Why Is My DHL Package On Hold? (7 Reasons Why)

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about following your tracking information is seeing that your package is stuck somewhere for some unknown reason and amount of time. 

For example, DHL often uses the term “on hold” to indicate that a package is no longer moving due to an unforeseen delay.

To find out what kinds of delays cause packages to get held up, make sure to read this article. 

Why Is My DHL Package On Hold In [currentyear]? 

DHL packages end up on hold for several reasons in [currentyear]. These include port congestion, missing customs paperwork, bad weather, lack of delivery vehicles, route changes, holidays, and social unrest, including border closures. Furthermore, this tracking update is used to keep customers informed about their shipments and should update within a day or two. 

This article has all of the explanations you’re looking for when it comes to packages being on hold, so you’d better read on!

1. Port Congestion 

As an international carrier, DHL is required to move packages in and out of customs offices in different countries. 

Furthermore, employees at these offices examine packages and shipping paperwork to make sure all of the packages have paid duties and taxes. 

These officials also make sure nothing illegal or dangerous comes into or leaves the country. 

Thankfully, this process usually moves quickly, however, there are periods when customs get backed up due to higher-than-normal package volumes.  

This is especially true during the end-of-year holiday season. 

Additionally, it can also happen when there are supply chain issues. 

Usually, though, port congestion doesn’t slow packages down too much. In fact, most packages move through customs within a day or two. 

Then, once they’ve passed through customs, they resume their delivery journey as intended.  

2. Missing or Incomplete Customs Paperwork 

Packages sent internationally require paperwork in order to pass through customs. When these documents are missing or incomplete, packages get delayed.  

Furthermore, this paperwork provides contact information for the shipper and the recipient, details about the contents of the package, and an explanation of the package’s route.  

Without this information, customs must hold on to the package until they obtain the required information from the shipper. 

Therefore, depending on how quickly the shipper can provide information, the package can continue its journey within a day or so. 

3. Bad Weather or Natural Disasters 

Shipping companies do everything in their power to deliver packages in the promised amount of time. 

Unfortunately, things like bad weather or natural disasters can wreak havoc on even the most sophisticated systems, causing delays. 

Furthermore, everyday weather events like snow storms, heavy rain, and strong wind can temporarily slow down packages for a day or two as drivers take cover.

However, more severe weather like hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes could delay a package by several days or more as DHL scrambles to find alternate routes. 

4. Lack of Transport

Lack of Transport

Unlike larger carriers like FedEx and UPS, which have well-established networks and plenty of backup vehicles, DHL has a limited number of vans, planes, and ships at its disposal. 

That’s especially true for packages traveling within the United States, as DHL is mainly an international carrier. 

Therefore, when things get busy, or vehicles break down, DHL may have to wait for additional vehicles to arrive before continuing to transport a package. 

Thankfully, this process will only slow shipments down by a day or two. 

5. Route changes 

DHL may have to adjust its normal routes for several reasons. As an example, a driver may become ill during the course of a work day, or their van might break down. 

In either case, a new driver or vehicle is needed to complete the delivery. 

Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. As a result, your package will likely get delayed by a day or so if an unexpected event occurs. 

6. Holidays 

Holidays big and small, can put a wrench in DHL’s delivery process. 

For one thing, DHL doesn’t operate on holidays. 

However, while this isn’t a massive issue in and of itself, imagine all of the holidays going on worldwide every single day. 

Furthermore, if your package has to pass through several countries on its way to you, there’s a good chance it could get delayed every time a holiday happens. 

Additionally, more than individual holidays, DHL’s operations often get slowed down at the end of the year, right before Christmas. 

This is the busiest shipping time, and DHL often struggles to keep up with the volume of packages it has to process. 

As a result, packages sent pre-Christmas may take longer to arrive than those sent at other times of the year. 

7. Social unrest 

A final reason DHL packages may end up on hold is because of social unrest. 

Furthermore, DHL delivers all around the world, and there’s a decent chance that a march or a protest is going on somewhere at any given time. 

Therefore, local events like these could force DHL drivers to seek alternative routes or delay delivery until the situation calms down. 

In cases like that, your package may end up on hold for a day. 

However, in more serious cases, social unrest could cause borders to shut down. If that’s the case, your package could remain on hold in a country until the event has resolved itself. 

To know more, you can also read our posts on why your DHL shipment is on hold, who owns DHL, and what is DHL eCommerce.


As this article shows, there are several reasons why a DHL package’s tracking information may show that it’s on hold. 

Everything from normal weather events and holidays to more serious issues like social unrest and port congestion could spell bad news for your package. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind that packages usually start moving again in less than 2 days, so there’s no reason to panic. 

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

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