While most DHL shipments are delivered timely and without any issues, there are instances where certain packages may be put on hold. Encountering this issue is often grounds for frustration, as the delivery is typically delayed.

There are several reasons why this may happen including incomplete or inaccurate shipping documentation, importing prohibited items, customs-related issues, operational challenges, and service disruptions, among various others.

When DHL places your shipment on hold, there are several actions you can take in order to have your package released and delivered to you. In this article, we’ll delve into the ten most common reasons why this happens and provide a list of actions you can take.

What Does It Mean When Your DHL Shipment Is on Hold?

When your shipment is on hold, DHL has temporarily suspended its delivery to you. This typically happens when there is a concern with your package, and its accompanying documents, or the clearance process.

dhl shipment on hold

It is important to note that this hold is a precautionary measure taken by DHL to ensure compliance with regulations and risk mitigation. During this hold period, your shipment is typically held at a designated location (typically at customs or at a DHL facility) until the necessary actions are taken to resolve the issue.

Understanding the reasons behind a package hold and taking appropriate actions can help you effectively resolve the issue. This in turn will prompt DHL to deliver the package to you.

10 Reasons Why Your DHL Shipment Is on Hold & How to Resolve Them

Most of the time, DHL provides reasons why the delivery of your package was put on hold. You’ll be able to find this reason on the tracking page in the “Further Detail” section, which you can access through their website or the app.

To give you a more comprehensive overview, we have compiled a list of the most common reasons why your DHL shipment may be on hold, along with step-by-step instructions to solve this issue.

Customs Clearance Issues

Customs clearance involves procedures and documentation to ensure that imported products comply with local laws and regulations. There can be instances where customs-related issues may arise, causing DHL to hold your shipment.

In such cases, it is important to understand why the customs department has not cleared your package. In most cases, they require more information about the product or the documentation.

How to Fix It:

  1. Contact DHL (or the customs authorities if DHL isn’t able to help) to inquire about the status of the import customs clearance process. They will be able to provide you with specific information regarding the hold and guide you on the necessary steps to resolve it.
  2. Next, provide these requested documents promptly and accurately. This may involve providing further details about the contents of your shipment or documentation such as invoices, certificates of origin, and similar.
  3. Make sure that the contents of your shipment comply with the customs regulations of your country. Each country has its own set of rules and regulations regarding the importation of goods, and failure to comply with these regulations can result in customs clearance issues.
  4. Once you have supplied the additional information and the customs department has approved them, DHL should release your package within the next few days.

Restricted or Prohibited Items

Countries prohibit certain items and products from being imported, as they are a concern to people’s health and safety, violate intellectual property rights, have a negative environmental impact, or pose a threat to national security.

When importing any of these prohibited items, DHL will typically hold your package until the investigation from the customs department has concluded.

How to Fix It:

  1. Check the import restrictions and prohibited items list of your country. This will help you determine if your shipment contains any items that are restricted or prohibited.
  2. If your shipment contains restricted items, obtaining the necessary permits or licenses required is essential.
  3. If your shipment contains prohibited items, you will most likely not be able to import them. In this scenario, it’s best to contact DHL for the next steps.

Incomplete or Incorrect Documentation

Accurate shipping documents are essential because they ensure the smooth customs clearance and transportation of goods. While shipping documents are typically prepared and submitted by the shipper, goods may be held at the destination country if there are any discrepancies.

Either DHL or the customs department may hold your shipment until the incorrect or incomplete documentation has been re-submitted. Common documentation errors include incorrect details of goods, weight, quantity, description, or value.

Another common mistake is missing documents for certain products. Failing to submit packing lists, commercial invoices, or in some instances certificates of origin, can force DHL to put your shipment on hold until all required documents are submitted.

How to Fix It:

  1. Ask the shipper to thoroughly review the shipping documentation for any missing or incorrect information.
  2. Once identified, they should promptly correct any errors or omissions in the commercial invoice, customs declaration form, or any other required documents.
  3. They will then need to resubmit the corrected documentation to DHL promptly.

Incorrect or Incomplete Shipping Details

Not only can incorrect or incomplete shipping details cause significant delays but they can also cause your package to be held by DHL, as they aren’t able to determine the correct delivery locations.

How to Fix It:

  1. It’s always recommended to ensure that the shipper has the correct delivery address before your package is dispatched.
  2. If any discrepancies or errors are found during transit and your package is held by DHL, you’ll need to either reach out to the shipper or DHL to update the correct shipping address.
  3. Once the shipping details are revised and DHL has updated the information in their system, they will be able to schedule the delivery.

