Risks That Can Result In Your Cargo Being Delayed At Customs

Main takeaways

  1. Lack of proper documentation is one of the main reasons why cargo is delayed at customs.
  2. If your shipment is delayed at customs, it may lead to economic consequences and affect your supply chain.
  3. Having an experienced logistics partner that can offer a customs brokerage service can save you hundreds of dollars per load. 

When you ship freight between the U.S. and Mexico, there’s always a risk of your cargo being delayed at customs for several reasons, but fortunately, solutions exist for you to be prepared for these possible delays while your loads are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Something you need to be aware of is how long your cargo will be on hold at customs, while it is being cleared by customs agents. In some cases, it can even take days to complete the whole process, leading to delayed shipments and high costs in your supply chain. 

In this blog, we will discuss some of the risks and solutions associated with delayed shipments at customs.

Reasons for your shipments to get delayed at the border

Shipments that are sent from the U.S. to Mexico and vice versa may experience delays at customs due to a variety of factors. Customs authorities are responsible for processing all cargo crossing between the U.S. and Mexico, which can cause delays in shipments if there are issues with paperwork or other documentation required for clearance. Shipping cargo through Laredo is often the most common route for U.S.-Mexico trade, which can lead to congestion and more stringent inspections of the goods passing through this lane. Check here the advantages and challenges of shipping cargo through the Laredo border. 

These are some of the most common reasons why cargo can get delayed at customs:

Incorrect or incomplete documentation: If the customs officials find any mistakes or inconsistencies in the documentation required for the shipment, they may delay the shipment until the issues are resolved.

Customs inspections: Customs officials may conduct inspections on shipments randomly or based on risk assessments. If the inspection reveals any issues such as undeclared items or discrepancies in the documentation, the shipment may be delayed until the issues are resolved.

Restricted or prohibited goods: Some goods are restricted or prohibited from entering the country due to various reasons such as safety concerns, health risks, or trade restrictions. If the shipment contains such goods, it may be delayed or even denied entry into the country. To prevent this, here you can find a list of prohibited items by Customs and Border Protection agents, and here you can check the list of prohibited items by Mexican authorities. Make sure to check them if you are not sure if your goods will be allowed in the country of destination.

In case you experience a delay in customs, the first step in the customs clearance process is to submit the necessary documents, including a commercial invoice, bill of lading, and customs declaration. The customs authorities will then use these documents to assess the value, quantity, and nature of the goods being shipped, as well as to determine if any taxes or duties need to be paid. If there are any discrepancies or issues with the documentation, the shipment may be held up until they are resolved.

In addition to these administrative issues, there can also be unexpected events that cause a delay at customs. For example, there may be a sudden increase in the volume of shipments arriving at the crossing point, causing congestion and longer waiting times. You can always keep an eye on schedules and peak hours by consulting the CBP official data, or you can download the official CBP border waiting times app on your device here

Consequences of cargo being delayed at customs

When a shipment is delayed at customs, it can lead to significant disruptions and cost increases for the parties involved. For the importer, the delay may result in missed deadlines, decreased efficiency, and higher costs due to storage fees and additional shipping expenses. For the exporter, the delay may result in decreased customer satisfaction, lost sales, and decreased reputation.

Financial losses: Financial losses are one of the biggest risks attributed to delayed shipments.

Cargo may incur in late delivery penalties, storage costs, and other delay-related expenses.

The longer the shipment is delayed, the more probable it is that it may result in additional charges.

Reputational damage: Reputational harm to the businesses involved is another significant consequence. When cargo is delayed, the shipper may be perceived as unreliable and untrustworthy, which could affect the company's reputation.  

Missed deadlines: A shipment's delay can have a big impact on the performance of the company because it can lead to lost opportunities, lost sales, and a drop in productivity.

Loss of control: It gets harder to control the supply chain and keep track of the goods the longer a shipment is delayed. This may lead to a rise in stress, and a decline in the company's overall success. 

Compliance issues: The businesses involved may face legal or financial repercussions if their cargo doesn’t adhere to rules or requirements by customs authorities. 

Tips to avoid delays at customs border clearance 

To avoid these risks and cross the Laredo Border like a pro, take a look at these expert recommendations:

Double-check the necessary customs paperwork. It is important to ensure that all the necessary documents are in order before you attempt to ship your cargo. This includes, but is not limited to, obtaining the necessary export permits and ensuring that all the paperwork is completed correctly and meets the standard requirements for shipping. Additionally, it is important to ensure that you are familiar with the customs regulations in both countries and that your cargo is properly labeled according to those regulations. Make sure to include: Description of the goods, Shipper and consignee information, Bill of Lading, Country of origin, HS Code, Gross and net weight, and Packaging details. This is a basic list of the most common customs documents requested by the agents, but everything will depend on the kind of goods you are shipping.

Make sure to accurately disclose everything you are carrying, especially if it involves products that are taxable. Make sure to include a complete and accurate description of every item being transported. This covers the item's name, the components used to build it, its measurements, weight, and other pertinent details. 

Providing correct and genuine information in your declaration will help you stay out of trouble with customs agents. 

Check that your goods are permitted in the U.S. or Mexico (whether you are shipping north or southbound). For some products that are being transported across the border, additional authorizations or certifications are needed. Before exporting the products, make sure you have all the required licenses and certificates. 

Get a better understanding of the allowed items for the U.S. here and for Mexico here.

Businesses should work with experienced logistics partners that can provide them with skilled customs brokers, like Nuvocargo, which ensures that your shipments are delivered on time and in compliance with regulations.

If you are looking to streamline your cross-border operations and clear U.S. and Mexican customs smoothly, then you should definitely contact our experts or learn more here.

Stay in the loop!

Learn how to streamline your cross-border operations with Nuvocargo.

Learn more
Nuvo Newsletter

Want to stay up-to-date on all things freight?

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and get the latest insights and updates in cross-border freight- delivered right to your inbox.