DHL Shipment On Hold

Why is your DHL shipment on hold & what is causing this? Read more below.

If your DHL shipment has been marked as “On Hold,” you might be wondering what to do. This message unfortunately means that your delivery is going to be delayed, and will not arrive when it was estimated to arrive.


The “on hold” message is often an indication that your package has stopped moving entirely, and is staying in one place. It is usually due to a delay in the package’s journey. For example, if a border between countries is closed, your package will appear as “on hold” because DHL cannot get it through.


What Causes The “On Hold” Message?


There are multiple potential explanations for this issue showing up. Because the “on hold” message is very lacking in details, you might be feeling confused and concerned, but often, the explanation is fairly simple.


Your package may be “on hold” because of any of the following reasons:


  • Congestion issues at ports
  • Changes in the shipping routes
  • Lack of information about the person sending the parcel
  • Customs inspections of the package
  • Lack of available transport (trucks, planes, ships)
  • A natural disaster or even just bad weather causing delays
  • A strike or social unrest
  • The need to wait for a local courier to take charge of the package
  • Incomplete documentation for the package
  • A holiday causing delays


You will not know which of these things is causing the delay, because the DHL message will not contain any other details about it. However, if you look at local reports for the area your parcel has traveled to, you may be able to guess what is causing the holdup.


If there are strikes in the area, this is likely the issue. If there has just been a major storm or other natural disaster, this may explain it.


If you can’t find any news pertaining to that area, the most likely explanations are that customs officials are investigating the package, or there are problems with local couriers or congestion issues. Hopefully, your parcel will soon be on its way again.


looking at a watch


How Long Does “On Hold” Last?


This depends heavily on what has caused the delay. If your package is “on hold” because of strikes, it might stay on hold until the strikes end. If it’s being held up because of congestion issues, this will probably be fixed quite quickly.


It is normal for a hold to be resolved within a week of it occurring. Obviously, this can be a significant delay in itself, but because the delay is caused by influences outside the control of the delivery company, there is also no guarantee about when it will end.


Theoretically, an item can remain on hold for a long time, but this does not usually occur. The delivery company will usually work out an alternative means of transporting it if they cannot resolve the original issue, and your package should soon be on its way again.


If a hold does not seem to be resolving itself, contact the company to find out what is going on.


What Can I Do To Get My Shipment Moving Again?


Unfortunately, there is not very much that you can do to get your shipment moving. The delivery company itself probably cannot do much either. Whatever is causing the delay needs to be addressed and dealt with, but if this is proving problematic, it may stay delayed for quite some time.


The best thing you can do is contact DHL for updates. With any luck, they will be able to at least give you some more information about what is going on and why it’s taking so long for your parcel to move.


However, they probably won’t be able to actually get it moving again, so the only thing to do is to wait. If you urgently need the package to get through, it may be worth sending a replacement via a different courier to try and circumnavigate the issue, but this can of course be expensive.


How Can I Avoid “On Hold” Occurrences?


There is very little that you can do to avoid this sort of occurrence. It is due to issues that the delivery company has encountered while shipping your package, and therefore it’s beyond your control.


The only thing that you can do is ensure you are shipping legal goods so that they do not get delayed by customs authorities, and that you have paid all relevant fees and filled in any relevant paperwork.


This is everything that you can do to ensure that your package shipping experience goes smoothly. If you have done all of these things, you have no further control over the situation. Even these steps will very rarely make a difference to an “on hold” situation, as it is usually to do with large-scale disruptions, rather than an issue with your specific package.


countries on a map


Does “On Hold” Happen Inside Countries Sometimes?


Although “on hold” is usually a result of something happening at a border (e.g. swapping courier, passing through customs, etc.), it is possible for this to occur within a country too. Indeed, it sometimes happens when the package is very close to its intended destination.


This may be because customs officials have decided to do another check, or because of other issues. Local road closures, weather issues, or strikes can all cause delays.


Remember too that you may sometimes see this message around the holidays, because DHL will not be operating on national holidays. Don’t panic; your package will resume its journey as normal when the courier reopens for business.


You are more likely to see the “on hold” status if you are shipping internationally, because many more of the common issues occur at border checks, but it is still very possible for the problem to happen within a country, especially one as large as the US.


How Concerned Should I Be About It?


