2.1.4 Colombia Port of Santa Marta

Port Overview

Located on the Caribbean Sea, the Port of Santa Marta is a major commercial port importing grain and general cargo and exporting coal, bagged coffee, containerized fruit, fuel oil and palm oil. Santa Marta moves the third largest cargo volume in Colombia. Its modern container terminal uses two Post-Panamax gantry cranes (STS) and transtainers (RTG). The terminal claims to be presently operating at 60 % of its capacity. 90 % of import containers are stripped in the port.

Automated bulk discharge into silos (600 – 800 mt/h) for one hatch. Additional or alternative discharge by grabs to trucks possible. An external operator is offering bagging operations at the jetty. The berthing preference of cruise vessels and perishables export might – in single instances - cause delays for container imports. The port is operated by Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Santa Marta S.A..

Port website:

Port of Santa Marta Institutional video:

Key port information may also be found at:

Port Location and Contact



Province or District


Nearest Town or City with Distance from Port

Santa Marta (6 km)

Port's Complete Name

Puerto de Santa Marta Sociedad Portuaria





Managing Company or Port Authority

Sociedad Portuaria de Santa Marta

Management Contact Person

Mauricio Suarez Ramirez

Nearest Airport and Airlines with Frequent International Arrivals/Departures

International Airport Simon Bolivar

Avianca, Latam, solar Cargo, Aero Sucre, other Southamerican Region Airlines

Port Picture

Sociedad Portuaria de Santa Marta

Description and Contacts of Key Companies

Companies inside the port are major contributors in the supply chain, most of them are private. Services provided: container handling, loading and unloading of vessels, pilots services, vehicles, customs agency, port operators, support catering vessels, safety and inspection of goods. Note: Pilot assistance compulsory for vessels going in/out of the port as well for shifting between piers. Pilot station/boarding position 0.5 nautical mile at the light:   Morro Grande. Santa Marta port control station and pilots can be contacted on VHF channels 11, 16 and 74. A pilot ladder shall be rigged on the starboard side of each Vessel unless otherwise instructed. 

Santa Marta International Terminal Company S.A. (SMITCO), is a company incorporated under a partnership between SSA International and Sociedad Portuaria de Santa Marta. It is constituted as a port operator; however, it is committed to managing, controlling and marketing the Container Terminal of the Port of Santa Marta. SMITCO has a wide portfolio of services for the handling of containerized cargo. The services provided are: Maritime operation, land operations, containers and container emptying, authorities inspection services, 24-hour sentry box service, areas for handling refrigerated cargo, connection and monitoring of refrigerated containers 24 hours, covered warehouse storage. for loose cargo handling, cargo traceability.

4.4 Colombia Port and Waterways Company Contact List

Port Performance

Port of Santa Marta Institutional video:

Port extension: 336,356 m2, port connected to hinterland by both road and rail. 7 berths of a total length of 1070 m. Due the last investment, the port increase the annual capacity of the container terminal, plus Santa Marta Port is the only one in the Atlantic Coast with rail service, offering the possibility of direct upload and download at docks, but to exploit this advantage, port is awaiting that government authorized the construction of a railway cargo variant of 17.5 km, which would allow the terminal to be connected with the centre of the country.

The Port has a regulation for humanitarian aid, in the event of a national emergency declared, humanitarian cargo vessels will have priority in the terminal.


Seasonal Constraints


Time Frame

Rainy Season


June to October

Major Import Campaigns


The high season of commerce, is considered in the months of October and November, traders are preparing for Christmas.

Other Comments


Handling Figures for 2017

Vessel Calls


Container Traffic (TEUs)

208,000 TEUs

Handling Figures Bulk and Break Bulk for 2018

Bulk (MT)


Break bulk (MT)


Discharge Rates and Terminal Handling Charges

Berthing Specifications

Type of Berth


Length (m)

Maximum Draft (m)

Conventional Berth


94 m

7.6 m

Container Berth


160 m; 165 m

14.6; 13.1 m

Silo Berth


240 m

11.6 m

Berthing Tugs


Water Barges


General Cargo Handling Berths

Cargo Type

Berth Identification

Imports - Bagged Cargo

1 to 6

Exports - Bagged Cargo

1 to 6

Imports and Exports - RoRo

2 to 6

Other Imports

7 coal export

Port Handling Equipment

A private company manages Santa Marta Port by a concession granted by the government. Santa Marta port offers an excellent infrastructure and logistic services for solid grain imports in the country.



