BIMCO's position on "smuggling" has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.


The occasional unwitting involvement of merchant ships with smuggling of drugs, weapons, wildlife and other goods can constitute a serious problem to the involved seafarers and the shipowner. Although there is excellent cooperation and communication between the shipping industry, national custom/border control authorities and the World Customs Organization, there have been instances where innocent seafarers and companies have been held responsible for illegal goods placed on board their ships. For involved shipowners, detention of ships and arrest of crews are not uncommon and the potential for large fines and penalties is very real.

BIMCO’s position

  • Firm and prompt action should be taken by states against those using merchant ships for smuggling purposes.
  • Confiscation of ships used for drug smuggling cannot be accepted, unless a fair trial finds the shipowner guilty of direct involvement in the crime that led to detention of the ship.
  • Campaigns to raise the awareness to reduce and prevent smuggling are supported by BIMCO, such as the UK Wildlife Transport Task Force (UKWTTF).
  • Based on a shared interest, shipowners, operators, charterers and other industry stakeholders should co-operate in combating all elements of smuggling.
  • Custom authorities should reward shipowners, operators and crew, who proactively cooperate to prevent and deter drug smuggling.  Rewards could include priority access to flexible customs processes, minimising any delays caused by investigations and mitigating of statutory fines.
  • Shipowners are encouraged to exercise the highest degree of care and diligence in preventing contraband such as drugs, weapons, and wildlife from being placed on board and to assist and guide shipowners, customs authorities should clearly describe the preventative measures necessary to this end.


Rasmus Nord Jorgensen
in Copenhagen, DK

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