You’re expecting a delivery and you have received an “Awaiting Presentation to Customs” status update.
While this alert is used predominantly by Belgium Post (BPost) other carriers do use it.
So, what does this update mean exactly? Does Customs have an issue with your shipment and is there anything you need to do?
Let’s take a look…
Summary: Awaiting Presentation to Customs
The “Awaiting Presentation to Customs” tracking status means that the shipment is waiting to be inspected by customs staff for clearance. This alert can be triggered either as the shipment is scheduled for inspection when leaving the origin country, or for inspection upon arrival in the destination country.
Awaiting Presentation to Customs – Guide
The “Awaiting Presentation to Customs” status alert is a standard update that informs customers that the shipment will soon be going through customs for clearance processing.
As all packages go through customs in one form or another, (i.e with varying degrees of inspection), there is no reason for alarm when you receive this update.
Importantly, it does not mean that your shipment has been singled out for any particular reason.
The shipment has merely been placed into a queue while it awaits general customs clearance from customs staff.
- Related Content: Item Presented to Import Customs: Is this Bad News?
How Long Will My Tracking State “Awaiting Presentation to Customs”?
This question is difficult to answer because, in truth, wait time at customs varies widely.
How Long at Customs: Best Case Scenario
The best case scenario is that your package is processed by customs staff within a few hours of you receiving the “Awaiting Presentation to Customs” update.
It is then handed to the carrier that is responsible for the next leg of the transit journey, (cross-border transit if the item is leaving the origin country, and final delivery if the item has just passed clearance in the destination country).
Once it has been received by the said carrier you will receive another update (triggered by the carrier scan), alerting you to the fact that the item has successfully cleared customs and is on its way.
However, this is by far the best-case scenario.
- Related Content: Shipment Awaiting Physical Release Customs Controlled Area
How Long at Customs – Likely Scenario
A more likely scenario is that the package will be stuck “Awaiting Presentation to Customs” for several days.
Whether it’s an International Distribution Center in the United States, Liege Airport in Belgium for international package arrivals into Europe, or simply one of the busy air cargo ports flying out of China, these places are extremely busy.
Hundreds of thousands of parcels flow through these hubs every day, all of which will pass through customs in some fashion.
Backlogs due to these high volumes are extremely common, and it only takes a small problem to throw the “smooth” running of these warehouses out of whack.
Whether it is a technical problem, staffing issues (hello Covid), or seasonal volumes, it doesn’t take much for packages to be held up for days before customs staff is able to process them.
During that time, your tracking will be stuck on “Awaiting Presentation to Customs”.
- Related Content: Import Clearance Exception – What Does it Mean?
How Long at Customs – Worst Case Scenario
The worst-case scenario is that your package is held up for a few days due to any of the issues mentioned above, and then when it finally does reach inspection there is a problem with the contents or the customs documentation.
You will continue to see the “Awaiting Presentation to Customs” alert until either the carrier reaches out to the sender and/or the recipient to state that a problem has occurred.
In some cases, you will hear nothing until you actually make contact yourself.
The solution, normally the requirement of more information about the shipment, should solve the situation and get the package moving again.
- Related Content: What Does the “Parcel is Handled” Tracking Alert Meaning? (BPost)
What To Do If Your Package Is Stuck?
If your tracking is stuck on the “Awaiting Presentation to Customs” the first step is to ensure that you are receiving all the available information about your shipment.
Many economy carriers responsible for shipping items from China to the west will stop scanning and tracking a package once the item has been handed over to customs.
This is due to the fact a line-haul operator will be responsible for overseas transit, with a local carrier dealing with the delivery in the destination country.
The upshot is, that even if your item has already passed through customs and has been scanned by the line-haul operator, you might not have received the corresponding update.
Essentially, if another operator has scanned your package and further alerts are available, a universal tracking app will be able to find them for you.
- Related Content: “Held by Customs at Destination” – What To Do?
Contacting the Seller & Buyer Guarantee Periods
If your package really has entered no man’s land while it is “Awaiting Presentation to Customs” and several weeks pass, it will be time to contact the seller.
On platforms such as AliExpress, you will be able to do this quite easily from your account dashboard.
They should be alerted to the fact the shipment has gone AWOL and that you need help locating it, (carriers are generally more helpful to the account holder that posted the parcel, rather than the recipient).
Also, you should be aware of your buyer protection period. Most eCommerce platforms offer this. It is covered in the event your order never arrives.
With AliExpress it is 60 days. As long as you open a dispute about the missing package just before the 60 days are up, you should have no issues receiving a replacement item or a refund.
“Awaiting Presentation to Customs” – What Happens Next?
Under normal circumstances, the next step after the “Awaiting Presentation to Customs” alert is an update telling you that customs have been successfully cleared.
After that, it is simply the next leg of the package journey. This could be cross-border transit via air or sea, or maybe the item has landed in the destination country and will soon be with the carrier for final delivery.
Either way, you should receive some kind of alert from the carrier stating the approximate location of the shipment and where it was last scanned.
- Related Content: “Item Returned From Import Customs” – What Does it Mean?
Very often, the idea that a package has to go through customs, makes people nervous.
However, for the most part, when you receive the “Awaiting Presentation to Customs” update there is nothing to be worried about.
Customs clearance is a mere formality for the majority of items, and you will hopefully have your order delivered within a few days of receiving this update, (assuming it is already in the destination country).
All the same, it is a good idea to keep an eye on your status alerts around the time of customs clearance, just in case further information is required.