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How to Avoid Customs Delays on International Shipping

International Shipping

Complying with customs requirements for each and every shipment can make the difference between speedy deliveries and difficult delays.  For a business, international shipping delays can cost you your clients and your reputation.  It is important to be diligent when it comes to understanding the import and export requirements for the countries that you are shipping to and from.

The most common reasons for delayed shipments can be linked to missing information, inadequate descriptions or incomplete information.

Complete Shipper and Consignee Information

If the name or address is incomplete, it will delay the shipment while the carrier is deciding how to handle it.  The carrier needs to report to customs who is importing the goods and identify the commodity being imported.

Pay Attention to the Details in the Description

The description must be accurate and provide all the details.  Simply stating parts, or gift is not enough details, things like brand name, model, serial parts, etc. must be included in the details.

Provide the online ordering documentation or the commercial invoice depending on if you are business or individual shipping.  A commercial invoice details what’s in the shipment and identify the correct classification.

Quantities and Values Need to Clear

Intentionally under-valuing goods to avoid duties or taxes not only impedes delivery but can also have legal consequences to parties involved.  One of the most common duties and tax disputes are inaccurate declarations of value, an error that will cost you in delays and penalties.

Lack of Client Master File Data

This is explicitly the number one reason for shipment delays.  Shippers need to provide their carrier with a Power of Attorney, bond information, and importer information in advance of the shipment arriving.  Once the information is on file, it covers all future shipments.

All Countries Have Their Own Policies

Every country has unique requirements, practices, and restrictions for international shipping and determining which products and materials they can be ship in and out.  Don’t assume that countries with close proximities have the same requirements or even holiday schedules.  The wrong assumption can cause severe delays.

Reasons Why Customs and Other Government Agency Exams Happen

  • Paperwork and Shipment details are not explicitly complete. The description or shipper cannot be specifically identified.  They will retain the shipments to view the contents.
  • Random exams do occur. If they approve the items, then they release the shipment.  If they do not approve it, then customs will place a flag in their system to hold all future shipments from this shipper.
  • When the value is not correct, they flag it for examination.

Work with an Experienced Global Logistics Leader

Shipping internationally presents an enormous opportunity to develop your business.  However, international shipping can be confusing, which is why it is critical to work with an experienced global logistics leader.  They can guide you through the process to ensure there are no delays and the shipments get to the destination on time.  Not doing your due diligence can cost you.