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What does DHL shipment on Hold Means – What to do when you notice this

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If you are here then you must have checked the status (tracking updates) of your DHL shipment and saw the DHL “Shipment on Hold” message and you must be wondering what this mean???

Could this mean that something bad has happened to my package on transit??? was it stolen or held (seized) by the customs officers??? was it damaged on transit??? etc these are some of the questions that often comes to the mind of most people when they track their DHL shipments and it appears to be on hold at a particular location.




Listen up, DHL’s “shipment on hold” message doesn’t mean/insinuates that something bad has happened to your shipment. It has a totally different meaning.

Just like any other industry, the people in the shipping, logistics and courier business, have their own jargon used in communication.

In other industry, the phrase SHIPMENT ON HOLD, may mean that a Package has been seized (i.e if we go by the English dictionary interpretation). However in the logistic business, that phrase has a totally different meaning.

The “DHL shipment on hold” phrase is just a shipping/logistics and courier business lingo which simply mean that your package/shipment has stopped moving to its destination due to one reason or the other… and as such, you may not receive your package within the stipulated/estimated delivery time (depending on the severity of the matter which caused them to put the package on hold).



DHL “Shipment on hold” can be caused by following reasons;

  • Your DHL shipment encountered holidays and weekends during delivery process. If any long series holidays, the delivery of package may be postponed to next working day. When this happens, DHL will put your shipment on hold and the status will automatically change on the next business day.
  • Another common reason why DHL usually puts a shipment on hold is because the shipment missed a flight, a truck and is waiting for the next one (heading to your destination). If any shipment having transshipment and the line unable to connect to the next vessel or line due to backlog or space constrain or improper documents also part of shipment on hold.
  • DHL may also put your shipment on hold, if its waiting for transfer to a local courier for final delivery.

If any local charges or freight or duty is due, agent can put the shipment on hold, until they collect the money. Have you paid customs duty??? If no, this could be the reason why DHL put your shipment on hold. As per shipper’s instruction line or agent, DHL can hold the shipment, until the instruction has been withdrawn.

  • Inadequate documents or incomplete documents can also cause DHL to put a shipment on hold.
  • If a Cargo/package has been chosen for inspection by customs. This may halt the delivery process causing DHL to put the shipment on hold.
  • If DHL Express has put your shipment on hold, it could be due to the fact that there is an issue in getting it delivered. It could be due to wrong phone number, incomplete address details, receiver not answering the call etc.
  • If recipient (consignee) is not reachable through telephone or email, this may also cause DHL to put the shipment on hold.
  • As a consignor, if you track your shipment and it appears to be on hold at the destination, it may be because the receiver has closed its deliveries at the moment. Contact your receiver to see if the individual/company is open for deliveries.

If DHL express attempts to deliver a package but the receiver is not at home or company is closed, DHL may put the shipment on hold and another attempt to deliver the package hence as a consignor, it is advisable to ensure that your receiver is open for deliveries before sending your shipment.

However if the receiver is not available, DHL express will make another delivery attempt when the receiver is again open for deliveries. In case, you or the respective receiver is not at home, in that case, tell your neighbour to collect the package for you.

This is better as the package will not get returned to the centre i.e. the delivery boy will take the details of the receiver by adding his/ her signature to the delivery papers, thus you don’t have to worry at all.

  • The COVID-19 Outbreak can also cause DHL to put a shipment on hold.

It should be noted that as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19 and the current situation around the world, many companies are closed at the moment. In addition to that, DHL express follow closely the decisions of the local authorities regarding local barriers and takes the necessary measures to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. Because of these measures you can expect a certain delay in deliveries to and from certain affected areas in the most affected countries.

  • Other factors like strike actions, social unrest may also halt the delivery of a shipment hence causing DHL to put your shipment on hold.




Like i mentioned earlier, these are just the common reasons why DHL often puts a particular shipment on hold. Still there are many reasons to hold a shipment.

To get a specific reason, whenever the status of shipment is on hold, you can contact DHL Express and ask for the exact reason for hold…and sort out the issue asap to avoid further complication.

What to do if your DHL shipment is on hold

Simply get in touch with the customer services by visiting the DHL Express website and click on contact us. Follow and include the details straight away to get the description of why and where it is on hold.

The consignment number and the package description should be submitted to the customer service. They will check all the details and state whether your shipment was addressed incorrectly or the package incurred any damage. You will get a clear picture to find out where the things went wrong.

To conclude, DHL Shipment on hold is not a scary issue or something that should give you sleepless night. Do not get tensed if such delay or hold happens.

DHL is responsible for your products; they will take the utmost care and security to reach you with your parcel on the stipulated time frame.

The shipment on hold status (hold up in transit) may only prevent your shipment from arriving within the stipulated time frame i.e. it may arrive one or two days later as a result of the holdup in transit. So the fear of losing your package is unnecessary.

To clarify all your fears, most of the packages which do not arrive on time, never gets lost.

For most of the time, this is no big deal especially if your packages cleared customs. If you are still worried about this, then calling customer service would be a great choice.




In the screenshot below, you will notice that my own shipment was put on hold by DHL express on the 11th of December, 2020.

After my shipment arrived Cameroon on Friday, 11th of December, i quickly paid the customs duty levied on my shipment. However before i concluded with the customs formalities, the deliver truck heading to my location had already left hence DHL had to put my “shipment on hold” coupled with the fact that the following days were DHL non business days (Saturday and Sunday).

However on Monday, my shipment was still on hold. This was due to the sit-down strike action (Ghost town) in the Southern region of Cameroon; which has been in existence for 4yrs.

In otherwords, mondays are non business days in the North West region of Cameroon hence i could receive my shipment on Monday.

To cut a long story short, on Tuesday, at about 9 AM, i received a phone call from DHL that my package is available for pickup.

So DHL package shipment on hold, is only a temporary status.









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