Operational Issues or Service Disruptions

Occasionally, operational or logistics issues may arise within the DHL network, causing a temporary delay in the delivery process. While these instances are typically rare, prolonged disruptions may cause DHL to temporarily hold your package until a delivery attempt can be made.

How to Fix It:

  1. Firstly, reach out to DHL directly to inquire about the specific issue. By contacting their customer service team, you can gather more information and clarify the situation at hand.
  2. While speaking with a DHL customer service representative, don’t hesitate to ask for additional context and an expected resolution timeline. This will help you better understand the situation and better manage the delivery.
  3. While waiting for the issue to be resolved, ensure that you track your package regularly, as DHL will update the “Estimated Delivery Date” from time to time.

Adverse Weather Conditions or Natural Disasters

DHL, like other shipping companies, may hold packages due to adverse weather conditions to ensure the safety of both the packages and the delivery driver. Severe weather conditions include floods, heavy storms, hurricanes, blizzards, hail, and more.

As they disrupt the entire transportation network, DHL may temporarily hold packages during these weather conditions. This is because deliveries during adverse weather conditions cannot be carried out safely.

You’ll notice a “Due to adverse weather conditions, the shipment could not be processed” message on the tracking page. Take note that some weather conditions may take several days to clear.

How to Fix It:

  1. Keep an eye out for a message related to adverse weather conditions. This update signified that a delivery cannot be attempted and that your shipment is currently only on hold.
  2. While waiting for your package may be frustrating, it’s important to remember that these measures are put in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the delivery process. Once the weather conditions or natural disaster subsides and it is deemed safe, DHL will attempt to deliver your package.

Payment Issues

Another potential issue where your package could be put on hold by DHL might be related to payment. It is possible that you or the shipper have not yet completed payment. In this case, DHL may only plan the delivery upon payment settlement.

How to Fix It:

  1. To determine if payment is the reason behind the hold on your shipment, you can start by checking for any outstanding payment obligations related to the shipment from the seller. If there are any unpaid customs duties or shipping fees, it is crucial to address these payment issues promptly.
  2. That said, you must contact DHL directly. Their customer service team will be able to assist you in resolving any outstanding payment obligations and help ensure the timely delivery of your shipment.

Incorrect or Damaged Package Labeling

DHL may hold packages if they notice incorrect or damaged shipping labels. As these labels are scanned for inventory management purposes, labeling that is correct and intact is important for any shipping company.

Incorrect labeling, such as incorrect addresses or missing information, will most likely lead to misrouted packages. On the other hand, damaged labels may prevent the system from identifying the delivery details.

While DHL tends to hold these shipments until they are able to retrieve the correct or intact shipping label, in some cases, they may even have to return the package to the sender. This can be particularly problematic if the package contains time-sensitive or important items.

How to Fix It:

  1. Contact DHL if you notice that the reason for the hold is due to incorrect or damaged labeling. They will be able to guide you on the specific steps to take based on the nature of the issue.
  2. If they ask you to liaise with the shipper, reach out to them and ask them to provide DHL with a new or the correct shipping label.
  3. If they ask you for your delivery details, DHL will not need a new shipping label but will attempt to make the package delivery based on the details that you provide to them.
  4. If your package has already been returned to the sender due to labeling issues, you should reach out to them and request to have it reshipped with the correct label.
  5. It’s also a good idea to ask the sender to verify that the label is correct and intact before they resend it.

Technical Issues

Your DHL package may also be on hold due to system and technical issues that could affect the accurate tracking, sorting, and delivery of shipments. These issues might encompass glitches in their tracking systems, issues with scanners, malfunctioning sorting equipment, or other technical or systems-related challenges.

Holding packages in this scenario allows DHL to rectify these issues and prevent them from being accidentally misrouted.

How to Fix It:

  1. There’s little you can do, as these issues are internal and DHL will typically resolve them within a day or two.
  2. If you notice that your package is delayed for a prolonged period, you can reach out to DHL’s customer service team. They will be able to provide you with more details and sometimes an updated expected delivery date.

Vehicle and Equipment Issues

Vehicle and equipment issues may arise unexpectedly and can cause delays in package delivery. These issues can include vehicle breakdowns, equipment malfunctions, or mechanical issues that could compromise the secure and timely delivery of packages.

DHL relies on delivery vehicles and warehouse equipment (forklifts, conveyors, pallet jacks, scanning systems, and more) to process and dispatch your package. While they may cause delays, DHL prioritizes resolving such issues promptly.

