The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Causes for Delay of Cargo 

When it comes to shipping goods, delays can be a common challenge faced by businesses. Understanding the 11 common obstacles that contribute to cargo delays can help companies better navigate the logistics of transportation.

In this blog post, we will explore these obstacles and provide insights on how to overcome them effectively.

Main Reasons for Delay of Cargo

When your package is late, it cannot be very pleasant. The estimated transit time should be as accurate as possible so that all parties involved know when to expect delivery and when to schedule a pickup. However, things can go wrong, and shipment delays are unavoidable.

Customers may press you for a deadline, and you may be held accountable for the delay. Even in certain cases, they may come damaged, faulty, or with the wrong parts.

Here’s a rundown of the most prevalent causes for delay of cargo to help you understand the situation:

1. Customs & border protection

As a freight carrier dealing with foreign shipments, it’s critical to have all necessary documentation ready and filled out to avoid issues. Delay of cargo is likely in the absence of sufficient documentation. The required paperwork, for example, could be misplaced or erroneously displayed. Furthermore, if officials decide to investigate your goods, the situation can swiftly deteriorate, and customs complications might lead to legal issues, which no one wants in their life.

Companies should have a contingency plan if goods are held at customs. This could entail collaborating with a reputable courier service to ensure that documents are delivered safely and effectively.

To minimize issues as a courier working through borders, one must ensure that the necessary documentation is accessible and filled correctly.

Without proper documentation, delay of cargo can be unavoidable, so things can quickly spiral out of control if authorities decide to check your cargo. Companies must have a contingency strategy if their items are stopped at customs. Part of the fallback option is forming partnerships with reputable courier companies to ensure that documents are delivered on time.

2. Traffic and schedules – delay of cargo

In most cities, traffic exists. It is practically hard to find any place with no traffic right now. Significant delay in people’s travel is caused by construction, accidents, massive jams, and detours.

The route optimization software is beneficial to courier drivers. It can figure out the fastest route and modify it in real-time to prevent delays caused by accidents. Dynamic routing software can locate the quickest way or update it in live time to avoid delays and disturbances.

Peak seasons, such as the run-up to Christmas or the summer, must also be considered. If there are a lot of shipments, delivery times may take longer.

Strikes in some countries may also affect delivery times. Strikes, for example, have a substantial impact on the logistics sector in France, which may result in a service alert for delays. It is also important to remember that the coronavirus epidemic disrupts shipments and delivery. With fewer personnel or equipment, companies have less capacity.

3. Inadequate equipment

Equipment shortage is another key concern that shippers frequently neglect. Transferring freight from a warehouse can be difficult and time-consuming. This is particularly true if you require multimodal transportation, including road and rail.

In some cases, shipping containers may not be available. There may be a scarcity of them, or they may only be available in certain parts of town. Of course, such circumstances can cause shipment delays. While it may not appear so, transporting freight from storage is difficult and time-consuming. A shortage of shipping containers can also cause cargo delays. This might happen for various reasons, including a need for supplies or a lack of local availability.

4. Outdated technology

For delivery firms, old and obsolete software, as well as archaic hardware, pose significant challenges. It restricts access to the latest skills that could help reduce shipment delays.

Retailers should consider researching cutting-edge technology and cloud-based tools to track their shipments better. This lets couriers, third-party logistics providers, logistics firms, and transportation firms remain connected and access essential information resulting in a more holistic approach for the entire supply chain.

You must ensure that the companies you choose use the most up-to-date hardware and cloud-based software to track your shipments.

Customers cannot know whether their packages will arrive late or never, which makes lost packages worse. Misplacements, damaged or mistakenly deleted shipping labels, and other factors contribute to missing items.

Technology can come in handy immediately. While real-time tracking helps customers trace their deliveries, proof of delivery in the form of photographs of signatures and delivered products and delivery location information can safeguard both couriers and customers.

5. Clarity issues leading to delay of cargo

Lack of clarity, such as illegible handwriting, is a basic but prevalent issue that causes shipment delays. Mistakes and disasters can readily arise while utilizing pen and paper in the shipping industry. Delays are driven in part by shipping labels. If the tags are of poor quality, they may cause problems while being read or scanned by couriers, resulting in lost products.

With agencies that use logistics management software, misplaced shipments can become a thing of the past. After all, relying on humans for shipments is doomed to fail. Contact any freight forwarders if your company’s address has recently changed and you haven’t received any cargo.

It may appear to be a little issue, but things like illegible handwriting can cause serious delays in your shipments. Using pen and paper is not ideal for the modern shipping sector, as mistakes and mishaps often occur. Shipping labels of poor quality can also cause severe shipment delays. If the titles are of poor quality, it can cause a variety of reading and scanning challenges and the loss or delay of things. You can also get logistics assistance.

As a result, many businesses implement sophisticated logistics management software that will soon render lost or delayed deliveries obsolete. After all, the chaotic aspect of human nature is to blame for all of this.

When transportation organizations adopt logistics management software, misplaced things may become a thing of the past. The right technology platform can: The suitable technical platform can provide complete end-to-end package visibility, beginning with the delivery person. Ensure full accountability while good maintenance, allowing for increased development and flexibility.

Additional unusual occurrences for delay of cargo

Some things may be beyond your freight company’s control.

1. External circumstances

External circumstances such as war, fire, weather, and even piracy can cause cargo delays. Natural calamities such as cyclones, hurricanes, and other natural disasters can wreak your cargo’s speed.

The 2021 Suez Canal blockade is another example of unforeseeable circumstances that could cause cargo delays. This one ship was able to halt global trade for more than a week, causing massive shipping delays. It’s no surprise that the Suez Canal carries 12 percent of international calling each year and serves as a critical link between Asian and European trade. Unfortunate accidents like these are a primary cause of cargo delays, and nothing can be done to prevent them.

