Most often, delivery issues arise due to the store’s or the post’s fault. Among them are: the parcel was not sent; there’s no tracking code or it is wrong; the package is not tracked or wasn’t delivered at all – the shipment failed. One more unpleasant situation the cross-border customer can face is when the goods are held by the customs at the destination country. What does it mean and what to do to get the products you ordered?
Customs Clearance Process
Customs clearance is export and import operations necessary for a legal transfer of the product purchase across the borders. It usually includes:
- Checking the customs declaration forms.
- Inspection of the cargo and the shipping documents.
- Calculation of taxes in accordance with the product’s category.
- Control over the payment of taxes and other mandatory fees.
Status “Held by Customs Please Contact Customs or Seller” on AliExpress
If you see this status on your AliExpress order tracking page, it means that the parcel is at the customs in the destination country and there are some issues with it. Most often, this happens when the item you ordered is among dangerous or illegal products or some papers are missing. There can also be a case when you have to pay extra taxes for the parcel to be processed.
Normally, the tracking information on the parcel looks this way:
In the destination country, the parcel arrives at a sorting center first, and then it is sent to the customs. The first status in your country will be “Arrived at destination country”. When your parcel goes through the customs clearance, the status changes to “Customs clearance processing complete”. Your next tracking status will be “Shipment arrived at the country of the origin post office”. Finally, the package is delivered and you get the status “Delivered” meaning that you picked up your order and can close it and get your cash back on AliExpress.
In case of some issues, the status will be “Held by Customs”. It’s better to check the tracking code on your local post office site to get the local status. There’s also a case when the parcel is lost or shipping takes too long and you see the same status for many weeks.
What to Do if the Parcel was Held by the Customs?
Double-check the shipment tracking code to make sure the parcel is at the Customs. Contact the customs with the tracking code of the parcel and ask about the issues. Ask the store for the missing papers if necessary. Sometimes you will be asked to come to the customs office and fill in the papers or pay extra taxes. In the worst case, when the product is illegal (i.e. weapons, devices used for spying) a legal case against you can be started.
What to Do to Avoid Possible Problems?
- After you have chosen goods on AliExpress, make sure they are not against the laws of your country. The list of prohibited items can be found on the website of your local postal service or the customs.
- Make sure the taxes you have to pay for the product (if any) are not too high.
- Ask the seller to fill in the papers properly in case there are some special requirements in your country.
- Having paid for the purchase, wait for it to be shipped and check whether the issued tracking code can be tracked. Some tracking codes can be seen by local postal services, the others must be tracked separately: on the website of a Chinese carrier first and when the parcel arrives to your country – on a website of local tracking service. Some tracking codes can only be seen by the AliExpress tracking service.
- Wait and check the parcel’s status regularly not to miss important updates.
When your package is ready for pick up, you may receive any one of the following messages:
- Awaiting Collection.
- A delivery attempt was made.
- Attempted to contact by telephone to arrange for delivery.
- Attempted to contact by phone to arrange delivery to the address.
- Waiting for withdrawal.
- First notification to the recipient.
- A reminder has been sent to the recipient.
Remember to collect the parcel within the time allocated for pick-up, as if you don’t pick it up and your local post office doesn’t deliver it to you, the parcel will be sent back and you won’t get a full refund for the product.
All orders go through customs clearance 2 times: in the country of origin and in the country of destination. Sometimes, the customs of the country of origin can return the parcel to the seller. In this case, the parcel is resent or you get a refund. In order to get your money back, you will need to open a dispute.
Why Can Shipment Fail?
- The item was not sent by the seller, but they didn’t cancel the order on their side.
- Due to weight/size/legal issues, the product can’t be shipped to the selected region. You should check the customs regulations of your country before ordering big or doubtable products.
- The parcel was lost on its way.
What to Do if Delivery Failed?
- Firstly, you should contact your post office.
- Ask whether your parcel is tracked on their side and what its last stop is.
- In case the parcel is lost, fill in the Missing Parcel papers.
- Open a dispute on AliExpress, attach the evidence and ask for a full refund.
If the parcel is lost on its way, in most cases, it will finally be returned to the sender (the AliExpress seller). In some cases, the parcels are never seen again by any sides. It also happens that the parcel is not delivered, you open the dispute and get a refund and then you get the product. In this case, it’s up to you to decide whether to send it or the money to the seller. But remember that it will be you, who pays all the expenses, so it’s better to simply keep it.
On average, it takes from 2 weeks to 2 months for the parcel to be delivered. Remember to check the status regularly and extend the Buyer Protection timer to be able to open a dispute in case the parcel doesn’t finally arrive.