How to Fix It:

  1. As these are issues with DHL, you’ll most likely not be aware when they face these types of issues. However, they may still hold your package until the issues are resolved.
  2. You’ll most commonly receive an update in the “Next Step” header of the tracking page indicating “Shipment will be processed further on the next planned cycle”.
  3. Closer to the estimated delivery date, it’s important to make yourself available for the delivery.

What Happens After Your Shipment Is on Hold

When your shipment is placed on hold by DHL, it signifies that there is an underlying issue with your package, DHL itself, the shipping details, or external reasons. During this period, DHL will plan to resolve the root cause of the hold.

This might involve fixing technical glitches, repairing equipment, addressing operational inefficiencies, or waiting for external situations like adverse weather conditions to be resolved.

Once the issues are successfully resolved, DHL will plan your shipment into the next available delivery cycle. This means that your package will be scheduled for the subsequent planned delivery.

dhl shipment on hold

You can keep track of any actions required and the shipment progress by looking at the “Further Details” and “Next Step” details provided on the DHL tracking page. Here’s a quick guide on what these mean:

  • Further Details: More information is shared here about why your package is currently on hold. Once resolved the status should read “The shipment is currently awaiting the next planned cycle“.
  • Next Step: More information about the next steps is shared here, for example, if there are any details or actions required from you. Once resolved, this should read “Shipment will be processed further on the next planned cycle. Please continue to monitor the progress online“.

While your shipment is temporarily on hold, it’s important that you check the tracking page frequently, as this gives you more information about the status of your package and provides you with further insight into additional steps that you may need to take before you’re able to receive it.

DHL Tracking Page: Track Your DHL Shipment

Best Practices To Consider

While it’s important to acknowledge that some issues are beyond your control, there are some best practices you can employ, in order to avoid further delivery delays.

  • Stay Alert – Keep an eye on your shipment’s tracking updates, and be prepared to take action once you see the status change to “On Hold”. It is crucial to stay vigilant and promptly respond to any changes in the status of your shipment. By doing so, you’ll be able to speed up the issue resolution and avoid further delays.
  • Provide Correct Shipping Information – Providing accurate shipping details is crucial to prevent DHL from holding our shipment. This is because incorrect or incomplete addresses will require additional verification. It’s important to ensure that you provide the shipper with accurate shipping details.
  • Keep Updated with Customs Regulations – Familiarize yourself with the regulations and restrictions imposed by customs to avoid any customs-related issues that can result in DHL holding your package. Understand which products are prohibited or restricted and ensure that you have the required permits or certificates for importing them.
  • Communicate Promptly – When noticing that your shipment is on hold and further action is required from you, it’s best to contact DHL’s customer service and seek guidance on resolving the issue. By communicating promptly and efficiently, you can potentially shorten the holding process and expedite the delivery of your package.
  • Be on Standby – Be ready to receive the package once the issue has been resolved. Use the tracking feature to know when your package will arrive. This will allow you to make yourself available upon delivery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Having your shipment on hold can be a frustrating experience. We’ve decided to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from our readers and hope that they will give you a better insight on this topic.

Can My DHL Shipment Be on Hold in Another Country?

Yes, your DHL shipment can be placed on hold in another country. The hold can occur at the origin or the destination country, depending on where the issue has arisen.

This means that your shipment may temporarily be delayed, especially if there are issues with customs clearance, additional security checks, or even unforeseen weather events.

Rest assured that DHL is committed to resolving these issues and planning the delivery of your package in the next delivery cycle. It’s also important to understand that each country has different regulations, so it’s important to fully understand item restrictions and prohibitions.

How Long Will My Shipment Be on Hold For?

One of the most common questions is how long DHL shipments are on hold. However, this depends on the reason behind the hold and the actions required to resolve the underlying issues.

Shipments that are on hold due to operational, technical, or equipment issues are typically resolved within a short period of time, usually within 2 to 3 days. However, if the hold is caused by external factors such as bad weather, road closures, or natural disasters, it may longer.

It’s important to note that DHL continuously updates the estimated delivery date to provide customers with the most accurate information as the situation evolves. They understand the importance of timely delivery and strive to minimize any disruptions in the shipping process.

How to Find Out Where My Shipment Is on Hold?

If you’re wondering how to find out where your shipment is on hold simply use the DHL tracking app or website, and look for the latest shipment update. Right below that, you’ll find all the information you need to know about the hold.

The details will include the date, time, and location of the hold, usually mentioning the country and city.

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Gerrit Poel

Co-Founder & Writer
at freightcourse

About the Author

Gerrit is a certified international supply chain management professional with 16 years of industry experience, having worked for one of the largest global freight forwarders.

As the co-founder of freightcourse, he’s committed to his passion for serving as a source of education and information on various supply chain topics.