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