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Getting one of your freight shipments held up by customs can result in frustrating (and costly) delays, especially if the goods awaiting customs clearance are to be sold at retail. Not only that, but with the potential of some rather steep penalties for non-compliance, it’s crucial to follow correct customs procedure at all costs to ensure no additional costs or charges on your cargo.

Because customs clearance can be so complex, it’s important to have an experienced logistics company by your side. That’s why SAE Logistics is proud to provide a complete service and expert advice for all things customs clearance to our customers in an effort to make your company run better by getting shipments through customs smoothly.

It doesn’t matter if you’re moving a full container load or a partial one, if you’re using airfreight or sea freight, if you’re importing during the seasonal rush or consolidating a single shipment from multiple vendors: SAE Logistics knows how to get it done for you without the red flags.

There’s no reason for you know all the regulations letter and verse – let a logistics expert like SAE handle the heavy lifting for you. If you do want some top tips though – we’ve made it simple for you.

Custom’s clearance isn’t a case of one country fits all

Variations in regulations mean that importing and exporting can differ drastically from country to country. You need to ensure that you are fully aware of licensing, special provisions and restricted and prohibited goods in the country you are shipping to or from. Paperwork required can include transport documents, commercial invoices, pro-forma invoices, documentation of proof of origin, customs value declarations etc. Here is a useful link to what you need to know:

Brexit: EU or not to EU?

Unfortunately we are still as in the dark as the rest of the country as to how changes in March 2019 will specifically effect freight forwarding in the UK. But on a sunnier note our expert team are fully up to speed with any changes in regulations as they happen and are fully prepared to react so that any impact on customs procedures are accounted for. If you are currently based in the EU and are trading goods with countries outside the EU it is and HMc requirement that you will need to be EORI registered in order to prevent customs delays and charges. Here’s a useful link for more information.

Item descriptions for success

Always remember that customs officials do not have in depth knowledge of your business or your industry terminology. Their role is clear. They have a set of criteria that your goods have to pass before they can be released and if they can’t identify what your items are, then unfortunately they’re not going anywhere. You will need to provide the following minimum information:

  • Full description of the contents
  • Commodity codes. This code allows Customs officials to identify exactly what your goods are and how much should be charged in terms of local duties and taxes. Here’s a useful link to find yours –
  • What it’s made from
  • Its use and function
  • How it’s packaged
  • Are there any electronics or batteries included (in particular lithium)?
  • Which country manufactured the goods. This is important as some countries have bans on goods entering the country that have come from countries they do not “recognise” or with whom they are in dispute. You will need to check with your supplier if this is the case.

Packing it right

Customs officials will look at the packaging and assess if it’s appropriate for the contents and the journey – if it is protected, well packaged and if it labelled adequately – hazardous materials, heat treated wood, fragile, perishable etc. This is where the expert packing service from SAE will ensure that items are not damaged in transit and arrive at their destination exactly as you intended – as well as exactly how customs like them.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Throughout all of this you need to have a logistics company that knows their stuff and can keep you in involved throughout the full journey of your shipment. If it should get caught in customs for any reason, you need to be sure that the team are able and competent enough to get you the answers that you need and to facilitate it through. Make sure that you are being supported by a logistics team who value your shipment as highly as you do.

We provide a breadth of expertise to make it happen just the way you want it.


To find out how we can assist you with your requirements, please call us on
01895 825258 or email