or accuracy.