Often, “on hold” is nothing to worry about. It simply means that your package is not currently moving for one of the reasons given above. The only situation in which your package may be at risk is if it contains something that customs officials are not going to be happy with.


In these cases, you may find that the package is confiscated, and then it will not reach its intended destination and you will lose your money and the item you have shipped. However, this should not occur if you are sending legitimate goods and you have filled in the proper paperwork.


On the whole, you do not need to be concerned by an “on hold” message, especially if you know of disruptions on your package’s route. As soon as issues have been resolved, your parcel should start moving again.


The best thing to do is just to wait and see if the message gets updated. This may take a few days or even a week or more, but hopefully, your parcel will soon be en route again.


Does It Mean My Parcel Is Lost?


No, “on hold” does not refer to a parcel that has been misplaced. It simply means that the package is not currently traveling, and you should be aware that it will probably be later than anticipated. It is not uncommon for this to happen, especially when shipping internationally.


You should never see the “on hold” message if your package has been lost. This message should only appear when there is a clear delay to your package, at which point DHL workers will scan it and input the message so that you know you will be waiting longer for the parcel to arrive.


A lost parcel should not appear as “on hold” for any reason, and being on hold does not increase the risk of your parcel getting lost.


delays in dhl shipment


Will It Create A Delay?


Unfortunately, it will create a delay, and sometimes quite a long one. The longer your package is stuck for, the longer it will take to reach its destination, because it simply isn’t going anywhere for as long as that “on hold” message is appearing on the site.


Inevitably, then, your package will arrive later than intended. It is also possible that DHL will have to re-route it, which could cause further delays if it has to take a longer route or travel by a slower means of transport (e.g. truck instead of air).


This is very frustrating, but it cannot always be avoided. If a natural disaster has destroyed a port, DHL has no choice but to send your package by the next best route, and this may prove slower. It will also be delayed while they work out which route to use.


What Happens When The Package Starts To Move Again?


Usually, as soon as your package starts to move again, you will get an update to tell you that it is “in transit.” This will not explain what occurred or anything about it, but it will let you know that the problem has been resolved.


Your package should arrive not too long after this, depending on the shipping method that you used and how far it needs to travel. Make sure you keep checking on it so you will know when it has arrived.


Remember that your package may take a new route. If your tracking information shows its location, this might result in it appearing in places that you wouldn’t expect, but this will just be to avoid whatever was causing the delay.


Will DHL Be Able To Give Me More Details About The Delay?


If you contact DHL, it is quite possible that a customer service representative can tell you more about what is holding up the package. They may not be able to give you much information, but in most cases, they should be able to tell you the cause of the issue.


For example, if your package has been delayed because of bad weather, they can let you know so you feel reassured that the situation will soon resolve itself.


square blocks that say "eta"


Will DHL Be Able To Give Me A New Estimated Arrival Time?


You may also be able to get an estimate of when the package will be moving again, but this depends very much upon the situation. Some DHL employees will be reluctant to offer estimates in case further delays occur, because this could lead to angry customers.


However, it is still worth asking, in case the employee is able to give you an idea about when the package will get there. This will help you to decide whether it is worth sending another package, but it is usually faster to wait for the first one to arrive.


Do Any Kinds Of Shipping Avoid “On Hold” Delays?


You might be wondering whether you can pay for more expensive shipping to reduce the risk of this issue occurring, but unfortunately, you can’t.


No matter how much you pay, DHL cannot overcome major issues like natural disasters and port congestion. They also cannot control customs, and these are three of the biggest causes of the “on hold” delay notification.


Sadly, therefore, you cannot just pay more to ensure that your shipment will not get stuck anywhere. “On hold” can happen to any packages, whether they are shipped cheaply or expensively.


virtual mailbox on a computer and mobile device




“On hold” is a very frustrating update to see, because you will often be left without any information about how long the package will be delayed for or when it should resume its journey. Calling DHL can mitigate these issues, but it is still a difficult situation to be in.


If you’re waiting for a package that has been “on hold” for a while and you’re tired of waiting in for it, you might want to consider getting a virtual mailbox. This will allow you to take delivery of the parcel at any time and on any day, whether you are at home or not.


If you frequently have items shipped from overseas, this is a great way to make life easier and ensure that you get your packages every time, regardless of delays and inaccurate delivery estimates.

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