How frustrating is it when the shipping line/carrier rejects an IMO document because such information as the carrier, port of loading, port of discharge, vessel name, etc., is handwritten? Lately, this is what we have been hearing from our clients.  

I recently provided a repackaging service for a shipment of dangerous goods (UN3077) going by ocean freight. It was 20 supersacks (13H4 IBCs). I created the IMO declaration leaving a few sections blank for the freight forwarder to complete once he knew the details of the booking.  

I got an email from the freight forwarder a couple of days later saying the shipping line is not accepting the IMO declaration because he handwrote some of the information. I reviewed the partial handwritten declaration; it was legible and indelible. I advised him that nothing in the IMDG Regulations stipulates that the declaration can’t be handwritten, and this is a very silly reason to reject the declaration. He agreed with me and decided to escalate the matter. I am glad he did because most people would just accept the rejection and re-do the declaration.  

After some email exchanges, it turned out that the shipping line did accept partial handwritten IMO declaration as they should have right from the beginning. We understand declarations will be rejected if there are errors on the declaration but to reject because a document is handwritten is completely ridiculous. Not only is the shipment delayed, but what a complete waste of time for everyone involved, including the shipping line agents.  

Folks, the moral of the story; ask for clarification on rejections that don’t make sense. And most importantly, ask carriers to share the particular section of the applicable regulation that states the reason for rejection. Hopefully, this way, both shippers and carriers are learning what the actual rules and regulations are rather than the “This is the way we have always done it.” rule.  

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Racheal Mani

Racheal Mani

Racheal Mani, based out in our Delta, B.C. office, has over 12 years of experience working under different auspices of federal, provincial, and municipal regulatory framework. She specializes in TDG Clear Language, IATA, IMDG, and WHMIS 2015 training. Racheal’s extensive knowledge in the dangerous goods industry is driven from her hands-on experience from packaging of dangerous goods for all modes of transport and her consistent liaison with ICC clients to ensure dangerous goods consignments meet the applicable regulatory requirements prior to transport.