What to Do When Your Goods Are Stuck in Indonesian Customs

There's no need to worry if your shipment is stuck in customs. Find out how you can get clearance for your goods.

It’s not uncommon for foreign companies to have goods stuck in Indonesian customs. There are several reasons why goods can get stuck in customs.

Keep reading to find out why goods get stuck in customs and how to prevent it. We will also provide you with solutions to get your goods out of customs in Indonesia.

Table of contents

    Why Goods Get Stuck in Indonesian Customs

    There are several reasons why goods get stuck in customs. Some of the most common reasons include:

    • No license. If the consignee does not have an import license, their goods cannot go through customs.
    • Incomplete or incorrect supporting documents. Your shipment’s documents must be complete and accurate. For example, if the goods don’t match the goods declared in the documents, customs will hold the shipment. They will also hold goods if they suspect that the shipment value declared is incorrect.
    • Additional permits are required. Some types of goods require additional import permits. Some examples include cosmetics, medicine, IT equipment, and steel among others.
    • Red channel inspection. Customs personnel will physically inspect each item in red channel inspection. They will also verify relevant documents. We discuss the inspection of goods further below.

    Procedures at Indonesian Customs When Importing Goods

    Getting the Import Declaration Form (Persetujuan Impor Barang)

    The importer must declare imported goods to the customs authorities. After processing the shipment, the customs office will release the Persetujuan Impor Barang (PIB) or import declaration form.

    The import declaration form indicates the following:

    • Import duties
    • Value-added tax
    • Income tax

    Getting the import declaration form does not guarantee the release of your shipment. Paying the duties and taxes also does not guarantee customs clearance.

    Verification and Inspection of Goods and Documents in Indonesian Customs

    Once a shipment arrives in Indonesia, it goes through one of three inspection channels. These are the green, yellow, and red channels.

    Green Channel

    Customs authorities will not physically inspect goods passing through the green channel. They will only verify the shipment’s documentation.

    Yellow Channel

    Shipments that go through the yellow channel need additional documents. You must submit the missing documents to get the approval letter for the release of goods. If your shipment under the yellow channel, Emerhub can help you. We will assist in securing the missing documents for your shipment.

    Red Channel

    Customs personnel will physically inspect each item in shipments under red channel inspection.

    Some reasons why shipments go through the red channel include:

    • Changes in taxes;
    • Changes in regulations;
    • Changes in HS codes

    If customs authorities put your shipment in the red channel, you will receive a Pemberitahuan Jalur Merah (PJM) or notice of the red channel.

    How to Prevent Goods From Getting Stuck in Customs in Indonesia

    #1 Prepare the Packing List and Commercial Invoice

    Your packing list and commercial invoice must accurately reflect your shipment. Indonesian customs officers will use these documents to calculate your taxes and duties. In line with this, inaccurate documents will lead to incorrect calculations.

    Failure to declare the actual value of your shipment will cause problems for your shipment. It may even lead to the detention of your goods.

    Your shipment documentation must also include the contents of your shipment. You must also indicate the dimensions and net and gross weight of all items shipped.

    #2 Appoint a Consignee or an Importer of Record in Indonesia

    Only Indonesian companies with the following can proceed to goods clearance:

    • Relevant import licenses
    • Customs identification number

    Without these, you will not be able to have your goods cleared by customs. Customs authorities may detain your goods or have them re-exported.

    If your company does not have these, you can appoint a consignee. The consignee will use its own documents to facilitate the importation on your behalf. Emerhub can act as your consignee through our importer of record service.

    The importer must also have the Standar Nasional Indonesia (SNI) or National Standardization license for certain products. 

    Products that need an SNI license include the following:

    • Cacao powder
    • Instant coffee
    • Glass for building
    • Steel
    • Cement

    Emerhub can also act as your nominee product holder through our importer of record service. As your nominee product holder, we will handle getting the necessary SNI licenses for you.

    A hassle-free way to import goods into Indonesia.

    Importer of record by Emerhub.

    #3 Start a company and acquire import licenses

    If you intend on importing regularly, you can also set up an import company in Indonesia.

    The following are examples of businesses open to foreign ownership which can apply for import licenses:

    Business activitiesPercentage of allowed foreign ownership
    Import-export
    *The company cannot distribute the imported goods
    100%
    Distribution67%
    E-commerce100%
    Direct selling100%

    Emerhub can facilitate company registration for you. We will also facilitate the application for import licenses and your customs identification number.

    How long does it take to get goods stuck in customs in Indonesia?

    The amount of time that a shipment remains in customs varies depending on the specific issue.

