Shipping Industry: Best Practices of Clearing Customs

Clearing customs can be a tricky and time-consuming part of international shipping. Depending on the value of the shipment, the country of origin, the country of export, and the country of import, there can be a lot of paperwork and red tape involved.

Despite clearance procedures varying from country to country, there are some common rules and regulations across the globe. Unfortunately, with the sheer amount of technical jargon and document submissions to work through, it can be easy for importers and exporters to miss out on critical paperwork required for the customs clearance process. This often triggers further investigation by authorities in an importing country, especially when duty waivers are involved, resulting in shipment delays. Luckily, we’ve got our finger on the pulse of the shipping industry and can help you navigate these new challenges easily. Here are some tips and tricks to make sure your products clear customs quickly and efficiently.

7 Best Practices to Ensure a Smooth Customs Clearance Process 

The shipping industry is highly regulated, and there are many rules and regulations that must be followed in order to clear customs. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in delays, fines, and other penalties. However, by following some of these best practices, you can help ensure a hassle-free experience when clearing customs.

1. Do Your Research 

When it comes to shipping internationally, it’s always best to do your research ahead of time. Depending on the country of origin and the destination, some shipments can take longer to clear customs than others. Make sure you factor this into your timeline and allow enough time for your shipment to make it through the process. You should also find out what documentation is required for your particular shipment such as a commercial invoice or an ATR form. By making sure you have all the necessary documents ready to go before you ship, you can avoid any potential delays or issues at customs. 

2. Labelling Requirements

One of the most important things to do when shipping internationally is to make sure that your shipments are properly labelled. All shipments should have a detailed description of the contents as well as the value of the goods you intend to ship off. To ensure that customs can easily get in touch with you if they have any questions about your shipment, be sure to include your business’ name and contact information on all your labels. It’s also important to note that there are some items that may be restricted or prohibited from being shipped into certain countries so before sending a shipment, do research whether or not the items you’re planning on sending are allowed into the country in question. With a little preparation beforehand, clearing customs doesn’t have to be stressful.

3. Packaging

In addition to labelling, you need to make sure that your goods are packed properly for transit. This not only helps to protect your goods or items from damage, but is also crucial for the customs declaration process. For instance, your intended quantity of commodities per pallet could be eight boxes, but two extra boxes may have been placed on top of your current eight packages by accident. If the original eight boxes are not strapped or shrink-wrapped to the pallet, the officer may be misled to believe that the total number of packages being declared is understated. Consequently, the wrong information will be provided on the customs declaration documents, slowing down the shipment when errors need to be rectified.

4. Invoices and Documentation

In order to streamline the customs clearance process, it’s essential to ensure that critical information such as the exporter, importer, cargo commodity and HS Code are consistent across all documents. Also, double-check that you have all required documentation and invoices ready before your shipment arrives at customs. This documentation should include commercial invoices, packing lists, certificates of origin, bills of lading and other documents that may be required by both the country of origin and the country of destination. Not having all the proper documentation in order or not filling them out completely and accurately will undoubtedly cause delays at customs. It should also be noted that most countries typically require the declaration of Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) Incoterms. These are the fees a seller pays to account for the cost, insurance and freight of a buyer’s order while the goods are in transit, and they are part of the price of the goods. Not declaring them can mislead the customs broker and lead to an erroneous declaration of the cargo value, impeding the customs clearance process and your shipment.

5. Payment of Duties and Taxes

Depending on the value of the goods being shipped, you may be required to pay duties and taxes before your shipment can be released by customs. These duties and taxes are typically calculated based on the value of the goods, although there may be other factors involved as well. Make sure that you research the duty and tax rates before shipping so that you can have a ballpark figure in mind and factor these costs into your budget accordingly. Once you’ve paid any required duties and taxes, your shipment will be cleared for release and you’ll be able to retrieve it from customs with minimal hassle. 

6. Keep Track of Your Tracking Numbers

After your shipment has been sent, make sure you keep track of the tracking numbers so that you can follow its progress through customs clearance and beyond. This will help you stay on top of any potential delays and take corrective action if necessary.

Partner with Halcon Primo Logistics Today

Your freight forwarder will be responsible for a lot of the paperwork and communication with customs, so it’s important to choose one that you feel confident in. At Halcon Primo Logistics, we cover the entire spectrum of the supply chain. We provide sea freight and airfreight forwarding services to companies across the globe with a team of professionals equipped with the knowledge of handling complex projects and moving goods globally. Contact us today to find out about our various solutions and how we can help make your customs clearance process a seamless and efficient one.