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Port Houston container terminal aerial

Photo courtesy Port Houston

Port Houston Container Dwell Fee Set for February 1 Start

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 920
January 3, 2023

Port Houston is moving ahead with its container dwell fee to help clear terminals of long-dwelling containers and improve cargo fluidity.

The new fee, known as the “Sustained Import Dwell Fee”, comes as Port Houston’s container terminals have experienced record cargo volumes as imports have shifted away from the West Coast to East and Gulf Coast ports.

Port Houston’s Port Commission approved the fee structure in October. The $45 fee will be charged per unit per day to cargo owners for containers lingering eight days or more. Port Houston now says the fee will go into effect beginning on February 1, 2023.

“The Sustained Import Dwell Fee is intended to minimize long-term storage of containers on the terminals and promote fluidity of cargo movement,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director at Port Houston. “We’ve seen during the recent increase in demand that containers sitting on terminals for an extended period of time are a challenge. We are implementing this additional tool to help optimize space at our terminals and keep goods moving to the consumers in our region who need them.”

The U.S. Gulf Coast’s busiest port reported an 11% jump in container volumes in November, bucking a trend of year-over-year declines at other major U.S. ports. Through the first 11 months of 2022, container volumes at Port Houston’s Bayport and Barbours Cut Container Terminals were up 17% over the same period in 2021. November 2022 ranks as Port Houston’s fourth busiest month ever for containers behind September’s 353,525 TEUs, October’s 371,994 TEUs, and August’s 382,842 TEUs.

The new Sustained Import Dwell Fee is in addition to the demurrage charges for loaded import containers. Containers will be on hold until all terminal fees are reconciled.

Another fee, known as the Excessive Import Dwell Fee, was also approved in October and can be implemented by Port Houston’s Executive Director as needed. If implemented, it will take effect following thirty days’ public notice and remain in effect for at least sixty days. For now, the Excessive Import Dwell Fee is not being implemented.

The new dwell fee at Port Houston comes as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach’s container dwell fee program expires later this month after it was never implemented.

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