International Shipping charges generally cover not only the cost for shipping overseas but also cover a certain number of days in which the goods are unloaded from the carrier. The time at which the goods remain at the carrier’s premises prior to the importers pick-up is known as free time. However when goods exceed their time at the carrier’s premises they are charged a daily fee known as demurrage or storage until picked up or delivered to Customs general order warehouse. The additional costs are designed to speed up the removal of goods and prevent a backlog of goods being held by the carrier; space = money for carriers.
Customs regulations require that a carrier move goods in what is called General Order when a shipment has been laying around for a certain amount of time and has not been released or entry filed for it. Depending on the port the length that goods stay at the port before being moved to General order vary. General Order may be be avoided by making a warehouse entry or sending the goods to a foreign trade zone.
If an importer suspects delays it is important to evaluate which method (storage/demurrage, general order, FTZ) will cut costs and get the goods to the proper person/entity as soon as possible.