shipment stuck at customs

What You Should Do When Your Shipment Is Stuck At Customs?

The one major thing that spoils the customer’s buying experience is having a shipment held at customs. It does directly influence your store revenue. Here is what you should do to deal with when your shipment is stuck at customs.

Why is your Shipment stuck at customs?

What happens when your shipment is stuck at customs, what is the best thing you can do? Being held at customs means there are several reasons. It means that the package you sent is held at the destination country by the officials to ensure that it is permissible to cross the border. It can be either a prohibited good or incorrect paperwork that might cause the package to be held there. Here are some reasons that might cause the package to be held at the customs:

  • Incomplete or inaccurate information or documents.
  • Unpaid tax or customs duties.
  • Sending prohibited or restricted items.

Whatever may be the reason, follow these simple tips to get your goods moving without facing any issues with the customs further. Most of the time, when the shipment is stuck, you might get confused about whom to contact, what to do to get your shipment out as swiftly as possible, etc.

In this article, we take a look at the possible ways to get your shipment moving when it is stuck at the customs.

Contact your Third-Party Logistics (3PL) provider

When your package is stuck at customs, the very first thing you need to do is contact the shipper. Most of the sellers have direct interaction with the shippers, so you can ask them to contact them to know more about the package. It is ideal to contact them and get a better picture of the same. You may ask the seller to find out what is happening with the shipment and also about any missed out documents for shipping the same. Also, remember to get the tracking code from the shipper to keep track of the shipment yourself. Ideally, most of the shipping services offer the opportunity to get the details from their site using the tracking code. You can easily track the package in transit with the tracking number and keep yourself updated.

When you are using shipping plugins integrated with your WooCommerce store, you can display the shipment tracking details on your store itself. The customer need not worry about fetching the data from the shipping service, as the shipment tracking number is shown in the order details itself. Upon clicking the order number, the details will be shown about the package in transit.

For example, consider you are using the ELEX EasyPost (FedEx, UPS, Canada Post & USPS) Shipping & Label Printing Plugin for WooCommerce shipping Plugin for Canada Post shipping services. When the order gets processed, the customer gets all the order details in the “My Orders” page in the store. You can also find the order tracking number provided by Canada Post in the order details section as shown in the image below. Upon clicking the tracking number the customer gets all the requisite information regarding the order.

shipment stuck at customs

Contact Your Shipping Carrier

Contacting the shipper is one of the quickest ways to know the status of your package. Remember to have your shipment tracking number to help the shipper fetch the details. In this way, you can understand whether your package is stuck in customs or not. Most of the shippers will know exactly what needs to be done to speed up the movement of the package in transit. 

If you go for popular shipping companies, there are options to get the shipments cleared from customs. But at times, when you are shipping with unscrupulous shipping carriers, then there are chances that they might under-declare the value of the package to get the packages shipped tax-free. They make use of the tax-free shipping of packages of Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) shipments or Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) and cause significant inconveniences. It is ideal to adhere to the tax policies and ensure your packages are not under-declared so that the custom’s officers do not confiscate the items. 

Find out about Outstanding Taxes

Certain shipments have some outstanding tax charges, which may not be noticed. In such cases, ensure that your package is not stuck at customs, due to the unpaid taxes. You need to understand the customs clearance procedures whenever you ship. For example, you can read through the customs clearance prerequisites while shipping to the US to ensure that your package is not stuck at customs. Ensuring these basic customs clearance processes, the tax arrangements etc. will ensure that your packages are not returned to the shipper.

If you are based in the US you can browse through the US Tariff Database for understanding the basic duty rate for a particular product. These duty rates are provided with respect to the data obtained from the customs. Only the country’s customs to which we import can determine the actual duty.

Here are some ways to keep up with the customs duty rates:

  1. Make sure you have researched enough and then pay the duty correctly.
  2. The better option is to seek the assistance of dedicated custom brokers from popular shipping carriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc. [ Compare the Shipping Cost & Estimated Delivery Date from Leading Shipping Carriers ]
  3. You can always use the help of third-party brokers to pay the customs duty.

Restricted or Prohibited Items

Certain countries do not allow importing or exporting certain kinds of goods into their country. It is important to ensure that you don’t break such rules when it comes to shipping. Here are some examples that are termed as restricted or prohibited items:

  • A product which is termed illegal in the destination country, or
  • A product that might be infected by any diseases or microorganisms that may cause an impact in the destination country.
  • A product that is sold against the interest of the people belonging to the country.
  • A product that is restricted and needs to be shipped with proper regulations and safety.

Don’t forget to check out Export.gov website to learn more about the products that are in the prohibited and restricted lists in all countries around the world.

Check for incorrect or no missing paperwork

For every package, there are specific documents to be included while shipping. It is important to ensure that your package does adhere to the rules while shipping. Every shipping carrier has certain regulations when it comes to weight and dimension of the package or the way the package is being handled or it can be just any invoice like the CN22 customs form that needs to be attached to the package while shipping. Even if any one of these is missing, the package can get a slow transit in the customs. If you used any of the express shipping options from UPS, USPS etc, it is ideal to contact the shipper immediately and collect the necessary information regarding any paperwork that went missing, which might cause the delay in shipping. Make sure always that your documents are in line with the shipping instructions from the shipping carrier.

Here are some documents that are important when it comes to shipping:

  • Common Documents include the commercial invoice which is commonly sent by the seller to the customers which contains details of the customer, seller, invoice number, the date of the shipment and much more.
  • Transportation documents like Airway bill, bill of lading, Electronic Export Information Filing etc.
  • Export compliance documents like the Generic Certificate of Origin, which is prepared with the help of a manufacturer and then certified by the government body.
  • Dangerous Goods Certificate and Radiation Certificate which contains the IATA declaration for safety purposes.
  • Halal Certificate when it comes to Middle East locations to ensure that meat and poultry are slaughtered in adherence to the Islamic laws.
  • Insurance certificates when you are sending products which need to be insured. You can also make use of third party insurance.
  • Dock Receipts to ensure that the package is received by the shipping carrier successfully in good condition and damage-free.

Follow all customs guidelines while shipping to avoid the wait

If you chose to ship your products via some slower shipping options then the customs formalities can be dreadfully slow. Just be prepared to wait for your package to swiftly move across the processes until it is completely clear to be despatched from the customs. More often if you see, the packages are held at the customs to check the value of the item in the package are declared correctly. The best way to get this speed up is by ensuring you are following all the shipping guidelines and the shipping rules and regulations accurately. 

As said above,

The best way to work around your package delay in customs is either patiently wait or go for ensuring that all guidelines are met. Interestingly the postal service seems slower but, again there won’t be much hassle when it comes to customs, as the items get cleared more readily. You can always go for integrating ideal shipping plugins which will streamline all the processes like shipment tracking, shipping labels and documents concerning the shipping of the items. Also, there are efficient packing algorithms that work in the background to ensure you are providing the right packing solution for your packages. Moreover, the shipping plugins help to adhere to the policies when it comes to shipping restrictions and prohibited items. Here are some plugins that will help you achieve safe and prompt shipping :

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