What is Clearance Delay? 

Have you ever seen the term “clearance delay” under a package or shipment’s custom status? When a package or shipment gets held up at customs clearance or the border, its status will show that it’s under clearance delay, which is never good news for the delivery process. 

Why Does a Shipment Experience Clearance Delay? 

There are several reasons why your shipment or package could be stuck in customs. These range from severe issues to minor problems, like having prohibited or dangerous goods, versus attaching incorrect or incomplete paperwork. While it seems like a small issue, one of the most prevalent causes of clearance delays is missing paperwork. 

Most Common Missing Paperwork 

There is a lot of documentation needed to clear customs, and there are certain papers that are most often forgotten and disregarded. These include: 

  • Unfinished consignee and shipper information 
  • Lack of package description 
  • Incorrect Harmonized Tariff Code 
  • Missing commercial invoices or certification 

For more information on the customs clearance process, you can check out A Simple Guide to Customs Clearance

Further Explanations for Packages Stuck in Customs 

  • Vague content description: if the description of your package is incredibly vague and inaccurate, there is a chance that it may be held back in order to be inspected. 
  • Incorrect value or quantity: if the products in the shipment are undervalued in an attempt to avoid taxes and duties, the package will be held back until the value is fixed. 
  • Description or invoice is written in the wrong language: make sure all the information is written in the correct language of where its point of destination is. 
  • Customs and government examinations: these exams can happen randomly, and you’ll be left with a package stuck in customs; but especially with incomplete paperwork, customs may perform examinations on shipments to double check everything 
  • Involves high risk items: when the shipment includes more hazardous or dangerous goods like alcohol, any type of weapon, flammable items, etc., the shipment will be flagged for examinations and cause more clearance delays. 
  • Extra fees or taxes that need to be paid: certain countries may impose additional fees and taxes for certain shipment types, or shipments above a certain monetary level, which will result in a clearance delay. For more details, you can read about Overlooked Customs Fees: Harbor Maintenance Fee and Merchandise Processing Fee

The Aftermath of Clearance Delays 

Once a shipment gets flagged for mistakes and needs to be held back, customs officers will either wait for the correct documents to be provided, or inspect the shipment. However, custom releases are not always guaranteed. Different countries have different rules, and sometimes your shipment may be temporarily rejected, or even permanently rejected from ever being let go. Of course, the easiest way to avoid permanent rejects is to make sure you do your research and check what is and isn’t allowed in the country that your shipment is headed!  

Need Any Assistance? SFI Can Help! 

If you need any assistance regarding freight forwarding, contact SFI today, and we’ll take care of your shipping needs. We have professionals ready to help smooth over any shipping problems you may have. Email us at info@sfi.com or call us at (909) 594-3400.