What to do when your shipment is delayed in customs?

Nothing is more frustrating for you or your international customers than seeing that glooming checkpoint on your tracking “Delayed in Customs.” Often times there can be days or weeks that pass before any updates are provided by the logistics carrier. If you find yourself with an international shipment delayed in customs here are some tips to help:

1. Contact the company who is shipping your products: The first step is to contact the company who has shipped your products. This could be your account manager or the general customer service line for the shipping company or 3PL provider used.

2. Contact the customs office, broker, or local carrier directly: If you are able to connect at the local level with the customs office, broker or last mile delivery provider being used call or email them. They are in the country where the goods are and may have more up to date information related to shipment or insight into how long the clearance process will take.

3. Find out if there are any duties or taxes owed and who is responsible. If the item was shipped DDU, contact your customer to let them know s/he is responsible for paying the duties and taxes before the package can be released from customs. If the item was shipped DDP you or the carrier you’ve selected to ship the item will need to remit payment for the duties and taxes to the customs office via your local customs broker.

4. Make sure all paperwork is complete. Provide any updated information needed to complete the clearance process. Did you include a commercial invoice with your shipment? Was the harmonized code for each item in the shipment included in the paperwork? Was the country of manufacturer listed? Does this specific country require any additional customer details like a copy of their passport or id number? Depending on the destination there may be additional documentation required to release your package from customs.

5. Wait, be patient and learn for next time. Once you’ve checked with the logistic carrier and providers, made sure all the shipment paperwork is completed, and that the duties and taxes are paid there is not much to do except wait and be patient for the package to clear customs.

The best advice is to learn from this experience and review your logistics solutions in place. Can you reduce the delays in customs by tweaking your invoice format to include relevant information like harmonized code or country of origin? Do you need to provide contact information to your customers for how to pay for duties and taxes in their country? 

Utilizing low cost DDU shipping methods with unreliable tracking might be cost effective but if you are experiencing customer complaints, chargebacks or delays using that shipping speed consider implementing a courier logistics solution or an international checkout solution to improve the visibility and speed in which your international packages are delivered.

To learn more about how SkyBOX Checkout can prevent your shipments from being delayed in customs contact us here.