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Vessel Clearance

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Vessel Clearance

A term referring to the Customs admittance or departure procedures which a vessel must undergo on each voyage upon first entering and last exiting a port or other designated area within the Customs territory of each nation it visits. A commercial vessel clearance typically includes two separate procedures: (1) admittance by the Customs authorities of the vessel itself, including its fuel, ship’s stores and crew baggage, for which a manifest or declaration must be provided, and (2) turn-over to the Customs authorities of the vessel manifest listing all cargo and passengers on-board, including cargo/passengers for discharge (or boarding) in the subject country as well as “through” cargo and passengers which will remain on-board and/or depart with the vessel. Depending upon the particular Customs laws and practices of a country, the nationality of the vessel and/or carrier, the previous experience with the vessel or carrier, and/or any special procedures or prerogatives granted to the vessel, the vessel and/or the carrier may be required to provide Customs authorities with a vessel surety bond or other means of assuring compliance with local laws and financial responsibility for penalties and other enforcement measures. Until the vessel has presented its manifest, cleared Customs and been given permission to discharge, the vessel must refrain from unloading, and in some cases may not even berth. Also, a vessel may not depart the last port of call in a country without Customs authorization to do so.