Why Does DHL Take So Long? (10 Possible Reasons)

DHL plane


DHL is a logistics company that handles the transit and shipping of packages.

While they usually work with third parties like the USPS to deliver packages, they do sometimes deliver to residences and businesses, themselves.

If you’ve ordered something and DHL is your shipper, then you may wonder what’s taking them so long.

Here are 10 possible reasons DHL takes so long to deliver a package.


Why Does DHL Take So Long? (10 Possible Reasons)


1. Seller Hasn’t Shipped

DHL website


The most common reason that it takes DHL a long time to deliver a package is that the seller hasn’t shipped it out yet.

DHL can’t deliver anything until the package arrives at one of their facilities.

It can sometimes take a seller up to two months to ship out a package.

This delay is most common for items that need to be handmade.

In most cases, a seller doesn’t have a piece ready.

They only have a display piece on hand.

When an order comes in, they have to assemble the materials and make the product.

Depending on the complexity of the product, it could take them several months to finish it and ship it.

An example of this is the handmade items you find on Etsy.

If you order clothes or something similar on Etsy, then the seller needs to make it by hand.

They’ll then complete the product and hand it off to DHL when it’s finished.

From there, DHL will deliver it in a few days or weeks depending on a few other factors.

For non-handmade products, the seller may be facing a problem with supply.

Their suppliers may be running into issues that delay the seller from shipping the product out with DHL.

In most cases, if you still haven’t received your package from DHL, then you should contact the seller to determine if they shipped it to them.


2. Lost Packages

DHL logo envelope and DHL toy plane


In today’s world of logistics, it’s hard for a package to go missing, but it can happen.

When DHL loses a package, then it can create delays.

They need to go over their records to determine the last known location of the package.

Once they know its last location, they will need to track it down from there.

That might mean interviewing the various workers who would have handled the package.

One of the most common reasons a package goes missing is that it was put on the wrong truck for delivery.

It might end up going out of state before the drivers realize something is wrong.

It takes DHL a long time to deliver because they have to track down the lost package, then return it to where it’s supposed to be.

Once it’s on the right van, they can complete the delivery.


3. Third-Party Delivery



DHL works with other third parties to bring packages to their final destinations.

They mostly deliver packages across the state or across the country.

Then they’ll hand the package off to the local USPS office.

The postal service is in charge of the last leg of the delivery.

It’s why you’ll often find packages from DHL in your mailbox or have them delivered alongside your mail.

DHL chooses to work with third parties because it saves them money.

It’s fewer miles that they need to put on their vans and drivers.

It also frees them up to pick up more deliveries from a seller and take them to their destinations.

The problem is that this can create a delay.

The DHL truck has to arrive at the post office before they close.

Even then, there’s a chance that they’ll arrive too late for them to sort the package.

This could create a delay of a day or two since the postal workers have to fit it into their schedules.

There’s also always a risk that the package can wind up at the wrong address.

This then requires the worker to find the address, take back the package, then deliver it to the correct address.

USPS offices can also lose packages.

Then it takes even more time to hunt it down and bring it to the right address.

While DHL does save money by working with third parties, it can sometimes create delays.

This can make it seem as though DHL is taking a long time to deliver.


4. Incorrect Address

displeased shocked young woman standing isolated over yellow background looking aside using mobile phone


Mistakes can happen when shipping out a package.

You might put an incorrect address on your shipping information.

If you realize your mistake before they deliver the package, then it gives DHL a chance to backtrack and ensure the package goes to the right area.

However, this also causes a delay.

That’s because DHL already made the logistics route for the package to follow.

It’s an intricate process based on efficiency.

They’ll have to halt that process to find the package and get it off the wrong truck.

The shipping information then updates, and they put it on a new truck that follows a new efficient route.

Depending on how long it’s been since you noticed the mistake, the truck might already be in the neighborhood of the wrong address.

It might have to go across the state to deliver the package to the right address.

