DHL Shipment on Hold

DHL Shipment on Hold: What Does it Mean?

Why would a DHL shipment on hold, be an issue to you? What does it mean? How do I resolve it? These are questions that DHL customers would often ask when they receive the shipment on hold notification. As you read through, we will show you what it means and how to approach it to get optimal positive results.

What Does “DHL Shipment on Hold” Mean?

When you receive a notification stating that your DHL shipment is on hold, it signifies that your package is presently not in transit.

Various factors can contribute to a delay in the shipping process. When such a delay occurs, DHL notifies you by indicating that the shipment is on hold.

It’s important to note that this situation doesn’t imply that your package is lost or that the seller has canceled your order.

Rather, it indicates that an issue has arisen during the shipment’s journey, preventing the delivery driver from making progress toward your destination.

While there may not be extensive actions you can take to resolve the issue, there are steps you can follow to gather more information.

But first, let’s take you on a journey on what can be the reason that you would receive the shipment on hold notification.


Why is There a Shipment On Hold Notification on My DHL Package?

There are various factors that could lead to your DHL package being placed on hold.

Here are a few of those factors:

1. Holidays

Another reason for observing a hold on your DHL shipment is when it coincides with a holiday.

DHL typically does not operate on holidays, and while you might not anticipate receiving delivery on an actual holiday, it’s possible to overlook those that fall within the week or those that are not widely celebrated.

On such holidays, DHL drivers are not on the road making deliveries. Generally, this results in a delay of only one day for your package.

However, if you happen to receive a notification stating that your DHL package is on hold, it’s advisable to check if it corresponds with a holiday.

If it does, you can reasonably expect the shipment to resume its transit on the following business day. Holidays can indeed cause some delays, including those affecting DHL shipments.

2. Natural Disaster

Regrettably, shipping companies have no control over the weather, despite their best efforts to make deliveries in various weather conditions.

Certain weather-related elements pose too much risk for safe travel. Natural disasters can strike unpredictably, and while people typically associate them with tornadoes or hurricanes, other natural events can also disrupt deliveries.

Snowstorms, earthquakes, and even exceptionally windy days can hinder delivery drivers.

Sometimes, shipments can’t proceed due to the aftermath of a recent natural disaster, such as debris-laden or damaged roads, or flooding issues on highways.

In such situations, drivers can only resume their route once the affected areas are cleared or alternative routes are found.

If delivery driver finds themselves amidst a natural disaster, their safety becomes a priority, necessitating shelter until conditions improve.

These disasters can be brief or linger for an extended period, and drivers can only resume their journey when it’s safe to do so.

Moreover, they may encounter damage to their vehicle or find the area impassable. Consequently, natural disasters can indeed be a factor leading to the temporary hold of your DHL shipment.

3. Closed Borders

One of the major reasons you might encounter a hold on your shipment is due to border closures. Countries may choose to close their borders for various reasons.

For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries closed their borders as a precautionary measure to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Consequently, numerous deliveries experienced delays during this period, as DHL and other carriers were unable to access these countries until the border restrictions were lifted.

Another circumstance that can lead to border closures is security concerns. If a country suspects the presence of a potential threat, such as a terrorist or similar entity attempting to enter or exit, it may opt to shut down specific border areas.

Unfortunately, if this happens to be the same border crossing that DHL needs to use, it can result in delays.

Lastly, political conflicts between neighboring countries may prompt border closures to prevent potential invasions.

The challenge with closed borders is the uncertainty surrounding their duration.

This unpredictability can make it exceedingly difficult for DHL to carry out deliveries, as they may need to seek alternative routes or await the reopening of the border, depending on the shipment’s destination within the closed country.

Consequently, it’s possible that your delivery may remain on hold for an extended period if DHL encounters a border closure.

4. Port Congestion

One of the more common reasons for your DHL shipment being placed on hold is due to port congestion.

When you order items from another country, DHL needs to navigate through the customs process.

Customs serves as the initial checkpoint for many nations, where personnel meticulously inspect various packages and shipping documentation to ensure nothing unlawful enters the country.

They also scrutinize for potentially hazardous items such as explosives, weapons, and biological threats.

During certain periods, customs experience high volumes of traffic, with the holiday season serving as a notable example.

With a surge in purchases from international sources during this time, customs must process a substantial influx of packages.

DHL, like other carriers, must wait its turn in line. Generally, port congestion doesn’t lead to significant delays, and your package might be on hold for only a day or two before resuming its journey.

However, in certain circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, issues can be exacerbated. The increased reliance on online shopping, coupled with a reduced workforce, can create bottlenecks.

Only a limited number of packages can clear the verification process each day, leading to substantial delays that compound as more packages arrive.

Until your shipment successfully navigates this system, it is likely to remain on hold. Port and customs congestion can indeed be a factor causing your DHL shipment to be on hold.

5. Social Unrest

DHL primarily operates within European countries, where social unrest events can frequently occur.

These events, whether they stem from protests against specific leadership decisions or laws, can have an impact on the delivery process.

At times, social unrest may even lead to the temporary closure of borders until the situation stabilizes.

In certain cases, social unrest might result in only minor delays for your package. In such instances, the delivery driver may need to seek alternative routes to bypass the protest or march.

However, when faced with a large-scale protest or march, this can prove quite challenging. Additionally, safety concerns may arise, making it unsafe for the driver to be on the road.

In such situations, the driver must prioritize safety before resuming their route; otherwise, your order may never reach your doorstep. Social unrest can indeed be a factor leading to the temporary hold of your DHL shipment.

6. Route Changes

Unexpected route alterations can also result in DHL temporarily placing your shipment on hold. Such changes can arise due to various reasons.

