Terms & Glossaries of Shipping and Trading

CQD (Customary Quick Despatch)

Customary Quick Despatch (CQD) is a term used in maritime shipping contracts to define the rate at which cargo is loaded or unloaded from a vessel. It is a traditional and widely accepted term in charter parties and shipping agreements. This article provides a comprehensive overview of CQD, its implications, and its significance in the shipping industry.

Detailed Overview of CQD (Customary Quick Despatch) in Shipping

What is CQD in Shipping?

Customary Quick Despatch (CQD) refers to the expectation that the loading or unloading of a vessel will be carried out as quickly as is customary at the port where these operations take place. Unlike specific time-bound terms, such as "Laytime" or "Demurrage," CQD does not stipulate exact time limits but relies on the standard practices of the port in question.

Key Features of CQD

1. Customary Practice:

The speed of loading or unloading is determined by the usual and customary practices at the port. What is considered "quick despatch" can vary significantly from one port to another.

2. Flexibility:

CQD provides flexibility as it adapts to the operational norms of each port. This flexibility can be beneficial in ports with efficient handling facilities but may pose challenges in ports with slower operations.

3. No Fixed Time:

Unlike laytime agreements that specify a set period for loading or unloading, CQD does not set a fixed time frame. This can lead to ambiguities and potential disputes if parties have different expectations.

4. Operational Efficiency:

The term encourages parties involved to expedite loading and unloading operations to align with customary practices, promoting operational efficiency and reducing idle time for vessels.

Implications of CQD in Shipping Contracts

1. Charter Party Agreements:

In charter party agreements, CQD is used to define the terms of cargo handling without binding parties to strict time limits. This can simplify contract negotiations and provide a common ground based on port norms.

2. Cost Implications:

While CQD does not directly involve penalties like demurrage, delays beyond customary despatch can still result in increased operational costs for shipowners due to extended port stays.

3. Dispute Resolution:

The lack of precise time limits in CQD can lead to disputes over what constitutes "customary quick despatch." Resolving such disputes often requires evidence of standard practices at the port, which can involve testimony from port authorities or local shipping experts.

4. Risk Management:

For charterers, CQD can pose a risk if the port has inefficient or slow handling practices. Shipowners may face prolonged port stays, affecting schedules and increasing operational costs.

Examples of CQD Application

1. Port Efficiency:

In a highly efficient port with advanced cargo handling facilities, CQD can result in rapid loading and unloading, minimizing vessel turnaround time and reducing overall shipping costs.

2. Variable Practices:

At a port with variable or unpredictable handling speeds, CQD can create uncertainties for shipowners and charterers. For instance, during peak seasons or labor strikes, customary practices may slow down, leading to delays.

Advantages and Disadvantages of CQD


Flexibility: Adapts to the specific conditions and efficiency of each port.
Simplicity: Reduces the complexity of setting precise laytime terms.
Efficiency: Encourages ports to operate quickly to maintain their reputation for despatch speed.


Ambiguity: Lack of clear time limits can lead to disputes and uncertainties.
Port Dependence: Efficiency is entirely dependent on the port's customary practices, which can vary widely.

Best Practices for Managing CQD

1. Clear Communication:

Charterers and shipowners should communicate clearly about their expectations and the customary practices of the port in question to avoid misunderstandings.

2. Port Knowledge:

Having a thorough understanding of the port's operational norms and history can help parties anticipate potential delays and plan accordingly.

3. Documentation:

Keeping detailed records of loading and unloading operations, including timestamps and any deviations from normal practices, can help resolve disputes if they arise.

4. Contingency Planning:

Shipowners and charterers should have contingency plans in place to address potential delays or inefficiencies at the port.


Customary Quick Despatch (CQD) is a flexible and widely used term in the maritime shipping industry that defines cargo handling speed based on customary practices at the port. While it offers adaptability and simplicity, it also introduces potential ambiguities and risks. Understanding the implications of CQD, maintaining clear communication, and being well-informed about port practices are essential for effectively managing shipping operations under CQD terms. By leveraging the advantages and mitigating the disadvantages of CQD, parties can ensure smoother and more efficient maritime logistics.