Without a doubt, customs clearance can be one of the biggest hurdles in successful international ocean freight and air freight shipping. But it doesn’t have to be. Getting your shipment through customs clearance can be a smooth and, eventually, nearly automated process.
For that to happen, however, your business needs full visibility of customs clearance requirements at your destination. You also need to understand the potential pitfalls that could impact your ocean freight or air freight when it’s halfway across the globe. Resolve customs clearance issues now and you’ll be thankful later.
Export.gov offers extensive resources for small and mid-size businesses looking to ramp up an export shipping operation and learn about international customs clearance issues.
Organized by 19 U.S. government agencies and The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, the group’s website says it offers tools, assistance and expert knowledge, and also helps businesses “navigate the maze of government offices.”
According to Export.gov, a host of problems could hold up customs clearance for your international shipment.
Customs clearance issue #1: Misclassification of your freight
When describing your product within customs documents, you classified it in a way that the destination country’s customs office views as inaccurate. Companies shipping produce, foods, medical supplies and technology items might be at particular risk for this customs clearance mistake.
Issue #2: Duties higher than anticipated
When your freight arrived at its destination, it was discovered that the actual applicable duties exceeded the amount you paid when you originally booked your freight. Customs clearance will be delayed until the difference is paid.
Issue #3: Problems with your buyer
Your business filled out the forms correctly and paid all applicable taxes and duties, but you can’t gain customs clearance from the local office to release your ocean freight or air freight to your buyer or importer. They may need to clear up licensing issues or pay fees before customs clearance issues are resolved.
Other problems that could hold up customs clearance
Health, sanitary or safety issues: Customs clearance is rejected because the local office views your ocean freight or air freight as a potential health or safety threat. In this case, a business likely will not gain customs clearance, and must look for alternative options for redirecting or returning the freight.
Basic documentation issues: According to Export.gov, fundamental problems with labeling involving certificates of origin, weight, ingredients and identification marks hold up customs clearance for many shipments. Also, customs clearance is commonly rejected simply because the exporter failed to submit all the necessary forms.
Packing regulations of the receiving country: Some destination ports mandate particular packing methods for imported goods before customs clearance is granted. If your material isn’t packed properly, your freight might be rejected for customs clearance.
Export.gov offers recommendations for resolving customs clearance problems, including getting help from your buyer and your insurance company. You can also try contacting the foreign customs office. It also offers help from trade experts at Commercial Service offices in the United States and countries around the world.
If you want to learn about issues related to customs clearance at your destination port, the Fleet concierge customer service team would be happy to help. Contact us at (844) 785-7447 or send us a message to get started today!