    If you have a shipment stuck in customs, Emerhub will be able to assist you. Whether you are using our importer of record service or not, our consultants are ready to help. It typically takes us one week to get shipments out of customs. Fill out the form below and our consultants will be happy to assist you.

    Possible Solutions When Your Products Are Stuck In Indonesian Customs

    There are three possible solutions to get your goods out of the customs.

    #1 Coordinating clearance with a consignee and customs officials

    One option is to have a consignee take over your shipment for you. Your consignee must be able to coordinate with customs on your behalf. Your consignee will also take care of any relevant taxes, fines, and fees.

    Emerhub can be your consignee for shipments in Indonesia. If your shipment is stuck in the red channel, Emerhub can also take care of that for you. Fill out the form below and one of our consultants will be happy to assist you with your importing and customs concerns.

    #2 Obtain the goods through an auction

    The customs office will put a shipment up for auction if:

    • It remains unclaimed;
    • There is no information on exporting

    The goods will go to the highest bidder. Should Indonesian customs put your shipment up for auction, Emerhub can buy it out for you.

    #3 Export the shipment

    In some cases, customs authorities may forbid the goods from entering Indonesia. In these instances, you will have to export the shipment. In doing this, you will be able to retain ownership of the goods. You can try to import your goods into Indonesia again with the help of an importer of record.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Goods Stuck in Indonesian Customs

    How can I import into Indonesia?

    You must have an import license. Alternatively, Emerhub can facilitate the entry of your shipment into Indonesia using our licenses.

    For some products, you might need product registration approval. Examples of such products include cosmetics, medical devices, and IT equipment, among others.

    How long does it take to clear goods in customs in Indonesia?

    It will depend on the specific reason why customs is holding the shipment. For shipments stuck in customs, Emerhub’s typical turnaround time to get them out of customs is 1 week.

    Why is my shipment stuck in customs?

    The most common reasons for shipments to get stuck in customs are: not having an import license, incomplete or incorrect documents, not having the necessary permits, or your goods must go through red channel inspection.

    How can I apply for an import license in Indonesia?

    You must first set up a company that can engage in the importation of goods. For example, e-commerce, distribution or trading, import-export, and direct selling.
    If your business will not engage in regular shipments, use Emerhub as your importer of record instead of applying for an import license.

    What happens when a shipment is stuck in customs in Indonesia?

    You can assign a consignee, like Emerhub. to coordinate with Indonesian customs to get your shipment.

    Alternatively, you can export your goods to retain ownership of the items. If a shipment remains unclaimed or the owner does not have plans of exporting it, Indonesian customs will put it up for auction. You can also get a consignee to buy out your shipment in the auction.

    What is the import duty in Indonesia?

    There are three types of taxes to pay prior to goods clearance.

    Import duties. This ranges from 0 to 20% of the shipment value depending on the goods. You can check the relevant import duties for your goods with Indonesian customs.
    Value-added tax (VAT). VAT for imports is 10%.
    Import Tax. The import tax is 2.5% if the consignee has an import license, or 7.5% if the consignee does not have an import license.

    Note that only Indonesian companies can proceed to goods clearance for their shipments.

    Need help with your imports? We are ready to assist you with your concerns regarding goods and customs clearance in Indonesia. Fill out the form below or send us an email at [email protected].

    Let's grow your business in Indonesia

    Emerhub has years of experience with importer of record in Indonesia.

    Get in touch with Emerhub by filling in the form below and our consultants will reach out to you within a few working hours.

    If you know the HS codes of the product then it will help us to give you a quotation faster.
    importer of record in Indonesia

    Diligent and detailed, could improve internal communication

    The team carries out its work diligently with detailed information given. However, internal teamwork has some room for improvement as it sometimes takes a bit of time to receive the requested information. Anyhow, they are professional and carry out every project we assign to them.

    Jim Ong
    Finance Department, bloomandgrowasia.com

    I just had to give my documents, sit, and relax

    Supportive staff from Emerhub made the incorporation process of my company easier and faster. You just give your needed documents, sit and relax.

    Regit Ageng
    Rofel Abadi Kreasindo

    We felt like we were investing our money doing the right things

    I think the best part is I feel Emerhub is confident when it comes to regulations and very updated compare to some of the others. A sense of security when we were actually investing our money doing the right things. So coming from a bad experience before Emerhub and having to change all our documents because of the mistake having been made earlier. We have confidence that with Emerhub we are doing the right thing.

    Camilla Fulland
    Prime Stoves

    Search Emerhub blog