7 Common Causes of Shipping Delays

7 Common Causes of Shipping Delays Although shipping carriers do their best to deliver mail and packages as quickly and efficiently as possible, shipping delays are bound to happen every now and then. There are many reasons for shipping delays; some of them are preventable, while others are caused by circumstances beyond our control. Here’s a list of the most common causes of shipping delays.

Incorrect Shipping Information and/or Documentation

A small typo in the addressee’s phone number or ZIP code can result in shipping delays because the postal or courier service may not have enough information to deliver the package to the correct address. As a result, the package might be returned to the sender or even get lost in transit. Damage to the shipping label may result in a similar outcome.

Other paperwork-related causes of shipping delays include incomplete or inaccurate information in the customs declaration for international shipments (for example, inaccurate content description may cause problems during customs clearance) and a lack of proper paperwork and labels when shipping restricted items.

Issues at Customs

Packages can get held at customs for a variety of reasons, including incomplete or inaccurate paperwork, improper labeling of restricted items, prohibited items, commercial goods labeled as goods for personal use, unpaid customs fees, customs being overloaded with incoming packages, public holidays in the destination country, and more.

Peak Shipping Seasons

During the so-called peak seasons, which typically coincide with major holidays (such as the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season in Western countries and Lunar New Year in China and other Asian countries), there is an increase in shipment volumes, which puts pressure on supply chains and logistics networks. Although most carriers prepare for peak seasons in advance to handle a rise in demand and warn their customers about shipping deadlines, delays can still happen. You should also keep in mind that shipments may be subject to peak season surcharges during periods of increased demand.

Local Emergencies

Unforeseen circumstances and unexpected events in the city/country of origin or destination, or in any of the transit points may result in shipping delays. They include extreme weather (heavy rain, high winds, snowstorms, freezing temperatures) resulting in flight cancellations, road closures and vehicle damage, natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, volcano eruptions) resulting in even more serious delays, labor strikes, port congestion, vehicle breakdowns, and more.

Global Emergencies

Sometimes major events that affect international shipping occur, and there is little to nothing anyone can do to make packages arrive on time. Examples of such events include the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic with its restrictions and manpower shortages, the 2021 Suez Canal obstruction by the container ship Ever Given, and the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Lost Packages

Shipping carriers handle a huge amount of packages, so it is not surprising that some packages get lost (although the overall percentage of lost packages is very low). Damaged or poorly placed shipping labels, unclear delivery instructions, human error (packages getting misplaced in a warehouse, sorting facility or vehicle), damage beyond recognition, and theft are the most common reasons for package misplacement and loss.

Failed Delivery Attempts

Sometimes a package arrives on time but the first delivery attempt fails for one reason or another, and the addressee ends up receiving their package later than expected. Unsuccessful delivery attempts occur when a mail carrier or a driver from a courier company is unable to hand a package to the recipient or place it in a secure location. In such a case, the second delivery attempt will typically be scheduled for next business day, and the recipient will be left a delivery notice with a description of alternative ways to retrieve their package.