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UPS “Your Package is Pending Release from a Government Agency”

You’re expecting an international delivery from UPS and have received a “Your Package is Pending Release from a Government Agency” tracking update.

What does this mean exactly? Has something gone wrong? Which government agency are they talking about?

Let’s take a look…

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Summary: Your package is pending release from a Government Agency

The “Your package is pending release from a Government Agency” tracking alert from UPS means that the shipment is currently in the possession of a government agency. This could be customs, the FDA, or any other department that may have an interest in imported items.  

Your Package is Pending Release from a Government Agency – Guide

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It is important to understand that just because you have received this update, that there is something wrong with the package and/or its contents.

However, at the same time, you should prepare yourself for a possible delay in the package being delivered to the destination address.

Another point to clarify is that you can receive the “Your package is pending release from a Government Agency” alert even after the package has cleared customs.

This is because the first check as a shipment arrives in the destination country, will be customs.

However, if another agency decides to inspect the package or it is called for a spot check, the alert will be triggered.

Essentially, the item is in the hands of another government agency at the point of import and is pending release.

Common Reasons for the Alert

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All said and done, the “Your Package is Pending Release from a Government Agency” alert is a routine step in the international shipping process.

However, knowing what may have triggered the update is one way of putting your mind at ease.

Reasons include:

1. Customs Inspection

Most commonly, this alert occurs when your package enters a different country and goes through general customs inspection.

Customs officials examine packages to ensure compliance with import regulations, taxation, and safety standards.

This scrutiny is vital for national security and revenue collection.

2. Regulatory Compliance


Certain items, such as pharmaceuticals, food, electronics, and hazardous materials, are subject to strict regulations in many countries.

If your package contains any of these items, it may be flagged for a government agency’s inspection to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.

3. Documentation Issues

Incorrect or incomplete customs documentation can also lead to this alert.

If the shipping label, invoice, or declaration forms are not in order, the package may be held until the necessary paperwork is provided, (see more on this particular outcome below).

4. Security Concerns

Government agencies may detain packages if they suspect any security threats.

Suspicious or unusual packages will be subject to thorough inspection to ensure they do not pose any risks.

What to do After a “Your Package is Pending Release from a Government Agency” Alert?

Your Package is Pending Release from a Government Agency

Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to speed things along after you receive this status alert.

Contacting UPS with your concerns or complaints will not necessarily help as the package is out of their control while it is with the government agency in question.

That being said, they might be able to offer more information on which agency has the shipment (and what the process might be).

They may also provide details of anything that might be required from you or the sender, (additional paperwork or clarification of shipment details, etc.).

Tracking Stuck on the Update

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While your item is with the government agency and inspection is taking place, your package will not receive any new scans and therefore updates.

This can be frustrating as it will seem as if the shipment is stuck. 

The truth is, there is no way of knowing how large a backlog the agency has or what type of inspection the shipment will be subjected to.

In other words, patience is key.

The agency will release the item when it is ready. The brokerage used by UPS (or their in-house team), will also contact you or the sender if additional steps need to be taken.

All the same, if the item is stuck with the agency for more than 5 business days I would recommend contacting UPS to begin inquiries into the delay.

What Happens After the Update?

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The tracking update that you will be happy to see will be “Your Package Has Been Released by the Government Agency”.

This will be triggered after UPS has received the item back from the government agency and it is once again inside the delivery network.

The next steps after this will simply be transit toward the destination address before final delivery.

With any luck, you should have your package within just a couple of days.

Final Words

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Overall, this particular update from UPS is an alert that although quite rare, is normally nothing to be concerned about.

It will often cause a slight delay in the delivery schedule, (meaning UPS may adjust the delivery window as a result).

That being said, as long as the contents of the package are not problematic and all relevant documentation has been taken care of, the shipment should be released in a matter of days and be on its way to the recipient.

If those days turn into a week or more, you will definitely have grounds to contact UPS in order to begin your inquiries.

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