How Long Does UK Customs Clearance Take?

Whether you are a freight forwarder, customs agent / broker or business owner, customs clearance can be a difficult problem to navigate when importing and exporting goods from the UK. Sometimes it can be a lengthy process and if this does happen, it can become an expensive one as well.

How long does customs clearance typically take?

Customs clearance itself is actually quicker than you may first think. The UK Customs clearance process usually takes a matter of minutes or hours but it can take days or even weeks if there’s something wrong / missing, or your goods need to be inspected.

When scheduling and preparing for the entire logistics process, we generally say that from your goods landing in the UK, to arriving at your warehouse, you should allow roughly 2-3 days from leaving an EU destination. Customs clearance itself is only a fraction of that time, If for some reason you have not met the criteria needed to clear goods, this can take a matter of weeks.

What can hold up your goods from being cleared?

Customs delays are common and unfortunately they’re expensive, but they are easily preventable!

Customs clearance controls the UK border, so the final decision as to whether your goods enter the UK or not is down to them. It is an essential step in the importing process and is unavoidable; if your goods don’t clear customs, they can’t enter the UK, and there are no two ways about it. To ensure a smooth and streamlined process, you should be aware that the below will cause delays in the customs clearance process:

Not having the right paperwork

Many businesses either don’t have the correct paperwork, haven’t completed it on time, or have submitted it with manual errors. Having a cloud-based document management system means you can easily access critical documents and say no to filing cabinets or searching emails to find what you need. You will also ensure that your customs entry is filed correctly. Simply share your documents with us and we’ll take it from there!

Random testing

Depending on what sort of goods or equipment you are importing / exporting, customs clearance may carry out random testing to see if the goods comply with the quality and compliance standards we have in the UK. This is often done completely randomly, and although it can delay the customs clearance process, unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about random selection.

Lack of communication

Sometimes it can be a simple communication problem that slows down the movement of your goods. The KlearNow platform gives you real-time communication with your customs agent / broker whenever and from wherever you are, meaning improved efficiency.

Airport & seaport congestion

As with any industry, the logistics industry also experiences seasonality. There are certain periods of the year when the demand for sea, air and land freight will rapidly increase, Christmas being one of the busiest.

This seasonal increase in demand can cause congestion and the only way out of it is to wait your turn. To avoid any delays in the clearance of your goods, it is advisable to avoid peak times of the year.

How long are goods usually held at customs?

Your shipment should pass through customs in a matter of minutes or hours.

On the unlikely occasion that your goods get rejected, they may be held in customs for a significant amount of time, before being rejected or even destroyed. This is nearly always because the sender hasn’t done their paperwork. This isn’t an ideal scenario for any parties involved, wasting time and money.

How long your goods are held for will depend entirely on why your goods are being stopped at customs. If a certificate or the appropriate paperwork is needed, they will be held until you can provide this.

Is there a way to make customs clearance quicker?

As a customs software vendor, KlearNow has the ability to file across all UK ports of entry. We use AI and machine learning to quickly access essential information accurately, making importing and exporting goods an easier and quicker process.

  • Streamline your customs procedures with one flat fee every time
  • Save time on your audit trails with HMRC with up-to-date data at your fingertips
  • Track all your shipments in real-time from any smart device
  • Up-to-date KPIs at your fingertips, KlearNow´s AI driven platform extracts the right information; saving costly and timely mistakes
  • Real-time tracking alerts you to any possible delays allowing you to plan ahead
  • Centralized, searchable data storage from anywhere, anytime

No contracts. No integration required. Sign-up in minutes and you’re ready to go.

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