Customs Clearance

There’s no avoiding it – if your goods pass a border, they have to go through customs clearance.

What is Customs Clearance?

Customs clearance is the official permission a government’s custom department gives for your goods to travel. Any shipment entering or leaving a country must be cleared by customs, which requires detailed paperwork and the payment of taxes, duties, and other fees.

This ensures that the international flow of cargo is facilitated and as safe as possible, making sure no illegal or prohibited goods travel, and that it participates in a government’s economy with taxes and duties paid.

Because it is mandatory, failing to provide the right documentation can not only delay your shipment greatly, but it can also result in legal issues – which is why it is so essential to be aware of all the intricacies of this complex process.

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What are the key features of Customs Clearance?

To understand customs clearance and make sure your goods are shipped safely, securely and quickly, here are the main things you need to know about this process.

  • Customs clearance is mandatory – all your goods need to go through it to pass a border.
  • Not everything can be shipped – some goods are prohibited, whilst others need licences.
  • Regulations differ per country, compelling you to always be aware of them and their potential changes.
  • Paperwork is the biggest part of customs clearance and making mistakes whilst filling it or providing the wrong one will delay your shipments.
  • Taxes, duties and fees need to be paid. Their amount depends on your shipment, and it will be decided by an officer after examining your documents.
  • Your goods will be held until your documents are cleared and all fees are paid. A quick process can then take many days if done wrong.

How does Customs Clearance work?

Even though customs clearance can be a quick process that’s carried out in less than 24 hours, several steps come into play, and failure to provide the right documents, for example, can prolong the process by hours or even days. And to add to this complexity, the requirements differ by country.

Getting the right documents ready is the most important part of preparing for customs clearance, as an officer will have to go through them all to verify your cargo is safe to travel. Though these vary according to country, they usually consist of your import and export licence, customs declaration document, invoices, shipping label, and your packing list.

Once your cargo is cleared with the help of your paperwork, the latter is also used to calculate taxes like the VAT, import duties, and any fees you will have to pay. These depend on your shipment – its type, value, as well as the shipping country’s laws. Depending on the type of shipping you’re using, additional fees might also be added.

This payment is then requested, and when it is received, your shipment is cleared and released from the customs department. It goes back to your courier and finishes the journey to its destination. This full process is mandatory, and it takes place every time your cargo crosses a border.

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Why is Customs Clearance important?

Customs Clearance is a legal requirement when exporting or importing– it ensures that shipments travel safely through borders, and that no illegal goods are slipping through customs. It is also essential to a country’s economy, and it guarantees that the right fees and taxes are paid to its government whilst keeping everyone safe.

On the other hand, it is important for you to handle customs clearance well and be aware of all the regulations because of it being such an important, mandatory process – legal issues even being possible if mistakes are made. What’s more, any hurdles are guaranteed to delay your shipment – and there is nothing more precious than the smooth progress of your supply chain.

What factors influence the time Customs Clearance takes?

Even though customs clearance can be a quick process that’s carried out in less than 24 hours, several steps come into play, and failure to provide the right documents, for example, can prolong the process by hours or even days. And to add to this complexity, the requirements differ by country.

This is why it is essential to be aware of all the laws regarding customs clearance, or to choose a partner with customs clearance expertise who can handle this task for you. Your documents, how well they’re filled, and the type of your shipment, can all influence the time your goods will stay in customs clearance.

Why Maersk Customs Clearance Services?

You can take care of customs clearance yourself if you’d like, though we highly recommend that you find a partner that can alleviate this complex process for you and handle as many steps as possible.

International trade laws change frequently, and each country has its own regulations – keeping in touch with all of this can be challenging and time-consuming. At Maersk, we understand your supply chain needs and can guide you using our customs clearance expertise.

Indeed, since any mistake delays your deliveries, our experts always make sure your customs clearance goes as smoothly as possible, preventing any nasty surprises, facilitating the movement of your cargo, and keeping your customers happy.

End to end integration
Providing end-to-end integration

Integrate your customs process with our Supply Chain Management (SCM) platform for export data management and downstream import benefits.

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Global Trade and Customs Consulting services

Compliance experts and specialist trade consultants help you manoeuvre the complex world of tariff codes, taxes, duties and international trade regulations to help decrease costs and increase predictability.

Offers more compliance control
Offering more compliance control

Dedicated compliance management teams to closely monitor your customs activity along with the latest changes in legislation.

Optimises your supply chain
Optimising your supply chain
Keep your complex supply chain running smoothly by minimising downtime and reducing costs with a tailor-made approach that’s unique to your business needs.
Manages risk and unpredictability
Collaborating with Maersk customs clearance agents

A close working relationship with one customs service provider throughout your cargo journey; someone who understands your business needs and increases your supply chain efficiency and visibility.

Collaboration with Maersk experts
Managing risk and unpredictability
A centralised team of experts to execute your customs process with compliance and efficiency.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How to book Maersk Customs Services

One supply chain, one platform – offers you the opportunity to manage your ocean business and customs clearance on one platform. It’s simple, fast and easy.
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TATA Motors cruises all the way with Maersk Customs Services

As one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers, TATA relies on timely deliveries that demand on-time customs clearances. Watch Jayant Shreedhar Athawade, Head of SCM at TATA Motors International Business, talk about the value Maersk's customs team brings to seamless delivery of their vehicles.

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