What is UPS’s ‘Clearance in Progress’: A Comprehensive Guide to International Shipping Delays and Solutions

Last Updated on 11/09/2023 by UPS_ Admin

Navigating the intricacies of international shipping can be daunting, especially when faced with terms like “Clearance in Progress.” This guide breaks down what it means when UPS presents this status, the potential duration of customs clearance, and actionable steps you can take if you encounter prolonged delays. Dive in to demystify the customs clearance process and better manage your international shipments with UPS.

Clearance in Progress

What does it mean when UPS says clearance in progress?

When UPS tracking displays the message “Clearance in Progress,” it indicates that the package is currently being processed through customs. This is a routine step for international shipments, ensuring that all goods meet the necessary regulations and guidelines for entering or leaving a country.

The process involves a thorough review of the package and its associated paperwork to verify its contents and value. This ensures that the shipment adheres to both the regulations of the originating country and the destination country. Depending on routing, a package might go through this process multiple times if it passes through several countries before reaching its final destination.

UPS acts as a customs broker, representing the shipper and the recipient during these customs checks. They provide the necessary documentation for the shipper and coordinate with customs officials to ensure a smooth process. If there are discrepancies in the paperwork or other issues, UPS might reach out to either the sender or the recipient to gather additional information or clarifications.

It’s essential to understand that each country has its own set of regulations and processing speeds. Factors such as peak shipping seasons, high shipment volumes, or specific regulatory changes can influence the time a package spends in customs.

How Long Does UPS Clearance Progress Take?

Factors Influencing Clearance Duration:

  • Size and Value: Larger consignments or high-value shipments might be subject to a more in-depth inspection or require additional paperwork, resulting in extended clearance times.
  • Paperwork: Any errors or discrepancies in paperwork can slow down the process. UPS might have to liaise with the sender or recipient to obtain the correct details before the package can proceed through customs.
  • Country-Specific Factors: Different countries have varying processes for handling imports and exports. Some might process shipments quickly, while others may experience delays, especially during peak shipping times due to high shipment volumes.

General Time Frame: On average, most packages clear customs within 24 to 72 hours. However, it can occasionally extend to a week or more in rare situations. Though the 24-72 hour window is most common, external factors can sometimes cause prolonged delays.

What If There’s an Issue with the Package?

If customs identify an issue with a shipment, relevant stakeholders will be notified, either through an update such as “UPS Clearance Information Required” or through direct contact from UPS or customs authorities. Actions will then need to be taken to rectify the identified issues before the package can proceed.

Notification Post-Clearance: After the package successfully clears customs, you will receive a “customs clearance processing complete” update, indicating that the package is now ready for the next phase of its journey.

Beware of Scams: As a side note, be wary of potential scams. If you receive an unexpected UPS-branded email about a package from overseas with customs clearance updates, exercise caution as it might be a phishing attempt.

Recommendation in Case of Delays:

If you observe that the “Clearance in Progress” status remains unchanged for an unusually long period, it’s advisable to reach out to UPS or the sender for further details.

If it has only been a few days since the status update, you might be asked to wait a little longer, as certain delays can be considered part of the standard clearance process.

While the customs clearance process is generally swift, taking between 24-72 hours, there are multiple factors that can influence the duration. Being proactive in ensuring accurate documentation and keeping track of your shipment status can help in mitigating potential delays.

What To Do If You Experience “clearance progress” Delays

  1. Understand the Meaning: When UPS displays “Clearance in Progress,” it means your shipment is under inspection and is awaiting border patrol clearance. It entails a review of the necessary customs paperwork, and in some cases, the package may also undergo a physical examination.
  2. Time Frame: The duration for customs clearance can vary. It might be as short as a few hours or extend to a week or more. Ideally, if all documentation is correct, there are no issues with the item, and the customs office is functioning smoothly, the clearance usually takes between 24 to 72 hours.
  3. Ensure Proper Documentation: For international shipments, UPS requires specific paperwork, typically issued by governments to monitor and control the flow of goods across borders. These documents are essential for adhering to international shipping standards and ensuring smooth customs clearance. Any lapse in documentation can lead to delays, and you might also incur non-compliance fines.
  4. UPS’s Role in Customs: UPS has a seasoned team that specializes in customs clearing. They ensure the process adheres to all laws and regulations. They use the latest technology to streamline the customs process and maintain a good rapport with customs officials in multiple countries. So, they are well-equipped to handle customs-related concerns.
  5. Completing UPS Customs Paperwork:
    • Obtain and complete the necessary UPS customs paperwork.
    • Provide a detailed description of the sender, including their full name, address, and VAT number for commercial items.
    • Fill in and print the payment.
    • Provide a comprehensive breakdown of the package contents, including weight and quantity.
    • Include necessary product codes and track the country of origin for each item and its value.
    • Calculate and input the total value of the package.
    • Indicate the type of invoice you are providing: pro forma or commercial.
    • Finally, sign the declaration, including your name and date of birth, and attach the customs paperwork to your shipment correctly.
  6. Notification of Clearance: Once your shipment clears customs, you will receive a confirmation indicating its successful clearance. After this, the UPS carrier will pick up the package for the next step in its journey.
  7. Immediate Steps in Case of Delays:
    • Contact UPS for updates or if additional documentation is needed.
    • Keep the recipient informed about the delay.
    • Continuously monitor the shipment status online.

Remember, while customs delays can be frustrating, they are a routine part of international shipping. Being proactive by ensuring accurate documentation can significantly minimize potential delays.


Understanding UPS’s “Clearance in Progress” status is crucial for anyone involved in international shipping. It highlights the customs process, a vital aspect of global trade. While delays can be a common part of this process, being proactive, equipped with accurate documentation, and maintaining open communication can help streamline the shipment journey. Always prioritize clarity and caution to ensure a smooth shipping experience.

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