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Customs clearance tips for international shipping
Customs clearance tips for international shipping

Take charge as the Importer of Record to release your shipments from customs holds

TJ Brown avatar
Written by TJ Brown
Updated over a week ago

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the government agency tasked with regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. regulations regarding trade and customs. This means that orders coming into the U.S. from our overseas manufacturing partners are subject to inspection by a U.S CBP officer, and at times, some of these shipments are delayed due to customs inspections.

This article contains some of the most common reasons for why shipments are held up at customs, as well as methods to minimize the possibility of a customs hold when you are the Importer of Record for your shipment.

Most Common Reasons for Customs Holds

  1. Insufficient or unclear description of the items listed in the commercial invoice that does not allow the customs officer to identify the content of the shipment.

  2. The part’s name or HTS code flags an FDA inspection (parts for medical devices or other parts for the health sector).

  3. The descriptions of the goods in the commercial invoice do not match the HTS codes used.

  4. The value of the goods is significantly lower/higher than the average market value of those goods.

  5. The shipment requires the importer's identification number to process the customs clearance (carrier is missing CBP Form 5106).

  6. The shipment is missing the broker's contact information. Large companies often have specific instructions with carriers to hand over documents for their shipments to a preferred broker. If applicable, work with your trade compliance or logistics department to determine whether there are special instructions for how the carrier should proceed with customs clearance.

Ways to Minimize Risk

The best way for you to prevent customs delays as the Importer of Record is to provide us with the five pieces of information outlined in this article.

  1. Provide a clear and detailed description of your parts in the customs information section that appears after checkout.

  2. Provide a detailed end use of your parts in the customs information section that appears after checkout.

  3. Complete and send the CBP form 5106 ahead of the shipment and ensure that FDX has your company or yourself properly established as the importer of record.

  4. Ensure that your company’s account information in Fictiv’s platform matches the information listed in CBP form 5106.

  5. If applicable, contact your internal trade/logistics department before placing a commercial production order overseas with us. Rely on them to provide the customs information that appears after checkout. Make them aware of your future plans to order parts internationally.

  6. If the parts ordered through our platform are to be assembled in a medical device, share the FDA registration code within the “end use” section of the customs information section that appears after checkout (e.g., “end use:” Parts of medical robot to assist in surgeries. FDA reg. Code: 123456789.)

Troubleshooting a Customs Hold

Contact the carrier’s customer service department and request the details of why your shipment is being held. You are entitled to ask for the name and direct email address of the agent working on the customs clearance process of your shipment. All the required information keeping the cargo on a hold must be sent directly to the agent working on the customs clearance.

Fictiv's Customer Success and International Logistics teams also monitor every international shipment to ensure you have a smooth experience with international orders. Feel free to reach out to us at if you have any questions.

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