DHL Clearance Event: The 2023 Ultimate Guide

I have seamlessly been using DHL as my logistics company for 12 years now until one day I received a “clearance event” update. 

What could that even mean? I started scourging the web looking for the meaning and solutions but unfortunately didn’t find any meaningful responses. 

If you are going through trying to understand what it means, read on as we have this ultimate guide for this clarification. 

Clearance event DHL Meaning

If you receive a DHL clearance event update, it means that customs haven’t looked into your package, there is a form required to be filled out, there are duty taxes expected to be paid before clearance, or there is a related error to the package’s invoice and value. 

Reasons for a DHL Clearance Event update: clarification

As highlighted above, there are many reasons why you may receive a “clearance event” update. Let’s now expound on the same below:

DHL clearance event

1. There is an error related to the package’s value/invoice

One of the latest reasons why DHL provides a clearance event is when there is confusion about the package’s value or confusion in determining the right invoice. 

A case in point is when it comes to currency conversion. Rachel, a Reddit user, faced this problem some time back. Since she had a package from Japan, DHL confused the conversion rate and valued her package at $49000 instead of $490. 

After getting in touch with DHL’s Brokerage Department, they were then in a position to create the right invoice and that’s how the “clearance event” update was cleared. 

As such, the DHL “clearance event” update is NOT always a result of a package getting cleared by the customs office. 

Since DHL receives tons of packages in transit, it’s obvious that they are bound to make mistakes in calculating the right value of goods. 

2. There are duty taxes expected to be paid

If your package attracts duty taxes, then you will have to pay them before your package clears from the customs office. 

As you wait for such a clearance, the status of your package will always be “clearance event.”

Also, as you track your package on the DHL website and see “on hold stating pending shipment fees from recipient”, get in touch with DHL and clear those fees. While this is different from the duty taxes to be paid, the goods will stay stuck in the clearance DHL event until the fees get paid. 

3. The Customs office hasn’t looked into your package 

It happens sometimes that the customs office gets overwhelmed with work. In these times, they may delay looking into a package, especially now that they use the order of how the packages reached them. 

In all the time before they finally look into what you got, it may take a couple of weeks and in all these moments, the status update of the transit will always be “clearance event”. 

It also happens that some DHL agents can fail (or forget) to open the respective tickets with customs for processing. Doctor, a regular DHL user once faced this problem. In customs, he received the clearance event DHL update. After waiting for a month, he got in touch with DHL’s custom office and determined that they hadn’t opened any ticket with the customs office. 

4. There is a form required to be filled out

This usually happens when there is a medical equipment package. If you had medical equipment in transit, DHL asks you to fill out forms such as Medical AOC, SSN, and EIC. 

After filling out those forms, you will also receive a notification to pay your customs duty taxes. Until you fill out these forms and clear the pending taxes, the status update of your package is always a “clearance event.”

If the package you have in transit primarily contains personal effects, then there are no forms required to be filled out. Instead, you can check out the other possible reasons in this guide. 

In case it’s an issue of getting some forms filled, DHL might indicate “A clearance other than standard customs entry is required for this shipment” under the Further Detail Tab.

5. Customs confiscated the package

It happens sometimes that with or without an import permit, customs end up confiscating your package. At this point, the update you keep receiving is always “clearance event.”

The problem is that the DHL customs broker can take a couple of weeks or even a month+ before they even update you that the goods have been seized. 

If you have a package that requires you to have an import permit and you receive that update, we advise that you reach out to DHL and ask for their free customs broker who will be able to check if your goods have been confiscated. 

In the case of confiscated goods, DHL customs brokers will often advise you on how to sort out the issue with the customs offices. 

In case you had imported valuable items such as live flowers or even plants and you receive that dreaded update, we advise you to look for a private broker who will help you sort out the problem with the customs office before your valuables get damaged. 

While using the free DHL broker, it may take longer to have them reach out to you, and considering perishables may have to pass through the USDA inspection center, going for a private customs broker who will push the process faster is a no-brainer. 

DHL clearance event meaning

What can I do in the case of a Clearance Event DHL update?

In case you receive this update, the first thing you can do is call DHL as a measure of a follow-up. 

If the agent doesn’t seem to get the real problem, request them to connect you to the customs broker and you will certainly get help as they will be in a position to dig deeper and look into what needs to get done. Do you have some forms to fill out? Are there some duty taxes to be paid? Did DHL fail to offer the right valuation? These and many more will be determined by a free DHL broker. 

How long does DHL Clearance Event Take?

A DHL clearance event takes between 2 hours and 2 months depending on the contents of the package. Packages going through FDA inspection (such as food and drugs) and USDA inspection (such as live plants and flowers) take the longest time for the clearance event to clear. Personal effects such as clothes generally take the least time in a clearance event.