DHL Shipment on Hold – What Does This Mean?

It is frustrating when you see that your DHL package is on hold. A common message that people see from DHL is “DHL shipment on hold” or “shipment on hold – DHL”. What does this message mean?

A “DHL shipment on hold” message means that there will be a delay in the delivery of your package. The hold normally isn’t longer than 1 week.

Some of the possible reasons for this hold message are as follows:

  1. Bad weather condition
  2. Other forms of natural disasters
  3. Port congestion
  4. Changes in vessel routes
  5. Shortage of vessel space and equipment
  6. Inadequate information provided by the sender
  7. Incomplete documents required by the U.S. Customs
  8. Missing notify party or broker
  9. Pandemic

Read on to learn more about the “DHL shipment on hold message”, the possible reasons for it, and how long until the hold is lifted and your package starts moving again.

DHL Shipment on Hold

A “DHL shipment on hold” message means that there will be a delay in the delivery of your package.

Unavoidable circumstances can cause shipment delays. Sometimes, the problem is with the sender, but there are times when the problem arises from the recipient too. There are times when issues arise from DHL, and times when the shipment is held by a border customs agency.

How long foes it take for a DHL shipment hold to be resolved?

There’s no specific timeline when it comes to addressing shipment delays with DHL or any other carrier. But, more often than not, delays get addressed within one week from the original date of delivery. These delays are highly likely due to the following reasons:

  • Port congestion
  • Changes in shipping routes
  • Shortage of shipping space and equipment
  • Inadequate information provided by the sender
  • Incomplete documents required by the U.S. Customs
  • Missing customs broker or notify party

However, it may also depend on how efficient your customs broker is in terms of coordinating with all concerned parties. Causes of further delays may include the following:

  • Prolonged bad weather conditions
  • Damages brought about by natural disasters
  • Pandemic

To better understand the “shipment on hold – DHL” message and why it occurs, let’s take a look at several reasons for this occurrence.

1. Bad Weather Condition

Delay of shipment may result from bad weather conditions. An example would be a typhoon in the area of the sender. A typhoon could also occur while your parcel is in transit. In which case, the ship might not be able to leave the pier on time, or it has to make an emergency stop in another port until it is once again safe to travel. Either way, the ship will most likely reach its destination late.

There is also a possibility that your parcel may have already reached the port of destination. For all you know, it might just be several miles away from you. But DHL couldn’t deliver it as it is too dangerous to be on the road.

2. Other Forms of Natural Disasters

In the insurance industry, examples of ‘Acts of Nature’ are bad weather conditions and other forms of natural disasters.

Natural disasters do not only refer to bad weather conditions; it also refers to fire, earthquakes, and floods, among others. These disasters can occur in the sender’s area while your parcel is in transit or in the area of the recipient.

3. Port Congestion

Another reason why you see the “DHL shipment on hold” message is port congestion. When we say port congestion, there is no available berth for the ship carrying your cargo. It means the ship still has to wait for a slot to be able to berth. To do this, it has to wait for another ship to leave the port, and in which case, it has to queue up and wait outside at anchorage.

The issue of port congestion seems to increase every year. The problem with this is the occurrence of the domino effect. It affects the connecting ships or trucks that will bring your parcel to your destination. Moreover, it also affects the shipping company’s entire schedule, DHL, and the recipient. So, if your parcel is work-related, then your work becomes affected too.

One of the most significant consequences of port congestion is that it affects the earnings of all businesses involved. Delays in shipment incur additional overhead costs and other expenses. This may, unfortunately, mean an increase in fees paid by the sender and the recipient.

shipment on hold dhl

4. Changes in Shipping Routes

There are different reasons why container ships change routes. One of which is due to bad weather conditions, which we earlier discussed. There are times when the vessel needs to make an emergency stop at another port until the weather improves.

Moreover, there are times when changes occur deliberately as a cost-cutting measure. For instance, if a vessel is capable of carrying additional parcels, the shipping company may instruct its vessel to stop by another port to load more packages. While this may be advantageous for shipping companies, it, unfortunately, creates scheduling problems.

5. Shortage of Vessel Space and Equipment

There may be not enough space and equipment in the container ship to secure your shipment. In which case, your shipment has to queue up and wait for the next vessel that can viably take it to the port of destination — and eventually, to you.

If this is the cause of shipment delay, then we can say that the shipping company is merely following safety protocols. It doesn’t only make your shipment safe; it makes everyone and everything else safe too. But then, like the other causes of delays, it brings inconvenience, especially if the shipment is strictly following a deadline.

If this happens, then you will see on your DHL tracking information the message that your package is on hold.

