Skip to the content
Looks like you’re based in the United States. For content specific to your country, visit our United States site.

We provide an Import Management Program that addresses all your standard and express customs clearance requirements. Our service includes Import and Export, Customs and Excise Warehousing, Duty Mitigation, Aerospace and Government, and Retail Customs. 

Highest Quality and Service

The cornerstones of our 24/7 quality support include the development of a Client Import Policy and Procedures manual, classification/valuation assistance, online tracking, an image processing system and access to our Global communications services - all of which are critical success factors in maintaining compliance to governmental regulations.

Compliance Consultancy

SEKO can help your business understand the complexities of cross border customs requirements, including Customs Warehousing and Excise Warehousing for alcohol and tobacco products, to mitigate duty payments,

Post clearance duty claims, post clearance voluntary declarations to HMRC, plus help with other customs authorisations and simplifications that you may find useful for limiting compliance issues at the border.

AEO Assurance

Authorised Economic Operator status offers benefits to the supply chain when dealing with UK Customs, in terms of monetary guarantee waivers, quality assured process and procedures. This standard gives peace of mind in dealing with authorised agents, brokers, and intermediaries.  


Customs Brokerage 

SEKO Customs Brokerage services offer a full control tower of cross border customs clearance and post clearance requirements, in addition we offer the following:

  • Customs compliance and consultation
  • Cross border continuity 
  • Commodity specialists
  • Duty mitigation and reconciliation
  • Help with classifications and customs valuation

Knowledge Hub


Discover how to unlock your business’s competitive edge with AEO Certification.

Customs Clearance FAQ's

Customs clearance refers to the process of handling the necessary paperwork and procedures to allow goods to enter or leave a country's borders legally. When goods cross international borders, they are subject to various customs regulations, taxes, and duties imposed by the importing country. Customs clearance ensures that these regulations are followed and that the appropriate taxes and duties are paid.

Customs clearance is essential for several reasons, and its significance lies in ensuring the smooth and lawful flow of goods across international borders. Here are some of the key reasons why customs clearance is important:

  • Legal compliance 
  • Revenue collection 
  • National security 
  • Protection of domestic industries 
  • Facilitation of international trade 
  • Intellectual property rights protection 
  • Health and environmental safety 
  • Data collection and trade statistics 
  • Sanctions compliance

In summary, customs clearance is crucial for maintaining the integrity of a country's borders, ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, protecting national interests, and facilitating legitimate international trade while safeguarding public safety and security.

The specific documents required for customs clearance can vary depending on the country, type of goods, and mode of transportation. However, some common documents are typically needed for most customs clearance processes. Here are the key documents often required:

  • Commercial Invoice: This document provides details about the goods being shipped, including the description, quantity, value, and terms of sale.
  • Packing List: The packing list contains a detailed inventory of all the items in the shipment, including their weights and dimensions.
  • Bill of Lading (B/L) or Airway Bill (AWB): The B/L or AWB is a transportation document issued by the carrier, providing evidence of the contract of carriage and ownership of the goods.
  • Customs Declaration or Entry Form: This form contains information about the goods, their value, origin, and intended use. It serves as an official declaration to the customs authorities.
  • Certificate of Origin: This document indicates the country in which the goods were produced, qualifying them for any preferential tariffs or trade agreements.
  • Packing Certificate: Some countries may require a certificate that verifies the proper packaging of certain goods, especially those with specific handling or safety requirements.
  • Import/Export License or Permit: Certain goods, such as firearms, pharmaceuticals, or chemicals, may require special permits or licenses for import or export.
  • Phytosanitary Certificate: This certificate is necessary for the import or export of plants, plant products, or agricultural commodities, ensuring compliance with plant health standards.
  • Certificate of Insurance: This document provides evidence of the cargo's insurance coverage during transit.
  • Certificate of Analysis: For products like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, or food items, a certificate of analysis may be required to confirm the product's composition and quality.
  • Regulatory Compliance Certificates: Depending on the type of goods, various compliance certificates may be needed, such as safety certifications or environmental compliance documents.

It is crucial to ensure that all necessary documents are accurate, complete, and submitted on time to avoid delays and penalties during the customs clearance process. Importers and exporters often work with customs brokers or freight forwarders who are experienced in handling the required paperwork and navigating the customs clearance procedures efficiently.

