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What Does “Import Clearance Failure” Mean (AliExpress Shipments)

You’re expecting a package from AliExpress and have received an “Import Clearance Failure” tracking update.

What does this mean exactly? Is it as self-explanatory as it seems and what do you do now?

Let’s take a look…

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Summary: Import Clearance Failure

The “Import Clearance Failure” tracking alert means that your package has failed to pass through customs clearance. There is a number of reasons this may have happened; from import taxes being owed or incomplete clearance paperwork to the contents of the package being prohibited.

Import Clearance Failure – Guide

No one wants to receive the “Import Clearance Failure” update. It basically means that a problem occurred when the shipment attempted to enter the destination country (import country).

If you’re the sender you will have an unhappy customer on your hands. If you’re the recipient, you may not receive your order now.

In a moment we will look into what you should do in this situation. First, let’s look at some of the possible reasons you are now seeing the dreaded “Import Clearance Failure” update.

Causes of “Import Clearance Failure”

Airport Import Clearance Failure

1. Taxes & Duties Owed

When ordering from AliExpress, the most common reason behind this alert is that tax and duties are owed on the item.

Sometimes, the tracking alert will be accompanied by details of the tax amount that is owed. After this, you should contact the carrier or customs in order to make payment.

In other situations, the postal service or carrier responsible for delivery within the destination country will contact you regarding the owed amount.

You will be told that upon payment, the package will be released from customs and delivery will resume.

2. Incomplete Clearance Documentation

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Get your Documents in Order (By Me, MidJourney)

Incomplete or incorrect information on the clearance documentation is another reason your AliExpress could be held at customs triggering an “Import Clearance Failure” update.

Normally, more details will be required by the sender. They have made errors in the shipment value for instance, or the item is unfortunate enough to be part of a larger consignment with issues elsewhere.

Whatever the reason, if it turns out that documentation is the problem, you will need to contact the seller via AliExpress in order for them to provide the necessary information.

In cases where you as the receiver are able to provide the details, you should be able to get the shipment moving again without too much problem.

3. Counterfeit Products or Contents Prohibited

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Prohibited Mail Items – Bullets (By Me, MidJourney)

Again, the tracking should update to provide information about the nature of the clearance failure.

Another (unfortunate) situation with goods ordered from AliExpress is counterfeit items. These will be withheld at customs if found, triggering the “Import Clearance Failure” update.

The same goes for any prohibited item that is attempted to be imported.

In each case, there is very little you can do. The package will be confiscated and destroyed

However, due to the sender being in the wrong, you will be able to open a dispute with AliExpress and attempt to get your money back on the basis of the order never arriving.

What to do After an “Import Clearance Failure” Update?

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As explained above, your first step will be to keep an eye on your tracking alerts for further information about the nature of the customs failure.

If this doesn’t happen, you will need to contact the carrier involved in the import process to see the reason behind why your package is being held.

Where taxes and duties are owed, you will be able to make payment through the carrier, (or if customs contacted you directly, via the payment means they provided).

If more information is required for the clearance documentation, you will need to make contact with the sender or provide the necessary information yourself if appropriate.

Finally, where there is a problem with the contents of the package, you may lose the item completely. Here, you will have no choice but to contact AliExpress and/or the sender in order to begin the refund process.

What Happens After “Import Clearance Failure”

Assuming you are able to rectify whatever has happened to cause the alert, the package will be cleared through customs.

This will trigger a lovely, “Import Clearance Success” status alert before your package is handed over to the local carrier for delivery.

In cases where clearance cannot be obtained, the item will either be destroyed or sent back to the sender, (a situation that can actually incur charges to the recipient.)

Final Words

For everyone involved the “Import Clearance Failure” update is a pain in the proverbial arse.

It means that issues need to be solved in order for clearance to be granted. Following the steps above, you will hopefully achieve this.

If not, I am afraid your AliExpress order will not reach you and you will need to begin the process of claiming a refund.

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