Top reasons your cargo is delayed

Top reasons your cargo is delayed
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When importing products to the U.S. and Canada, there are several key reasons why shipments may be delayed.

It is not unusual for shipments to be behind schedule in the shipping industry, which can have a large effect on companies that depend on the timely arrival of their goods to maintain efficient operations. When importing products to the U.S. and Canada, there are several key reasons why shipments may be delayed.

This blog post will analyze the frequent reasons for shipment delays and suggest methods to minimize them.

Port Congestions

Businesses worldwide witnessed first-hand delays caused by limited capacity at ports during Covid in 2020/2021. Faced with labor shortages due to sick leaves, social distancing, and other Covid-related restrictions, ports around the world were congested. Particularly, destination ports in the U.S. were paralyzed.

Further labor shortages fueled delays which resulted in average clearance times jumping 25%. Separately, a shortage of shipping containers also resulted in shipping delays.

Hopefully, the worst from the Covid days is behind us. There is a lesson to be learnt: as a business, it is crucial to work with strong partners. These partners should be attuned to industry trends such as container shortages. They should also be acquainted with current processing times at your ports of concern.

Working with a logistics partner can offer many benefits. One of these is real-time visibility into their processes, which can help you plan accordingly and take action to mitigate potential delays.

Customs Clearance and Lack of proper documentation

Clearing goods through customs can be a common source of shipment delays. Proper documentation is critical for ensuring that your shipment clears customs and reaches its destination on time. In the lack of the latter, your shipment may be held up in transit or, worse, returned to the shipper. Make sure you have all the necessary documents, including bills of lading, commercial invoices, packing lists, and lists of ingredients/raw materials when dealing with food/drug-related items.

A reputable and experienced logistics partner will remain on top of the customs clearance process as it develops and help you navigate the clearance process efficiently.

A common example of frequent delays and penalties is due to inaccurate classification of goods. This can result in incorrect duty and tax charges, potential fines, and unnecessary shipment delays, such as secondary investigations. Therefore, it is essential to work with a freight forwarder that provides comprehensive customs brokerage services and can accurately help you classify your goods according to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes. This will ensure proper clearance through customs.

Lack of visibility in freight forwarding operations

Working with freight forwarders that don’t give updates of their activity can sometimes be a cause of issues, especially when the people involved are situated in different time zones. Your shipment may have docked at the port of entry, and customs may have requested additional documentation. Suppose your freight forwarder doesn’t recognize that there is a holdup in their supply chain and let you know what documents are needed by customs. In that case, your shipment will get delayed and incur demurrage/detainment charges.

Often, difficulties arise when working with a freight forwarder who is not up to date with the most recent innovations and lacks the visibility to monitor their activities properly.

It is essential to collaborate with a knowledgeable freight forwarder that utilizes technology to gain insight into their practices and can quickly inform you of any changes that may occur.

Transportation and Warehousing

Delays can also occur due to issues with logistics, such as transportation and warehousing. For example, a delay in receiving goods from a supplier can cause a delay in getting the goods on board of the vessel.

Additionally, a delay in retrieving goods at the destination port due to logistics constraints (for example, when working with an inexperienced logistics provider) can cause a delay in getting the goods to the destination. In order to mitigate these risks, it is important to work with a freight forwarder with a proven track record of delivering goods on time and a finger on the pulse when it comes to average clearance times at your intended port of entry.

Natural Disasters

Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires can disrupt the supply chain and cause significant delays in the transportation of goods. Extreme weather such as snowstorms and torrential rains can also contribute to these delays. It is important to have a plan in place in case of a natural disaster, diversify your supply chain as much as possible, and work with freight forwarders to mitigate potential delays.

Main Takeaways

Overall, shipment delays can have a significant impact on your business. By understanding the most common causes of shipment delays and taking steps to mitigate them in cases where possible, you can help ensure that your goods are delivered on time and your operational costs are streamlined.

It is important to work with an experienced freight forwarder who have the knowledge and expertise to help you navigate the complexities of importing goods to the U.S. and Canada and to keep you informed with any challenges that may arise.


Our team at Ship4wd is composed of logistics and shipping experts who are dedicated to helping small and mid-sized businesses get the most out of their shipping processes. We provide 100% visibility and shipment tracking, helping businesses stay informed of potential delays and taking steps to minimize their impact. With Ship4wd, small and mid-sized businesses can feel confident that their goods will reach their destination on time and in good condition, allowing business owners to focus on growing their business.

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