Don’t Let Customs Clearances Slow Down Your Hand Carry Deliveries

January 3, 2020

As logistics providers, you’ve likely been confronted with this emergency: when your strategic account reaches out with delivery that is racing against the clock. Your team will most likely manage to work out a viable solution, with the goods landing on time and suddenly everything stops a few meters away from your consignee’s hands: the customs clearance wasn’t set up correctly and your shipment is bonded, often in a remote country, in a different timezone, and no local representation of your own is available.

Once that happened, there is little left to do in order to save the job – you won’t deliver on time and your customer will face bigger, very expensive problems such as a production line shutdown. While it is virtually impossible to create a bulletproof set-up in every single port of entry in the world, there are a few easy steps allowing you to truly think ahead and be prepared for any mishap.


As soon as you book an On Board Courier movement, things will usually move very quickly. Your OBC provider dispatches a courier within minutes and your shipper must play along. While the shipping department still might be packing, the goods’ documentation has to follow simultaneously. Will you need a Power of Attorney to facilitate the export and import clearance? Could you get a final amount of boxes and their content? Does the commercial invoice match with those numbers and provides you with all necessary information? Here are a few crucial items you must have documented before moving forward:

  • An accurate description of all contents
  • The exact value of each item line (along with the number of pieces)
  • Parts numbers, serial numbers and HS codes for each line
  • A clear country of origin for every item
  • Full shipper and consignee information, including address, VAT identification, contact person and phone number

Most shippers requiring your services are used to imports and exports and will typically have a dedicated team for these matters. Insist in being connected with them in order to make sure you are well-aware of all local export requirements, while offering them consultancy on the import regulations at the port of arrival. You are not able to offer that knowledge or guide your customer in the right direction? Your OBC partner is doing something wrong!

Local Expertise

Should you stumble upon a case where your shipper/consignee is not keen on customs procedures, make sure you immediately connect them with a local broker of your choice. They will be able to voice clear legal requirements and no time will be lost with you relaying information. You will also get to know how to handle Hand Carries in specific countries for your future reference. Bear in mind that local brokers speak the language, so they can give you an exact timeframe for a legal customs clearance and will often have ties will local authorities for a swift process.

By establishing a network with customs brokers across the world, you can set up an internal documentation base for every port relevant to your business. This will provide your operations teams with guidance and make sure no one makes false-promises to your customer – you will sell accurate movements and create realistic expectations.

Most importantly, most On Board Courier providers have their own customs brokers network. When time is pressing, don’t improvise – reach out for help and facilitate communication between all parties. We got your back!


Stay up-to-date on technological innovation within local governments. North America, the European Union and some Asian countries are now processing imports and exports electronically. This means your clearance can be set up in advance, well before take-off and landing, making the physical goods’ inspection a simple formality. Upon submission of accurate documentation and an electronic pre-clearance, your shipment can move through customs within minutes.

Technology has been shaping the way On Board Courier services operate, adding even more value to your time-critical offerings. Make sure you move along, so that your Hand Carries circulate in the fastest way possible – it’s what you and your customers are paying for!

Look for innovation and experience when choosing your OBC provider

Do you come across customs challenges regularly? Are there specific ports with recurrent complications? Many decision-makers are reticent when it comes to looking for new business partners, and simply take this kind of speed bumps for granted. Unlike many like to say, the world is anything but small and most providers simply won’t be able cover your needs for expertise everywhere on the planet.

Take the time to touch base with different OBC services. Ask them about their experience with specific ports and try to assess whether they have internal processes in place in order to minimize waiting times at customs. Are they creative enough to avoid certain ports and offer you a last mile through ground transportation? Will they come up straight about possible baggage or commodity embargoes? Do you sense focus on networking and cooperation with local experts or rather some know-it-all attitude? Booking an On Board Courier service is the easy part – make sure your provider takes the time to answer all your questions and gives you insights into unknown territory, building trust around your specific needs.


Whether it is an AOG, a fashion show, an automotive production line or a medical emergency – when looking for an On Board Courier service, time is of the essence. Time-critical managers give their best every day trying to offer efficient, tailor-made solutions to their customers. Every single professional and trustworthy international OBC partner will enquire about your plan for customs right upon quoting. With a minimum of planning and targeted networking, you will be on the safe and legal side of the business. If you don’t know how to proceed, have your experts ready to jump in!

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