What Does Held By Customs / Retention Reason: Unspecified Mean?

Siddharth Giri/ 13th Sep, 2020/ Importing Guide

Whenever we track AliExpress, GearBest, Banggood, or any parcels which are coming from abroad,  We get “Held By Customs”, “Retained By Customs for the unspecified reason” etc. in the tracking result.

If you regularly import products from these international shopping websites, then you may not worry after seeing these messages in the tracking results. But these messages are very serious for all the peoples, who imported their first product from abroad.

If you’ve got one of the above-mentioned messages in your tracking result, then don’t worry! In this article, I will try to explain the reason behind the messages.

Why Am I Getting This Message?

You’re getting the “Customs Retention” message because your parcel is held by the customs department. But you shouldn’t worry about it because it’s a normal process of the international parcel.

All the international parcels have to go through this process. It’s not like a local where you receive parcel directly from the sender. The process is different for international parcels, first, the parcel arrives in the destination country then they send it to the customs department then the customs department releases the parcels for delivery after inspection.

If you’re importing any cheap product then most of the time, you won’t see the “Customs Hold” message. Usually, You’ll see “Held By Customs” or any other result only on costly products.

Also, The message in the tracking result isn’t the same every time. Sometimes, You will also see tracking results such as Retention Reason: Other, Unspecified, Retained By Customs for the unspecified reason, Awaiting Presentation to Customs Commissioner, etc.

Whom Should You Contact To Get The Product?

You don’t need to contact anyone. You just need to wait for a few days/week.

The Customs department takes up to 15 – 20 days to release the parcel. The Customs department process depends on the parcel type.

For example, If your parcel coming via “Registered Post”, then they can take up to 15 – 20 days to release your parcel. And If your parcel coming via “Speed Post”, then most of the time they will release your parcel within 7 days.

However, If they aren’t releasing your parcel from a long time for any reason then you can contact your post office via their official website or you can also contact them on social media.

Here’s the screenshot of a tracking result:

As you can see in the below screenshot, They had held my parcel on 21st Dec and then released it on 27th Dec.

Held By Customs Tracking

Note: In this case, I used EMS that’s why they released my parcel within 7 days. This is just an example, they can also take higher time to release the parcel.

Do I Need To Pay Customs Duty on The Product?

Most of the time, I received my parcel without customs duty even after getting the “Held By Customs” message in the tracking result.

But, I cannot say that you’ll also receive your product without customs duty in India because the decision of import fee depends on Customs Department.

I hope you found this article helpful but, If you still have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below. You can also subscribe to ShopAbroad YouTube Channel.

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  1. hi yours is the only blog which gives peace of mind.I have oredered 6 pair of branded sunglasses from ebay us.the tracking says custom hold ,unspecified reason by border secu/agency.what does this mean.its in hold for 3 days now including sat/sunday .so as you have mentioned is it better to wait.
    And the seller has undervalued the item too around 320 $ total.which i was not aware ,just asked him.so will there be any issue regarding ? should i contact them which i really dont want to do,instead could pay the given duty if its through postman.appreciate your advice.thanks
    kind regards

    1. Sometimes, Customs department can take up to 15 days to release the parcel so it’s better to wait.

      And I think they will not charge you customs duty on sunglasses but at last, everything depends on the customs department.

      1. I have bought ipad Pro from us amazon.. It’s been stuck in chennai customs from past 3 days.. May I know how many days it required to release from customs department..? ..if I reject customs tax to pay.. They will return the product to origin country..? Is possible to them.. Pls respond to this issue. If have any information about this..

        1. You haven’t mentioned the courier company but I think it should be UPS because you bought it from Amazon. The customs department will release your parcel within 5-7 days(only if your parcel is coming via private courier company) and if you don’t want to pay customs duty then you can contact Amazon, they will help you.

          1. Yes.. The courier company is USPS.. From 23 October, 2019 onwards it’s still stuck on chennai customs… On ur suggest I will wait for 3 more days.. Then I will cosult them directly in their office..in ur opinion is it better option or not…?

    2. @manikandan

      U got the parcel ?

  2. thanks for your reply..very kind of you to spend time for others issues.

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for the wonderful article, Please mention on top import in India or add more details so that it looks relevant.

    Here are my parcel derails, on 17th april held by customs, as per your article i’ll wait for sometime.

