DHL Says Customs Status Updated: Meaning?

Here’s what DHL customs status updated means when stuck for multiple days:

This message is telling you that your package is currently in processing at a customs facility, but it has not finished the process and is not yet cleared for shipment.

There are many reasons why you might see this, but all of them are tied to unexpected delays.

The challenge is that DHL is not in control.

So if you want to learn all about DHL customs status updated and what it means exactly, then this article is for you.

Let’s jump right into it!

DHL Says Customs Status Updated: Meaning? (Stuck?)

What Does DHL Customs Status Updated Mean?

What does the message mean in general? 

DHL is telling you that the customs status is updated, but they aren’t telling you what the update is.

What are you supposed to glean from that?

It’s a pretty simple message, and there are no deep, underlying meanings here.

The message is referring to customs for international shipping.

Every item shipped internationally has to be cleared by customs.

Some items are cleared quickly and easily.

Others are not.

When you get this message, it is telling you that your package is at a customs facility and the customs facility has acknowledged the package.

Despite that, it has not yet cleared inspection.

Why Might You See DHL Customs Status Updated for Multiple Days in a Row?

That’s simple enough, but the message isn’t telling you how long your package is going to be stuck in customs.

Sometimes, you’ll see this message multiple days in a row.

What does that mean?

Ultimately, it’s providing the same information.

But if a package is stuck in customs for multiple days, it usually means that something unexpected has arisen.

For one reason or another, customs is taking longer than expected to get to your package and clear it for the next stage on its journey.

It could be that the facility in question is running slower than normal.

It’s also possible that your package introduced specific problems.

And even with these ideas in mind, there’s absolutely no way to be sure if and when your package will ultimately get past customs inspections.

It’s a tough spot to be in, but, with more information, you might find a way out.

So, I’m going to take you through some of the most likely problems, and then I’ll discuss potential solutions.

What Is the Problem with DHL Customs Status Updated? (3 Possibilities)

What specifically might cause a customs delay? 

There are a ton of possibilities, but we can really break it into four categories.

The first is that the facility in question is the source of the delay. For one reason or another, they can’t work as fast.

I’ll get into the most common specific reasons in a bit, but if the facility itself is the source of the delay, it can be difficult to predict when your package will get through the process.

The second possibility has to do with international agreements and routes.

There are a few ways that it can play out, but depending on how the package was shipped, customs might have to take a few extra steps.

The third issue is tied to your package itself.

Not all items follow the same rules in customs, and extra rules can definitely introduce delays.

Finally, unexpected events can cause a package to get stuck in customs.

A natural disaster could strike the customs facility, and that can create all kinds of delays. 

So, let’s take a closer look at how these problems really work.

#1 Volume

One likely problem is that the customs facility that has your package has run into an unexpected increase in volume and can’t keep up.

The situation is simply that your package will be delayed until customs gets to it.

Since it’s an unexpected change in volume, it might be difficult to predict when your package will be cleared.

It’s not an ideal situation, but it ultimately means that your package will be fine.

As you will see with other issues, things are not always this simple.

#2 Routing

It’s also possible that your package was routed through a facility that very unexpectedly can’t process its volume.

This doesn’t always come from a rise in volume.

It could be that a handful of agents are out sick or any number of other issues.

The point is that if a certain region suddenly suffers from slower customs processing, then routing could prove to be a solution in the future.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you ordered something from Germany that is shipping to you in France.

There are a number of routes the package can take.

If one customs facility is notably slower than any other, then a better route can resolve everything.

Keep in mind that DHL is constantly working to stay ahead of these kinds of things.

But if unexpected circumstances suddenly bog down one country or region, you might be better off canceling the order and trying again to get a better route.

It depends on the circumstances, but understanding why customs is delayed can help you make a good plan.

#3 Regulations

Hopefully, DHL and whoever sent the package know better than to try to ship contraband through a customs checkpoint.

That usually won’t end well.

Outside of contraband, it’s possible that you are ordering something that requires a higher level of customs scrutiny.

That scrutiny can be tied to very different regulations.

The regulations can be based on the package itself. Or, it can have more to do with the origination of the shipment.

I’ll cover the most likely reasons.

Agricultural Products

Agricultural products tend to elicit much more concern out of customs than a lot of other things you can try to ship.

There are a lot of reasons for that.

Ag products can carry diseases, and naturally, customs doesn’t want to allow diseased items into a country.

Agricultural products can also bear ecological impacts on different regions.

Non-native plants often have to be contained very specifically in order to get through customs.

So, if you have such a thing coming to you, customs might take extra time to ensure that everything is living up to regulations.

On top of all of this, not all agricultural shipments are equal.

Depending on the regulations, some will require more time in customs than others, and this varies by country as well.


Anything that might be construed as a weapon is likely to undergo greater scrutiny as well.

It doesn’t have to mean guns and missiles either.

A lot of things can be considered potential weapons.

Even simple tools can be dangerous in certain circumstances.

So, there are a lot of import laws and regulations around the shipment of weapons.

If your package fits the wrong definition, it might have to be opened and inspected before it can clear customs.

Keep in mind that adding a step to the customs process can create delays beyond the time it takes to simply open a box.

Extra scrutiny can put a package into an entirely different queue, and that can increase indeterminate delays to your arrival date.


Lastly, the country of origin matters a lot.

Every country has its own trade agreements and laws.

Those regulations will require that packages from certain origins have to undergo special processing.

The full range of possibilities is massive.

Essentially, trade agreements, embargos, and geopolitics, in general, can delay a package at customs simply because of where it has been, rather than what is in it.

What Can You Do About DHL Customs Status Updated? (2 Ways)

As you can now see, there are just too many possibilities to anticipate them all.

Customs has nearly countless reasons to delay a shipment, and if you get caught in the quagmire, then it can make things tough.

The simple fact is that you probably need your shipment.

So, when customs creates indefinite delays, you need other options.

I can’t give you a ton, but a couple of tips might help you find a good solution to the problem and get your package.

#1 Contact DHL

If you want to find a good solution to a customs delay, the first step is to get more information.

The message in question does help you narrow down the problem, but it doesn’t tell you why your package is stuck in customs.

The answer to that question can change everything.

So, start by contacting DHL.

Speak with a representative (possibly via phone or live chat).

They should be able to give you a little more information (although even DHL might not be told everything by customs).

That extra information will help you figure out if it’s just a small delay or a major problem, and you can plan accordingly.

#2 Cancel or Replace the DHL Shipment

If things are simple, it’s often easiest to wait for your package and not take any direct action.

A customs delay doesn’t mean that the package will never arrive, so if you have the freedom to wait, you’re going to get your stuff.

If you don’t have that freedom, then you, unfortunately, don’t have a ton of alternative options either.

Mostly, you can look into canceling the shipment to get a refund.

If DHL is handling delivery for a merchant, then you can try ordering the item from another place that won’t run into customs issues.

Ideally, you can order it domestically to avoid the problem altogether.

If replacement isn’t a viable option, then loop back to the previous idea.

Talk to DHL and explain the problem. See what solutions they can offer.

They might not always have a perfect workaround, but you can at least explore more options by bringing them into the fold.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.