What is a Notice of Readiness? The Critical Role of NOR in Maritime Trade

by | Last updated Nov 24, 2023 | Documents, Shipboard Operations | 0 comments

Ships operate under specific rules of business and one of the terms you most often hear on board is N.O.R. or Notice of Readiness.

This word is normally tossed over when the ship arrives in port either at the anchorage or in berth. 

I was a deck cadet back then when I discovered how serious a Notice of Readiness is in shipping!

NOR is not merely words on paper. It’s a binding agreement that signals a ship’s readiness for cargo operations. 

This means that if the NOR is not tendered, charterers may have the option to cancel the charter agreement, and your ship could lose a potential voyage.

No voyage means no income for shipowners. That’s why on one occasion, I discovered how some shipowners use the proper timing of NOR to maximize the charter pay!

What is a Notice of Readiness?

An NOR or Notice of Readiness is a proclamation made by the Captain of the ship to the charterer, that the vessel is, in all aspects, ready to load or discharge her cargo.

The ship’s tanks or cargo holds are clean and dry, and all other necessary equipment such as cranes, cargo hatches, pumps, valves, and others are working in perfect condition.

In simpler terms, it is like an announcement, albeit an official one, that the charterer can use the vessel however they see fit in accordance with the charter party.

Why do ships tender a Notice of Readiness?

The purpose of tendering the Notice of Readiness (NOR) is to inform the charterer, the cargo interests (shippers or receivers), and/ or their agents, that the vessel is ready to load and/ or discharge her cargo.

It is on this notice that the ship is at the charterer’s disposal whenever they accept the NOR.

Furthermore, issuing NOR also triggers the calculation of laytime provided that the tendered NOR is valid.

Laytime is the term used for the time allotted to the charterers to load and discharge cargo in exchange for payment or charter hire.

Container vessel MSC Clea safely moored port side alongside in a port.
An “arrived ship”.

What is a valid NOR?

NORs are not tendered at the push of a button.

There are certain conditions that the Master must commit to before tendering a Notice of Readiness.

Since this document has been the cause of so many legal disputes and marine insurance claims, shipowners have specific rules on when to issue them.

So before the Ship Master tenders a NOR, the vessel must meet these criteria.

1. Be considered an “arrived ship”.

A ship is considered an arrived ship when she arrives at the customary waiting place of the port nominated in the Charter Party.

The ship may tender the NOR when she waits for her turn to berth.

In particular, the vessel must tender the NOR upon:

  • Berthing (all fast) –  if the vessel proceeds directly to berth.
  • Anchoring – either at the inner or outer anchorage of the nominated port, awaiting her berthing turn. The correct time of readiness is when the vessel anchors.
  • Arrival at a position – even outside the port limits of the nominated port, and receiving instructions from charterers or their agents to tender NOR

2. Be ready in all respects to load and/ or discharge her cargo or cargo.

If the vessel tenders a premature NOR, i.e., before being in all respects ready, such notice is invalid. The charterer may also consider it as never tendered.

An invalid NOR can never become valid even if it subsequently meets the requirements. The Master must present a new NOR for the charterer to accept.

3. Satisfy other Charter Party requirements.

These conditions tackle the legal aspect of the vessel’s readiness as described in the Charter party agreement.

It involves specific instructions and clearances from third parties such as the port authorities and quarantine officers.

These requirements are the following:

  • Have obtained free pratique.
  • Cleared by customs.
  • Approval from immigration or police
  • Tender the NOR within the agreed period of time, e.g., between sunrise and sunset.

In the majority of cases, the Charter Party waives most of these requirements. The vessel can tender NOR upon arrival at anchorage when the designated berth is not ready.

On such occasions, the vessel can tender NOR whether in berth or not (WIBON), whether in port or not (WIPON), whether in Free Practique or not (WIFPON), whether in customs clearance or not (WICCON), etc.

A ship's Procedures Manual for Cargo Operation showing the Notice of Readiness form and where to send it.
A ship’s Procedures Manual for Cargo Operation showing the Notice of Readiness form.