6. Inadequate Information Provided by the Sender

Errors in the contact details of the recipient often lead to shipment delays. Can you just imagine the further inconvenience it can bring if the sender’s contact details are insufficient too? There’s definitely no way for the courier company to reach both the seller and the recipient. Thus, a delay in shipment.

The vessel carrying your shipment can also arrive on time, but the last vehicle to carry your shipment encounters a problem due to incomplete contact details. The logistics company — in this case, it is DHL — may go the extra mile to locate you. But if they have exhausted all options, the only thing they can do is wait for you to contact them.

7. Incomplete Documents Required by Customs

Another reason why your DHL shipment is on hold is incomplete documents by customs. For example, U.S. Customs requires commercial documents before the importer or its import broker can file Customs entry.

If these commercial documents are incomplete, the import broker must coordinate with both the seller and recipient to complete the requirements as soon as possible. Shipment delay involving U.S. Customs is one of the most common scenarios, if not the most.

Commercial documents usually include the following:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Bill of Lading
  • Packing List
  • Arrival Notice

Commercial Invoice

Another term for the commercial invoice is the sales invoice. Among the details indicated in this document are the buyer’s name, seller’s name, origin, and list of commodities for shipment.

The U.S. Customs can ask for additional requirements too. And it all depends on the specific goods being shipped. In which case, the import broker should be able to provide the following:

  • Dangerous Goods Declaration
  • Toxic Substance Control Act  (TSCA) Declaration 
  • Accomplished forms required by other government agencies (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Federal Communications Commission or FCC, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others)

Bill of Lading

The carrier issues the Bill of Lading. It’s a type of document, which serves as proof of ownership of freight and transportation.

Packing List

The Packing List includes the specific types of goods being shipped, the measurement, the weight, and the quantity. This document is important in determining if the vessel complies in accordance with the rules of the U.S. Customs.

Arrival Notice

It is the carrier that issues the Arrival Notice. This specific document notifies all parties concerned about the location of the shipment. It also indicates that the shipment is available for Customs release.

8. Missing ‘Notify Party’ or Broker

Importers can’t always be at the port to track shipments. That’s why they hire a customs broker or what is also called the ‘notify party.’

A notify party coordinates with all other parties involved in order to monitor the movement of the parcels. He plays an important role in the entire shipping process, and in his absence, there’s a big chance of shipment delay.

9. Pandemic

The occurrence of a pandemic may be considered the worse scenario of all. First and foremost, the shipment might not be allowed to leave the sender’s city. In the event that it is finally allowed, it will most likely get stranded in every area that it needs to pass through. You can only hope that the items will not get lost along the way.

on hold dhl shipment

For anyone asking “why is my DHL shipment on hold?”, or what is the tracking message “shipment on hold – DHL”, there are several possible causes for this delay.

DHL Policies on Shipment Delays

DHL ensures that the services they provide are of high standards. There are unavoidable circumstances that cause shipment delays. In case you experience this, DHL will always be glad to assist you.

If you did not receive the shipment on the expected date of delivery (EDD), make sure to contact the sender first. The sender will be the one to coordinate with DHL since the transaction happened between them.

You may track and trace shipments through DHL’s website. Just input the shipment number provided to you by the sender. Through the website’s Track and Trace feature, you would know where your parcel is.

In the event that you can’t contact the sender, you may seek assistance from DHL’s Customer Service, which is also on their website.

Conclusion – Shipment on Hold – DHL

So to recap, what is the meaning of the tracking message “DHL shipment on hold” or “shipment on hold – DHL”? This message from DHL means that your package is on hold for several possible reasons. The hold normally isn’t longer than one week.

These reasons for the DHL hold may include the following:

  1. Bad weather condition
  2. Other forms of natural disasters
  3. Port congestion
  4. Changes in vessel routes
  5. Shortage of vessel space and equipment
  6. Inadequate information provided by the sender
  7. Incomplete documents required by the U.S. Customs
  8. Missing notify party or broker
  9. Pandemic

In most cases, we give a week or two for parcels to be finally delivered. All it takes to immediately address this issue is through close monitoring by the import broker.

However, natural disasters are a totally different scenario. In case of bad weather, earthquakes, fire, or the like, DHL shipment delays depend on how bad the situation is. It is possible for business operations to even get suspended. Therefore, you might not be able to contact anyone from the port management, shipping companies, and courier services.

Another worst thing that may cause shipment delay is a pandemic. Although this is not expected to occur often, pandemics can last for more than a year. Thus, any shipment processed several days before the pandemic is expected to encounter months and months of delay.

Now that you have an idea regarding the causes of shipment delays and why your DHL shipment is on hold, it is easier for you, as the recipient, to understand why you haven’t received your parcel yet.

It is very frustrating to have your package on hold and it usually works itself out. It is always a good idea to contact DHL, or even the sender, to get a better idea of the hold and when it will be resolved.