Sometimes technical errors occur.

Something might go wrong with the software which then puts the incorrect shipping address on the label.

Software that DHL uses may malfunction and give the drivers incorrect information.

Any time the address is wrong, it creates a delay.

That delay may add a day or several days to the shipping time.

It’s why DHL may seem to be taking a long time to deliver.


5. Weather

DHL group beside the street in rain


DHL usually uses vans to take care of their deliveries.

Because of that, they’re subject to inclement weather.

Whether it’s rain or snow, both can have a huge impact on whether your package arrives on time or not.

For example, rain can wash out roads.

It can cause flooding in certain areas which makes it impossible for the van to reach its destination.

Sometimes even the rain itself can be a danger to drive in.

Heavy rain can make driving on the highway dangerous.

This makes it impossible to see out the window.

As a result, the driver may choose to wait until it clears up.

The time it takes for the weather to clear may delay the package by a day or two, especially if it keeps returning.

Snow is one of the biggest problems that drivers contend with.

It can make certain roadways impossible to use.

Some roads even close because the snow is too high or it’s too icy to be safe to cross.

Snowstorms are especially dangerous.

Besides slippery roads, blizzards can cause whiteout conditions.

This is when the snow is falling so hard and fast that it creates a screen of white in front of the driver.

They’re unable to see anything a few feet ahead of them.

In this situation, the driver may choose to wait until the storm passes before returning to the road.

Bad weather can delay a package and make DHL take a long time to deliver it.


6. Extreme Danger

DHL van making delivery in a snow storm


In rare circumstances, a dangerous or extreme event may be occurring which delays your packages.

One of the most common of those rare circumstances is wildfires.

If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, then there’s a good chance your DHL delivery may face delays.

Drivers are unable to use roads where wildfire watches are in effect.

It’s a danger to drive in those areas.

There’s also a chance that they have to pass through such an area to reach your location.

They cannot do so until the wildfire leaves the area or until they clear the road.

Other dangers like hurricanes and tornados can also affect your delivery.

If an area is not deemed safe for travel, then DHL will wait until it is safe to do so.

Depending on how long the extreme situation lasts, it could delay your package a few days.

If you live in an area prone to extreme dangers like wildfires, hurricanes, or tornados, then it could be why DHL takes so long to deliver.


7. Van Problems

Delivery man in uniform opening tailgate loader on a DHL lorry


As with all vehicles, DHL vans do face breakdowns.

Whether it’s on the highway, at the transit hub, or even right outside your door, the van can break down.

When this happens, the driver has to determine whether they need a new van or if the repair can occur quickly.

If they need a new van, then it can take time for it to arrive.

They have to put in the call for a new van.

Then they have to wait for the van to reach their location.

This could take some time if the nearest DHL transit hub is a state away.

Once the new van arrives, they have to transfer the packages to the new van.

Then the delivery can continue.

If the driver thinks they can repair the van quickly, then they might not need a new van.

Instead, they’ll take it to an appropriate repair center.

After some time, they’ll fix the van and the driver can continue on their deliveries.

In some cases, if another van is nearby, then they might add the packages to that delivery route.

This can create a delay, too, however, since the driver is working two routes.

Even if the van doesn’t need repair, there are accidents on the highway and roadways all the time.

They can sometimes create delays that can add hours to a delivery time.

It may be too late to deliver the package as a result.

That adds another day or two to your shipping time.

Car problems and highway accidents can make DHL take a long time to deliver.


8. Signature Requests

Close up female hand using electronic pen to signing signature on tablet after received parcel box from delivery man in front of home


Another reason it takes DHL a long time to deliver a package is signature requests.

When your package requires a signature, then DHL is unable to deliver it if no one is there to sign for it.

This can create delays because you may find yourself unable to be at home when DHL intends to deliver your package.

Since no one is there to sign for the package, DHL takes it back and tries it again at another time.

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

If you keep missing each other, then the delay only continues.