For instance, a delivery driver might fall ill or face a family emergency while en route. Additionally, delivery vehicles can experience breakdowns, necessitating repairs or a switch to a different driver or van to complete the delivery.

However, integrating this new leg of the journey into their existing route may lead to a delay of a day or two.

If you happen to observe in your tracking information that your package is moving away from its intended destination or is located in an unfamiliar area, it is typically an indication of a route adjustment.

These alterations can occur unexpectedly, but they don’t necessarily result in prolonged delays for your package.

When a route change becomes necessary for your shipment, it may prompt DHL to temporarily place your shipment on hold.

7. Lack of Transport

DHL, in comparison to some larger carriers, operates with a more limited fleet of vans, planes, ships, and various other modes of transportation.

Consequently, when they exceed their capacity, they must wait until one of these transport vehicles becomes available.

Weight plays a pivotal role in the shipping industry, as it often dictates the selection of transportation routes.

This is due to the fact that heavier items incur higher transportation costs. Therefore, carriers strive to strike a balance between cost efficiency and effectiveness.

If your package happens to be particularly heavy, it may necessitate the use of an entirely new van for its delivery, especially if it exceeds the weight capacity of the last van scheduled for the day.

Consequently, you may experience an additional day’s delay as DHL awaits the arrival of a suitable transport vehicle.

This is the point at which DHL notifies you that your shipment is on hold, indicating that it will remain so until an appropriate means of transportation becomes available.

Given DHL’s smaller carrier size, the limited number of transport vehicles at their disposal can be a factor contributing to a hold on your shipment.

8. Incomplete Documentation

The foundation of the shipping industry relies heavily on paperwork and documentation, which often involves labels, barcodes, and scanners.

However, due to the inherent nature of shipping, these labels can sustain damage, or barcodes may become scratched to the point where they are unreadable.

This results in incomplete documentation, leaving the delivery driver uncertain about the destination. It can also lead to complications at customs, where authorities may struggle to process the shipment due to insufficient knowledge about its contents.

Sometimes, documentation issues can stem from mistakes made by the seller in their haste, such as forgetting to include vital information.

In other cases, the buyer may inadvertently provide incorrect information or overlook something essential. In such instances, DHL may find it necessary to hold the shipment until the missing or corrected information is provided.

Only then can they acquire the necessary documentation to proceed with the delivery.

If you receive a notification indicating that your shipment is on hold, it could be due to a lack of essential documentation.

If DHL requires documentation from you, you can expect to receive another message requesting the necessary information.

How Long Does a Shipment On Hold Take?

It’s challenging to provide a precise timeframe when you discover that your DHL shipment is on hold, and it’s completely understandable that you may desire an estimate.

There are several factors you can investigate that might offer a rough estimate. By researching any upcoming holidays, potential border issues, or ongoing road construction projects in your vicinity, you can assess whether these factors might be contributing to the delay.

Situations like holidays or road construction typically result in a hold lasting a day or two at most. However, more complex issues like challenging border crossings or social unrest may lead to longer delays.

To gain a better understanding of the expected duration of the hold on your shipment, the most effective course of action is to contact DHL directly.

While they may not be able to provide an exact timeframe, they might offer you some valuable information.

What to Do When You Receive a Shipment Hold Notification?

Take into account these recommended actions when you discover that your DHL shipment is under hold:

1. Contact DHL’s Customer Service

One of the initial steps to take is reaching out to DHL’s customer service. You should have details about your package, including its tracking number and its intended destination, on hand.

The customer service representative may be able to provide you with an update or information regarding the delay.

They could potentially disclose the cause of the delay and offer an estimated timeframe for the package to proceed toward its destination.

However, in certain situations like natural disasters or social unrest, it may be challenging to ascertain when the package can resume its journey.

In such cases, at the very least, the representative can inform you about the reason for the delay. You can consider contacting their customer service periodically for updates if your shipment remains on hold.

2. Research Route

While you may not have access to the exact route taken by the driver, you can still gain a general understanding of it.

Start by gathering more information about the seller. Determine whether they store their products at their own location or utilize warehouses.

If they use warehouses, identify the locations of these facilities. It’s likely that your order originates from a warehouse closest to your vicinity.

Next, consider the locations of DHL transit hubs. Sellers typically choose DHL when it is in proximity to them to keep shipping costs reasonable.

Once you have pinpointed these two key locations, you can sketch out a likely route to your destination.

This allows you to conduct research on any potential issues in those areas. For instance, if your package is coming from a different country, you might want to investigate border closures or congested customs offices.

It’s also worth checking the congestion levels at ports, as this can contribute to shipment delays. Even seemingly minor factors like local road construction can cause problems.

By uncovering these variables, you can potentially gain insight into the cause of the delay.

3. Wait

The most advisable course of action, when your shipment is on hold, is to exercise patience. Your package is still on its way to your destination, albeit with a potential delay beyond your initial expectations.

However, if you find yourself waiting for an extended period, surpassing a few weeks past the initially scheduled arrival date, it would be prudent to reach out to DHL once more.

4. Cancel the Order

Lastly, if the delay is going to pose an issue, or if you won’t require the product by the time of its arrival, you have the option to cancel your order.

Upon cancelation, DHL will receive a notification instructing them not to proceed with the package delivery. Instead, they will arrange for its return to the seller.



When you receive a notification stating that your DHL shipment is on hold, it signifies that the delivery driver is currently unable to continue moving toward your destination.

This notification serves to inform you about the expected delay in your package delivery.

While there may not be many measures you can take to prevent these delays, you do have the option to reach out to DHL to gather as much information as possible regarding your package.

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