All About Customs Clearance, A Guide By Crowley Logistics

What happens when your shipment arrives in customs? Learn the total customs clearance process plus tips for affordable importing.

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By Jules


May 10, 2018

Before your international shipment can be delivered khổng lồ the customer, it must clear customs. Customs clearance is simply the act of moving goods through customs so they can enter the country.

Every country imposes import duties & taxes on goods crossing their borders. This helps to lớn generate income, protect the economy, environment, and the citizenry.

But what actually happens within a customs office? For many merchants, this unanswered question is a stumbling bloông xã on the way to lớn lucrative sầu cross-border shipping.

For 99% of merchants, though, clearing customs is a simple 4 step process. All you need is a few documents and you"re done. helps merchants generate all their customs paperwork, pre-pay import duties và taxes, & save sầu on shipping couriers that transport your package from customs to the customer.

This article explains the customs clearance process in full.

The Customs Clearance Process

In four steps, here"s what happens when a shipment arrives at customs.

1. A customs officer examines your customs paperwork. These documents must be accurate and complete, specifically the shipping label & commercial invoice. The commercial invoice is most important because it lists the tương tác information for the shipper, the receiver, as well as the export date and airway bill number. Here"s a full các mục of all necessary paperwork for customs clearance.

Commercial invoice for customs clearance

2. Import duties & taxes are assessed using the customs paperwork. Import fees vary depending on the type of goods, their value, & specific import regulations in the receiving country. Import duties are assessed on goods that exceed the de minimus value, or the minimum taxable threshold for imported goods. For example, a de minimus value of $100 means goods valued at $100 or less incur no import duties.

3. Customs requests payment for taxes & duties, if applicable. If your shipment exceeds the tax threshold, the customs officer checks if duty and taxes have sầu been paid. Additionally, certain restricted goods may incur fees regardless of their value.

At this point, the choice between shipping with Deliver Duty Unpaid (DDU) & Deliver Duty Paid (DDP) becomes relevant.

Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) means that import duties and taxes have sầu already been paid. Most express couriers services lượt thích FedEx have customs brokers who will process this payment on your behalf at customs. With DDPhường, the price you paid for shipping covers any import fees, & this is reflected on the attached shipping label. In other words, using DDP is the best way to lớn ensure a smooth customs clearance process.

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Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU) means that import duties & taxes are unpaid. In this case, the customs officer forwards the shipment lớn an independent customs broker to collect the required amount.

Customs brokers are middlemen who charge fees for facilitating the customs clearance process. These variable fees can be expensive because they include brokerage, storage, và late payment.

With customs fees unpaid, the broker will contact the recipient khổng lồ collect payment. Obviously, this may upset customers.

Here"s a comparison of potential charges when shipping DDP. an DDU:


With so many variable costs, shipping DDU makes it impossible lớn tell customers the final amount for shipping. This is why we recommover that sellers pre-pay duties for a smooth delivery experience. Learn more about DDU & DDP.. here.

4. Your shipment clears customs once all duties are paid. Once customs clearance is complete, your chosen courier service transports the shipment from customs khổng lồ the end-destination. Shipments rarely get stuông xã at customs. When they vì, it"s usually because of faulty paperwork. Here"s what lớn do if your shipment gets stuck at customs.


The Easy Way to lớn Calculate Duties và Taxes

As mentioned above, import duties and taxes vary along a handful of factors. This can make it difficult to lớn get visibility of shipping costs và create a cost-effective sầu shipping strategy.

To gain clarity on all import fees, try"s Free Tax và Duty Calculator. Shown below, this handy tool gives you instant accurate quotes for specific goods to lớn your target country. For example, for shipping a $50 fashion thành công from the US to the UK.


Plus, every quote offers handy tips on shipping lớn your destination country. For all things duties and taxes, kiểm tra out our comprehensive sầu guide.

Customs Clearance Explained

Shipping across borders takes a few extra steps. This article explained the total process of customs clearance, plus offered up an easy-use tax & duty tool you can use for every cross-border shipment. Happy shipping!


What does custom clearance mean?

Customs clearance is the act of moving goods through customs so they can enter the country.

How long does custom clearance take?

Typically, customs clearance takes less than 24 hours. If your paperwork is lacking, however, it could take several days before your shipment clears customs.

What documents are required for custom clearance?

The key documents for customs clearance are the commercial invoice và the packing slip và shipping label. Here"s a complete danh mục.

Can I organize the customs clearance myself?

Yes. This requires you khổng lồ pre-pay all import duties và taxes, either when you choose your cross-border shipping service or separately. In other words, opt for Delivery Duty Paid shipping options.