Why Does DHL Take So Long? (11 Reasons Why)

Logistics company DHL posts delivery times between 1 and 20 days after your purchase depending on the service and the distance between the shipper and the recipient. In some cases, its shipping may seem quick but in others, it might seem way too long.

This article will look at some explanations for why DHL’s shipping takes so long. Sure, it may not make your package arrive any more quickly but at least you’ll have a better idea of what is making your package take forever to get to you.

Why Does DHL Take So Long In [currentyear]?

DHL deliveries can be slowed down by several factors in [currentyear]. Some, like inclement weather, social unrest, and customs clearance are out of the company’s control. In others, like vehicle issues and lost packages, the blame lies squarely on DHL’s shoulders. Furthermore, depending on the reason, packages might be delayed by anywhere from a day to a week. 

This article has lots more information about why DHL is so slow to deliver, so if you’re curious, keep reading!

1. Seller Hasn’t Shipped

One of the most common reasons why packages seem to take so long to arrive has nothing to do with DHL. Rather, it’s because the shipper hasn’t put the item in the mail yet.

Therefore, DHL can’t do anything with a package until they have a package in their possession.

Furthermore, shippers may be slow to drop off packages for several reasons, and one could be that the item is handmade and the piece isn’t ready.

This is common on sites like Etsy where small businesses assemble materials and make products on an order-by-order basis.

Another reason is that the seller may be facing a problem with supply. Without the necessary materials, they’re not able to complete their orders or hand them over to DHL.

However, if it’s been more than a week and the shipper still hasn’t handed your package over to DHL, it’s a good idea to get in touch with them to see what the hold-up is.

Depending on the reason and the length of the delay, you can choose whether to wait for your order or cancel.

2. Weather

Another common reason for package delays that DHL has no control over is inclement weather.

This is because any type of weather that’s out of the norm can have a huge impact on whether or not your package arrives on time.

For example, heavy rain can cause flooding or washed-out roads, both of which make it impossible for DHL vans to reach their destinations.

Snow is another reason packages get slowed down as it makes roads slippery and treacherous to drive.

Often, drivers will wait until conditions improve before attempting any further deliveries.

Therefore, regardless of what kind of bad weather DHL drivers encounter, waiting out a storm could delay your package’s delivery by a day or two, if not more.

3. Natural Disasters

Like weather events, natural disasters often spell trouble for package deliveries. Some examples include wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

If any of these events happen in the path of your package’s delivery, you might end up waiting several extra days for your delivery to arrive.

4. Vehicle Issues

While DHL does its best to keep its vehicles in tip-top shape, there are plenty of instances where vans break down.

When this happens, the driver has to determine whether they need to repair the van or request a new one.

In either case, the delivery will be slowed down by several hours at a minimum. Depending on the availability of other vehicles, the delay could be a day or more.

5. Political Unrest

A lot of DHL’s business takes place in Europe, a place that’s known for protests and marches.

Furthermore, such events can slow down packages because they force drivers to find alternative routes.

In more severe cases, they might even cause border closures and cause your package to get stuck in transit until the event is resolved.

6. Third-Party Delivery

6. Third-Party Delivery DHL

DHL contracts with local postal services in countries all over the world to complete its last-mile deliveries.

In the United States, that means DHL hands packages off to the United States Postal Service (USPS).

This situation saves DHL money and resources (e.g. vans, gas, and employees) but results in slower deliveries.

That’s because the DHL truck has to get to the post office before it closes.

Even if they do make it in time, then there’s a good chance that it’ll arrive too late for the post office to sort the package.

Understandably, this can create a day or two-day delay.

7. Incorrect Address

A shipper putting the wrong address on a package can cause serious delays.

Even if the shipper can correct the address during the delivery process, the package will have to get rerouted, something that could delay delivery by several days.

Still, being able to reroute the package is the best-case scenario. In most cases, an incorrectly-addressed package will get returned to the sender as undeliverable.

After this happens, the shipper will have to resend the package with the correct address. Again, this will delay the delivery by days.

8. Lost Packages

No one wants to hear it but delivery companies do lose packages from time to time. It’s rare, but it does happen, usually because the package got placed on the wrong truck.

In some cases, DHL can track down the package and redirect it where it needs to go, however, that’s not the norm.

Usually, packages remain missing for weeks and the shipper ends up sending a replacement item.

Regardless of what happens, a lost package means major delays for your delivery.

9. Signature requests

When a package requires a signature, someone at the delivery address must be present to sign for and collect the package.

If no one is available, then DHL holds onto the package and reattempts delivery at a later date.

This could be the next day or it could be several days later.

10. Distant distribution centers

While DHL has a strong presence in Europe, the company’s American operations are a lot smaller.

As a result, American customers tend to live farther away from DHL distribution centers and transit hubs (as compared to bigger companies like FedEx and UPS).

Naturally, that means it takes trucks longer to make deliveries, and longer deliveries mean delays.

11. Customs

As a mainly international shipping company, DHL deals with thousands of packages passing through customs each day.

Additionally, depending on how busy a customs office is, your package may spend 2 or more days in one of these centers.

This process can be delayed even further if you have to pay additional fees or have to complete missing paperwork.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether or not DHL deliver through USPS, what does DHL mean, and DHL eCommerce.


Under normal circumstances, you can expect quick delivery times from DHL. However, when things go wrong such as natural disasters, lost packages, etc, you should expect to have some delivery delays.

Although you could be left waiting days for your package to arrive because of unexpected events, DHL will always try and get you your package on time.

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Cara Suppa

Cara Suppa has been freelance writing for over a decade and holds a BA in English and an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. Outside of work, she is an avid cook, gardener, and discount shopper.

2 thoughts on “Why Does DHL Take So Long? (11 Reasons Why)”

  1. Article concurs up a number of possibilities, but most tracking histories show multiple-day dwell times at DHL facilities 1-1 ½ hours away before a truck drives to make a drop off at local Post Office or nearby USPS Network Distribution Center or Plant. Not a one-time occurrence, but a consistently poor customer experience. Dewey Huey and Louie lost their way – along with many customers.

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