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Import Clearance Exception – What Does it Mean?

You’ve recently made an order through AliExpress and have received an “Import Clearance Exception” status update.

What does this update mean exactly? Where is your package when you receive this alert and what do you do if the tracking becomes stuck?

Let’s take a look…

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Summary: Import Clearance Exception

The “Import Clearance Exception” means that your package has arrived at customs in the destination country, and an issue “may” have occurred with clearance. Essentially, customs are looking into the shipment and you will receive more information soon.

Import Clearance Exception – Guide

customs staff

While the summary above may seem vague, it is because the “Import Clearance Exception” alert can be triggered for several reasons.

Ultimately, customs have flagged your shipment for a closer look. 

It may mean that tax or duties could be owed, (or adjusted). It could also mean that a contents check is to take place (especially in situations where the contents might be prohibited).

Even a routine check by customs can trigger this alert.

What to do if You Receive an “Import Clearance Exception” Update?

girl shrugging

The first thing to do is not panic.

Very often the package will successfully clear customs without any action needing to be taken by either the sender or the recipient.

Within a few days, you will receive a further update showing that the item has cleared customs and is now with the carrier.

Furthermore, if any action does need to be taken, you will be advised.

Either the carrier responsible for the delivery in the destination country or customs will be in touch with details.

This can take the form of an email or further alerts on the tracking page of the shipment.

Essentially, the “Import Clearance Exception” update is telling you to keep an eye out for these potential developments.

Tracking Stuck on “Import Clearance Exception” (with no further details)

girl frustrated on laptop

If you receive this update and do not receive any further instructions or sign that the item has in fact been cleared, you have a number of options available to you.

1. Check the tracking in a universal app

It could be that your carrier tracking is proving unreliable.

Remember, your package is now in the destination country where a different carrier could well be responsible for the shipment.

If you are still trying to find new status alerts with the original carrier, you could be coming up with blanks simply because that carrier has stopped tracking it.


Entering the details you have into a universal tracker such as 17Track or Parcelsapp, can help in this situation.

These apps work by scanning hundreds of carrier databases for tracking updates. 

Essentially, if your shipment is being tracked with a new carrier, these services will help you find the details.

With any luck, your item has been progressing nicely and delivery is imminent. 

2. Contact the Carrier in the Destination Country

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If the above action does not provide any new information, and the tracking is stuck on “Import Clearance Exception”, you should contact the carrier now in charge of the shipment.

If the package is still with customs, there will be little the carrier can do.

However, they may have more information regarding the exception and will be able to advise on the next steps if so.

3. Contact the seller

man using phone

If the package remains stuck, at some point, you will need to contact the seller.

This will be to advise them that something has gone wrong.

The seller’s response will vary of course, (some will be helpful, and some will completely ignore you).

Whatever the response, you should make yourself aware of your buyer guarantee period.

AliExpress offers 60 days.

If your package does not get moving again within this time period, and it looks as if you will not receive your order, you will be able to open a dispute with AliExpress to make a claim.

Final Words

customs checking a package

The last step above is really the worst-case scenario.

In most instances, you will find that the package will either start moving again, or you will hear more from customs on what the issue is.

If tax and duties are owed, as the recipient, you will need to pay them for your item to be released.

Content issues or details of content value may need to involve the seller. Other issues might need to be resolved with the carrier. 

Ultimately, until customs provide more details there is little you can do.

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