People running their activity within the shipping industry often refer to the concepts of ICD, on dock CY and off dock CY. However, there is still a great deal of confusion as far as the differences between them and their significance are concerned. So let us take a closer look at these three highly used shipping terms.
Let us start with the concept of ICD. The term ICD is short for an inland container depot and thus refers to a dry port that is set in a hinterland area, more specifically in an inland area that is remote from the coast or any major rivers. An inland container depot will host all the necessary equipment for the handling of empty and full containers alike. The transfer of these containers between the carrying ship and the inland container depot is carried out using either road networks or rail ones. As far as the port authorities and customs are concerned, inland container depots are extensions of sea ports, which explains the presence of customs officials in these particular areas. These depots act as pick-up and drop-off points for customers in the hinterland, operating similarly to sea ports, which act as pick-up and drop-off points for customers on the coast. The customs procedures carried out in inland container depots upon the delivery of cargoes are similar to those carried out in sea ports. It should be noted that the term of ICD may be replaced by that of "off dock CY" in some countries.
As far as the concept of on dock CY goes, this term is used to refer to a container yard located inside the port area. Once the containers that make up the cargo have been unloaded from the carrying ship, they are transported to the on dock container yard via trucks or straddle carriers, where they will be stored until claimed by their recipient. In other words, in this case, cargoes take the following route: they are unloaded in the port, moved to the on dock container yard, then taken through Customs and finally released to be picked up by their recipients. It should be noted that the storage of cargoes in these areas is usually more expensive because of their geographical locations and thus inconvenient, which leads us to the off dock container yard.
As a result of the storage costs being higher, cargoes are often transferred from on dock container yards to off dock container yards, or off dock CYs, where they are to be picked up from by their recipients. As opposed to on dock CYs, off dock CYs are container yards located outside of port areas, though not necessarily in inland areas. This is where the difference between inland container depots and off dock container yards lies.
Therefore, while operating in very similar ways, ICDs, on dock CYs and off dock CYs differentiate themselves through their geographical location, as well as through the size of the shipping operations they host and the equipment used to carry out these operations.
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