What does it mean when you see “customs clearance completed” on Amazon?
You might be scratching your head when you come across this phrase from Amazon. It’s a term laden with logistics and international shipping jargon, and it indicates that a crucial stage in the shipping process has been crossed. But what exactly does it entail, and how does it affect the journey of your eagerly awaited package?
Understanding the meaning of the Customs Clearance Completed on Amazon message can give you insights into the labyrinthine world of global shipping and make you more aware of what’s happening behind the scenes before your package arrives at your doorstep.
So, if you’re curious to unravel the mystery behind Amazon’s Customs Clearance Completed notification and eager to become an informed online shopper, then buckle up because you are in the right place. Keep reading!
Here’s what it means when Amazon says customs clearance completed:
As the phrase suggests, this means that the package went through the formal customs process for the country in question and was allowed access.
The package is free to continue the journey that ultimately brings it into your possession.
Still, this is only one step in the journey, and things can get complicated.
So if you want to learn all about Amazon’s Message customs clearance completed, then you’re in the right place.
What Is Customs Clearance Completed Message on Amazon Intended to Convey?
When you see ‘customs clearance completed’ on Amazon, it means that the package has successfully undergone the required customs procedures in the destination country and is now permitted to continue its journey to the recipient.
First, not all packages clear customs. Some things get damaged or denied entry, and then you’re out of luck at that point.
Amazon works to map shipping routes and navigate trade agreements and customs policies to avoid all of this, but it does happen. Second, packages can get stuck waiting for customs approval for a long time.
There have been plenty of times when a single port gets backed up and has a lot of items to process. Customs can struggle to catch up in those situations, and waiting on customs can add considerably to delivery times.
Mostly, this message is there to explain a delay in the shipping process that Amazon (or the delivery company) cannot directly control. Now that the package is cleared through customs, it can continue its journey.
Where Does the Message Customs Clearance Completed Fit Into the Total Shipping Process? (4 Stages)
The message is giving you useful information about where the package is on its journey, but without more context, the message doesn’t really tell you that much. It helps to frame it with the rest of the typical Amazon shipment journey to help paint a better picture.
Generally speaking, a package clears customs in the middle of its journey. There might be more steps before or after customs, but customs really marks a midpoint.
Shipments tend to cover ground faster before customs. That’s mostly because the last few legs of the journey require more precision and lose efficiency in the process.
#1 Picking, Packing, and Shipping
When you place an order, the first step happens at a fulfillment center. The order is processed, and the item (or items) is picked at the giant warehouse that stores tons and tons of goods available on Amazon.
Typically, that same fulfillment center has a packing center attached to it. So, the item goes next door and is put in a shipping box.
All of that is pretty straightforward, and it’s usually one of the faster parts of the process.
Depending on your item’s shipping priority, it might have to wait in line a while from picking to packing, but normally items are packed within 48 hours of when you place your order.
The shipping process also starts at this fulfillment center. Once the box is packed, it’s put on a truck to begin its journey to you.
That’s where things can diverge pretty quickly depending on the route the package needs to travel.
#2 Crossing Borders
Obviously, not all orders have to cross borders between countries. But, if you’re getting a message about customs, then your order originated in a different country, so this step applies.
Packages are not necessarily shipped across borders right away. Your order might have to make a few stops before it gets on a plane, ship, or truck that is crossing country lines.
But, most of that is consolidated into “order has shipped” messaging. For international orders, clearing customs is a major milestone in the journey.
So, any time a package crosses borders, it has to go through the customs process. Depending on trade agreements and regulations, this can be very fast or painfully slow.
Here’s an example. Items can typically travel from one country to another in the European Union with little delay.
On the other hand, items shipped from a warehouse in China to Los Angeles will need more scrutiny before completing the customs clearance process.
It comes down to the trade agreements between countries. The most important thing to remember at this point is that customs is definitely not the last part of the journey.
#3 Carrier Facilities
Once the package has completed the customs clearance process it is free to roam about the country, it is going to end up in a carrier facility. This type of stop usually makes up the bulk of the journey when a package reaches its destination country.
Carrier facilities are the locations where packages are sorted and shipped to the next facility in their routes or sent directly to the final destination.
A package might go through one carrier facility, or it could go through dozens.
It depends on where you live, where the shipment originated, the priority of the shipping, and the most efficient route according to Amazon (or the courier making the delivery).
It’s rather common to see “arrived at carrier facility” multiple times during the shipping process. And, it’s easy to imagine why this happens.
A package will hop from one hub to the next until it is at the carrier facility closest to you. It’s similar to how you would stop at multiple airports if you flew around the world.
#4 Out for Delivery
This is the final stage in the process, and it can come days (or weeks) after your package clears customs.
The “out for delivery” message is indicating that your package has been placed on a courier vehicle that will drop it off at its final location.
This is very much the last leg of the step. Despite that, this message does not always mean that you are getting your package today.
Sometimes, delays arise even at this point, and the package can end up being late. Typically, you can expect the package within a day or two once it’s out for delivery. If it takes longer than that, it’s probably time to contact Amazon and let them know that there is a problem.
What Are Common Misconceptions About Customs Clearance Completed on Amazon? (3 Situations)
You should have a pretty good idea of what Amazon means when they say an order has the customs clearance completed. That’s great, but sometimes, it’s more important to understand what the message doesn’t mean.
Misconceptions happen, and it’s easy to assume that completed clearance at customs is an indicator that you should receive the package pretty soon. Sometimes, that holds true, but there are plenty of situations that arise that make it less true.
These are reasons that your package still has a long way to go, even though it cleared customs.
#1 The Package Might Not Be in Your Country
This is huge. The package has to go through customs once it gets to your country, but a lot of shipping doesn’t go directly from one country to another.
In fact, it’s quite common for a package to go through multiple countries on its route to your shipping address.
The easiest examples are probably seen in Europe. Amazon has more fulfillment centers in the United States than any other country in the world (more than all of Europe combined).
As such, a large number of orders begin in the U.S. Even though such orders could be shipped directly to EU countries, that is often not the chosen route.
Instead, many packages are first routed through the United Kingdom. This has to do with trade agreements and operational efficiency.
So, the U.K. has significant Amazon processing facilities that sort and reroute packages that then travel to the many corners of Europe.
So, it’s common for packages to clear customs in the United Kingdom on their way to another destination. They then have to clear customs for the destination country when they arrive. So, you can get two messages related to the customs clearance process before it is completed.
You can see how this type of scenario could arise for many orders and not just orders from the U.S. to Europe.
#2 The Package Might Still Be Far Away
Even when the package completed clearance through customs in your country, it might still be far away. Some countries are large, and it takes time to ship an item across the vast spaces between locations.
An order sent from China to New York will typically clear customs in Los Angeles. When the package is through customs, it is still more than 2,000 miles (3,219 km) away from the shipping address.
That’s a lot of distance to cover. Even when distances aren’t so extreme, there are many stops along the way (potentially). So, a package can clear customs and still be days or more from arriving at your doorstep.
#3 The Package Might Not Move Immediately
This is sometimes the most frustrating misconception. You would think that you got a message about customs because the obstacle has been cleared, and the package is on the move again. That’s just not always the case.
After the package has completed clearance at customs, it is definitely slated for the next part of the journey, but many circumstances can cause the package to sit in place for an indefinite amount of time after clearing customs.
It mostly depends on shipping priority and the magnitude of shipping passing through that location. The package might just have to wait its turn for a while before it can get back on the road and to the next stop on its journey. We go into further detail about the process your package goes through when it arrives at customs in other articles. Learn more here.