Cargo Pickup and Customs Clearance at Lahore Airport

If at all possible, avoid sending any luggage or cargo to the Lahore Airport in Pakistan. The hassle you’ll go through, the fees you’ll pay, and the time you’ll waste are only worth it for a large amount of cargo. While shopping in Thailand, I ended up with 10 kg of luggage over my weight limit for Thai Airways. I decided to use Thai Airways ThaiPac service for tourists to send my extra 10 kg bag to Lahore. This was a bad idea for many reasons, especially once I found out about the process I needed to go through to actually pick up my bag in Lahore.

Arrival



When your bag arrives, you’ll get a call from someone working with Shaheen Airport Services (SAPS). Don’t talk too long to this person, as he may actually be an agent and not an employee of SAPS. I had two men calling me, from different numbers, telling me to meet them in various places that were not near the Cargo Terminal. At first they were giving helpful information, such as when the SAPS office would close, but they were also lying and telling me that they could get my bag for me without me going through customs clearance. They wanted to make themselves my ‘agent’ and do the process for me for a high fee. I’d suggest that when you get your items shipped to Lahore, you take note of when the cargo is supposed to arrive. Don’t give your mobile phone number if you don’t want to be harassed. Then show up one day after your baggage was expected.

The Cargo Terminal



The Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore actually has great signs directing you to the Cargo Terminal. Follow the blue signs marked “Cargo” until you see SAPS office on your left. Enter the gate and pay 15 rupees for a ‘token’ (paper ticket). Don’t lose the paper as you’ll need it to leave the Cargo Complex. Park on the left across from the SAPS complex.

Timings



SAPS and customs are technically open from 9 to 5, with a tea break from 1-2. The customs clearance process, even for personal effects, takes at least two hours. I actually had to go on two different days, and on the second day it took fours to get my bag cleared. You basically have two windows to work with, 10-1 and 2-5. The morning is more pleasant as all the agents who prowl around looking for customers aren’t awake until about noon. I wouldn’t suggest going before 10, because it’s unlikely anyone will be there yet to process your papers. The day I went, the customs officers arrived at 10:40am. I’d already been there for an hour just waiting.

Delivery Order



The first thing you need to do is get a delivery order (DO) from the SAPS office. When you enter the cargo complex, you’ll see office areas on your left. The place where you get the DO is towards the center on the left. Signs in this area are lacking, so you might have to ask around. Asking for help is likely to send a swarm of agents after you who want to help you with the whole process. You can talk to men in brown uniforms if you need help. I found them to be very helpful and genuine.

The DO costs 400 rupees ($5). Why do you need to pay just to pick up your bag when you’ve already paid to have it shipped? I have no idea. I was quite confused, but the delivery order only means that you can pick up the bag. It will not be delivered to you by truck or anything like that, although for 400 rupees it should be!

After you get the DO, you need to go to customs. Exit the SAPS complex and turn left. Enter the PIA complex and go left. Enter the last bay and go all the way in and turn left. The office in the right corner is the customs office. There are four desks inside and a bunch of worn green chairs. If you’re lucky, there will also be some customs officers!

Customs Clearance



Now this is the tricky part. Many people told me that it was impossible to clear customs without an agent. I didn’t believe them on my first attempt. On my second attempt, I realized that it was next to impossible unless you’re a man and you speak Urdu and Punjabi. Out of about 20 people who were getting customs clearance, only one man was doing self-clearance. The rest were agents. The customs officers were actually shocked that this one man was doing it himself, as it was totally not the norm. I gave up and the brown uniformed men asked one nice man to help me out. He would charge less than an agent, and he seemed to have the respect of the officers since he regularly worked with them. The airlines officials suggested I give the man 500 rupees for helping me out ($6.13) with the two hours customs clearance process, but they didn’t want to pressure me and kept saying that I could give as I pleased.

My customs clearance took from 10:00am to 1:00pm. The computer system that you need to use to fill in the customs forms was down most of the time. I basically did nothing during this time, but the man who was helping me, Zaheer, had to go out and type my information into a computer somewhere and make multiple photocopies of my passport. Then he had some other guy running around getting all sorts of signatures from different places, that I probably never could have found. During this time I had to pay a 200 rupee ($2.50) fee for the weight of my baggage. I got an official receipt for it. Save this receipt as you need it to leave the airport.

