How to Minimize Customs Issues with an Accurate Labeling System

by Max Manikian, on August 6, 2018

Customs can be a problem for companies with inadequate labeling.
Customs can be a problem for companies with inadequate labeling.

Shipping goods around the world is commonplace in the current global marketplace. Online sales and instant communication have opened up new channels for sales and allowed companies to grow far beyond their original footprints. However, the complications that come with cross-border sales are worth considering and preparing for.

When a shipment gets held up at customs due to a misalignment with local regulations, for instance, the costs can add up. Having shipments correctly labeled for the markets where they're bound and consistency are essential. Getting this detail right every time can save time and money.

Consistent Compliance

When a shipment reaches an international border with insufficient labeling or information that doesn't match import standards, authorities may turn it back or even destroy it. Companies reliant on cross-border commerce, therefore, have to ensure their products will consistently make it to their destinations. The consequences are evident beyond the immediate financial losses of a delayed or destroyed shipment; customers and partner organizations may lose faith in the exporter, and long-term deals can fall through.

Labeling on shipment cartons and cases must meet a number of vital standards. As the International Trade Administration indicated, these requirements may include stating the size and volume of items in metric and U.S. units, as well as ensuring handling and receiving instructions are in multiple languages. The department also pointed out the party receiving the goods typically specifies which marks are essential to pass muster at customs. For potentially hazardous or regulated substances, these rules are especially important and inflexible.

The present moment is a period of transition between older customs approaches and newer, more streamlined systems that acknowledge how much ecommerce has upped international trade volumes. The Journal of Commerce noted that exporters must become familiar with numerous rules, each at different levels of sophistication and with new rules constantly being added. Simply put, falling behind can cause shipment rejection.

A cargo ship unloads goods.Exports that get stuck in customs can be problematic for companies.

Future-Proof Labeling

Having a centralized barcode labeling system - one that can receive updates directly from single sources of truth in corporate databases - is an essential practice in today's fragmented international commerce ecosystem. Failing to update labels due to siloed tech or an internal miscommunication can lead to customs interruptions and resulting losses.

Regulations in the ecommerce era are always changing, and the stakes are too high for exporters to let their labels fall out of compliance. Seizing the true value potential of cross-border sales means consistency, accuracy and keeping pace with constant updates. A comprehensive Enterprise Labeling Solution enables you to master complex labeling variations, meet customer requirements quickly, enable compliance, empower users to create and update labels, support high-volume global printing and more. For more on Enterprise Labeling, check out our Regulatory Labeling Guide: 6 Best Practices to Sustain Compliance.

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Topics:Supply ChainLabelingTrack & Traceability