Parcel detained at customs: how to react

Jan 11, 2024

You are notified of a parcel stuck in customs ? It may be held in a portan airport or a land border. In this case, there is no need to contact the IDS (Infos douane service) call center. The customs services services cannot about the status of your shipment. Here's everything you need to know to your product.

Who should I contact if my parcel is stuck in customs?

Has the parcel tracking system managed by the delivery company responsible for your shipment informed you that your product has been detained by customs? The first thing to do in this case is to contact your carrier. Your carrier is responsible for your shipment and the customs formalities involved. Their role is to monitor the shipment from start to finish.

Thanks to its database, the delivery company knows the exact status of all the items it ships. It can therefore inform you of the reasons why your parcel is being held in customs. We can also advise you on the steps you need to take to recover your parcel.

For what reasons can a parcel be detained by customs?

Customs have a dual mission. The first is to control the security of its own country by combating terrorism and trafficking of all kinds, as well as protecting the health of citizens and animal species. The second is taxation. They are required to collect VAT (Value Added Tax) and customs duties. Consequently, customs officers must check the contents of each parcel and ensure that declarations correspond to the merchandise.

Being notified that your shipment is "blocked in bond" or "blocked in customs" does not necessarily mean that the customs authorities are in possession of your package. It's a general indication that your shipment is subject to some import or control formalities, which may result in a delay. This delay may also be due to logistical anomalies, which is why you need to contact your carrier. Here are the 4 most common cases of goods being held up in customs.

1. Products subject to restrictions

Certain goods, such as tobacco and alcohol, are subject to restrictions. These are even more stringent for shipments outside the EU zone. There are also products that are prohibited in some countries and authorized in others. As part of its security control role, customs can seize goods that do not comply with current legislation.

2. Accompanying documents pending

Your carrier must provide specific documents to accompany the goods crossing the border. These may include, for example, certificates of conformity, health inspections or customs authorizations. Customs authorities are particularly intransigent when it comes to sensitive deliveries such as animal products or endangered species of wild flora and fauna. A single missing certificate is all it takes for your shipment to be blocked until the document is received.

3. Undeclared goods

Customs records and verifies each declaration using official documents such as invoices. This enables them to calculate the VAT and customs duties to be collected. Incorrect or missing proof of value can result in a fine and/or seizure of the goods.

4. Unpaid customs duties

Any goods for which customs duties have not been paid remain stuck in customs. In this case, your carrier must clear your shipment through customs in order to collect it. This can also apply to online purchases. Turn to the customer service department of the e-commerce site in question to find out the status of your parcel.

What are the consequences of a customs blockage?

Within the EU zone, it takes one or two days to clear a parcel through customs. However, customs clearance in certain non-EU countries can take a long time. The processing time depends on the reason for the blockage and your carrier's responsiveness, so it's important to contact them as soon as possible.

Additional costs incurred as a result of customs detention

Your delivery service provider may charge you additional fees if your parcel is blocked by customs. These are :

  • handling, customs clearance or customs processing fees ;
  • customs clearance costs ;
  • product structuring and control fees ;
  • fees for preparing customs declarations.

As you can see, your carrier can add to your costs any action he takes to collect your parcel, which may involve additional expenses. Checking the merchandise, for example, requires the presence of an agent and the use of scanners.

These charges depend on the shipping company you have chosen. It is therefore important to check with the company's customer service department to find out the rates applied in the event of customs intervention. But if you want to avoid this kind of situation, make sure you provide all the necessary shipping documents as soon as your goods leave our premises.

Customs Code penalties

Article 66 of the Customs Code authorizes customs services to confiscate prohibited or counterfeit articles. No recourse is possible in this case. Seizure of the product leads to its destruction. The buyer is also liable to a fine.

Undeclared goods are also subject to irreversible confiscation, in accordance with article 410 of the Customs Code. This situation corresponds to a first-class contravention. It can result in a fine of between 300 and 3,000 euros. Fraud and counterfeiting are punishable by criminal penalties.

What to do if your parcel is held up in customs? What you need to know

As soon as you notice the customs blockage, contact your delivery service provider. Take your order tracking number with you. This will enable the operator to find your parcel during customs clearance, inform you of its status and identify the problem.

Whether the value has been exceeded or the documentation is missing, the seizure will be maintained until customs receives payment of the amount due or a supplement to the file. Your transport company can act on your behalf to resolve the situation with the customs authorities. He may charge you administrative fees for this type of operation.

It is therefore important to find out in advance about the customs requirements specific to your type of product and its origin or destination. Your service provider's transport department should be able to help you find a list of the export or import conditions that apply to you. This will help you avoid finding your parcel stuck in customs.

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