What Does Import Scan Mean UPS? (Your Full Guide)

Shipping a package internationally comes with a variety of new and sometimes confusing experiences, including a range of new tracking updates you wouldn’t usually see.

In fact, one of these new tracking updates just says “import scan”- so what does that mean, and what else do you need to know about it? If you’d like to find out, keep reading!

What Does Import Scan Mean at UPS In [currentyear]?

An import scan is a tracking notification from UPS for international packages meaning the package has cleared customs procedures in [currentyear]. This differs from an arrival scan, which is a scan that indicates the package has arrived at a UPS facility and has been unloaded from the truck or plane it was shipped on.

If you’re planning on shipping a package internationally with UPS, or if you’ve already received this tracking notification, be sure to check out the rest of the article to learn more!

What Is an Import Scan at UPS?

An import scan is a tracking notification UPS uses for international packages that denote that the package has passed through the customs procedures in the receiving country.

This means that the package’s destination country has approved the package and it is now officially in the country, to shortly be on its way to the destination address.

In order for a package to clear customs for any given country, it must meet certain criteria that vary slightly depending on the country you’re shipping to.

As a general rule, in order for packages to receive an import scan, they must have all of the proper paperwork, be an approved item, and have paid the correct customs duty.

If you’re unsure as to whether or not your item is prohibited in the country you’re shipping to, be sure to check out UPS’ page on import and export regulations, which you can find here.

UPS also offers a great resource regarding the different forms you’ll need in order to successfully ship your package internationally and receive an import scan.

You can access this resource through this page of the UPS website.

Customs duty is a fee that is paid to the destination country that varies based on multiple factors, including:

  • Country of export
  • Country of import
  • Product classification
  • Product material origin
  • Manufacturing country
  • Value of shipment

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into receiving an import scan, but UPS does its best to make international shipping as easy as possible.

If you still have questions regarding how to successfully put your package through customs and receive an import scan, check out the UPS Understanding International Customs page.

What Is the Difference Between a UPS Arrival Scan and an Import Scan?

What Is the Difference Between a UPS Arrival Scan and an Import Scan?

So now that we have a better understanding of what goes into receiving an import scan, how does an import scan compare to an arrival scan?

These two scans are commonly confused because they convey relatively similar tracking updates. Nevertheless, there are some key differences that are essential to understand.

The first difference between an arrival scan and an import scan is the location to which the scan is referring.

An import scan indicates that a package has cleared customs and has officially been accepted into its destination country.

However, this does not mean that the package is in the hands of anyone in particular or has even technically left the customs facility.

An arrival scan, however, indicates that a UPS facility is in possession of the package, which gives no insight into the physical location of the package.

Rather, this only indicates that it’s in UPS custody at a UPS facility somewhere.

Another key difference between arrival scans and import scans is their frequency.

Any given package will only ever receive one import scan, as a package will only be accepted into its destination country once before being delivered.

Any package can receive multiple arrival scans, however, as it may pass through multiple UPS facilities on its way to being delivered.

What Happens After an Import Scan at UPS?

Typically the next tracking update you’ll receive after getting the import scan notification is an “in transit,” which means that your package is on the move.

It’s also entirely possible for you to receive other scans.

Another possible notification you can receive after an import scan is a scan that reads “transferred to local post office for delivery.”

UPS drivers don’t always hand-deliver international packages themselves- instead, they will partner with the local post office to help save you time and resources.

It’s also possible for your package to jump from an import scan notification straight to an “out for delivery” notification.

This means that your package is on the truck and on the way to the receiving address, or a delivered notification.

On rare occasions, you may receive a “returned to sender” notification after an import scan.

Typically this doesn’t happen, as the most common reasons for an international package to be returned to sender are for things such as issues with customs.

In this case, you’d never receive an import scan in the first place.

The only reason you would get a “returned to sender” notification after receiving an import scan is if the address was missing information or incorrect, or if the label somehow got damaged.

To know more, you can also read our posts on whether or not UPS reuse tracking numbers, does UPS updates tracking, UPS facts and statistics, and UPS complaints.


An import scan is a tracking update UPS uses to indicate that a package has cleared the customs import procedures of its destination country, and has now officially been accepted into the country.

Import scans and arrival scans are often confused, but the main differences are that an import scan can only happen once, while an arrival scan can happen multiple times, and an import scan indicates location and who has possession, where arrival scans only indicate possession.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

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