Boarder, Port and Customs Stops

There are a number of different types of stops and entities who can request for the goods to be stopped or examined. Cargo could be examined for contraband or it may be a simply spot check, for accurate customs submissions, accurate tariff classifications, including but not limited to quantities and descriptions.


Below are some of the stops you may encounter:


  • Customs documents request:

Customs may request any number of supporting documents such as: proof of payment to your supplier, copy of your VAT certificate or importers code, copy of ID, suppliers product list and values, product literature etc. While not strictly speaking a shipment stop this may cause some delays. Only once the relevant documents are supplied, verified and found to be in order, will they release the shipment, allowing the clearing agent to collect.

This time frame can range anything from 1 – 2 days or more.


  • Customs stop/ Physical exam:

When customs request a stop, they require the carrier to move the goods to a nominated customs controlled depot, whereafter a booking must be made with the relevant case officer.  Once the booking is confirmed a representative meets the officer at the depot. The customs officer will at the time decide if they would like to take sample of the product for further examination or, if they are satisfied a report is complied and provided. This can take from 24 – 48 hours. If samples are taken the process will become much longer.

Reports are dependent on their findings, relevant laws and regulations. In many cases customs may require changes to be brought in order to align with specification, only once these have been met will the shipment be released, allowing the clearing agent to collect.

Time frame can range anything from 1 – 7 days or more.


  • CBCU Stop/ Border Police

Regardless if your shipment has been cleared and released by customs, there is the the chance that Border Police may stop it. Among other things these are to regulate/ curb illegal imports. These stops are made at random and cannot be planned for in advance. Normally a detention letter is received which will notify the clearing agent at the time exactly what border police requires. They may request for a physical exam, meaning a booking must be arranged and the container and or cargo must be moved to a depot for exam. Steps followed are generally very similar to those of a customs stop and may include partial unpack, full unpack, documentation requests, x-ray stops etc.

In most cases there are charges involved due to the added handling and storage of your cargo, which can in many cases be higher than expected. Unfortunately, these charges are not always predictable.

Time frame can range anything from 1 day – 1 month or more.


  • X-Ray Stop

X-Ray Machine Stops are requested by either customs and/or border police.

The container and/ or cargo is normally moved to a institution with a X-Ray machine where it scanned for any contraband. This is a non-intrusive inspection. High quality scanning image manipulation tools allowing the customs image reviewer the ability to verify and distinguish the contents of a vehicle or cargo container.

Time frame can range anything from 1 day – 7 days or more.



Stops of varying nature are more frequent than most realise. Always accrue for the possibility of some form of stop. The costs involved for any stop, storage and or demurrage unfortunately will be billed to the importer – you. These charges are seldom negotiable, if at all.