Whether you need a customs broker for customs clearance depends on the complexity of the shipment and your familiarity with customs regulations and procedures. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to use a customs broker:

  • Complexity of Shipment 
  • Familiarity with Customs Regulations
  • Time and Resources 
  • Risk Mitigation 
  • Value of Goods 
  • International Trade Expertise 
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Due diligence


The duration of customs clearance can vary widely depending on several factors. Some of the key factors that influence the time it takes for customs clearance include:

  • Complexity of Shipment 
  • Customs Regulations and Procedures
  • Accuracy and Completeness of Documentation 
  • Customs Inspections 
  • Mode of Transportation 
  • Pre-Clearance Programs 
  • Peak Seasons and Holidays 
  • Customs Broker or Freight Forwarder

While it is challenging to provide an exact timeframe for customs clearance due to the variability of these factors, customs clearance generally takes anywhere from a few hours to several days. In some cases, especially for complex shipments or in countries with more rigorous customs processes, clearance may take a week or longer.

If customs clearance is delayed or denied, it can have significant consequences for the importer or exporter. The specific outcomes depend on the reasons for the delay or denial, the type of goods being shipped, and the relevant customs regulations. Here are some possible scenarios:

  • Delayed Delivery: Customs clearance delays can result in late delivery of goods, which can disrupt supply chains, impact production schedules, and lead to dissatisfied customers. Delays may occur due to administrative processing, inspection requirements, or backlog at the customs office.
  • Storage Charges: If the shipment is held at the customs warehouse or a storage facility due to delays, the importer or exporter may incur storage charges, adding to the overall costs of the shipment.
  • Financial Loss: Delays in customs clearance can lead to financial losses for the importer or exporter, especially if the goods have time-sensitive value or if the delay results in missed sales opportunities.
  • Additional Fees and Penalties: If customs regulations are not followed correctly, or if there are discrepancies in the documentation, customs authorities may impose fines or penalties on the importer or exporter.
  • Return or Re-export of Goods: In some cases, if customs clearance is denied due to non-compliance or prohibited goods, the shipment may be refused entry into the country. The goods may need to be returned to the sender or re-exported to another destination, resulting in additional costs and logistical challenges.
  • Legal Consequences: Serious breaches of customs regulations, such as smuggling or attempting to import prohibited items, can lead to legal consequences, including fines, seizures, or even criminal charges.
  • Damage to Reputation: Delays or denials in customs clearance can harm the reputation of the importing or exporting company, especially if customers perceive them as unreliable or unable to meet commitments.

If customs clearance is delayed or denied, it's essential to communicate promptly with the relevant parties, including the customs authorities, to understand the reasons and work towards resolving the issues to the best of your ability.

To mitigate the risks associated with customs clearance delays, it's crucial to:

  • Work with experienced customs brokers or freight forwarders who can navigate the customs clearance process efficiently and ensure compliance with all regulations.
  • Provide accurate and complete documentation to customs authorities to minimize the chances of delays or denials.
  • Stay informed about the specific customs regulations and requirements of the countries involved in the shipment.
  • Plan shipments well in advance to account for potential customs processing times and avoid last-minute delays.

The cost of duty, also known as customs duty or import duty, varies depending on several factors, including:

  • Type of Goods
  • Country of Import
  • Value of the Goods
  • Trade Agreements
  • Tariff Classification
  • Special Requirements
  • Exemptions and Special Programs

It is essential to consult the customs authorities or a customs broker in the importing country to determine the exact duty rate applicable to your specific goods. They can provide you with the most up-to-date information on duty rates and any additional fees or taxes that may apply to your importation.

Find out how SEKO can Transform Your Business

Everything we do is focused on making our customers' lives easier and helping them to develop and maintain excellent relationships with their own customers.

To find out more, fill in the form, email, or give us a call.

New Business Enquiry

Please note that SEKO do not deliver personal effects or items.

By completing this form, you are confirming that you agree to the storing of your personal data by SEKO Logistics - as described in our Global Privacy Policy - and also consent to receiving future updates about SEKO and how we can support your business.

I want to receive future communications from SEKO Logistics.