If you happened to use FedEx for your package delivery, you might notice the “available for clearance” sign when you check your tracking.
When a FedEx package updates that it is “available for clearance” this means that it is ready to pass through customs. This comes after the package has reached the customs center, but before it is cleared to continue its journey.
Most packages can clear customs in one day or less with FedEx. It can happen because of the holiday processing times, missing or incorrect documents for the shipment, collection of duties and/or taxes.
In this article we will look out the process FedEx has in place for international packages, reasons a package might sit at this stage for a while, and what you can expect from this point forward.
What Does “FedEx Package Available for Clearance” Mean?
If you check on the status of your package and it says “FedEx package available for clearance” it means that the package is at customs and waiting to pass through.
This is most often seen when there is a customs delay, meaning the package may have been held for examination or assessment.
What Does It Mean When a Package Needs Clearance?
A package may need clearance for several reasons. Some packages are chosen randomly for inspection, while others are set aside because of:
- Suspicious contents
- Missing or incorrect documents
- Missing or insufficient taxes or duties
Packages will remain in customs until further inspections or the issues are resolved.
FedEx Process for International Shipments
FedEx has set up connections with customs officials in many countries to help expedite the shipping process. Many choose FedEx as their international shipping solution because the packages:
- Ship faster
- Are insured
- Can be tracked along the journey
A clear example of the FedEx process for international shipments is the ExpressClear clearance system in place in Argentina.
The process starts where the package originates, and the appropriate paperwork for the shipment is processed and electronically transferred to the FedEx hub at the destined clearance location.
FedEx information relevant to regulatory processes in an online, international database, including:
- Importers’ numbers
- Broker designations
- Corporate contact names
- Important phone numbers
At the FedEx hub, international packages are sorted, scanned, and then placed onto their appropriate flight.
Any information is recorded in their worldwide manifest database. This information is made available to brokers and officials.
FedEx is able to start examining the shipping manifest prior to departure, and during this time they can:
- Query air waybill data
- Assess duties and/or taxes
- Select shipments for further examination
By doing this on the flight many packages are already ready to be cleared by customs, and they are marked “available for clearance” before the flight even lands.
Once the packages completely clear customs at the destination they are transferred to trucks and sent out for delivery.
How Long Does Clearance Take with FedEx?
It can be difficult to pin down an exact time frame for customs clearance with FedEx, especially when there are variables outside their control.
That being said, most packages can clear customs in one day or less with FedEx. This is largely attributed to the ExpressClear system put in place in many FedEx locations.
The Importance of Customs for International Shipments
If you are unfamiliar with what customs refers to, this is the government agency responsible for examining packages and verifying their integrity.
Customer officials might pull aside packages that are concerning or for random assessment.
Customs officials are also responsible for collecting duties and taxes on shipments in or out of the country.
They clear shipments as quickly as possible while still ensuring the safety of the facility and the country and ensuring appropriate taxes are collected.
Why is my Package Delayed at Clearance With FedEx?
A FedEx package might be marked “available for clearance” for a few hours or a few days. In many cases, the packages are able to move through the customs process with minimal delays, but there are some reasons that your package takes longer.
The most common reasons for clearance delays include:
- Holiday processing times
- Missing or incorrect documents for the shipment
- Collection of duties and/or taxes
In most cases, you can expect processing to take another day or two. This also depends on the volume of packages at that time.
FedEx itself rarely takes any holidays, and workers are usually available to keep packages moving consistently so they get to their destination on time.
The issue with shipping around holidays is that workers, both for FedEx and customs centers, are now dealing with many more packages than normal. This puts more stress and strain on workers, and it ripples into additional issues.
This is why you should try to get packages out as soon as possible around major holidays or long weekends.
Workers try their hardest to keep things moving, but there is no guarantee when there are so many more variables to work with.
Missing or Incorrect Documents
A package that is missing documents or found to have documents with incorrect information then it will take longer to pass through customs.
The most common official document, in this case, is the commercial invoice. This is the document in which the sender declares and specifies the contents of the package and its values.
Most countries require the sender to have two commercial invoices per package. Customs officials will use these documents to determine the taxability of a package, but they may also pull aside any packages that do not appear to match the commercial invoice.
Packages without a commercial invoice will be set aside until the sender can resolve the issue.
Duties and Taxes
If a package is held for duties or taxes then FedEx will contact someone to pay the expected amount. This will be the:
- Designated taxpayer
The payer can pick up the package from a local FedEx office, or a courier can collect the payment on delivery. This fee varies by country.
If someone other than the receiver is paying the fees, then FedEx will release the package and deliver it within a day or two.
How Do I Contact FedEx Customs Clearance?
To contact FedEx Customs Clearance:
- Call 1-800-249-2953 or 1-716-897-1075
- Email [email protected]
If you need assistance figuring out work with international trade regulations then email [email protected].
As long as you provided all the correct information and paid all the fees for your parcel, it should go through customs in no time. If it’s the holiday season, this process might take a little longer.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can always get in touch with FedEx to figure out what the issue is.
Martha had a chance to work for such major companies as USPS and FedEx, where she gained a lot of experience and learned quite a few nuances when it comes to handling mail and packages. Now she is a freelance writer who specializes in the logistics industry.