Some of the links may be affiliate links, earning us a small commission if you decide to use them, allowing us to continue creating content. Read our FTC Disclosure

What Does “Return Item From Customs (INB)” Mean?

You’re expecting a delivery from overseas and you have received a “Return Item From Customs (INB)” tracking update.

What does this mean exactly? How far away is your package when you receive this update and is there anything you need to do?

Let’s take a look…

cropped SITE ICON

Summary: Return Item From Customs (INB)

The “Return Item From Customs (INB)” tracking alert means that the shipment has successfully cleared through customs and has been handed to the carrier for delivery. INB means “Inward bound” which signifies that the package is inside the destination country.

Return Item From Customs (INB) – Guide

packages on a conveyor belt

Various carriers use the “Return Item From Customs (INB)” alert and it is essentially a good update to receive.

It means that the sometimes problematic process of customs clearance is over and that the carrier now has control of the shipment.

As mentioned, the fact that the alert includes the letters INB means the shipment is inside the destination country.

Also, the fact that clearance has successfully been completed, means delivery is not too far away.

How Long Until Delivery After a “Return Item From Customs (INB)” Update?

calendar and clock

Now that the carrier has the shipment, steps toward final delivery can take place.

Normally, the shipment will next have to leave the import location, (most likely the airport carrier facility) and be dispatched to the carrier sort facility closer to the recipient’s location.

For example, a package arriving in the USA with a delivery address somewhere in the northeast will have arrived in the country at the New York ISC.

Here it will through the clearance process and once complete (triggering the “Return Item From Customs (INB)” alert), will be handed over to the carrier responsible for delivery.


If this is USPS, the package will then be dispatched to a regional facility nearer to the destination address, before being sorted and distributed to the post office local to the recipient.

After that, the package will be delivered the next time the driver is scheduled to go out.

A similar process will apply if a different carrier is responsible for final delivery. The shipment will be processed through one or more regional facilities before reaching a location close to the recipient.

From there it will be loaded onto a truck and delivered to the relevant address.

Either way, the entire delivery process after the “Return Item From Customs (INB)” status alert, should be no more than three to five days.

My Tracking is Stuck on “Return Item From Customs (INB)”

Return Item From Customs

It is unusual for tracking to be stuck on “Return Item From Customs (INB)”. Essentially, with the clearance process over, the remaining steps toward delivery are relatively simple.

That being said, if the tracking stops updating it could be that your package has been handed over to a 3rd party carrier and you are simply checking your tracking details in the wrong system.

The best way to get around this is to use a universal tracking app.

A service such as 17Track or ParcelsApp will be able to check your tracking number against a large number of carriers.

If details of your shipment exist with any alternative carrier, these apps will be able to find them.

If no information is found, and more than five days pass without any further updates, you should contact the original carrier service to find out what the delay is.

Similar Updates to “Return Item From Customs (INB)”

similar on a chalk board

A shipment being handed to a carrier after being processed through customs is a standard step in the international delivery process.

Therefore, there are a number of different variations of the “Return Item From Customs (INB)” alert.

In other words, different carriers will use different updates to mean the same thing.

A good example of this is the “Item Returned From Import Customs“, and “Inbound out of Customs” alerts.

Final Words

Return Item From Customs

Overall, the “Return Item From Customs (INB)” update is a good one to receive.

Not only does it mean the clearance process (in the destination country) is over, but it also means that the carrier responsible for delivery now has control of the item.

With any luck, you will have your package within a few days. If the tracking doesn’t update for more than five days, follow the instructions from the section above.

Leave a Comment