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What do I need to know about the customs clearance process?

To make the transportation of your goods as smooth as possible there are a number of elements of the customs clearance process that you need to understand. Taking all of these on board will make the movement of your goods around the world hassle free.

What is customs clearance

It is the preparation and submission of documentation required for imports into and exports out of a country.  The documentation shows that the customs have been paid and the goods can be shipped. 

The standard documentation required for import and export customs clearances are detailed below:



If the correct documentation is not supplied and completed in full, goods can be stopped at the border and forward shipping denied.

Every country has their own regulations and requirements, there is not a blanket requirement therefore it is essential to carry out the necessary research. 

Custom clearance agent

A customs clearance agent, like ourselves, can look after the paperwork on your behalf and manage the movement of your goods between countries and the customs clearance process. Custom clearance agents have direct computer links with all major ports, airports and borders allowing them to keep track of consignments and share, and request, documentation quickly.

Custom clearance charges

All goods incur a customs charge at origin and destination,. When arranging your cargo for overseas shipping, it is important to confirm if these are included in the quotation you have received. Customs clearance charges can vary significantly from country to country and ideally should be arranged in advance to minimise costs.

Import licence

Goods that are classed as dual use or dangerous will often require an import licence before they can be cleared through customs, and these need to be arranged via The importing Licensing Branch.  Ensure you know if your goods fall into any of the dangerous/hazardous goods categories. 


If you have any questions about the customs clearance process ad want to understand how we can support your business please call us on 0333 1234 747 or send us an email to

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