How does slot booking work?

Who does it affect and what’s it all about?

The container terminals in Hamburg base how many containers they are able to handle within a specific time frame on their available truck handling resources. This tells them how many slots are available per hour.

A handling time (slot) must always be booked at the terminal for every container transport subject to mandatory pre-announcement. A valid slot booking is needed before a truck can be processed at the terminal.

The slot-booking process involves the pre-announcement of transport data via the TR02 data interface. The scheduled transport time contained in the TR02 forms the basis of the slot booking.

How are slots assigned and booked?

Slots are assigned according to the time at which the requests are received and can be booked up to three working days in advance. Early booking ensures the availability of the desired appointment. 

If there are still handling capacities available at the requested transport time, a slot can be booked immediately. If there are no more slots available at the requested time, a different time window must be selected. The system automatically offers the next available time window before and after the desired time window as an alternative.

Off-peak times, especially the evening hours, are particularly well-suited to transport movements, as terminal utilisation is significantly lower at these times. This means that you can book a slot more easily and be handled faster. Truck drivers and haulage companies can view the current capacity utilisation at the terminal at

You can also use an interface to import a terminal’s current capacity utilisation status into your own scheduling system. Information about this can be found at

Can a slot booking subsequently be changed?

Adding to bookings

It is possible to add containers to an existing transport booking. This is also the case if the time window in which the slot was booked is already fully booked. However, the pre-announcement and the status request of the container to be added must be marked “executable”.

Cancelling Slots

Slots can be cancelled at short notice. This guarantees the terminal the best possible overview of the actual number of expected trucks within a slot.

Out of consideration for other market participants, a cancellation should take place in a timely fashion.

All cancellations that occur after the start or expiration of a time window are not available to other users and are therefore considered a no-show.

If a haulage company has a no-show quota that is too high one week, a contingent of bookable slots will be available to it during peak times the following week (6.00 a.m. – 5.59 p.m.). Bookings in off-peak hours (6.00 p.m. – 5.59 a.m.) are still possible.

How Does the Slot-Booking Process Change Handling?

Whenever a truck accesses the terminal, the truck driver must enter the pre-announcement number (PAN) at the OCR gate. The arrival time is compared with the booked slot and the truck’s handling priority is determined (see chart).

In the case of Priorities 1 and 2, the truck driver is given further instructions as usual and the transport is processed as scheduled. For Priority 2, however, the truck is only processed if the terminal’s capacity utilisation allows it. If the truck driver has booked a slot, but arrives at the terminal more than 90 minutes before or after the booked slot, they are assigned Priority 3 and the truck is not processed. A new slot booking must be made. The same goes for truck drivers who arrive at the terminal without a slot booking.

Please note that it is not possible to make a slot booking at the terminal. Please also note that truck drivers are not authorised to wait in the terminal parking area.

What special cases are there?

In the case of out of gauge (OOG) cargo, the booked slot is checked at the designated slot ticket column during the manual pre-check (MPC).

Truck visits are sometimes assigned to Priority 1 irrespective of their punctuality. This happens in the following special cases, although notification of these must be given via the TR02 interface:

  • Delivery of IMO containers with dangerous goods categories 1.1, 1.2 and 7
  • Delivery of late arrivals that the shipping company has notified the terminal about
  • Delivery and receipt of containers in the event of the repositioning of a ship

The three golden rules for the slot-booking process

  1. Never arrive at the terminal without a slot booking or if your arrival time differs greatly from your booked slot (see Priority 3).
  2. Always endeavour to arrive at the terminal within the booked time window (see Priority 1). A truck can only be processed within the extended leeway period (see Priority 2) if the situation at the terminal allows it.
  3. Cancel your slot as soon as you realise you won’t be able to make it for your booked time window. In any case before the start of the time window! This is the only way to enable the terminals to plan realistically and offer available capacities to everyone as best they can.

Answers to further questions can be found here