DHL may eventually allow a neighbor to sign for it or return it to the seller who will issue you a refund.

They may also have the USPS office hold it for you.

In this case, you can go to the post office and sign for it there.

If you discover that your package needs a signature, then you’ll want to make time to be available for it.

Otherwise, you may face delays with receiving it.


9. Distant Distribution Centers

DHL Packstation


One of the reasons many sellers choose DHL over other shipping companies is the prices.

For smaller sellers, especially, DHL is sometimes less expensive to do business with.

Other retailers located in European countries may also choose DHL because they’re more familiar with that company.

DHL has a strong presence in European countries compared to the United States.

The problem is that because DHL isn’t as expansive as other shipping companies, it can sometimes take them longer to deliver a package.

If you happen to live far away from a distribution center or a transit hub, then the van has to travel further to reach you.

Vans can only drive so fast and so far before needing to stop.

The further you are from a center, the longer it takes for them to arrive.

If the distribution center or transit hub is closer to you, however, then it doesn’t take as long.

There’s less ground to cover.

The distance between your location and a distribution center or transit hub can make DHL take a long time to deliver a package.


10. Customs

a blurred photos of customs declaration


A final reason DHL takes so long is customs.

Since many European sellers use DHL, their packages have to go through customs before entering the United States.

The problem with customs is that it can take a long time for a package to undergo processing.

Even smaller packages with harmless items in them must go through a thorough screening to ensure it isn’t carrying anything deadly.

Since there are always attempts to smuggle drugs, counterfeit money, weapons, and other dangerous items through customs, everything has to undergo screening.

Thousands of packages arrive at customs every day.

If there’s ever a strike, a problem with port shipping, or a lack of workers, then there’s going to be a delay.

They can process only so many packages a day.

As a result, only a few can move on to their respective distributors each day.

Depending on what’s going on in the world the day your package arrives at customs, then it could face serious delays.

As a result, DHL has no choice but to deliver it when they finally get their hands on it.

If there’s a problem in customs, then it may make DHL take a long time to deliver your package.


How To Speed Up Your DHL Delivery

DHL logo on phone screen


There are a few things you can do to help ensure your DHL delivery stays on track.

Follow these tips to speed up your DHL delivery.


1. Check The Tracking Information

Before you call DHL to see what’s going on with your package, you should first take a look at your tracking information.

Double-check that everything looks right.

They should have your address and name on the information.

The tracking information will tell you the date that the seller sent the package to DHL.

Then it will tell you when it left for transit and how close it is to its delivery date.

You should find the scheduled delivery date.

If the date hasn’t arrived yet, but you see that it’s been in transit, then you know the van is on the way.

If the date hasn’t arrived yet, but you don’t see that it’s been in transit, then you should check and see if the seller has given it to DHL yet.

Check the date on which DHL processed the package.

If you see nothing, then it’s because the seller hasn’t given the package to DHL.

You should give the seller at least a week to get the package out.

Beyond that, it’s a good idea to contact them unless you know that the item is going to take longer than a week to make.

Finally, if the date has passed and you still haven’t received your package, then you’ll want to contact DHL.

There’s a chance that something might have gone wrong or that they passed the package onto the USPS.


2. No Signatures

You can also speed up your delivery by requesting that they deliver your package without a signature.

Some shipping companies have a program you can make an account for which allows you to electronically sign for a package.

DHL may do something similar.

This enables you to sign for the package even if you’re not at home.

This way, you can avoid delays of missed packages.


3. Special Delivery Instructions

You can also contact DHL or put in your delivery instructions that you want your package delivered to the USPS office.

Having them bring it to the office can prevent any problems with mistaken addresses or absentee homeowners.

You can simply stop by the USPS office and pick up your package the moment that DHL delivers it there.

You don’t have to wait for them to go to every house before finally reaching your door.



There are several factors on the road and during the shipping process that can delay a package through DHL.

Using the methods above, you can help make the delivery process easier and faster.

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