When Your PostNL Package Says “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” – What Does it Mean and What Should You Do?

Seeing the message “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” can be confusing if you’re expecting a delivery from PostNL. This article will explain what it means when you see this tracking status, why it happens, and what you need to do when your PostNL package is stuck in customs. We’ll cover customs fees, clearance delays, contacting the seller, and more – read on for a full guide.

What Does “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” Mean for My PostNL Delivery?

If your PostNL tracking says “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs”, it means your package has arrived in your destination country and is now being processed by customs authorities before delivery.

The package has entered the customs inspection procedure after arriving at the border. Customs will now review the shipment details, assess any applicable duties and taxes, and decide whether your item can proceed to local delivery.

This pre-declaration notification is standard for many international shipments and is usually nothing to worry about. But it does mean your delivery will be delayed until customs finish processing and release your item.

Why Has My PostNL Package Been Flagged by Customs?

There are a few reasons why your PostNL shipment might get flagged up for customs inspection:

  • The parcel contains goods above the customs threshold – this varies by country but is around $20-$150. Declarations are required above this value.
  • It’s a large or bulky item which customs want to inspect before further transit.
  • The information on the shipping paperwork doesn’t seem accurate or is missing details required by the destination country.
  • The package appears suspicious or unusual during x-ray or other security scans.
  • It was selected for a random customs check to verify the contents. Many countries do routine spot checks on international mail.
  • Electronic screening flagged it as higher risk based on the sender, destination or other factors.

What Happens During Customs Processing of My PostNL Package?

Once the pre-declaration has been received by customs, here is what generally happens next:

  • Detailed Assessment – Customs authorities will first thoroughly review the declaration data submitted by PostNL and may request additional information from the shipper if anything is unclear.
  • Examination – They will then physically inspect the package contents to verify they match what was declared, and check for any prohibited or restricted items. This usually involves opening the parcel and going through it.
  • Duties and Taxes Calculation – If your item is above the duty-free threshold, they will evaluate its value and decide what duties, taxes, and fees apply based on the destination country’s rules.
  • Clearance Decision – Finally, customs will decide whether your package is cleared for delivery or if any issues were found that prevent its release. Most PostNL volumes are legitimate shipments that get cleared promptly, but delays can happen if discrepancies are found.

This whole process usually takes 1-5 days but can occasionally be longer depending on the specific item, border agency workloads, and other factors. The pre-declaration step is the very start of customs processing.

Will I Have to Pay Customs Charges on My PostNL Delivery?

If your PostNL package gets held up in customs, one key question is whether you’ll need to pay any customs fees to receive your item. There are a few factors that determine this:

  • Shipment Value – Most countries have a “de minimus” threshold under which imports are exempt from duties and taxes. This is often around $20. If your item value is lower than the threshold, you likely won’t pay fees. Over the threshold, you’ll need to cover applicable tariffs.
  • Invoice – Having a commercial invoice clearly declaring the full value of the contents helps accurately calculate duties owed. Invoices should include an itemized list with values for each product.
  • Item Type – Some goods like tobacco, alcohol and perfume attract higher duty rates. Food, clothing and books are often lower. The commodity type impacts customs fees.
  • Destination Country – Import rules vary significantly by country. Some have complex duty calculations while others charge flat admin fees. Research the specific destination’s customs regulations.
  • Shipping Terms – If you used delivery terms like DDP or DDU, it can shift fiscal liability to the sender so you don’t pay import charges at delivery.
  • VAT – Import VAT often applies once the shipment value exceeds the threshold. This will be due in addition to any duties. VAT percentages differ between countries.

If fees are owed, customs will typically be paid at the point of delivery rather than directly to the border authorities. But this varies between postal services.

What if My PostNL Package Gets Stuck in Customs for Too Long?

It’s quite common for packages to get temporarily held up during the customs clearance process. But if your PostNL shipment seems to be stuck for an unusually long time, there are a few things you can try:

  • Contact PostNL – Get in touch with customer service and request an update. They should be able to give you more details on the status and check with customs on your behalf.
  • Contact the Sender – Let the seller know there is a potential customs delay and ask them to provide any additional documentation border agencies might need to clear and release your item.
  • Wait It Out – Unfortunately patience is sometimes needed if customs are running slow or working through a backlog. Unless there is an error, your package should clear within 1-2 weeks.
  • Refuse Delivery – In rare cases of excessive holds, you can request PostNL return the shipment to the sender. But this should generally be a last resort option.
  • Pay Fees – If your package is stuck because duties remain unpaid, you may opt to cover the charges so customs will release it. But first verify the amounts are correct.

Persistent long delays are frustrating but uncommon. In most situations, customs will finish reviewing and clear PostNL volumes for delivery within a few days.

How to Avoid Future Customs Delays with PostNL

Once you receive your long-awaited package, you may want to avoid repeating customs hassles on your next PostNL shipment. Here are some tips:

  • Know the import rules and de minimus thresholds for your destination country – order below these to skip duties.
  • Ask senders to include a detailed commercial invoice declaring all contents and values. Complete data helps customs assess shipments.
  • Split large orders into multiple smaller packages – one over the threshold flags the whole set for duties.
  • Label your item as a “gift” or “sample” if applicable – these may get through easier than commercial goods.
  • Purchase shipping insurance and tracking services so you can monitor the status if delayed again.

While delays are hard to prevent entirely, being an informed buyer can reduce chances of problems. Following up diligently can also help get stalled packages moving again sooner.

Key Takeaways: PostNL Package Stuck in Customs

A few final reminders if your PostNL delivery shows “Pre Declaration of the Item has Been Received by Customs” status:

  • It means your package has reached the destination border and is undergoing standard customs processing. This will likely cause some delivery delay.
  • Customs are inspecting it to verify contents, assess duties, and decide on clearance. This takes 1-5 days usually but sometimes longer.
  • If your item value is over the threshold, you may need to pay duties, VAT and fees before receiving the parcel. Check destination rules.
  • Contact PostNL and the seller if it seems excessively stuck, but be patient as most shipments clear customs within a couple weeks at most.
  • You can take steps like shipping lower value packages to avoid customs issues in future orders.

With the right information and patience, your PostNL shipment should make it through customs so you can finally get your items! This guide covers the key things to know if your package gets flagged up during international transit to its destination country.

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