What is the Difference between Lay days and Lay time?

Lay days and lay time are both commercial shipping terms that are often confused as referring to the same meaning. Though both deals with the same aspect – time for loading and discharging of the cargo, there is a major difference between the two terms.


Laydays can be defined as the days kept aside in a ship’s voyage schedule for loading and unloading of the cargo. Laydays represent the time at which a ship must reach the charterer for cargo operations.

Laydays are decided on the basis of the type and amount of cargo. Larger loads might needs several laydays, which are defined in the shipping contract. If a particular ship is not able to reach the charterer in the defined laydays, it is required to pay a penalty/fine.

Laydays are always planned in advance so that all the required operations are carried out in the specified time. Laydays are defined in different ways such as:

  1. Running days – Includes consecutive days including weekends and holidays
  2. Working days – Includes consecutive days excluding weekends and holidays
  3. Weather working days – Includes days on which the weather permits to continuous work of cargo loading and unloading

Ports of Auckland

Lay time

Laytime can be defined as the amount of time allowed to a ship in a voyage charter for loading and unloading of cargo at a port. If a ship fails to complete the work during this allotted time and the ship is required to stay at a port for a longer time, then demurrage (fine) is incurred to the ship owner.

The fine is often paid by the charterer to the ship owner as the former wants to use the ship for longer than decided time. However, if the charterer requires less than the defined lay time, the ship owner might be required to pay to the charterer. These terms are pre-defined by the charter party dealing with the whole process.

Port authorities can also specify their lay time and charge ships when they exceed their allotted laytime.

You may also like to read –

About Author

Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.

Do you have info to share with us ? Suggest a correction

Article Footer Banner
Article Footer Banner

Subscribe To Our Newsletters

By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy and may receive occasional deal communications; you can unsubscribe anytime.

Web Stories


  1. Hi All;

    Has anyone here ever heard of a legendary Author called:

    Michael Brynnor Summerskills.

    He wrote:

    ‘Laytimes’ with a Spanish translation as: El Tiempo de Plandra

    He knew about Oil Rigs and Maritime Law.


    He wrote a book about the Chinese Labour Corp. (which is in vogue at the moment!)

    Strange combination of topics…But; I am still studying the Author and his publications.

    Those of u who are also interested in China.

    Try and find info. on a General called:

    ‘Vinegar Joe’ Stilwell.
    He was on China’s side in WWII.

    Yours Absolutely Sincerely;


  2. I didnt understand their difference, both explanations are so close, wish explained the differences more clear and in details.

  3. Laydays is used for the dates from which the vessel is expected to tender her notice of readiness to the date the Charterer has the right to cancel the agreement if vessel not available

    Laytime is the time frame that the vessel is agreed to load / discharge cargo and no fine is levied. If finished early, Ship Owner pay despatch to Charterer, otherwise, demurrage is paid to the Ship Owner by the Charterer when laytime time is exceeded as laid out in the agreement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *