Decoding the ‘On Hold’ Status: Understanding and Navigating DHL Shipment Delays

Last Updated on 28/08/2023 by UPS_ Admin

Navigating the complexities of international shipping can be daunting, especially when unexpected delays occur. This article delves into the various reasons your DHL shipment might be marked “on hold,” from customs clearance issues to operational delays and internal errors. By understanding these potential hiccups and the recommended actions to take, customers can better manage their expectations and ensure a smoother delivery experience. Whether it’s due to local barriers or receiver unavailability, understanding the root causes can empower you to stay informed and proactive in your shipping journey.

DHL package on hold

Why is my DHL shipment on hold?

Your DHL shipment might be on hold for a variety of reasons listed below:

  1. Customs Clearance: One of the primary reasons for a shipment to be on hold is due to customs clearance issues. All international shipments are subject to regulatory scrutiny by the customs authorities of the respective country. If the shipment is dutiable or if it contravenes the import laws of the receiving country, it may be put on hold. It is crucial for all documents to be clear, valid, and properly filled out to ensure swift customs processing.
  2. Operational Delays: Situations like congestion at ports, changes in shipping routes, lack of available transportation means (such as trucks, planes, or ships), or even a natural disaster or severe weather can delay shipments. Similarly, strikes, social unrest, or even national holidays can halt the movement of goods.
  3. Incomplete or Incorrect Information: If there’s a lack of information about the sender, incomplete documentation for the package, or an incorrect address, the package might be placed on hold. Proper electronic verification of the customer’s details is vital.
  4. Local Barriers: DHL operates globally, meaning it has to adhere to local guidelines and barriers. Sometimes, responsive measures are taken by DHL to ensure the security and safety of the shipments.
  5. Receiver Unavailability: Sometimes, a delay can occur due to the unavailability of the receiver. If the consignee is not present to receive the package, or if the delivery location is inaccessible, the shipment might be put on hold.
  6. Internal Errors: In rare cases, internal mistakes, like a parcel not being loaded onto a cargo airplane, can lead to a package being on hold.

If your shipment is marked as “on hold,” it’s recommended to:

  • Contact DHL Customer Service: Reach out to DHL with your consignment number and package description to get clarity on the reason for the hold.
  • Stay Updated: Monitor local news for potential disruptions (like strikes or natural disasters) in the area where your package is or is supposed to pass through.
  • Wait Patiently: While it’s natural to be concerned, in most cases, the “on hold” status gets resolved, and the package resumes its journey. DHL usually ensures packages are safely delivered within the stipulated timeframe.

In essence, a DHL “Shipment on hold” status is a temporary setback, which could be due to a range of external factors or operational reasons. It’s best to stay informed and keep in touch with DHL for timely updates.

How long will my DHL package be on hold?

Your DHL package can be on hold for various reasons, including customs inspections, congestion at ports, changes in shipping routes, natural disasters, strikes, incomplete documentation, holidays, and other unexpected issues.

Generally, a hold is resolved within a week of it occurring. This seems to be the average timeframe, but there’s no guarantee on when it will end because the delay might be due to factors outside the control of the delivery company.

What does shipment on hold mean for DHL?

“Shipment on hold” for DHL indicates that a parcel is temporarily delayed. This can result from incomplete or incorrect paperwork, pending customs duties requiring confirmation, or a customs inspection to ensure the shipment doesn’t violate any country-specific laws. Additionally, discrepancies like incorrect Harmonized System (HS) codes or documentation issues can cause such holds. Essentially, it denotes a pause in transit due to various potential reasons.

Why is my Shein order on hold DHL?

Your Shein order marked “on hold” by DHL could be due to several reasons. There might be congestion at ports, alterations in shipping routes, or missing sender details causing the delay.

Often, “on hold” indicates a stoppage in the package’s movement, such as when borders close and shipments can’t pass through. Additionally, Shein might place your order on hold due to inaccuracies in the shipping details, like wrongly formatted addresses, misspelled street names, or incorrect postcodes.

Errors like these, sometimes resulting from the auto-fill function on devices, can halt the delivery process, leading to delays.

Why is my DHL Express package on hold even after tracking says it has cleared customs?

Even if your DHL Express package’s tracking indicates it has cleared customs, it could be “on hold” due to reasons like congestion at ports, changes in shipping routes, or insufficient sender details. DHL’s tracking might not always reflect real-time updates, especially when couriers are overburdened or when updating responsibilities shift to local post offices. While “on hold” usually suggests a pause in the package’s movement, leading to delivery delays, it’s essential not to panic. Delays can be checked via track-and-trace services, and if the status remains unclear, it’s advisable to contact the courier service directly for clarification.


In summary, DHL shipments can be “on hold” for a myriad of reasons, from customs challenges to operational disruptions. It’s crucial for customers to maintain accurate documentation, stay updated on potential disruptions, and communicate with DHL for clarity on delays. While such holds can be concerning, they are usually temporary and are often resolved with due diligence and patience.

Posted in DHL

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