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“Held by Customs at Destination” – What To Do?

You’ve been waiting on an international shipment and have received a “Held by Customs at Destination” tracking update.

What does this mean exactly? Has there been an issue with your package and is there anything you need to do?

Let’s take a look…

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Summary: Held by Customs at Destination

“Held by Customs at Destination” means that the package has reached the destination country’s customs authority and is undergoing a mandatory inspection or clearance process before it can proceed to its final delivery. During this time, the package is temporarily held by customs, and its movement is delayed.

Held by Customs at Destination – Guide

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Receiving this update can be frustrating and it is understandable to think the worst.

Customs has held the item because there is a problem and now it will be late or maybe not turn up at all.

First things first, this is by no means the case.

There are several reasons why a package may be held by customs at the destination:

Customs Clearance Process

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Customs authorities are responsible for ensuring that imported goods comply with local regulations, including assessing duties, and taxes, and verifying the contents of the package.

The inspection process can vary depending on the nature of the goods, the declared value, and the destination country’s specific customs procedures.

The alert is triggered to inform customers about the delay caused by this mandatory inspection.

Documentation Issues

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Incomplete or inaccurate customs documentation, such as missing invoices, incorrect classification, or insufficient product details, can lead to customs holding the package.

In such cases, customs officials may require additional information or clarification from the customer or the shipping carrier to proceed with the clearance process.

Restricted or Prohibited Items


If the contents of the package include items that are restricted or prohibited by the destination country, customs authorities may detain the package for further examination.

Restricted items can include certain medications, perishable goods, firearms, or items that require special permits or licenses for importation.

Random Selection

Occasionally, customs may randomly select packages for inspection to ensure compliance with import regulations and prevent illegal activities such as smuggling or counterfeiting.

In such cases, the delay is not specific to the package itself but rather part of routine customs procedures.

What Should You Do If You Receive This Alert?

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Receiving the “Held by Customs at Destination” alert can be concerning for customers, but there are several steps they can take to navigate the situation effectively:

Stay Informed

Regularly track the package using the provided tracking number on the carrier’s website or through their customer service.

It’s essential to stay updated on the package’s progress and any further updates from the carrier or customs.

Contact the Shipping Carrier

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If the package remains in customs for an extended period or if there are specific concerns, reach out to the shipping carrier’s customer service.

They can provide more detailed information about the reason for the delay, any actions required from the customer, or any additional documentation needed.

Contact the Sender

If you are the recipient, you should also contact the sender to see if customs has been in contact with them and if they have further information on the reason the item has been held.

It could be that the sender has been asked for extra details regarding the shipment.

Gather Documentation

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Ensure that all required customs documentation, including invoices, permits, or licenses, is accurate, complete, and readily available.

If customs requests additional information, promptly provide the necessary documents to expedite the clearance process.

Follow Customs Instructions

If customs authorities request any specific actions or information, comply with their instructions promptly.

Failure to provide the requested information may prolong the customs clearance process or even result in the package being returned to the sender.

Be Patient

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Customs clearance can sometimes take longer than anticipated, depending on various factors, including the destination country and the complexity of the inspection.

It’s important to remain patient and understand that the delay is often beyond the control of the shipping carrier or the customer.

Final Words

Encountering the tracking update “Held by Customs at Destination” is a common occurrence in international shipping.

Understanding the meaning behind this alert and the reasons for its triggering can help customers navigate the customs clearance process more effectively.

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