tips for smooth customs clearance

6 Tips for Smooth Customs Clearance

Customs clearance is probably one of the most complex and intimidating aspects of global freight shipping. Small businesses must devote a lot of time and energy to make sure they get the process right if they are to avoid fines and delays.

Whether you opt to use a broker or decide to go it alone, these six tips will help clear the murky waters of customs clearance to give you a better idea of what needs to be done.

6 customs clearance tips


No one’s a fan of paperwork, but when it comes to customs clearance, if you get it wrong, it cost you dearly. It’s critical to make sure you arrange all the required declarations for your cargo’s entire journey. Any mistakes could cause fines and delays. And don’t forget, when we say paperwork that includes:

  • Commercial invoices
  • Transportation documents
  • Pro-form invoices
  • Proof of origin
  • Customs value declarations
  • And much more!

What are you shipping?

OK, so you know what you’re shipping, but what about the bloke in the customs office? He doesn’t get to see the widgets, so it’s vital the description you provide is easy to understand – no jargon or in-house descriptions. It has to be very clear. As a minimum, you must give:

  • A full description of the cargo
  • Commodity codes
  • Details about the shipment, including its functions
  • Information about how it is packed
  • Details of any electronics or batteries in your consignment

Make the most of tech

Just because customs clearance involves a mountain of paperwork doesn’t mean you have to do it all manually. Embrace technology and use the plethora of online tools that are ready and waiting for you to streamline your paperwork management, submission of documents, and track your freight.

Lowering costs

What do you know about the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA)? They are set up between countries to promote international trade and make trading easier between those countries. It will pay to get up to speed with them because some items will be eligible for preferential access and reduced import tariffs.

Make sure your packaging is top-notch

With everything else to think about, you’re probably surprised to see packaging in our six top tips. Well, if your consignment is poorly packaged, it could cost you dearly, in time and money. Customs officials will check your packaging for durability and make sure it has the correct labels on it.

Get the right help for your customs clearance

If everything we’ve talked about so far has caused you to break out in a cold sweat, fear not; help is at hand. You don’t have to navigate this minefield on your own. Finding a licensed customs broker will save you a lot of time and hassle because they’ll take care of everything for you.

The final word on customs clearance

Customs clearance is a necessity, so if you’re planning on taking the DIY route, you must get to grips with it. Of course, you would avoid all the headaches by finding a broker who can do all the hard work for you, giving you peace of mind that all your paperwork is up to scratch.

Smart Directions offers its clients a complete logistics service and customs brokerage. Talk to the team today on 01442 507 240 for more information.

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