You’re expecting a delivery from overseas and you have received a “Send Item to 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…
Summary: Send Item to Customs (INB)
A “Send Item to Customs (INB)” status update means that the shipment has been handed over to customs for clearance processing. INB means “Inward Bound”, thus the package is inside the destination country as clearance takes place.
Send Item to Customs (INB) – Guide
This alert is relatively self-explanatory. It is sent by the carrier after the package has landed in the destination country and is handed over to customs for processing.
The important element is the INB acronym. Meaning “Inward Bound”, it signifies that the shipment is moving inward into the destination country.
How Long Until Delivery After a “Send Item to Customs (INB)” Alert?
It is difficult to accurately state how long your package will take to be delivered after you receive this alert. First and foremost, it is important to remember that the update does not mean that customs personnel physically have your package.
It simply means that it has been put forward into a queue of items, (inside the area of the warehouse or ISC that is responsible for processing), while it awaits inspection.
If mail volumes are small, and there is no discernible backlog, customs clearance could be over in a matter of hours, one day max.
However, all sorts of potential logistical issues may impact clearance speed. For example, busy USPS ISCs such as New York and Chicago can take several days (in limited cases more than a week) to pass through customs.
Arrivals into Europe can experience similar lengthy delays passing through customs due to the issues occurring at Liege, in Belgium. As a major network hub for AliExpress orders into Europe, backlog due to high package volumes is common.
How Long is a Piece of String?
So to summarise as best as possible, if your package passes through the clearance in 24 to 48hrs, it will then be dispatched by the carrier to a regional facility before being sorted and distributed to the area of the recipient.
When all goes well during the logistical chain of events, you could expect your package within 3 to 5 days of receiving the “Send Item to Customs (INB)” update.
If any issue occurs at either customs or during dispatch to the carrier facility, that wait time could be several days to multiple weeks, depending on the problem.
- Related Content: What Does “Record Item Customs Information (INB)” Mean?
What to do if Your Tracking is Stuck on “Send Item to Customs (INB)”
If your tracking is stuck on this update for more than 5 days you will need to make inquiries.
First, you should try to ascertain the import location of the shipment. In the USA, it will be one of the major USPS International Centers.
The tracking update before “Send Item to Customs (INB)” should provide you with the details, (look for an alert such as “Processed Through ISC Los Angeles CA (USPS)”).
With these details, you can then contact the carrier to see what the delay is. USPS actually has a dedicated international inquiries number that you can call: 800-222-1811
If USPS is not responsible for the shipment inside the destination country you will still be able to check which carrier is from the tracking details.
Find the appropriate customer services number, cite the tracking number and last known location of the package, and take it from there.
- Related Content: What Does “Departure from Inward Office of Exchange” Mean?
Shipments Sent from China (eCommerce Platforms)
If your package is a product you have ordered from a platform such as AliExpress, you also have other options when a shipment gets stuck or goes missing.
AliExpress, for example, offers buyers a 60-day guarantee period. If the package does not arrive in that time span, you can open a dispute with the seller and claim your money back or have a replacement item sent.
This means of compensation can only be opened close to the end of the 60-day period, however. Try to open a dispute too early and both the platform and the seller will just tell you to wait longer.
- Related Content: What Does “Return Item From Customs (INB)” Mean?
Similar Updates to “Send Item to Customs (INB)”
Several international carriers will use the “Send Item to Customs (INB)” alert to notify customers that a shipment has arrived in the destination country and has been put forward for clearance.
However, due to the fact this is standard procedure for international shipments, there are many similar updates used by competing carriers.
Although the “Send Item to Customs (INB)” update is a standard alert, there is still room for delays. Customs can be a prolonged business at the best of times.
Within any luck, your item will be processed and handed over to the carrier for final delivery within a day or two.
If problems do occur, you will need to keep an eye on your tracking details for updates and be ready to contact the carrier and/or the sender if any action needs to be taken.
I’m a 25 year veteran of USPS. I’m retired now, but as the editor of Mailbox Master, I can’t quite remove myself from the carrier industry just yet. 🙂