    17/04/2019 16:55:40 India MUMBAI EMS Record item customs information (Inb) Air CUSTOM EXAM MUMBAI Retention Reason : Retained by customs for unspecified reason

  4. Hi, I had ordered for a vape mod base, which is essentially only the mount base without batteries or a vape head. It has been stuck at Mumbai Customs since 24th April 2019. It’s already been over 3 weeks now but I haven’t seen any update on the Custom Hold. MUMBAI FOREIGN POST OFFICE Retention Reason : Retained by customs for unspecified reason. It was sent here via Singapore Post (singmail) and is handled by India post here. Upon contacting them (which is by far the worst wait time ever), they said that I should get it by this week, but there’s been no update whatsoever.

    1. I don’t know about Mumbai Foreign Post Office because all my parcels come from Kolkata Foreign Post Office. But I think sometimes, they can take a longer time to release the parcel in the busy season. So, Wait for few more days, You will definitely receive your product.

  5. Hi mate,

    Thanks for the information. The seller from eBay who shipped Macbook Pro asked me to goto customs Mumbai to collect as it is held with them from 28th May’19. I was planning to go mumbai on 3rd June’19 but now i’ll wait for a couple of days for them to take a decision. A quick one though, do you know how much are they going to ask me pay custom import fee on 90k rupees item at the time of delivery? Cheers!

    1. Normally, Customs duty on Laptop is 31% so you can expect around ₹30,000 – ₹40,000 rupees because customs duty is applicable on accessible value not on invoice value.

  6. Thank you. Another one sorry, i’ll reject if the customs duty is more than ₹20,000 but are you sure the post office is going to deliver this with a bill? Or do i need to goto the customs to either reject or accept it?

    1. Yes! I am sure the post office will deliver the parcel with the bill but Payment of customs duty also depends on the location. For example, the Customs department sticks the bill with the parcel and if you are from a small city or village then the Postman will not ask you to pay the duty because they don’t know that this is a bill for customs duty but if you are from a big city like Delhi, Mumbai, etc then they won’t deliver the product without duty.

      1. Heyy sir my usps parcel is held at custom in mumbai the last update is on 3 dec shows ‘ held by customs’ should i wait some more time? 42 days in transit

        1. Yes! You should wait because you don’t have any other option.

        2. Hello Ansar,did you receive your parcel?..mine is held since 5 Dec .20..

  7. Thanks for the quick reply. I’ll keep you posted with updates.

    1. Have you got the parcel?
      How much have they charged for customs

  8. Hello , my parcel stuck in mumbai foreign post since 2 months or more contains mobile phone (i serched for custom duty its around 65% from china ) so my mobile is aroumd 10000 & if i pay custom it will be around 16.5k what is that ? Joke ? Dude if i knew i could buy it for 12 k here , and stuck since 2 or more months just named retention for unspecified reson custom hold !, so what can i do , i dont know thqt what is it about amout to be paid or not no contact or so

    1. I don’t know why they haven’t released your parcel but you can try to contact India Post on their Twitter Handle or Facebook Page. Don’t tell them about customs duty just ask them “When will they deliver your parcel?” or You can also contact on Indian Post’s toll-free number.

  9. thanks bro for wondefull article its get relief now………………………..

  10. Hey
    I ordered some personal stuff from aliexpress
    Will it get caught ?
    It is showing custom hold retained by border agency /secu
    What should i do ? I’m unable to cancel the product also
    Help anyone

    1. You just need to wait, they will release your parcel. And, You cannot cancel the order after the shipment of the product.

  11. Hello everyone
    Any idea how much time it takes for indiapost to clear the clear the package from custom…right now my package got held in customs. Retention reason : other …how much time i need to wait..

    1. I have already mentioned in the article, they can take up to 20 days to release the parcel.

  12. Hello, i have bought a action figure from japenese website. It is sent fro EMS. Now it stuck from 29th Sept(Retention by unspecified reason). The invoice value is Rs.725 and it is sent as gift. What should i do now. Please reply.

