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International Package Tracking: What Happens To Packages When They Go Through Customs?

international package tracking

It's almost your cousin Stacy's birthday, and you've picked out the perfect gift for her. The problem is, she's studying abroad in Shanghai right now. You know a little bit about international shipping, but the whole process still seems pretty confusing.

International package tracking can seem baffling and a little too much like flinging your parcel out into the world and hoping it gets where it's supposed to go. So what does actually happen after you fill out all that customs paperwork at the post office and hand your package over to be sent?

Below we'll walk through the process of international shipping and some of the things you can do to make sure your package arrives safely and on time for Stacy's birthday.

From You to the Airport

The first step you will see in international package tracking is your package's trip to the airport. This part of the process you may be familiar with. It begins with your package's arrival at your local postal service office.

After your local postal service takes possession of the package, it will get sorted and taken to the appropriate mail hub. The postal hub will again sort it there and then take it on to the airport. Up to this point, the delivery process is the same as for local deliveries.

The Trip Through Customs

Once your package arrives at customs, this is where the real fun of international package tracking starts. The first step in the process will, of course, be airport workers scanning and x-raying your parcel. This is a preliminary confirmation that you aren't shipping anything contraband.

If you have ever had a package held up at customs, this is likely the step in the process at which it got stuck. If your package contains anything the customs workers think might be suspicious or restricted, they will hold it for further examination. This can be a long process.

The best way for you to prevent your package being delayed (other than not shipping contraband items) is to make sure your customs forms are filled out as completely and accurately as possible. If the listed contents of your package seem to match what is showing up on the scans, your package will have an easier time getting through the process.

If you aren't sure whether something is okay to ship or not, be sure to check the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol list of banned items.

If your package passes the x-ray and scanning round of inspection, it may still have a few more steps to clear. Among these is Remote Air Sensing Using Canine Olfaction. In layman's terms, your package may be sniffed by a dog.

Up, Up, and Away!

After your package clears customs, it's time to take to the skies! Airport employees will load your parcel onto the appropriate airplane, where it will most likely be put in a cargo hold. You'll want to think about these travel conditions when preparing your package.

Some cargo holds are climate controlled, but most can get pretty chilly. The average temperature for an airplane cargo hold is 7 degrees Celsius, or about 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that whatever you're shipping will not be damaged by cold, and that it's packaged securely enough to take a bit of a beating in a cargo hold.

Coming Back Down to Earth

Once your package lands in its destination country, the customs part of international package tracking begins all over again. Your package will be unloaded from the plane, and a local airport worker will check it again there before it heads back into customs.

One of the things you'll want to take into consideration when shipping an international package is the customs requirements of the country you're shipping to. The U.S. has restrictions on what they'll send out, but even if your package makes it through U.S. Border Control, it may still be turned away by the destination country.

Read up on the customs restrictions of the country you're shipping to if you have any question about what you're sending.

Back in customs again, your package will be scanned and x-rayed once more. A local customs worker will need to sign off on it. If they do not, the package may be returned to you.

Out for Delivery

After your package clears customs in its destination country, it will be ready to go into the regular mail delivery system of its destination country. At this point, depending on the country you're shipping to, the system may again be a familiar one. Your package will go to a postal delivery service hub, be sorted, and make its way out to its final destination.

When shipping internationally, it is especially important to make sure the address is clear. Double check the address and check the format against other addresses in the area. The last thing you want is for your parcel to make it all the way to its destination country, only to be turned back because of an invalid address!

Get the Best International Package Tracking

So now you're a little more familiar with the international package tracking process! Next time you're watching your package making its way around the world, you'll know more about each step it's taking. Hopefully, you'll also be better prepared to assemble customs-compliant packages!

But what happens if you need to have something shipped to you from another country, but the company you're working with doesn't do international shipping? A package forwarding service can navigate the entire customs process for you and make sure your packages get delivered to you with zero hassle and as little delay as possible.

When you need a package forwarded, get in touch with HMH Ship. We're dedicated to three things: customer service, simple navigation, and complete assistance. We even have a service that will help you order from sites that don't accept international orders!

You can create a free account with HMH Ship today. You are allowed to use their service as much as you like for no additional fees, and parcel forwarding only costs an additional $7.25 to the normal shipping rate. Contact us today to get the best in international package tracking and forwarding.