Whether you’re a value-added reseller sending a big shipment overseas or a lucky nephew anticipating an iPhone box-shaped birthday package from your aunt in the U.S., customs can ruin your day, week, or month, if your items get stuck there. Not only are you waiting, but extra fees could apply like a customs clearance fee, a customs handling fee for time spent on documentation, value-added taxes, or perhaps a security fee for time spent on x-raying your supposedly suspicious electronic goods. If you’re the shipper, your client is frustrated and unlikely to order from you again. If you’re the birthday boy, your aunt had better make up for all this trouble come Christmas.
Your shipment could be delayed for a few reasons. Technology and electronics are highly regulated because anything that emits radiation is flagged to be checked. A common problem is either incorrect paperwork or the papers are missing entirely. Even one missed field can hold up the process. Another is the value of the items exceed what was claimed on the paperwork and the difference needs to be paid (the shipping company will usually pay this and then charge you).
It’s also possible someone didn’t do their research and they’re attempting to send a shipment full of prohibited or restricted items on the receiving nation’s list. This could include hazardous materials, stolen goods, weapons, pharmaceutical products, restricted food or drink, or animal remains. The list continues, but you’re pretty sure your aunt didn’t steal an iPhone nor is she sending you a deer carcass. If you’re a supplier shipping electronics, many nations require the services of an Importer of Record (IOR). There could also be taxes imposed on goods that exceed a set value and the items are held until the balance is settled.
Once any of these possible scenarios has happened, you’re stuck waiting while you contact the shipping company, or the supplier, or your aunt. But there’s not much else to be done. Prevention is key.
If you’re the supplier, there’s a very easy fix that covers all of the above, and that’s partnering with an Importer of Record who also offers tax recovery services. You’ll want a company who specializes in technology with a massive presence around the globe, so visit TecEx for more information if that’s you. They offer IOR service in 160 countries and VAT recovery and assistance for 40 countries. You can outsource international import licensing and permits, get a refund on indirect taxes incurred and get your shipment past customs on the first pass. Their clients and partners run the technology supply chain gamut from manufacturer to end user. Having all services in one place doubly saves you time when your shipments are no longer lingering in customs, losing your business and spoiling your reputation.
If you’re the receiver, you’ll want to do some research before working with a supplier or before ordering from a random retail company without a trustworthy reputation and accountability set-up. Be sure that the assurances of an IOR service are in place. Employ a shipping company with good policies regarding unexpected fees associated with releasing your goods. Avoid the wait and the fees by wisely choosing partners and taking a bit of research time.