How to Pay DHL Import Duties in the USA

If you ever import products or merchandise into the USA from overseas and use DHL, you may come across the DHL tracking status “Shipment Held – Available Upon Receipt of Payment.”

What does this status mean, and how can you submit payment ASAP to get the package moving?

First of all, understand that the status typically occurs after a package arrives in the USA, and DHL determines that import duties or taxes are owed. In some cases, even products that are subject to a 0% duty rate will still have some nominal processing charges that need payment, and this typically occurs for higher value shipments (e.g. < $3000 USD).

If the recipient address and/or name matches an existing account in DHL’s system, DHL will automatically release the shipment and allow it to proceed to delivery. The invoice and charges will be billed to the account holder.

If DHL is unable to locate an account associated with the receiver, then the status “Shipment Held – Available Upon Receipt of Payment” will likely be shown, and your package will not be delivered until the payments are submitted.

The best way to resolve this is to use DHL’s online payment system.

  1. Go to http://dhl-usa.com/ondemand
  2. You should see the following page:
  3. Input your DHL waybill number (tracking number) and complete the Captcha challenge
  4. A SMS text message verification will be sent to the mobile number used by the shipper for your shipment
  5. You will be then taken to the payment submission page which shows the total duties and taxes owed. Payment can be made via most major credit cards.
  6. You will receive a payment confirmation message as well as an email message. No further action is needed – DHL will proceed to release your shipment.

How Long Does it Take for DHL to Release the Shipment?

After submitting the payment, DHL needs some time to process the payment and notify the DHL facility where the package is located. Official DHL estimates say that 1-2 business days are needed before the package is released and delivered, but in our experience, completing the payment early in the morning has been enough to get the package released and on a delivery truck for delivery the same day. So, our advice is to pay the duties and taxes ASAP to increase the chances of your shipment getting released and delivered.