Total Quantity and Capacity Available

Comments on Current Condition and Actual Usage

Dockside Crane




Container Gantries




Mobile Cranes


1 (50 MT)




4 (45 MT) + 3

4 Toploader and 3 Sideloader for empties

RoRo Tugmaster (with Trailer)


33 / 20

33 tractors, 20 reinforced container trailers

Grain Elevator with Bagging Machines


1 (400 to 600 to/hour).

Suction equipment, bagging equipment available




stacking 1 over 6




6 Electrical

Container Facilities

Terminal Container is managed by Santa Marta International Terminal Company S.A., a cooperation between the port and SSA International.

PUERTO DE SANTA by tatianatrujillo1808

Sociedad Portuaria de Santa Marta

Sociedad Portuaria de Santa Marta


20 ft and 40 ft

Container Facilities Available

8.7 hectares for storage and operation. Container cleaning and repair available. Attend up to 300000 TEUs / year. Land transport, staffing and stripping of containers.

Container Freight Station (CFS)

Area service for inspection with 24 hours security, storage, and tracking cargo service.

Refrigerated Container Stations

Connections and tracking at storage zone. Transfer units to keep cold chain during inspection or cross docking.

Other Capacity Details


Daily Take Off Capacity
(Containers per Day)


Number of Reefer Stations
(Connection Points)


Emergency Take-off Capacity


Off take Capacity of Gang Shift
(Containers per Shift)


Sociedad Portuaria de Santa Marta

Customs Guidance

DIAN is the government customs agency in Colombia. If import or export value exceeds USD1,000, a custom’s agency should be employed. Customs regulations per decree 2685 and Muisca regulations stipulate that:

  1. All cargo on board a vessel, with destination Colombia must be manifested.
  2. The manifest and bills of lading have to be registered to Customs systems – Muisca, 12 hours prior ship's arrival.
  3. Cargo not covered by manifest may not be discharged. If discharged it will be immediately confiscated by Customs.

Customs may take 1-3 days maximum in the process, depending on the selectivity of inspection which goods was subjected. In Colombia the customs authorities is the most influential institution in the process of nationalization, Customs Procedures can be affected by delays or technical problems by the DIAN system when making records, or documentary procedures unrealized by the importer / exporter. It is recommended to do load tracking every time and obey the instructions of the officials, as long as they are legal and fair.

DIAN have a special type of import procedure for emergencies, under this mode delivery to the end user may be affected without any prior processing.

Import and export procedures: 

For more information on customs in Colombia, please see the following link:


Terminal Information

Multipurpose Terminal

General cargo terminal operated by Sociedad Portuaria’s affiliate Operlog. Operations by MHC (mobile crane) and vessel’s gear.

Grain and Bulk Handling

Sociedad Portuaria/Operlog and Almagrario are the main port operatorsfor bulk cargo. About 100,000 tons can be stored in warehouses and silos within the port, additional 50,000 in the vicinity. The automated suction grain elevator has a capacity of 400 to 600 tons/h and is connected to the port’s silos. Additionally 4 shutes (45 m³), 6 grabs, excavators and trucks are available for operations with vessel’s gear.

Bagging equipment can be rented locally.

Main Storage Terminal

Storage Type

Number of Storage Facilities

Area (m2)

Bagged Cargo


Existing warehouses behind berth 2 and 3 were dismantled for the container yard. No information was supplied regarding which percentage of the approx. 90,000 sqm warehouse space for bulk cargo would be also available for break bulk.

Refrigerated Cargo


At SMITCO terminal containers.

General Cargo




Private, Main Port operators: Coremar S.A.S.; Estinorte; Intertug S.A.; Operlog and Almagrario, handling the main cargo types: Bulk, container, general cargo. They offer modular storage, all certified under ISO 9001-2000, and provide equipment and a range of services.

Hinterland Information

Among the advantages offered by the capital of Magdalena, its geographical location stands out. It is the Caribbean city closest to the center of the country compared to cities like Barranquilla and Cartagena, which is why its land freight is cheaper and more competitive compared to other terminals in the Colombian Caribbean. It is also the only port on the Atlantic coast with a railway, which is why it is able to offer loading and unloading services directly at the docks.

Close to the port operates the free trade Tayrona Zone.

Port Security

Santa Marta port have a security regulation for personal protection, industrial and environmental activities. They have an emergency plan that divide the port in 7 zones. The port has a special security lounge with the last generation in security equipment’s, long distances cameras with night vision and infrared detection as well as modern communication equipment.

ISPS Compliant


Current ISPS Level
(Level 1 = Normal, Level 2 = Heightened, Level 3 = Exceptional)

Level 1

Police Boats


Fire Engines


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