Dealing With Goods Abandoned at Ports, Ignacio Rodríguez

International Law Office ha publicado el Sexto Capítulo de la serie de publicaciones realizadas por SAN SIMÓN & DUCH.

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The Community Customs Code states that the ‘abandonment’ of goods must be carried out in accordance with national provisions and must not cause harm to public funds. Abandonment may be either express or implied. Express abandonment occurs when the interested party resigns its goods through a letter sent to the administrator of Customs, while tacit abandonment occurs when the carrier leaves the burden on Customs by decision of the consignee. This update examines how ports should deal with abandoned goods.

Failure to remove containers and goods from port facilities

In cases where abandoned goods remain in port without being removing, the Navigation Act provides as follows:

  • Customs must contact the consignee of the goods or its freight forwarder or customs agent, if known, in order to take charge of the container or goods. It must also request authorisation if it wishes to empty the container.
  • The act requires Customs to impose a deposit on the carrier of goods transported but not received to cover delays and other expenses incurred by transport.
  • Article 512 of the act allows for a notarial record of deposit and sale of goods where the recipient does not remove the goods transported.
  • Customs can then file an official court request for the deposit and sale at public auction.

Goods held by ports

The Police Regulations, Rules and Service Ports applies to all ports in Spain. Among other things, the regulation governs the treatment of goods abandoned in port service areas.

Article 49 of the regulation sets out the following guidelines:

  • Goods abandoned by their owners in a service area will be seized by the port authority.
  • Customs must publish an edict in the Official Gazette of the province where the port authority is situated, giving the owner or consignee of the goods 15 days to claim and pay existing debts.
  • If no payment is made by the deadline, a sale at public auction proceedings will proceed following an announcement in the Official Gazette.
  • Taxes and other expenses are deducted from the proceeds of the sale, and the rest of the money is retained by the port authority for one year in case any party can demonstrate its right to the abandoned goods.
  • After one year, no claims can be brought against the port authority.

For further information on this topic please contact Ignacio Rodríguez at San Simón & Duch by telephone (+34 913 579 298) or email ( The San Simón & Duchwebsite can be accessed at