When all the signatures were done, we headed back to SAPS to where the baggage was being held. It was already 1:00pm and the officers were leaving for tea and prayer time. Zaheer called the office and asked them to wait for me, because otherwise I’d need to come back again after an hour.

Cargo Pickup



We left the PIA complex and went back to the SAPS complex. First I had to pay a handling and storage fee. If your cargo is only there for 2 days, there is no storage fee. There is a flat 50 rupee (60 cents) for handling and a 20 rupee (25 cents) fee for ‘documentation.’ I think that means you’re paying to get the receipt printed.
After getting your receipt, go all the way to the end of the SAPS complex, towards the side where you parked your car. Enter an off white gate and walk down an outer corridor to the baggage hold. There are no signs. Turn right into the first room. Here you’ll meet Mr. Mohammad Saddiq from the PIA Baggage Section. This man was very helpful to me, as well as the other man working in his office. Here they just need to enter some numbers into a big register and you’ll need to sign a few things. Then you’ll get your bag! As you get your bag, one man will need to sign it as you left the baggage hold. Make sure you get this signature or you won’t be able to leave the airport.

If someone helped you with the process, don’t pay him inside the office. He’ll walk you to your car so you can pay him without all the other workers seeing. This saves you having to tip everyone who you talked to that day. The man who helped me do the customs clearance was Zaheer Ahmed, and he was very polite and professional. Many of the men hanging out at the Cargo Complex were downright scary. **Update: Unfortunately Zaheer no longer has the same mobile number, so I don’t have a contact.

Leaving the Airport



You can’t go out the way you came in. Drive past the PIA complex and turn right at the first intersection. You’ll come to a gate. Give your token and show the signature on your cargo and your blue receipt from customs. As the gate opens, you and your cargo are finally free!

27 Comments on “Cargo Pickup and Customs Clearance at Lahore Airport

  1. I was trying to see the search ranking for my company site who happens to deal in Customs clearance and suddenly this page showed up. :-} And as a professional in Customs brokerage, I Know it’s just too hard for foreigners visiting our country to go through the tiresome customs clearance procedure, good for you that found a good guy to do that for you.

    • Thanks Imran! Sadly it was still very stressful and time consuming. I had to take two days off from work just for a small bag, and I’d never do it again – would rather just buy everything I need once I’ve arrived. I know it’s a huge system of bureaucracy, but many more foreigners would bring things through customs if the process was easier, quicker and MUCH more transparent. This could ultimately increase revenues, although it would decrease the “chai-pani” being handed around!

  2. its is a bad experienced fly with PIA i was over weight and pia in charge never help me in any way,,,and he demand to charge me so high price for per KG,which i cant afford,some one recommend me cargo counter which is in the air port,i try to send my luggage by cargo but the charge me so high but i compromise because i have no choice at all.i pay very high price and left.but it was so strange when i receive my luggage there was short of my goods which worth more then i paid freight ,,,oh my God ,now i try to contact cargo in lahore but they trying to avoid me,any way i m going on with my complaint and all those stuff which i call wasting of my time,never fly with PIA

    • So sorry to hear about your experience Naveed. It is certainly best to avoid sending any personal effects by cargo. It’s really only worth it if you’re shipping large amounts for business purposes and you’ve got an agent at the clearing house to assist you.

    • imran i am sending some of my stuff (80 kg) clothes, books and other daily use stuff via air cargo to islamabad airport. Can you tell me what are the charges to get them clear on islamabad airport, and how much time it takes. please reply me to aquantic128@gmail.com

    • Kindly call on my number 03084755174 want to make sure custom clearnce procedure.

    • hi,
      i need custom clearance agent i want to clear my shipment from Sir Lankan TO Lahore allama Iqbal international airport

  3. Dear Sir,
    Sub: Quotation of Cargo Charges for different Countries.
    I would like to request you to kindly provide me your company’s Quotation of Cargo Charges for sending clothes to 5 different countries USA, UK, KSA, UAE and Canada. Please furnish me all the details as Total amount for sending 5kgs, 10 kgs, 15 kgs , 20 kgs and 25 kgs or Rate for the first kg and rate for the additional kgs. Also let me know the number of days required to reach destination and all other terms and conditions.
    I run a private business of export of Pakistani Clothes to different countries. So would like to request you to consider the rates on regular Business basis.
    Looking forward for a level headed outcome at the earliest.

