DHL Exception Meaning and How to Respond as an Ecommerce Store

Uh oh. You just found a package exception that DHL — a courier package delivery and mail service — sent to one of your customers. You rightly assume that your customer will be a little panicky about it, which in turn makes you panicky.

You worry because you wonder what specifically the DHL exception meaning could be. Could it be that the package was lost? Stolen? Delivered to the wrong address? First, calm down because a package exception isn’t necessarily bad news.

We’re going over everything you’ll need to know to manage DHL exceptions without a hiccup.

What Does Delivery Exception Mean?

Don’t panic when you receive a notification of a delivery exception. A DHL delivery exception means that the package is stuck in transit, but it’s only temporary. It could result in a delayed package, which is why they’re informing customers and sellers.

How Do DHL Exceptions Work?

Because DHL ships internationally, the customs process is the most common reason for a delay. Customs delays can occur in many ways. Packages shipped overseas must pass through several processing centers and may be handed to other carriers for part of the journey.

If a package is stopped at customs, it may need to be inspected and cleared before it can continue its journey. This can take time, depending on the package contents and customs regulations in the destination country. But your package should be on the move shortly.

An exception delivery notice might also be generated during sorting, delivery or handoff to a second carrier. The notice may allow the customer to track the package and see its current status.

How Do DHL Delivery Exceptions Affect e-Commerce Businesses?

When it comes to shipping thousands of packages every day, there’s no way to guarantee that all of them will get to their destinations without a hitch. Even with reliable carriers like DHL, there are times there will be a problem shipping a package.

It can be a major source of frustration for customers, who may direct their anger at the seller. This is why e-commerce shops must have a solid understanding of how DHL status exceptions work.

Common Causes of Delivery Exceptions

If a DHL delivery exception arises, it is likely the result of one of the following reasons:

Weather Conditions

Storms can make plane landings impossible. Earthquakes and other natural disasters can destroy shipping facilities and warehouses. And floods can render delivery routes undrivable. None of these weather or natural problems can be predicted or avoided.

Even with backups and contingency plans, no system is perfect, and a disaster or weather system can prevent package delivery.

Customs Delays

Customs must check packages thoroughly before they can pass through certain countries. If there are backups as packages are being checked, there will be bottlenecks. To ensure your package passes through customs without issues, make sure all the necessary tariff codes are included and that the correct paperwork has been completed.

Damaged or Missing Labels

Delivery drivers are not clairvoyant. When a label is torn or otherwise damaged, the delivery address and barcodes can be rendered unreadable. In this case, the package might have to be taken back to the shipping facility for sorting. Labels might have wrong information, such as incorrect or incomplete addresses.

Federal Holidays

DHL observes national holidays, and if they fall on a Friday or Monday packages can be stuck for an entire weekend.

Staff Shortages

When employees get sick, take vacations, are injured or get laid off, the ripple effect of that can be felt in many areas of a business. Staff shortages can lead to shipments not being processed. As a result, you’ll have to grapple with delays.

Signature Required Upon Receipt

If a shipment containing valuable items can’t be signed for when the driver arrives, it will go back into the truck. The driver will make multiple attempts at delivering the package before sending it back to the warehouse.

What Are Possible Outcomes of a DHL Exception?

DHL status exceptions occur for a variety of reasons outlined below.

The Package Is Delivered on Time

The best-case scenario is that the package arrives on time and in perfect shape. The delivery exception DHL sent you is to let you know there might be a problem so that you aren’t surprised if there is a problem.

The Package Is Delivered Late

The delivery might not be that late. It could arrive the next day. This isn’t always a problem, and the customer might not mind. But if the customer paid for fast shipping, you might need to smooth any issues over with them.

The Package Is Returned

This usually happens when the label is incorrect or damaged. At this point, you need to find out which customer was expecting the package and communicate with them to find out the next steps.

The Package Is Considered Lost

Acts of God can make packages disappear. So can a dozen other potential problems ranging from theft to delivery to an incorrect address.

When it’s lost, that’s it. It’s gone. Can it show up eventually? Possibly, but don’t count on it. It’s best to communicate with your customer and send another package or offer a refund.

How to Respond to DHL Exceptions

Don’t panic. Even if the exception results in a delayed, returned or lost package, there are solutions.

Contact the Carrier

DHL will be able to tell you why the delivery exception notice was necessary and explain where the package is and whether there’s any cause for concern.

Contact the Customer

Update the customer on exactly what’s happening with the package. If the problem is with the address label, make sure you get the correct delivery information so DHL can get the package to its destination.

Issue a Refund or Resend the Package

If the package was lost, damaged or returned, let the customer know you can send them a refund or provide another shipment.

Let Print Bind Ship Deal with DHL

Delivery exceptions can be stressful, particularly when the cause is unknown. It could be innocuous, and the package is fine. Or it could mean a problem you’ll have to smooth over with the customer.

Do you want to reduce the stress of delivery exceptions? Print Bind Ship can help you manage them and make sure customers stay happy.

Print Bind Ship is an all-in-one partner for fulfillment and shipping logistics. We manage all stages of the shipping process for businesses, so you can focus on more important tasks. Our experts handle everything from warehousing to packaging even customer returns. Our systems integrate with your online storefront and customer databases, making it easy for customers to place orders and stay in the know on expected delivery times.

We store, pack and ship packages worldwide, so we know how to make sure they get to their destinations.

Contact the specialists at Print Bind Ship for a free quote for your project! 


What should I do if I receive a DHL exception notification?

If you receive a DHL exception notification, contact the sender and provide them with the details of the exception, so they can take steps to resolve the issue.

How long can a package be in DHL exception status?

The length of time a package can be in exception status varies depending on the type of exception that occurred. In most cases, the issue will be resolved and the package will be delivered within a few days.

What steps can I take to prevent DHL exceptions?

To prevent DHL exceptions, be sure to provide accurate shipping information, double-check that the address on the package is correct and be aware of any customs requirements for the destination country.

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