    1. As I mentioned in the article, they can take up to 15 days to release a parcel so you should wait at least 15 days.

  13. Hey Siddharth , I had ordered a pair of sneakers worth ₹8k from stadium goods and they were shipped from USA. My parcel went to the customs on 20/10/19 and from 22/10/19 when I track my parcel it says that parcel has been retained by border agency/security for unspecified reason.
    It’s currently at the Mumbai EMS speed post centre.
    What does this mean and will I receive my parcel ?
    My tracking details –
    Current Status : Custom Hold
    Custom Hold


    Please do help me and what amount do I have to pay as Duty for a pair of shoes and after what time should I contact India post asking about the whereabouts of my parcel?

    1. They can charge you around ₹2,000 – ₹3,000 rupees as custom duty and if they won’t release your parcels within 15 days then you can contact India Post.

  14. Hello
    Soham here again.
    I am very tensed about whether I’ll get my shipment from customs.
    I am ready to pay duty.
    Will customs clear my shipment ?
    Also what if it doesn’t happen ?
    Thanking you,
    Soham Khadilkar.

  15. Hello,
    My parcel tracking number is EC103049283BE . This parcel had gone for custom examination on 22nd October 2019 and when i track it the event status shows-Custom hold. From the last 8 days my parcel has been held at customs. The remark says – Retention Reason : Retained by customs for unspecified reason.
    Here is the detailed information-

    Booking Office Booking Date Source Country Article Type Destination Country Delivery Office
    BRUSSELS EUROPEAN MAIL CENTRE 12/10/2019 11:16:00 Belgium Speed Post India India
    Event Details For : EC103049283BECurrent Status : Custom Hold
    Date Time Country Location Event Type Mail Category Next Office Remarks
    20/10/2019 15:11:10 India MUMBAI EMS SPEED POST CENTRE Custom Receive IN900001
    20/10/2019 12:20:13 India MUMBAI EMS SPEED POST CENTRE Item Received
    16/10/2019 19:13:00 Belgium BRUSSELS EUROPEAN MAIL CENTRE Item Bagged
    12/10/2019 11:16:00 Belgium BRUSSELS EUROPEAN MAIL CENTRE Item Booked
    12/10/2019 11:16:00 Belgium BRUSSELS EUROPEAN MAIL CENTRE Item Received

    Booking Office Booking Date Source Country Article Type Destination Country
    BEBRUA 12/10/2019 Belgium EMS India
    Event Details For : EC103049283BECurrent Status : Record item customs information (Inb)
    Date Time Country Location Event Type Mail Category Next Office Remarks
    22/10/2019 15:57:30 India MUMBAI EMS Record item customs information (Inb) Air Retention Reason : Retained by customs for unspecified reason
    22/10/2019 15:57:25 India MUMBAI EMS Record item customs information (Inb) Air CUSTOM EXAM MUMBAI Retention Reason : Retained by customs for unspecified reason
    20/10/2019 15:11:10 India MUMBAI EMS Send item to customs (Inb) Air CUSTOM EXAM MUMBAI
    20/10/2019 12:20:13 India MUMBAI EMS Receive item at office of exchange (Inb) Air MUMBAI EMS SPEED POST CENTRE
    17/10/2019 06:00:00 Belgium BRUSSELS EUROPEAN MAIL CENTRE Send item abroad (EDI-received) Air MUMBAI EMS SPEED POST CENTRE
    16/10/2019 19:13:00 Belgium BRUSSELS EUROPEAN MAIL CENTRE Insert item into bag (Otb) Air MUMBAI EMS SPEED POST CENTRE
    12/10/2019 11:16:00 Belgium BRUSSELS EUROPEAN MAIL CENTRE Receive item from customer (Otb) Air
    12/10/2019 11:16:00 Belgium BRUSSELS EUROPEAN MAIL CENTRE Receive item at office of exchange (Otb) Air

    Please tell me why my parcel is held at customs for such a long time.
    I have not been notified yet by the customs department about why my parcel has been held and no document of the customs department has come to me yet.
    Thanking you,
    Soham Khadilkar

    Please email at [email protected] if anybody else has any answers.

  16. I purchased from aliexpress. Aliexpress standard shipping method. Parcell struck at chennai customs fom 26th sep. Still not received. Retained by Unspecified reason.