How ships tender a Notice of Readiness

You can usually find instructions on how to tender a Notice of Readiness (NOR) in the terms and conditions of the relevant charter party contract. 

However, the owners or charterers may also provide specific instructions to the vessel on when and under what conditions to tender a valid NOR.

The goal is to tender the NOR by the quickest, most efficient, and most secure means of communication. 

Failure to do so, or even a slight delay, can result in significant losses for the owners or delays in starting cargo operations.

While a NOR tendered outside of the charterer’s specified times is not invalid, it will be treated as having been delivered on the following business day.

Here are the common ways to tender a NOR:

1. Using telex

The Master must transmit the NOR using the ship’s fastest means of communication as soon as the vessel meets the conditions earlier above.

2. Via Inmarsat-B

You must obtain the answerback of the called telex number at the commencement and the completion of the transmission.

3. Via Inmarsat-C with Positive Delivery Notification (PDN)

This is to ensure that the message has successfully reached the addressee(s).

PDN is a “store & forward” transmission. The note below the text of a transmission message, “successfully sending message”, means that the message was successfully transmitted to the Local Earth Station or LES (for onward transmission). However, it does not imply that it was successfully delivered to the final addressee.

Sending NOR message via Telex detailing that the ship is ready to load gasoline.
Sending NOR message via Telex detailing that the ship is ready to load gasoline.

4. Using fax message

In some cases, though the originator of the fax receives a successful transmission report, the addressee may have not received a clear copy of the message.

It is advisable that the captain call the addressee via phone for receipt confirmation of the faxed NOR.

5. Using electronic mail messages or E-mail

This is the most common and easiest method of tendering a Notice of Readiness. However, there are some drawbacks.

There might be a delay in the arrival of E-mail messages. Worse, it could even be lost. You must call the receiver for receipt confirmation of the NOR.

6. By phone call

The ship can tender the NOR via phone call if there is no other available means of writing communication unless the Charter Party provides to the contrary.

The OOW must record such verbal tendering in the ship’s log.

Depending on the Charterer, the Notice of Readiness may be tendered in local time during office hours or from sunrise to sunset.

Examples of NOR

Here are image samples of a simple NOR for loading and discharging. Notice the simplicity of the document yet its importance could not be understated.

Take note that only the date, time, receivers, and port change whenever you tender the Notice of Readiness.

Swipe left or right to view other samples.

  • A detailed sample of Notice of Readiness tendered by Captain John Mcnab of MV Hudson Bay in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
  • NOR for discharging in the port of Qinhuangdao, China.
  • An NOR sent to 5 receivers from the Master of MV Thousand Sunny upon arriving in IBT Roads Indonesia.

NOR Accepted

When the charterer’s agents or representatives accept the NOR which is, in some cases, after mooring operation and the ship is all fast, only then that the laytime start to count. 

You have to check the time when the NOR is tendered and accepted. Furthermore, you should write them in the ship’s statement of facts (SOF)

In case Shippers/ Receivers insist on another time of acceptance than the correct one, you may lodge a protest for incorrect acceptance of NOR. You must insert an appropriate remark in the Statement of Facts.

In circumstances where, there is any doubt about the validity of the tendered NOR, or the agents/ charterers/ cargo interests dispute its validity, you must transmit or re-tender a second NOR as soon as you remove the alleged obstacle to the first one.

A template example of a Notice of Readiness
Sample Notice of Readiness.

The format of the second NOR would be similar to the wording of the first one.

However, at the end of the text, you must add,

This Notice is tendered without prejudice to the validity of my Notice of Readiness tendered on (date) at (hours LT).

That statement indicates that while you are trying to reach a settlement with them, you are not admitting, waiving, or conceding your arguments.

You still establish your position that you are right and they are wrong but for the sake of a commercial deal, you are making concessions.

Again, this is to protect your company against legal action.

May the winds be in your favor.



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