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PostNL “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs”

You’re waiting on a delivery from PostNL and you have received a “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” tracking update.

What does this mean exactly? What have customs got planned for your package and where is it when you receive this status?

Let’s take a look…

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Summary: Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs

The “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” status alert from PostNL means that details of the shipment have been sent to customs in the origin country in advance. This normally happens when the shipper sends a bulk consignment. With large volumes, it provides customs the ability to plan in advance which items to fully inspect.

Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs – Guide

logistics map earth

The processes going on in relation to the “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” status alert, are actually quite complicated so it is necessary that we break it down further.

Essentially, vendors on platforms such as AliExpress ship large amounts of goods to North America and Europe.

Although you might have placed an order for one item as an individual, your package will be dispatched in bulk with hundreds of other orders.

All of these will be subject to customs clearance in some form.

carrier logistics

However, as it is very difficult for customs to fully check all items going through processing, a “pre-declaration” manifest (i.e details of all the items in the bulk consignment), allows customs to organize which packages they wish to scrutinize more closely.

So, when you receive the “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” status update, you know that information about your shipment has been sent in advance to customs.

Until the package reaches customs and more updates are triggered, you will not know whether your item has been chosen for closer scrutiny or otherwise.

Where is Your Package When you Receive the “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” Alert?

package in the warehouse

The “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” alert is sent to customs once the order has been prepared for shipment and an order has been made with PostNL, (signified by the “Item is pre-advised” update).

So, your physical package is often still inside the vendor warehouse when you receive this update.

As you can see from the screenshot below, the “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” is actually one of the first tracking alerts to be sent out.

It is followed by an alert that the package has been handed over in bulk, (as part of the bulk consignment we talked about above), before reaching the PostNL Acceptance Center, which is essentially the PostNL facility at the exit port (normally an airport).

From there it will be handed over to customs for clearance, before going through the processes of international transit.

My Tracking is Stuck on “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs”

Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs

If your package has ended up stuck on the “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” tracking alert, it normally means your shipment has got delayed in the warehouse.

In the normal logistical chain of events, your package will be loaded with other items into a bulk consignment, ready for dispatch towards the exit port.

However, all manner of issues can cause this step to take some time.

First and foremost is mail volumes. Although the information has been sent to customs, your shipment could have ended up bumped to another bulk consignment. Or worse still, has to wait for another relevant bulk shipment to be prepared.

The fact is, AliExpress (and other Chinese eCommerce platforms) are notorious for the slow speed of the standard shipping options. This means your package will be sent with low priority, getting left in the queue of items waiting to be dispatched.

So much so, that it is not uncommon for you to receive the “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” multiple times.

This is the result of the package being repeatedly bumped onto a new consignment, without actually leaving the warehouse. Yes, I know, Incredibly frustrating.

What to Do if Your Tracking is Stuck?

frustrated girl

We have explained this many, many times here on Mailbox Master; the most important position to take when dealing with PostNL shipments such as this is one of patience.

If you have opted for standard shipping (or worse), you have to expect the fact that delivery can take weeks, (up to 45 days in the case of AliExpress).

Your package could be stuck for weeks at these early stages with no further updates, and there is little you can do about it.

AliExpress provides a 60-day buyers guarantee period. Only when this starts drawing to a close will they pay attention to any dispute about a missing package that you have.

That being said, you can still contact the seller to see if they have any further information about the location of the package and why it doesn’t seem to be moving.

Alternative Tracking Methods

One proactive step you can take while you wait things out is to try your tracking number in a universal tracking service.

Websites such as 17Track and ParcelsApp allow you to enter your tracking number and then the system will perform a search to see if the details can be found within its database of carriers.

Although the PostNL tracking page as well as the details within the eCommerce platform you ordered from should have information at such an early stage of the shipment journey.

Final Words

Overall, the “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” status update is telling you that the shipment order has been created, and details have been sent to customs in the origin country.

This means that the package is at a very early stage of the shipment process and there is still a long way to go. If you have ordered something from a Chinese eCommerce platform, patience will be necessary.

Delivery could easily be several weeks away.


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