You’ve ordered an item from China and you have received an “Arrived at Airport of Destination” tracking update.
What does this mean exactly? Where is your package when you receive this status and what can you do if it gets stuck?
Let’s take a look…
Summary: Arrived at Airport of Destination
The “Arrived at Airport of Destination” tracking alert means that your package has landed at an airport inside the destination country. The next step is customs clearance before transit toward the recipient’s address.
Why is My Package Stuck on “Arrived at Airport of Destination”?
We’ll get straight to the point here. The chances are you have found this article because your package is currently stuck on “Arrived at Airport of Destination”.
Your shipment is finally in the destination country and for some reason, it isn’t moving. There are a number of reasons your package could be stuck on this alert.
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The customs clearance process is the most common reason you can end up seeing the “Arrived at Airport of Destination” status alert for several days (sometimes weeks).
For example, packages from China entering the U.S in New York will land at JFK and will be processed through the New York ISC.
Literally, tens of thousands of items enter the ISC every day and need to pass through customs processing. Your package will have to join the back of the line of items waiting to be checked
Staff shortages, seasonal volumes, and overall processing issues, (Chicago and New York ISCs have been under investigation by the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General for slow processing times) will cause your item to be stuck on the “Arrived at Airport of Destination” update.
Essentially, your item is waiting to enter the ISC and will not receive another status update until it does.
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Once your mail item enters the ISC for customs clearance, all the relevant documentation needs to be in place.
If the seller has not provided the required details for successful clearance, or the contents are on a prohibited list, (or raise questions), your package will be stuck.
Tax and duty could also be owed on the item causing it to be held at this juncture. However, you would normally expect an email or tracking update with details of such.
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Mail Item Misplaced
This goes back to issues with the ISC. These processing centers are enormous. While awaiting hand over to customs it is very possible for a mail item to get lost within the system (i.e physically misplaced) and end up in an area of the warehouse where it is overlooked.
Liege linehaul in Europe is actually renowned for this. They call it the “Black Hole”.
Packages literally arrive at the airport, (triggering the “Arrived at Airport of Destination” alert) only to enter Liege Linehaul and disappear for weeks.
The aforementioned fact that Chicago, New York, and other ISCs run by USPS struggle with similar issues, it is clear why a package can end up stuck on the “Arrived at Airport of Destination” update.
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What to do When Your Package is Stuck on “Arrived at Airport of Destination”?
There are a number of potential steps you can take if your package is stuck on this update.
Unfortunately, the first one is to remain patient. If this is an economy shipment sent from China, it is a low priority. The seller or platforms such as AliExpress will do little until your order is close to the end of the buyer’s guarantee period.
If you have details on the carrier that will be receiving the item at the airport and is responsible for the onward transit to final delivery, you can try to contact them.
In the case of USPS, you can contact them here.
If the item is stuck in a facility warehouse someplace, they will be able to make inquiries into its current location and speed things along.
However, USPS can do little if the mail item is in the hands of the Customs & Border Protection and they have yet to scan it within its system.
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“Arrived at Airport of Destination” – The Normal Process
If you have just received the “Arrived at Airport of Destination” update and you simply want to know where your package currently is and how long it will take to arrive, this section will help.
Essentially, the screenshot above shows the normal procedure for a mail item arriving in the USA from China.
The tracking details show that the item left Shenzhen (triggering a “Departed facility in processing center” alert) and also passed through Hong Kong.
It then arrived in Germany and triggered the “Arrived at Airport of Destination” alert. In this case “clearance in process” was also added to the tracking information.
After this, it helpfully states that “customs clearance completed”. At this point, the recipient and sender can enjoy a collective sigh of relief.
Leaving customs the next update we receive is the fact the item is in Rozenburg. It has “Departed from Facility”, and is now in the hands of a local carrier that will deliver it to the recipient’s address.
When all goes to plan, this whole chain of events should take just a few days after the item has arrived at the airport of destination.
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Similar update: “Arrival of goods at destination airport”
Different carriers will use different wording to mean the same thing. In this case, “Arrival of goods at destination airport” is exactly the same as “Arrived at Airport of Destination”.
No one needs an English degree to work that one out. If you receive the “Arrival of goods at destination airport” tracking alert it means that the goods have landed at an airport inside the destination country.
Similar Update: “Arrived at the destination airport”
Likewise, “Arrived at the destination airport” means that the mail item has arrived at an airport within the destination country. All of the above information is applied here too.
- Related Content: Departed Country of Origin – Tracking Guide
Overall, the “Arrived at Airport of Destination” status alert (or words to that effect) is a good message to receive. It means that the package has landed in the destination country and should be with the recipient soon.
However, the customs clearance process and the various processing centers that handle this can cause problems. Whether it’s logistical delays or paperwork issues, delivery can very often be held up at this point.
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. 🙂