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Customs clearance and restrictions

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Ensure your shipment is Customs clearance ready

When a shipment enters or leaves the country, customs reviews the accompanying paperwork and shipment contents to ensure the shipper has followed all the appropriate rules and regulations.

Know the Different Entry Types

While proper documentation is important for avoiding customs delays, it is also important to be familiar with the customs clearance entry types and processes.

Depending upon the value, commodity and entry type, the customs clearance process will vary.

  • De Minimis ($0-$800 USD)– this entry type is part of a consolidated pre-clearance using manifest data
  • Informal ($801- $2,500 USD) – this entry type clears customs as part of an informal manifest clearance managed under a DHL bond. Duty payment may be required depending upon the classification
  • Formal (Over $2,501 USD) – this entry type requires formal entry process. Shipments are held for separate Automated Broker Interface (ABI) entry. Duty and Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) payment is required

To make a formal entry of goods (for imported commercial shipments) into the U.S., the following documents are generally required:

  • DHL Express waybill
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packaging lists
  • Specific import permits or licenses for special commodities controlled by U.S. government agencies

Learn More About Special Case Documents

U.S. Prohibited Commodities

The following commodities are not acceptable for transport by DHL under any circumstances. This is a result of a policy decision, following the full consideration of operational, legal and risk management teams.

  • Animals
  • Antiques (breakable and/or fragile)
  • Asbestos
  • Bullion
  • Currency
  • Firearms, parts thereof and ammunition
  • Furs
  • Hazardous or combustible materials (as defined in IATA Regulations)
  • Human remains, including ashes
  • Jewelry, precious metals and stones
  • Narcotics (illegal)
  • Pornography
  • Gambling Devices
  • Ivory
  • Property, the carriage of which is prohibited by any law, regulation or statute of any federal, state or local government of any country to or through which the shipment may be carried

Help Avoid Customs Delays

Before your exporter hands over shipments to DHL, help them make sure the paperwork is complete and accurate to help avoid delays in the customs process.

Review this checklist to help ensure faster customs clearance.

  • Provide all necessary documents
  • List each commodity separately with accurate descriptions
  • Check for consistency across all documents
  • Make sure documents are clearly written, typed or electronically submitted
  • Provide as much detailed information as possible
  • Confirm that all associated costs are correct
  • Ensure that receiving country or person is not on a Denied Parties list

MyGTS: Your Gateway to Easy International Shipping

Shipping cross-border can seem complex, and incorrect customs paperwork is one of the main causes of delays for SMEs shipping across borders.

To speed up international shipping and simplify customs transactions, DHL Express has developed My Global Trade Services, an intuitive, all-in-one portal.

 MyGTS is a free, user-friendly platform that will help you navigate all international shipping regulations, seamlessly. You can log in with your existing DHL Express Business Account or register a new MyGTS account to access:

  • Pre-shipment Planner: a dedicated tool to help your business comply with all import/export regulations and calculate Landed Cost.
  • Accurate Harmonized System Codes: no more guesswork; MyGTS leverages AI to give you the correct classification for your shipment every time, making customs clearance faster. Search for HS codes using keywords or the code directory.
  • Landed Cost for goods in any country: calculate your product cost, duties & taxes, and freight charges to enhance your pricing strategy and give your customers transparency over shipping fees – which builds trust with your business.  
  • Guidance on each country’s import and export requirements before you ship – no more goods held up at borders!
  • All the documents you’ll need for fast and easy customs clearance.
  • A product catalog feature – where you can save past searches, product details and tariff codes for quicker repeat shipping.

You can log in to MyGTS with your existing DHL Express account, or register a new MyGTS account. Click below for your options.