Detention and Demurrage

Detention and Demurrage Dispute Resolution Guidance

As a reminder, CMA CGM policy allows for submission of disputes related to detention and/or demurrage by a party to the relevant bill of lading or a relevant motor carrier. Disputes should be submitted when an invoice is believed to be calculated incorrectly for reasons such as:

  1. incorrect free time or rates/terms being applied,
  2. situations where a Merchant, as defined by CMA CGM’s bill of lading terms and conditions, is unable to remove or return container(s) due to factors entirely beyond its control**.

If you have received an invoice for detention and/or demurrage for charges assessed in the U.S. and you believe the charges are incorrect, please contact:usa.disputes@usa.cma-cgm.com.

For questions related to free time, an explanation of charges, or other matters relating to detention and/or demurrage, please contact our Client Solutions team or your designated customer service contact.

For U.S. imports, please contact usa.impcsv@usa.cma-cgm.com or (877) 556-6308 Opt 2

For U.S. exports, please contact usa.clientsolutions@usa.cma-cgm.com or (877) 556-6308 Opt 1

When submitting a dispute, please ensure the following is included:

  • A fully completed dispute registration form. This form is attached below for ease of reference.

    Dispute Registration form

  • Bill of lading number
  • Invoice number
  • A detailed description of the charges being disputed and the reason for the dispute
  • All relevant backup documentation to support the dispute

Proper relevant backup documentation, while dependent on the facts of each case, may include the following:

  • Interchange Receipts
  • Email backup: Evidencing that CMA CGM was notified regarding empty return issues, in attempt resolve any concerns, evidencing any alleged delays and evidencing CMA CGM’s written agreement to terms that vary from what was invoiced, including but not limited to any last free day extension or free time different than what was invoiced.
  • Documentation showing empty restrictions or dual move requirements at the relevant terminal or rail location.
  • Documentation evidencing proof of delivery (“POD”) for relevant carrier haulage moves
  • Documentation evidencing changes in port cutoff dates that impacted feasibility to return a container within free time.
  • Screenshots of websites showing no appointment availability, including clear date and time data evidencing when the screenshot was taken.

For ease of reference, examples of relevant documentation for certain types of common disputes are as follows:

  • Export Disputes: Dated Vessel Delay announcement + Updated Booking confirmation with new cut-off date
  • Incorrect free time and/or rates Disputes: documentation evidencing the relevant contractual terms.
  • Disputes based on incorrect activity dates, such as an empty container being returned or picked up on a date that varies from CMA CGM’s records: Copy of relevant interchange receipt.
  • CMA CGM incorrect information: Copy of relevant written communication between Merchant and CMA CGM evidencing the alleged incorrect information.
  • Lack of appointment to return empty container: Copy of communication with appropriate CMA CGM Equipment Team, as identified by the contact list available below. The date of the communication should clearly reflect when Merchant and/or motor carrier requested assistance in identifying a solution for allowing return of empty container(s), and should be accompanied by screenshots evidencing lack of appointment availability. **

** Please note CMA CGM deems attempts to make an appointment within a reasonable period prior to the end of free time as within the Merchant and/or motor carrier’s control. Please note we will review how you are leveraging your supply chain to ensure the containers pulled first are the containers first returned.

Our goal is to provide resolution of your dispute as quickly as possible. Please note that all disputes must be raised within 60 days of invoice generation.

Contact Us



Client Solutions

US Imports


(877) 556-6308 Opt 2

US Exports


(877) 556-6308 Opt 1

Equipment Team Contacts

United States

Dry Equipment – US East Coast Region

Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Buffalo, New York, Norfolk, Baltimore, Richmond, Front Royal, Dillon, Charleston, Savannah, Boston, Greer, Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, Portland ME, Memphis, Nashville


(877) 556-6308 Opt 4, Opt 1

Dry Equipment - US Midwest Region

Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, Cincinnati, Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Omaha, Louisville


(877) 556-6308 Opt 4, Opt 2

Dry Equipment - US Gulf Region

Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Mobile, Santa Teresa, New Orleans


(877) 556-6308 Opt 4, Opt 3

Dry Equipment - US West Coast Region

Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, Portland OR, Salt Lake City, Denver


(877) 556-6308 Opt 4, Opt 4

Specialized Equipment (Reefer, Flat Rack, Open Top, Genset)

All Locations


(877) 556-6308 Opt 4, Opt 5


Dry Equipment– All Locations


(514) 908-7866 Opt 1

Specialized Equipment (Reefer, Flat Rack, Open Top, Genset) – All Locations


(514) 908-7866 Opt 2


Click here to view FAQs.


Detention & Demurrage: Charges are applicable for shipments where Merchant exceeds the standard free time applicable for either the import or export cycle.

Demurrage: Charges the Merchant is responsible for when equipment is kept beyond free time inside the terminal or relevant container yard. In the U.S. demurrage generally includes storage costs. Applicable to all containers that remain at the terminal or relevant container/rail yard longer than the agreed free time.

Detention: The charge the Merchant pays for detaining carrier’s equipment outside the terminal or relevant container yard longer than the agreed free time. Applicable throughout the duration of Merchant’s possession of CMA CGM container(s) in its custody, and until a container is safely returned to CMA CGM.

Free time: The period of time offered by the Carrier to the Merchant free of charge, covering demurrage period or detention periods, beyond which additional charges such as, but not limited to demurrage and detention charges, will be due to the Carrier. In case of booking cancellation, no free time is applicable.

Storage Costs: Those costs related but not limited to quay rent, charged to both Carrier's equipment and shipper's equipment for containers staying on ground. In the United States port/terminal storage costs are generally included in demurrage.

Reefer Services: These services include power supply and monitoring for refrigerated containers. Generally included with demurrage costs unless otherwise noted in CMA CGM’s tariffs.

Merchant: A party responsible for payment of demurrage and detention charges pursuant to CMA CGM’s bill of lading terms and conditions. The term “Merchant” includes the Shipper, Holder, Consignee, Receiver of the Goods, or any Person owning or entitled to the possession of the Goods or of the Bill of Lading or anyone acting on behalf of any such Persons.

Merchant bears full responsibility for customs clearance and all local customs requirements related to its cargo. Delays attributable to issues related to customs clearance, including but not limited to demurrage and/or detention charges accrued due to customs inspections or holds, are the responsibility of Merchant, as per CMA CGM bill of lading terms and conditions, Term No. 26. A full copy of CMA CGM’s bill of lading terms and conditions may be found here.