How to know if my package is held up in customs?

International Freight Forwarder

colis bloqué à la douane

Are you wondering why your package seems to be stuck somewhere for an indeterminate amount of time? Discover how to know if your package is stuck in customs and how to resolve this situation. This article will help you through the necessary steps to retrieve it.

Understanding these processes can save you time and help you avoid unexpected expenses.

It is possible by mastering the subject and following our advice.

  • Signs that indicate your package is stuck in customs.
  • Common reasons why your package is stuck.

How to know if your package is stuck in customs?

Discover the telltale signs that your package is stuck in customs and learn the steps to resolve this issue quickly.

Lack of tracking updates

One of the first signs that your package might be stuck in customs is the lack of tracking updates over an extended period. l’absence de mises à jour de suivi pendant une période prolongée. 

Carriers' online tracking systems generally provide regular updates on the location of your package. If your package seems "inactive" without any new information, it is possible that it is held for customs inspection.

Customs notifications

Another key indicator is receiving an official notification from customs.

This notification can come by mail, email, or phone, and it will typically indicate that your package is held for verification. These notifications often include instructions on the actions needed to resolve the issue.

For example, Marie recently ordered branded clothes from the United States. After two weeks without tracking updates, she received a notification from French customs indicating that her package was held on suspicion of counterfeit goods. 

Checking the tracking status of your package

To check the tracking status of your package, use the online tracking tools provided by the carrier. Here's how to proceed:

  1. Access the carrier's website : Each carrier has a dedicated section for tracking packages. For example, La Poste, DHL, FedEx, and UPS all have online interfaces where you can enter your tracking number.
  2. Enter your tracking number : This number is usually found on the receipt or the confirmation email you received when you sent or purchased your package.
  3. Check for updates : Once the tracking number is entered, you will see a history of your package's movements. Look for mentions such as “held at customs” or “awaiting clearance” indicating a customs hold.

Jean, a regular user of international shipping services, shared a screenshot of his DHL tracking interface showing his package “held at customs” for three days. Thanks to this information, he was able to contact customs and provide the necessary documents to release his package.

Common reasons why a package is stuck

Explore the frequent reasons why a package might be stuck in customs, such as missing documents or restrictions on certain products.


Packages containing counterfeit branded products are often held and inspected by customs. If customs suspects the items are counterfeit, they block the package to verify its authenticity.

Missing documents

The absence of necessary documents, such as commercial invoices or customs declarations, can also result in a package being held. Customs must ensure that all paperwork is in order before releasing a shipment.

Restrictions on certain goodsRestrictions on certain products

Certain products, such as medications, food, or hazardous items, may be subject to specific restrictions and require additional permits to clear customs.

Shipments lacking adequate documentation or containing restricted products are automatically held until the necessary information is provided.

According to French customs

This highlights the importance of ensuring that all documents are complete and correct before shipping.

Another example is Lucas, whose package containing lithium batteries was held due to the need for additional documents for items considered hazardous. Through proactive communication with customs, he was able to resolve the issue within a few days.

Are there additional fees if my package is stuck in customs?

It is possible that additional fees may apply if your package is held at customs. These fees may include:

  • Storage fees : If the package is held for an extended period, storage fees may be charged.
  • Fines : In case of non-compliance with customs regulations, fines may be imposed.
  • Customs clearance fees : Fees may be applied for the processing and verification of packages by customs.

To avoid these fees, it is essential to respond promptly to customs requests and provide all necessary documents. If in doubt, consulting a customs expert can help you navigate these complex procedures.

Que faire si votre colis est bloqué à la douane?

When you discover that your package is stuck in customs, it is crucial to take swift and appropriate measures to retrieve it. Here are the steps to follow to resolve this situation:

Contacting customs authorities

The first step is to contact the customs authorities to get detailed information about the status of your package. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Identify the relevant customs office : Depending on the location of your package, you will need to contact the appropriate customs office. You can find this information on your country's customs website.
  2. Prepare necessary information : Before contacting customs, make sure you have all relevant information at hand, including the tracking number, shipment details, and commercial documents.
  3. Send an email or formal letter : Write an email or a letter explaining the situation and requesting information about why your package is blocked. 

Example letter:

Subject: Request for Information Regarding Package [Tracking Number]

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to inquire about my package No. [Tracking Number], sent on [Date of Shipment] and currently held at customs. 

I would like to obtain information on the reason for this hold and the steps needed to release it. 

Attached are the relevant documents (commercial invoice, content declaration, etc.) to facilitate the processing of my request.

Thank you in advance for your assistance. 


[Your Name]

  1. How to retrieve a blocked package : Once you have contacted the customs authorities and identified the reason for the hold, follow these steps to retrieve your package:
  2. Provide the required documents : Depending on the reason for the hold, you may need to provide additional documents. This can include commercial invoices, content declarations, or specific authorizations for certain products.
  3. Pay any applicable fees : If customs clearance fees or fines apply, make sure to settle them promptly to avoid further delays. Fees can include import taxes, storage fees, or fines for non-compliance.
  4. Follow customs instructions : The customs authorities will provide specific instructions on the steps to follow. Ensure that you adhere to them carefully to avoid any further delays.

Take the example of Sophie, who recently imported electronic items from China. Her package was blocked by customs due to a missing commercial invoice. After contacting customs and providing the required documentation, she was able to retrieve her package within a week.

By following these steps and maintaining communication with customs authorities, you can quickly resolve issues related to your blocked package. 

If you have doubts or questions, don’t hesitate to consult customs experts for personalized advice and professional assistance.

How to avoid package blocked at customs?

To prevent your package from being blocked at customs, it is essential to take certain precautions beforehand. One of the most effective ways to avoid customs holdups is to use professional customs services like those offered by Worldgistic. Our experts will help you:

  • Correctly complete customs documents : Ensure that all necessary information provided is complete and accurate.
  • Check for prohibited or regulated items : Our services include checks to ensure that shipped items are not subject to specific restrictions or prohibited from import into the destination country.
  • Anticipate documentation needs : We will provide you with a detailed list of required documents for each type of shipment, thereby reducing the risk of blockage.

According to Claire Dupont, logistics specialist at Worldgistic:

Anticipation is key to avoiding customs blockages. By working with experts, you ensure that all regulatory aspects are covered before shipment.

Jean-Pierre, an entrepreneur who has used our customs services, shares:

Thanks to the assistance of Worldgistic, I was able to avoid several blockages. Their expertise allowed me to correctly complete all documents and ensure my goods complied with customs regulations.

By following these tips and using our customs services, you can significantly reduce the risk of your package being blocked at customs. Take advantage of Worldgistic's expertise for hassle-free and smooth shipping.

For a hassle-free shipping

Now you understand the signs indicating that a package is stuck in customs and the steps to quickly retrieve it. By knowing these processes, you can avoid unnecessary delays and complications.

Discover how to optimize your supply chain and avoid common pitfalls by exploring our other articles on international transport. For even more useful information regarding customs, we invite you to consult our FAQ on Customs Services. You will find detailed answers to your questions and valuable tips for hassle-free shipping.


Worldgistic is the number one international freight forwarder in Southeast Asia and Europe. With over 15 years of experience and a team of qualified experts, choose Worldgistic!

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