Have you checked your tracking on UPS, only to discover a message that says ‘clearance in progress?’

This message can be confusing, especially if you’ve never seen it before. Thankfully, there’s a simple explanation behind it.

So, what does clearance in progress actually mean, and how long can you expect it to stay stuck there? More importantly, is there anything you need to do to ensure your package continues moving?

In this article, I’ll be answering all of these questions and more!

What Does Clearance In Progress Mean On UPS?

UPS Delivery Vehicle

When UPS tracking shows ‘clearance in progress’, this means that the shipment is currently being cleared through customs.

This will occur each time the shipment enters or leaves a new country, which will happen at least twice (once when it leaves the country it’s shipping from, and once when it arrives in the destination country it’s being sent to.)

However, not all packages go directly from the shipper’s country, to your country. So, it’s possible that the package may need to be cleared additional times as well.

Thankfully, the clearance in progress message that you’re seeing is perfectly normal, and is part of how UPS is able to legally move packages around the world.

Although this goes smoothly most of the time, there will be occasionally be issues that you may need to sort out with UPS.

So, let’s look a bit deeper into how international shipments work, and what you should be prepared for if anything goes wrong.

A Quick Explanation On How International Shipments Work

Due to the complex nature of moving goods between countries, shipping a package internationally is a lot more complicated than sending one domestically.

If you think about it, it makes sense.

Each country has their own set of laws, rules and regulations regarding what is allowed into, and out of their country.

For example, certain products may be heavily regulated, or even banned outright. Even those allowed for import into a country may need to show proof that they meet local safety regulations before they’re allowed in.

So, an agency is put in place to inspect and keep records of all goods that flow into or out of the country.

Thankfully, UPS acts as the customs broker – or third party that works with customs in each country on your and the shipper’s behalf.

They will provide the paperwork for the shipper to fill out prior to the product being shipped, then work with customs to ensure the product is able to move smoothly, without any issues. If there are issues, UPS will either solve them for you, or contact the appropriate person to move forward.

One thing that is important for you to be aware of (even if things go perfectly) however, is customs duties.

Duties can be thought of as a tax specifically on imports and exports. Duties are calculated based on the value of the shipment, as well as the contents of the shipment. Certain items may have different rates than others, so this is important to be aware of!

According to UPS’ help page, the party responsible for paying customs duties is arranged in advance.

So, if you’re unsure, contact the party shipping your package to inquire.

If you by chance are someone that ships packages internationally via UPS, they have put together a quick video showcasing the process that  you may wish to look over!

How Long Does It Take UPS Shipments To Clear Customs?

So, how long can you expect the ‘clearance in progress’ message to remain? How long do UPS packages typically stay in customs before getting cleared?

The truth is, it depends.

Most items end up being cleared in 24-72 hours, and in some cases, even faster than that.

However, delays can occur that significantly decrease the speed in which the shipment is able to continue.

For example, if any paperwork was filled out incorrectly, UPS may need to have this corrected before the shipment can continue being processed. During this time, they may reach out to either you or the shipper, in order to get the information necessary to continue.

It’s also important to keep in mind that each country handles imports and exports differently. Some may not be equipped to process shipments as fast as others, especially during peak shipping seasons where there may be a higher volume of shipments going into or out of the country.

So although 24-72 hours is most common, it can take longer than a week in rare cases.

My UPS Tracking Is Stuck On Clearance In Progress. What Should I Do?

As mentioned earlier, there’s unfortunately a lot that can go wrong when shipping packages internationally. For example:

  • Paperwork may be missing, incomplete, or filled out incorrectly.
  • The shipper may have lied about the true value of the shipment’s contents.
  • Customs may believe the product is prohibited.
  • The shipment’s description written by the shipper was vague or inaccurate.
  • The product was not packaged in a manner that is allowed by that country.
  • The shipment must undergo an exam.
  • The shipment is part of a container in which the entire shipping container must be held and examined.
  • The package was lost or misplaced.

…And so on.

Thankfully, these issues are rare.

So, if UPS appears to be stuck on ‘clearance on progress’, the first thing you should is simply wait. Most of the time, the product will be cleared normally, without any further action needing to be taken.

Remember that it’s not in UPS nor the custom office’s best interests to keep your package held there for lengthy periods of time, so they’ll want to get it cleared as soon as possible.

Next however, you should look for any contact attempts by UPS. UPS requires your phone number when the product is mailed to you, so they may try to reach you by phone if they need your help clearing the package. If UPS needs information from you, the tracking page may also update to share ‘clearance information required.

Finally, if is still stuck on clearance in progress for longer than a week, you may consider contacting UPS at 1-800-782-7892. This is their phone number specifically for international shipping inquiries, so you’ll be sure to reach someone who is trained in this area and will be able to look into the shipment for you.


It is completely normal to see a ‘clearance in progress’ message when tracking your UPS package, and all it means is that it’s currently being processed by customs.

This will typically update and move onto the next step within 24-72 hours. However, delays can occur, and UPS will reach out to you if more information is needed.

I hope that this article has answered all of your questions, and the tracking page will show an update soon.

If you have any other questions about shipping internationally with UPS, please ask them below and I’ll try to get back to you within 24 hours.

Thanks for reading,

– James McAllister

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of JamesMcAllisterOnline.com. He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on JamesMcAllisterOnline.com, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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