Can the Courier Insist on Checking the Package Contents?4 min read


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With the digital revolution and the incredible growth of online retail sales, nothing seems as easy as shipping parcels. Millions of people around the world send different items via courier services every day. Yet, only a few of us can boast of knowing our rights and obligations when it comes to delivery, both local and international.

As a reputable online platform offering different shipping services on a global scale, Eurosender will gladly deliver answers to your queries regarding some specific cases related to both domestic and international parcel delivery. One of such questions is: can the courier insist on checking the package contents?

Is it a normal situation when the courier driver urges a customer to show him the parcel contents?

The short answer is YES, even though not every logistics company does it. For example, parcel checks are a standard situation in island countries like the UK, Ireland, etc. Such rules mainly apply to global shipping due to strict security requirements and regulations regarding the customs clearance procedure. It is a known fact that if you are sending your parcel within the EU, there will be no customs control. But, for example, if your parcel is going from Belgium to Norway or from Switzerland to Croatia, it will surely be checked at the customs.

There are also local rules stating that the courier can and should insist on checking the package contents. Speaking of national deliveries, there are no unified requirements. Parcel checking usually depends on the policy adopted by the courier company handling your order.

The courier must ask you to open the parcel in the following cases:

  • The parcel looks wet or has a strange odour;
  • The packaging looks damaged (any broken seals, labels, plastic foil may cause concern for the customs agents);
  • Your parcel content is deemed suspicious;
  • The courier company’s employee wants to check whether you are trying to ship prohibited items. The delivery agent needs to make sure that no dangerous articles or substances are collected;
  • Contraband items importation prevention (in some cases, shippers are asked to prove that the products they want to send are intended for their personal use);
  • When a parcel is shipped abroad by air (express delivery services, for example, DHL Express).

Is every single parcel opened and inspected by the customs officers?

No. It is literally impossible to open every package. Otherwise, there would be huge delays in trade operations throughout the world. However, any international shipment undergoes the scanning procedure. If for any reason, the parcel contents are considered unsafe, the package goes through the X-ray one more time. Then it is stopped for inspection by the customs staff. When dangerous objects or hazardous substances are detected, multiple scenarios may be in play. If you want to learn more about the possible outcomes, you will find the necessary information in our dedicated blog article.

Please note that the list of restricted and prohibited items is not the same all over the world, it is, therefore, a good idea to have a look at specific shipping restrictions applicable both in the pick-up and the destination country.

Is there always a reason for opening a package at the customs?

Given that the number of parcels crossing the border every day is quite high, the customs agents tend to inspect parcels that may cause concern, although random checks also happen. A very frequent case is when the parcel contents’ value is suspected to exceed the amount indicated by the sender in the customs declaration. Do not underestimate the customs officers’ professional intuition. Experienced agents can easily recognize false declarations, especially when they see electronics on the list. At Eurosender, we always recommend our clients not to count on luck and to respect all the shipping rules.

If you are in doubt as to whether the courier can insist on checking the package contents, or if you have any question regarding the best way to pack and ship any kind of items, do not hesitate to contact our friendly customer support team by giving us a call on +442081236306 or sending us a mail to

Last modified: December 4, 2019

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