dhl shipment on hold

DHL Shipment on Hold: 5 Things to Know

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

If you decided to check the status of your shipment and saw the message DHL shipment on hold, you must be wondering what it means. More importantly, you probably want to know how it will affect the delivery time.

One thing you should know right off the bat is that having your shipment on hold is not uncommon. But in order to make sure your package will reach its destination, you need to understand the meaning of this status and the possible reasons behind it.

What Does DHL Shipment on Hold Mean?

what does it mean

It is perfectly normal to feel worried or frustrated at the prospect of your delivery being delayed or canceled. But if your shipment is on hold, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something terrible has happened to it.

The message DHL shipment on hold usually means that your package has stopped moving for some reason. Because of that, it might happen that you do not get your parcel within the stipulated delivery time.

Possible Reasons Behind DHL Shipment on Hold

Possible Reasons

There are many possible reasons your shipment might be on hold. However, not all of them require your interference.

1. Temporary Hold

If the status of your parcel says that it’s currently on hold, it might just mean the shipment is being kept in a holding area with other packages. Almost every package can show this status at some point, and it’s nothing to worry about.

Your shipment is simply waiting to be moved to a different part of the delivery network. This occurrence is pretty standard, and it won’t affect the estimated delivery time.

However, other reasons your DHL shipment is on hold can be a bit more challenging to deal with. The transportation industry heavily depends on external factors. In some instances, there’s nothing a DHL company can do to speed up the process:

2. Pandemic

Before 2020, a pandemic was probably low on the list of the common causes for shipment delay. However, now we need to mention it first.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shipment process changes depending on the continent or country. Many cities issued a state of emergency or some form of restriction, making it difficult for deliveries to happen at the usual pace. Your package will likely be stranded somewhere along the way, especially if coming from the countries most affected by the coronavirus.

3. Holidays

Sometimes, the delivery process might overlap with holidays and weekends. On those occasions, the status of your package will change to on hold until the next working day. Bear in mind that international shipments are more likely to encounter this problem since they can go through several different countries.

4. Weather-Driven Delays

Bad weather and natural disasters, such as fog, heavy rain, blizzard, snowstorm, tornado, flood, can cause a delay in the DHL shipment. These unfortunate situations can happen at any point in the delivery process.

For example, a ship might be unable to leave the port due to poor weather conditions. Or the ship is unable to travel at the usual speed because of fog or heavy rain. Sometimes, a vessel has to make an emergency stop in another port and wait out the storm.

It might even be that the package is already in your area but can not reach your address for the same reason.

5. Changes in Routes

As mentioned above, unpredicted weather conditions and natural disasters can make a ship suddenly change its course. Sometimes, the company itself can decide to make an exception and change the route to pick up more packages.

6. Space Constraints

Your DHL shipment on hold message might mean that there isn’t enough space on the vessel to take your parcel. The safety of the cargo on a container ship is a big issue. For everyone’s package, yours included, to reach their destinations undamaged, DHL must form a queue.

If this happens, you might feel frustrated, but please try to remember that the company has to follow safety protocols. Not only for the sake of the cargo but to keep its workers and vessels safe.

7. Stoppage in the Port

When talking about queues, there’s another reason your shipment might have to stand in line — an overcrowded pier. The ship carrying your package has to wait at anchorage until some other vessel leaves so that it can berth. This situation might take a while due to the ever-increasing number of cargo ships and limited ports.

8. Missed Ship, Truck, etc.

The problem with waiting in queues is the domino effect. The shipping companies rely on a carefully connected network of transportation. If there’s a delay at any point on the way to your destination, transportation lines won’t be able to connect.

Don’t worry; your package will be on the next ship, truck, etc. But these circumstances create a domino effect, meaning that DHL has to change its schedule and possibly route. The parcel almost definitely won’t be delivered on time, which further affects your plans.

9. Inadequate Information Regarding Sender or Recipient

You can potentially avoid this issue if you double-check all the required information before you send something. If you are the recipient, kindly ask the sender to be careful when writing down the shipping address and other details. Errors in contact info often lead to delays.

Therefore, the reason you see the DHL shipment on hold status might be that the courier can’t reach you.

10. Customs Is Holding the Cargo

One of the most common causes of shipment delay, especially when it comes to U.S. Customs, is incomplete documentation. In order to file Customs entry, an importer must present commercial documents.

A missing form makes it impossible to complete the procedure and your package to enter the country. To avoid this problem, please check the list of necessary documents in the section below.

Documents Required by Customs

Documents Required by Customs

If you see the message DHL shipment on hold, you might want to check whether you have submitted all the documents your parcel needs to pass the Customs inspection. Use the following list to compare:

• Sales Invoice. This document holds the details about the buyer, the seller, and the list of items for shipment. Depending on the content of your cargo, the Customs can request additional documents such as the Dangerous Goods Declaration or Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) Declaration.

