What Does The DHL Clearance Event Mean & How Long Does It Take?

Sending or receiving a package overseas is not always a smooth one. The DHL clearance event is one update that many hope to avoid. But what exactly does it mean, and how do you go about it if you come across this update?

The DHL clearance event simply implies that your shipment is undergoing customs clearance. It is quite normal and shouldn’t bother you much. What actually matters is the additional tracking update to the clearance event message.

In this article, I will explain what the DHL clearance event message means, and highlight additional messages that come with the clearance event message, what they mean, and what you ought to do.

What does the DHL clearance event mean?

If you come across this message, it means your shipment is being processed by customs. It is a step that all international shipments must undergo.

It is done to ensure that all shipments are registered with and approved by the country’s government for import and export. Additionally, to ensure that all duties and taxes due are paid.

The process often causes delays, depending on the nature of the case. Thankfully, DHL does its very best to ensure these cases are resolved on your behalf, but there may still be delays.

That being said, in order to keep the customer updated, DHL provides additional info on the shipment’s customs status. As you read on, I will list out some of the additional info and what they mean.

How long does the DHL clearance event take?

In normal circumstances, customs clearance takes between 2 – 3 days if paper works are in order and there are no dues. However, if either one of the two is incomplete, you may come across additional info.

You can see this additional information on the tracking page. Beneath the Clearance Event notification, you should see a “Further Details” tab. If you click on it, you should see additional information about the clearance event.

Clearance event additional information

In addition to the standard clearance event, you may come across several additional clearance-related messages. Some of these are;

1. Determining customs duty

When importing or exporting products to another country, duties are paid. One of the most common additional messages you will come across is “determining customs duty”. 

This duty is determined by the value of the product within the shipment. Note that this fee is different from the shipping fees paid initially and is the responsibility of the receiver.

After the duty is determined for a package, the DHL pays for the duty on behalf of the receiver. So when your DHL tracking says determining customs duty, it means the amount of duty needed to be paid is being calculated.

2. Customs clearance paperwork check

If you come across this message, it simply means the paperwork for your shipment is being looked at by a customs officer. It is a normal step and does not imply that anything is wrong.

If all go well, your shipment should be back on the move in no time. So, simply be patient and check back from time to time.

3. Further clearance process is required

On rare occasions, the tracking update for a shipment may say, “Further Clearance Process Is Required.” This shouldn’t warrant any type of panic, as DHL will be the one to handle it.

Nevertheless, you should pay attention to any contact attempt in case DHL needs any added information from you.

4. Uncontrollable clearance delay

Uncontrollable clearance delay is one message that no one likes to see. It simply means that something unusual has occurred, causing a delay in the clearance of the shipment.

A few examples include;

  • Paperwork that was not filled or filled incorrectly
  • The shipper lied about the value of the shipment
  • The shipment contains something illegal and has been tagged as high-risk
  • The shipment must undergo further examination
  • The description of the shipment is vague or not descriptive

In most cases, between 2 – 3 days, the shipment is released after it has been sorted out. So, just have patience and keep checking the status of the shipment.

5. Shipment has been given release by customs

This is the one message that everybody hopes to see during the clearance event. It means that your shipment has been cleared and will continue on to wherever it was heading initially.

Why is your DHL tracking stuck on the clearance event?

DHL is pretty good at giving customers update on their shipment. However, there are situations where the tracking status is stuck on clearance events.

In most cases, it means that DHL has been unable to address the issue with customs. It could also be that it has been addressed but is yet to be updated.

It is actually very little you can do besides having patience. However, you can contact DHL customer service for more clarity if your tracking is stuck on “Clearance Event”.


What happens after the clearance event?

If all goes well, your shipment will be released and should be updated on the tracking page. It may come as “shipment has been given release by customs.”

How long does clearance even take?

Usually, it should take between 2 -3 days if all requirements are met.

What happens if you don’t pay customs duties?

In cases where the receiver refuses to pay customs duties, the shipment is sent back to the sender.


Although clearance events add delays during importing and exporting of shipments, it is quite normal. It is a legal necessity for delivery, even for deliveries of a single item.

When you come across this message, simply check for additional information to determine the actual issue. In most cases, DHL handles the entire process and, most times may contact you if necessary.

For this reason, it is important to check your mail in case DHL customer care tries to contact you. And if they don’t contact you, you can always reach out to them via their customer care for enquires or update.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, if you did, you should also see what “en route to DHL eCommerce distribution center means.

Thanks for reading.