It’s easier and quicker than you may think to ship items abroad. In fact, many people are surprised at how smoothly the process can run. Team up with an international shipping expert like Kiwi Movers, particularly when sending to Australia or New Zealand, and it should go like a dream.

However, there is one potential spanner in the works that can trip you up during international shipping. This is customs clearance, which can cause you a real headache if you aren’t prepared. Your shipment could be held up on the way out of the country, but it’s more likely to happen as it enters the destination country.

All items must go through customs, if the shipment is moving from one tax territory to another. The normal procedures usually mean that items are checked and cleared reasonably quickly, but there can sometimes be problems.

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Causes of customs delays

Your shipment may be stopped or delayed at customs for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Incorrect or missing documentation

When you send items internationally, you need to send the correct paperwork along with your shipment. For example, the bill of lading, commercial invoice, packing list and other certificates and identification numbers relevant to the shipment. This is one of the main ways that an international shipping expert can help you. They’ll handle all of the paperwork to make sure that every detail is correct. The regulations on what documentation is required to ship certain items between different regions (i.e. within or outside of the EU) can be quite complicated, so this expert assistance can be invaluable.

  • Suspicious contents

Certain items will always get flagged at customs unless you have the right paperwork. For example, firearms, plants and animals, foods, medicines, textiles and chemicals.

  • Customs backlogs

There can occasionally be unavoidable delays at customs due to a system failure or backlog. For example, certain ports in New Zealand were and still are affected by a 2016 earthquake. This caused severe backlogs due to shipments having to be rerouted to other destinations. These backlogs are beyond your control, so you may just have to be patient and try to get all of the information you can.

  • Random checks

Sometimes, a delay at customs is caused by simple bad luck. Customs agencies carry out random checks, and your shipment may be one of those flagged for examination.

The type of commodity can also cause customs delays. For example, certain food products may require further examination by the food authority in a particular country. You may also experience problems if you haven’t paid the right amount of tax on your shipment.

What to do if your shipment is held at customs

Received notification of a customs delay? The only thing you’ll need to do is contact your international shipping provider. They will take it from there. They’ll find out the problem, correct any paperwork errors and make sure any extra fees due are paid.

Find out more about how Kiwi Movers can help you with smooth, stress-free international shipping, including clearing customs, by calling us on 020 8877 9682.