Sales Invoice

Image source: Pinterest

Forms required by other government agencies (for example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Federal Communications Commission or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) might also be necessary.

• Bill of Lading. The transportation company provides the Bill of Lading. It’s a document that acknowledges receipt of cargo.

Bill of Lading

Image source: Pinterest

• Packing List. The Packing List is an important document that lists all the goods carried on a container ship. It includes specific details like the weight, measurements, and quantity of packages.

Packing List

Image source: Pinterest

• Arrival Notice. The carrier issues the Arrival Notice as well. The purpose of this document is to indicate the shipment’s arrival date at a specific location to all the parties concerned.

Arrival Notice

Image source: OOCL

If any of the documents are missing, your parcel won’t pass the Customs. Your broker or the notifying party will have to act as a link between the buyer, the shipper, and the Customs until all required documents are gathered. Only then will your cargo be able to start moving (in your direction) again.

DHL Policies on Shipment Delays

DHL’s Terms and Conditions document states that the company will make every reasonable effort to deliver on the EDD, i.e., expected delivery date. However, DHL also highlights that their schedules are not binding and do not form part of the contract. Therefore, if you suffer any damage or loss due to the shipment delay, the company can’t be held responsible.

Even the shipment insurance doesn’t cover the loss or damage caused by the late delivery. Only specific shipments apply for a small delay fee. For more information on this type of shipment, please contact DHL’s Customer Service.

The DHL’s Money-Back Guarantee Contract declares that the company will not be held liable for the late deliveries or failure to deliver if the circumstances were beyond DHL’s control.

These circumstances include customs delays, inaccurate or incomplete shipment information, delivery instructions or information (such as P.O. Box for receiver address, missing or inaccurate receiver telephone number), or receiver’s request for delay, shipment diversion, or nonstandard clearance services; or unavailability or refusal of the receiver to accept delivery or to pay duties and taxes against delivery if requested.

What Can You Do If You Have a DHL Shipment on Hold?

What Can You Do

It would be best if you started with contacting the shipper. They made the transaction with DHL and have the information you need, such as the shipment number.

Once you have that, you can visit DHL’s website and choose the Track and Trace feature. Enter the shipment number, and you will be able to see where your parcel got stuck.

If you need more information about your cargo, simply get in touch with Customer Service, which is available through the option Contact Us on DHL’s website. Customer Service will ask you for your shipment number and, after checking all the details, tell you what has caused the delay.

It might be possible to speed up the delivery by providing the missing information or document. Still, keep in mind that sometimes there’s nothing you, or DHL for that matter, can do to correct the situation.

Rest assured, even if your package is late, it doesn’t mean it will get lost. You will probably receive it in a week or two.


1. When will I get my parcel?

Your parcel will be delivered to your address in 3 to 8 business days. If your package is not there by the expected date, please visit the website and track the details online.

2. What does the DHL shipment on hold status mean?

The DHL shipment on hold status means that your shipment has stopped moving for some reason. You will probably have to wait longer than expected to get your package.

3. Should I worry if my DHL shipment is on hold?

There’s no reason to worry if your shipment is on hold. In most cases, this situation resolves itself in a matter of days.

4. How do I find out the reason behind the delay in delivery?

To learn why your shipment is on hold, please contact Customer Service on DHL’s website. You will need to provide the shipment number so the Customer Service can check all the details regarding your package.

5. Is there anything I can do to change the status of my shipment?

Depending on the cause of the delay, it is possible to help speed up the delivery. If your shipment was on hold due to insufficient recipient information, or inadequate documentation, you could provide what’s missing. That way you can help your package be on its way to you once again.

6. What should I do if I learn that one of the documents is missing?

Call Customer Service to get the directions on how to deliver the missing document.

7. When will my package arrive?

Your package will probably arrive in one or two weeks from the original delivery date.

8. Will I get a discount or compensation for the late delivery?

Unfortunately, DHL doesn’t offer compensation for the late delivery.


Getting a DHL Shipment on hold note when you are waiting impatiently for your parcel is always frustrating. The best thing you can do to ease your mind is to get the shipment number and inquire after your package at Customer Service.

There are many possible reasons for a shipment to be on hold. In the best-case scenario, your package is just waiting for its next form of transportation. And, luckily for you, it will be delivered within the estimated time frame.

Other options are not so good, such as poor weather conditions, inadequate information or documentation, or stoppage at the port. Still, in some instances, you can help speed up the process and get your package moving again. Other times, there’s really nothing anyone can do but wait for the issue to resolve itself.

DHL is a respectable company, and it’s in their best interest to keep you satisfied. Hence, they will surely do everything possible to deliver your package as soon as possible.