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No lingering! Los Angeles and Long Beach to issue fines for containers that overstay their welcome

New regulations to try and get boxes moving out of America’s main maritime gateways are coming in thick and fast now that president Joe Biden along with California governor, Gavin Newsom, have trained their sights on the mountains of containers piling up at docks at Long Beach and Los Angeles. How successful the new measures will be in resolving the US’s chronic supply chain problems remains to be seen however.

The latest initiative, announced yesterday, will see both ports fine companies whose containers linger too long at the terminals.

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach said in a statement that arriving containers scheduled to be moved by trucks will be allowed to stay for nine days before fines start accruing. Containers set to move by rail can stay at the ports for three days.

After that, ocean carriers will be charged $100 per container, increasing in $100 increments per container per day, the statement said. The new rules will go into effect November 1.

“The terminals are running out of space, and this will make room for the containers sitting on those ships at anchor,” Port of Long Beach executive director Mario Cordero said in the statement.

The Biden administration has recently allowed the port complex to operate 24 hours a day to try to get goods unloaded and out to consumers, but the move has received limited take-up to date.

Yesterday, Splash reported that the port of Long Beach has eased restrictions on stacking containers for three months whereby stacks four containers high will be allowed on private property instead of the normal two.

Box dwell time at Long Beach and neighbouring Los Angeles rose to a record 5.94 days in September, according to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, more than twice its pre-pandemic normal.

New data from Clarkson Research Services shows that across the US west coast a total of 870,000 teu were at port or waiting for berth space to open up as of last Thursday, almost three times the 2016-19 average of 320,000 teu.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. It is amazing that 24/7 operations were not a norm in these ports. They are elsewhere and it seems odd that it took an executive decision to move things.

    1. Nothing will change because of an ‘executive decision’.
      The West Coast Longshore labor union is very powerful and has been on a slowdown for at least 1.5 years

  2. What is so hard about designating 2-3 docks as returns and the rest as where they unload? If they get these empties out of the way, it will free up some space to get more ships unloaded.
    24/7 is not going to make a difference when you have overpaid crane operators who works at their own pace with no incentive to move any faster. Or when you have a limited number of chassis and they are sitting with empties on them. Or you have appointments that go unfilled.
    Come on people! Do a Kaizen event. Bring in Deloitte. Obviously a fresh set of eyes needs to be on this. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. In the meantime, I am renting jetski’s for Christmas shoppers to go from cargo ship to cargo ship to get their shopping done. 🙂

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