  17. Bhaii…
    Dost nei Australia se iphone xs(used) parcel kiya tha Austria Post k through or ajj Delhi custom nei Hold krliya( Retained unspecified resn) bt mko pta ni tha ki unse contact krna h ya nii to maine tollfree no. Se delhi custom mei contact kiya unhone kha ki mail daalo invoice or id or ye b show kro kya h parcel mei … fr usne pucha ki kya h usme laptop maine btaya ki used iphone h …kya maine bta k glt kiya bot tension hori bhaii smj ni aara kuch..or kya mail krni chiye ya ni…?

    1. Agar unhe kisi document ki jarurat hoti hai to wo apke address par letter bhejte hai lekin apne unhe call kar ke pucha hai to main nahi bata sakta ki apko mail karna chahiye ya nahi.

  18. Hey,Please help I am purchasing a mobile phone with chiness site and the cost of the mobile phone is around 508$ I also pay extra charge with EMS and shipping insurance with include in 508$ but the seller send me the commercial invoice and they mention the total cost of the product is 40$ and my parcel comes in INDIA and held in mumbai custom and their is no update available after 1 Dec 2019…So I am decide to contact the custom clearing agent and then I am contacting…They give my original invoice and payment proof and they told me the own charge and charge of customs and then they told me if you want so I can clear your parcel with less amount of the customs and customs officer is not create a challan so I am telling okay then I will pay 15986 total and they told me your parcel is clear but they dont give me the proof of clear and they told me the system is not properly work so many of the parcel is stucked but they tell me today 6 Dec 2019 and they told me you see the change in the tracking today 7.30Pm.The custom clear shipping name is SECO shipping you can search in google and the rating is about 4.5 start….Can you tell me what can I do now..Help

    1. I never used SECO or any third party agent so I cannot tell you they are real or scammer.

      I won’t recommend you to contact them for customs clearance. I have also mentioned in the article that you should wait for at least 15 days then you can contact IndiaPost for the help.

      Also, Nov – Dec is a very busy season because of so many sales so customs clearance can take long time.

  19. What can I do now help me please

    1. You should wait or contact @IndiaPostOffice on twitter.

  20. Hi All!

    Need to ask the following stuff:

    1) Do the custom officers open your package and mess with your item while inspection. I hope they don’t mess with it so badly?

    2) Is custom applicable if the sender has declared it as a gift worth 90 USD? If yes, then how much will it be?

    3) I have also heard that there are separate teams for different countries, mostly they hold the product coming from China/Hong Kong/Singapore? Is it true?

    1. 1) Yes! They can open the package for inspection.
      2) Yes! They can charge you customs duty even if it is marked as a gift.
      3) I don’t know about separate teams but they have different offices for different locations. For example: Kolkata Customs Office, Mumbai Customs Office etc.

      1. Thanks Siddharth!

        I really appreciate your time and effort to clarify the doubts. Just wanted to ask you one more thing – Do they really mess with the stuff? Have you ever experienced such situation? My product is coming via Mumbai custom office.

        1. I never faced any big issues but sometimes I received open or repacked package.

  21. What about shoes? Will a $80 shoe attract custom duty?

  22. hi, commenting after a year of this article being published, hoping for a reply. I ordered a C..k ring vibrator from UK worth £42.88 and its on “custom hold” mumbai, since a few days. I’ve ordered vibrators earlier too, from international websites, everything was smooth. This is the 1st time I’m seeing that its been held by customs. I know that s.. toys are illegal in india, but durex etc c..k rings are being sold legally even in medicals. So what do you think would be the reason? Am I in trouble? Will they call it illegal? While durex is openly selling in medical everywhere?? Does it have any duty fees? Any idea how much that would be? Please help, im really worried.

    1. I don’t have any experience of importing these types of products so I cannot tell you anything about it. But as I mentioned in the article, they can take up to 15 – 20 days to release your parcel. So just wait…

    2. Hi what happened to your C..k ring vibrator from UK worth £42.88. I m also facing same issue regarding a rabbit vibrator. Kindly help

  23. Hello Sidharth. I m reguler importer of scale model trains from abroad since 1n 1/2 year from eBay . But this time my friend from UK sent me parcel with registered post on 23Nov. it reached mumbai custom and held as security for u since 5 Dec .. today’s 25 Dec . It’s 20 days.. can I get the parcel release and deliver? Please reply..kind regards.

    1. Yes. They will release your parcel but currently they can longer time. OR in some cases(Depends on product) they can send you a letter to ask some documents to release your parcel.

