Have you ever received a notice that your shipment has been returned from import customs? When an item returns from import customs, the shipment has been rejected and will not be allowed to enter the destination country. 

Shipments may be returned for incomplete documentation, labeling errors, or prohibited items. Customs officials may also suspect illegal or counterfeit goods.

A returned shipment can incur additional costs, delays, and potential legal consequences. Therefore, it is essential to understand the reasons for the return and take appropriate action to resolve any issues. 

In the sections below, we will discuss what steps to take when you receive a return notice and provide tips for avoiding customs issues in the future.

Definition of “Item Returned from Import Customs” Status

several logistic truck are ready for package processing

The “Item Returned from Import Customs” status means that an imported item has been sent back to the sender or rejected by customs authorities. This status shows that the shipment has been prohibited from entering the destination country for several reasons. Some of these reasons are missing or incorrect documentation, prohibited items, or suspicion of illegal or counterfeit goods.

When a shipment returns from import customs, it is the importer’s responsibility to take action. These may include providing additional documentation or addressing compliance or regulatory concerns. 

Understand the reasons for the return and act appropriate steps to avoid future customs issues that can result in additional costs and delays.

What are the Reasons for “Item Returned from Import Customs” Status

Shipment return from import customs can result in consequences, so it’s important to understand why a shipment may be returned. This section explores common reasons for the “Item Returned from Import Customs” status. Knowing these reasons can prevent future customs issues and ensure smooth processing. 

Some reasons for shipment return include:

  • Missing or incomplete documentation: If the required paperwork, such as the invoice or packing list, is missing or incomplete, the shipment may return.
  • Incorrect labeling or marking: Improper labeling or marking of the goods can lead to confusion and result in the shipment return.
  • Prohibited items: Certain items can’t enter the destination country due to legal, health, or safety concerns.
  • Suspected illegal or counterfeit goods: Customs officials suspect the shipment contains counterfeit goods and return it for further inspection.

Import customs procedures and policies can vary by country, and it is essential to know the regulations and requirements specific to each country. Some of these include:

  • Tariffs and duties: Customs officials may impose tariffs on imported goods, affecting the cost and timely delivery of the shipment.
  • Clearance procedures: Customs clearance procedures can involve inspections, document verification, and payment of fees.
  • Compliance and regulatory requirements: Importers must abide by several laws protecting intellectual property rights, labeling, and product safety.

Understanding the reasons for the “Item Returned from Import Customs” status and being familiar with the import customs procedures and policies can help importers avoid customs issues and ensure the timely and successful delivery of their shipments.

What to Do If Your Item Is Returned from Import Customs

If your item returns to import customs, the following steps can help you resolve the issue:

  1. Contact the carrier: Reach out to the carrier or shipping company to determine the reason for the return. They can also provide additional guidance in resolving the issue.
  2. Contact customs officials: If the reason for the return is unclear, contact the customs officials in the destination country to inquire about the necessary corrective actions.
  3. Provide additional documentation: If documentation is missing or incomplete, provide the necessary paperwork to clear the shipment for entry.
  4. Address compliance or regulatory concerns: If the reason for the return is related to these concerns, address the issues. Take the necessary actions to ensure that future shipments comply with the regulations.
  5. Resolve any payment issues: If additional fees are required, pay the fees promptly to avoid further delays or legal consequences.

Resolving a returned shipment from import customs can be complex and time-consuming. Remain patient and communicate appropriately to address and avoid future customs issues.

Tips to Avoid Package Delivery Delays Due to Import Customs Issues

containers cargo shipping ready to import and export packages

International package delivery can be subject to customs regulations, which can cause significant delays and even result in the seizure of goods. When exporting things internationally, adhere to standard practices to avoid these problems. 

This includes documenting your shipment with all necessary paperwork and providing accurate and complete information. Check for prohibited items and ensure proper labeling and marking to help ensure smooth customs clearance.

Know the country’s rules to navigate the customs process effectively. Working with a reputable shipping provider can also help you avoid customs issues and ensure the timely delivery of your packages. 

Following these tips, you can help have a successful international shipment and avoid delays of your goods at customs.


International shipping is complex due to customs regulations, but following the steps listed above will help ensure the successful delivery of your package(s). It includes documenting your shipment, checking for prohibited items, and ensuring proper labeling and marking. Stay informed, and you’ll have a smooth international shipment process.


What Happens When an Item Is Returned to the Sender?

When a package is returned to the sender, the authorities have refused the delivery. Therefore, it will be delivered to the sender’s address again. 

Can a Package Get Lost in Customs?

Yes, a package can get lost in customs for various reasons. It includes incomplete or incorrect documentation, missing labels, or suspected illegal or prohibited items.

What Happens When a Package Fails Customs?

A package may be returned to the sender if it doesn’t pass customs. However, if the package’s contents violate import laws or regulations, they may be confiscated or destroyed.

How Long Can a Package Stay in Customs?

The duration that a package can stay in customs varies depending on a few factors. It can include the type of goods, customs procedures, and documentation requirements. It can range from a few days to several weeks.

How Do I Know if Customs Seized My Package?

If you want to know if customs took your package, look for signs like a need for tracking updates, a message from the shipping company or businesses, or a package that takes a long time to arrive. For more information, contact the shipping company or customs.