    • Dear Sir,

      You will need to contact a shipping and export company for this information.

  4. i want to import betel leaves from srilanka please tell me custom duties on import of betel nuts

    • Haseeb,

      You should contact a company in Lahore that deals with import clearance. I do not have any information about commercial customs duties, only personal effects.

  5. i am living in Muscat Oman , after some days i want to travel back from muscat to lahore. is there any custom on Used LCD 32 inch .

  6. can i have zaheers number? i wanted to clear my shipment at the lahore airport and i am badly stuck

    • Hello Khadija,

      I’ve been informed by someone else in Lahore that Zaheer’s number is no longer valid. I’d suggest just talking to as many uniformed people at the airport as you can in order to try to get things done. You should be able to do it; it just takes time and patience.

  7. ihi
    im an artist i want to send my paintings in box to dubai
    i want wich way paintings r care fully i can send
    cuz paintings r with frame
    im thank full if u guide me on phone
    thanx

    • HI Amaad,

      You should contact an international shipping agency like FedEx or DHL.

      Best,

      Heather

  8. I hate all these custom peoples at Lahore airport. The questions and answers. This year december I travel from Frankfurt to Lahore. I have done my first internship with nestle lahore. The peoples in custom have argued with me on my Laptop even it was my in personal use. The shoes and my Gold chain in my neck. They just want to have some chai pani.

  9. @ singh paul

    I feel sorry for this happened. Although I’ve heard the same from various people. I’ve been to Allama Iqbal Airport for about 3 times only and never faced this situation. Are you a foreigner?

    Maybe that did not question me because I’m local. But I really will go head on if they question me like that.

    I already feel sad about hearing “chai pani” so much. It’s so bad.

  10. Dear friends

    I was a custom clearing agent at Peshawar Dryport, but now in uk, and need a reliable custom agent at Islamabad airport for small small goods clearing in start.

    Kindly email me your contacts numbers that can discuss terms and conditions for long terms business relation.

    Regards

    Bakhtiar Ahmad
    Mobile: 0044 7440554361
    babucorporation@hotmail.com
    babucorporation@yahoo.com

  11. The Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore actually has great signs directing you to the Cargo Terminal. Follow the blue signs marked “Cargo” until you see SAPS office on your left. Enter the gate and pay 15 rupees for a ‘token’ (paper ticket). Don’t lose the paper as you’ll need it to leave the Cargo Complex. Park on the left across from the SAPS complex.

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    • You are free to quote a paragraph and link readers to the full article.

  13. Hi
    Is there anyone who can help me in this matter
    Today morning my uncle came from korea he is british nationality holder he been in korean just for visit and it was his first visit to korea from pakistan actually he bring some mobile phone (used) for his family as a gift to all his nephews and niece but unfortunatily at lahor airport the custom officer stop him and he took.all his mobile phones which he bring from korea and they give him some govt paper as a avidenc and custom officer told him that these phon they are not going to.give him back
    Is any one there who can.tell me a legal procedur that how he can get his mobile phones back
    Please reply me on mu email
    Thanks in advance

  14. I was trying to see the search ranking for my company site who happens to deal in Customs clearance and suddenly this page showed up. :-} And as a professional in Customs brokerage, I Know it’s just too hard for foreigners visiting our country to go through the tiresome customs clearance procedure, good for you that found a good guy to do that for you.

  15. Due to such lengthy customs clearance process people do not even think of carrying extra luggage or avoid shopping for things that requires long customs clearance process. It is best to have a broker to handle all this processes for you.

  16. Dear
    I’m in having problem for 2 days.I buy a snooker cue from England,Liverpool. Seller give me tracking number of my parcel.It’s process by TNT.I see tracking number of my parcel showing me to my parcel is arrive at Karachi Airport.they are waiting for customs clearance at Karachi airport and i’m from Gujrat any one tell me what i have to do?

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