  24. Thank you Siddharth, does Christmas
    Season delayed the parcel..

  25. Hello Siddharth ,how long should i wait..? its 1 month since my parcel containing toy trains held in Mumbai custom from 5 Dec 20.. please reply..

    1. I don’t know how many days, you need to wait but If you can not wait then you can contact the courier team for help.

  26. it is sent by Royal mail and now handled by India post.. no courier.. still I m ready to wait ..

    1. You can contact India Post on Twitter. They will help.

    2. Dear Mr. Durgesh,
      Can you kindly let us know if your parcel is cleared as we’re awaiting for the same.
      Team Remède

  27. Remede clinics,
    No, my parcel is still there.. but I ll wait.. it will surely get release . Hope for best.. regards

  28. Hello sir am from Chennai I ordered a Bluetooth device from eBay. This parcel comes from Germany. I had reached Delhi international mail center and shipment instead of Chennai reached kolkala and it is in custom hold awaiting presentation for border agency? Is it common

    1. Yes. It’s common. Mostly, my parcel arrives at Kolkata Customs Office and sometimes also arrives at Chennai and Delhi.

      1. Thank you so much sir but will Chennai customs reevaluate the parcel again or will it be delivered to me directly?

        1. It will be delivered directly after the customs clearance.

    2. Yes. It’s common. Mostly, my parcel arrives at Kolkata Customs Office and sometimes also arrives at Chennai and Delhi.

  29. Thank you sir so kind of you thank you

  30. Hi,

    I am Meera and I had Ordered a book from Paris on the 23/12/2020 and I have been tracking my parcel since then , basicallly the french people sent by government post La Poste the last tracking messsage was on the 9th January 2021 that my My parcel has been retained by Border Agency/ Security for you. The event type is Custom Hold and location is Mumbai EMS Speed post Center. I read a few comments on the website but I m still not feeling confident as to what their intentions are? I stay in Nagpur and I cant travel all the way upto to Mumbai , but yes the the book is expenisve and I need it I am chef and its imp .Need your advcies . Though I will calll them but as what I have experienced when it comes to government stuff its torturous.
    PLease let me know what can be done or what should i do ……..

    1. Customs department takes around 7 – 15 days to release any parcel but in the current situation, they can take a long time.

      Now, you have two options, you can wait or contact India Post. Calling them won’t solve your problem. If you want to contact them, Twitter is the best option. You can contact India Post on Twitter they will help.

  31. Hello Siddharth, I post a comment on indiapost twitter.. after 4 days they replied asking me to contact mumbai custom as it is custom related, they can not do anything. And provided me direct contact and email id of aspo commissioner.. I mailed him saying it is sent by my friend and old used toy trains and on hold since 5 Dec. An hour after rececived mail asking me to provide invoice and payment proof for early release of parcel. Again I replied stating I don’t have invoice or payment proofs as the parcel sent by my friend and contains old used toys.. Mailed them on 7 Jan. Still no updates or any mail from them… What can you say..

    1. I cannot tell you what to do in this case because I never contacted customs department directly.

    2. Dear Durgesh,
      Thanks for your reply and sharing your experience!
      Can you update the email id where you can communicate with customs?
      Looking forward to your reply.
      Remède Clinics

  32. Remede clinics.

    Mumbai customs office Tel no. 022-26156063 or email [email protected] or personally visit this office Mumbai customs office c/o Department of Post India, airmail sorting division, opp Sahara stars hotel near domestic Airport, vile Parle- east, Mumbai

  33. Hello , finally received my parcel. I mailed Mum custom on 7 jan .. got mail from Mum custom that parcel released on 20th Jan. Today parcel delivered on 64 th day since parcel shipped from UK…

    1. Thanks for the update. Other viewer will find this useful.

  34. I wanted to ask if we can furnish the documents that customs has requested in their show cause letter via e-mail. I received a show cause letter in 2019 requesting for invoice , proof of purchase etc. and during that ocassion had both e-mailed as well as sent a letter to them with the required documents. The item was released but a customs charge was levied.
    I wanted to ask if only an e-mail with the required information as attachments would suffice. If anyone has responded via ONLY e-mail to the show cause letter and have had their parcels released would appreciate if they could confirm it.

    1. E-Documents is enough when using private courier companies (DHL, FedEx etc) but I am not sure about India Post.

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