There are various container movements that happen once a container has arrived at the destination port. One of the most important moves is called a container ‘gate out’. 

A container gate out happens when the trucker picks up the laden container from the port of discharge and exits the terminal. The containers are then delivered to the consignee for receiving and unloading. 

In this article we will take a closer look at container gate-out, how the trucker gates out a container and why it’s important to gate out containers in a timely manner.

When Is a Container Gated Out?

A container only gates out at the port of discharge after the shipment has arrived and several other activities have been completed from the carrier or freight forwarder. 

Before the vessel arrives at the destination, the consignee would have already received a pre-alert and an arrival notice. This will allow the consignee to assign a trucker to move the containers out of the port after they have been unloaded from the vessel.

After a container has been successfully discharged from the vessel, the import clearance has been successfully completed and the necessary payments have been made, the trucker can pick the container up from the port yard. 

The official gate out of a container occurs, once it has passed the terminal gate and has exited the port facility and is on it’s way to the consignee. 

Who Is Responsible For Gating Out a Container?

The cargo owner has the responsibility to ensure that the containers are gated out. The cargo owner is typically the shipper or consignee, depending on the freight term. 

It’s common for either party to engage a trucking company to render this service to them and pick the container up from the port. If this task has been subcontracted to a trucker, they are responsible for gating out the container from the port.

How Is a Container Gated Out?

Generally speaking, once a vessel discharges the containers they are shunted to a temporary container yard, where a specialized port crane loads the containers onto the respective trailer. 

The prime mover with the trailer and container will head towards the exit checkpoint of the terminal, where several container and document inspections are carried out. Take note that different ports may have their individual practices.

The container’s gate-out date and time is then logged into the port’s system after all the inspections have been completed and the trucker physically leaves the exit checkpoint with the laden container.

What Happens After a Container is Gated Out?

Once a container has been gated out of the port, the trucker will deliver it to the delivery address mentioned on the delivery order (D/O). The delivery address is commonly the address where the cargo is received and unloaded. 

Why Is it Important To Gate Out a Container on Time?

Since the majority of the overall shipping time is already completed when the containers arrive at the port of discharge, it may seem that there is no real need to gate containers out in a timely manner.

However, this is not the optimal practice and requesting to move out containers from the port timely can save a lot of time and money. 

Ports do not hold or store containers for free in the port indefinitely and shipping lines also want to have their laden containers returned as soon as possible for a faster turnaround time. Here’s a list of reasons why a timely container gate out is important.

Maintaining the Agreed Shipping Window

The final delivery (also called on-carriage) is the last leg of a shipment. When an importer purchases goods, they would generally want to receive the cargo as soon as possible, as they can form part of further production, require assembly or get sold.

Therefore, it’s important not to needlessly extend the shipping window. It’s always best to ensure that shipments get delivered within the agreed shipping window and to maintain the delivery date as reflected in the shipping documents.

Stopping Destination Port Storage

When an import container arrives at the destination port it is given a number of ‘free’ storage days. The current practice is around 3 to 5 days of free storage, whereby the cargo owner is not required to pay for holding the containers in the port. 

In the event that the containers cannot be gated out within the free days given, a tariff will be charged by the port operator that applies on a daily basis until the container is gated out. Port storage fees are either linear or exponential, depending on the port. 

Take note that storage charges incur even if the shipment has been customs cleared. The only way to stop the port storage timer is to gate out the containers in time.

Stopping Destination Demurrage 

Similar to the port storage fees, ocean carriers give free demurrage days. A destination demurrage fee is charged for keeping a laden container at the port of discharge longer than the agreed free time. This fee is typically charged per day and can also increase exponentially. 

The average demurrage cost per day varies from country to country and depends on the agreement between the cargo owner and the shipping line. The amount of free days is generally about 5 to 15 days. 

Therefore, it’s important to gate out a container in time, as destination demurrage fees may otherwise be applied. The only time it should remain longer in port is when there is congestion at the unloading site and there are still a certain amount of free days left. 

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Andrew Lin

Co-Founder & Writer
at freightcourse

About the Author

Andrew is a multi-business owner with over 12 years of experience in the fields of logistics, trucking, manufacturing, operations, training, and education.

Being the co-founder of freightcourse has given him the ability to pursue his desire to educate others on manufacturing and supply chain topics.