The weather is perhaps the most common cause of schedule disruptions. During the majority of their journey, ships sailing on the high seas are subject to the whims of the weather. Any extreme weather conditions, such as hurricanes and storms, will cause the vessel to be delayed and arrive later.

Safety must always be a top consideration for all delivery businesses. Road closures inevitably result in delays due to delayed transits due to the weather. Customers may find it inconvenient if weather patterns dictate delivery time because there are just so much more delivery providers can do to ensure prompt delivery.

2. Global Covid-19 pandemic in 2020

The global pandemic Covid-19 swept the globe, disrupting shipping and delivery in unprecedented ways. Furthermore, it has resulted in a substantial shift in consumer behavior, with a significant increase in purchased items and a significant decline in purchased services. Most carriers worldwide are dealing with an extremely heavy transit burden. This is especially true for the trade routes Europe-Asia and Asia-North America.

The problem is exacerbated by the numerous Covid-19 restrictions imposed by countries worldwide. Unfortunately, these factors have resulted in a shortage of equipment, staff, and space on many ships.

3. Transportation-related cargo damage

Another thing to consider is the possibility of cargo damage during transport. Even if it doesn’t happen frequently, damage can occur.

Value Protection is a cheap alternative to standard shipping insurance that protects your goods from fire, theft, and adverse weather. Value Protect provides you with peace of mind by ensuring that you will be paid if anything goes wrong with your shipment. A straightforward claims process makes it simple to apply by the container.

4. Deficiencies in cargo production

Typically, suppliers provide the shipper with a date when their items’ manufacture is expected to be completed. After that, the shipper arranges for transportation. On the other hand, the shipper frequently forgets to include a buffer for unexpected delays. This may cause a further delay in overall transportation. According to our advice, always leave some room in your budget for production delays. You can avoid further delays in the shipping of your cargo this way.

5. Imports in large quantities

A rapid or unexpected rise in package delivery numbers can overwhelm a delivery firm if it does not have a suitable software system.

This is particularly true during the holiday shopping season. The requirement for courier software solutions to adequately assign the correct quantity of cargo to the appropriate vehicles via the most economical routes grows even as several internet orders grow.

If no one was accessible to take the items, customers, not couriers, may be responsible for a failed delivery effort.

If such an effort to make the shipment has been made, the courier would have to switch on to the remaining orders to avoid delays. They are usually given a certain amount of time to prepare for a reply.

Fortunately, this issue is efficiently addressed.

However, this problem can be easily handled with the right track and trace system. This keeps your customers informed and lets them know when their stuff will be delivered.

6. Congestions in the ports or port strikes

Too many containers can generate port congestion, which can be caused by high seasons and unusual occurrences such as a pandemic, port strikes, or labor. Concerns. These variables can cause weeks of delay. The current port congestion when shipping out of Asia is a good example.

Poor dependability is one reason for port congestion, which impacts port operations and cargo evacuation to final destinations, which in turn causes delays in berthing and handling vessels, causing schedule reliability to deteriorate.

Congested ports will compound the poor schedule reliability and add to the delayed transit times during peak season or due to common causes such as labor disputes, weak hinterland connections, etc.

Ports may be well-managed and handle container ships on time. Still, hinterland links are inadequate or unreliable, causing delays in moving containers out of the harbor and to their final destination.

Containers will swiftly pile up in the port storage yard, injuring available space. As a result, the port will be unable to unload and store containers from incoming vessels, causing delays in handling future ships.

Such delays on the ground will exacerbate schedule inconsistency and result in longer transit durations.

Are Shipments from China to the United States delayed?

The coronavirus has caused significant delays in manufacturing and shipment for shippers from China to the United States. Although China’s production has returned to normal, the impact of COVID-19 is causing a slew of other issues, including increased demand and delays at US ports and warehouses. Furthermore, limits on air travel might result in a significant reduction in air freight capacity, resulting in a shortage of space and fluctuating costs.


In conclusion, there are a variety of reasons for cargo delays. Still, we believe these are the most typical, and they include: Customs & Border Protection, the Global Covid-19 pandemic, Clarity issues, Outdated Technology, Inadequate Equipment, and traffic and Schedules. You are now more aware of different shipping and delivery companies’ matters.


  1. Why is it taking so long for ships to arrive?
  1. What is the deal with my package from China being held up at customs?
  • ‘Held at Customs’ refers to customs officers holding the package you’re delivering to the destination country in the importer country. These government agencies keep the parcels until they are satisfied that only legal items are crossing their border and that the import taxes (Duties and Excise) have been paid.
  1. List down the excuses for shipping delays.

The following are the most common causes for a retail shipment being delayed:

  • Packages that have gone missing
  • Mistakes in technology
  • An increase in the number of deliveries
  • Visibility issues
  • The address is incorrect
  • Congestion
  • Environment
  • Efforts at delivery that failed
  • Vehicle breakdown during delivery
  1. What is the best way to explain a shipment delay?

Here are the steps to follow;

  • Email template for shipping delay of cargo.
  • Please accept my sincere apologies and my heartfelt condolences. The most crucial thing to convey in a delivery delay email is that you care about the customer’s order.
  • Provide details.
  • Make the necessary corrections.
  • Request a follow-up from them.
  1. What you can do to avoid delay of cargo while shipping containers
  • To keep our customers’ expectations in check regarding space and equipment available at each port and keep you up to date on the status of your shipment via our knowledge center and email. If you’re ready to start shipping, join up for a free account on our platform to view routes and timetables.