Shipping Support Center

A step-by-step guide for DHL Express customers

DHL Optional Services

Learn About DHL Customs Services

DHL has taken great measures in the U.S. to provide customers with an optimal Customs clearance experience. As a result, most shipments are cleared by the time the plane arrives. We’ve used our long-standing relationship with U.S. Customs to arrange our inbound flight arrival schedule to correspond with the schedule for Customs clearance personnel.

This provides the maximum window of opportunity for clearance and the ability to connect with our network for next-day delivery. DHL can manage the Customs clearance process on your behalf and arrange for final delivery. 

DHL offers you a wide choice of standard and supplementary Customs services.

Bio/Phyto/Veterinary Controls

Government charges apply when DHL Express arranges the clearance of any bio, health, phyto-sanitary, veterinary, quarantine, CITES or similar controls required by any regulatory agency, and the preparation of any related paperwork, to facilitate the clearance of a shipment. This includes, but is not limited to – licenses, permits, and inspections – required by the Fish & Wildlife Service (F&WS) or other government agencies, for certain commodities imported into the United States. This also includes any overtime charges from the F&WS for instances where an importer requests clearance outside of the F&WS normal working schedule. 

Bonded Storage

Shipments that are registered into bond and subsequently held for more than three calendar days following the arrival date in a bonded DHL or non-DHL facility, either when awaiting documentation from the receiver or importer, or when clearance has been assigned to a third party broker.

Bonded Transit Documents

The in-bond entry (CF7512) allows non-document foreign origin goods to travel bonded through the U.S. to final destination for clearance by the importer’s broker or into a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). An in-bond entry may also be used to withdraw goods from an FTZ for export. 

Certificate of Origin

Some destinations require certification for certain commodities. The purpose of the Certificate of Origin is to authenticate the country of origin of the merchandise/goods being shipped. Upon request, or when the documentation is missing at origin, DHL will attach the documentation on behalf of the customer. 

Commercial Invoice

Also known as a Pro Forma invoice, used when non-document goods are shipped internationally and is required by Customs. Upon request, or when the documentation is missing, DHL will attach the documentation on behalf of the customer.

Export Declaration

U.S. Customs requires a declaration to be filed for shipments over a certain value or going to specific destinations. DHL may file on behalf of the shipper by request. 

Export Validation

For preapproved Department of State (DOS) shippers DHL will lodge the DOS license and validate the Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) with U.S. Customs prior to export. 

General Order Warehouse Storage

Applicable to shipments held in a DHL warehouse longer than 10 calendar days and an attempt has been made to contact the importer for the information necessary to complete clearance of the shipment.

Handover to Broker

The DHL Handover to Broker or Document Transfer service is used to transfer the clearance documents to another broker to handle Customs clearance on the customer's behalf. DHL will deliver the shipment once a release is received from the CBP and/or Office of the Attorney General.

Import/Export Duties

Duty is applied by U.S. Customs at the time of initial entry and varies depending on contents and origin of shipment. Additional duties may be applied by U.S. Customs after the initial customs entry when estimated duties were paid or when an entry is audited causing a change in the duty owed. These charges will appear on the DHL Express duty invoice.

Import/Export Taxes

Taxes are applied by U.S. Customs on the value of the goods being imported.

Import Paperwork

DHL can provide copies of import documentation for records previously supplied to the importer/ultimate receiver by request. 

Merchandise Processing

Merchandise Processing is a Customs-imposed service charge paid by all Brokers on formal entries. 

Multiline Entry

Multiline entries with more than five line items, for example – one shipment with multiple products or multiple invoices. All products require identification and must be classified under separate harmonized tariff numbers. 

Obtaining Permits & Licenses

Preparation and submission of any entry necessary to clear Customs, including but not limited to, the Customs General Order, Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Food and Drug Administration, or for the preparation of the necessary import paperwork to obtain a missing State or Customs permit or license required to authorize the import of certain goods. 

Payment Deferment

Any import non-document shipment for which DHL advances U.S. Customs duties, charges and taxes, and then re-bills a U.S. receiver. 

Post Clearance Modification

If the importer has a dispute with U.S. Customs on an entry that was cleared with duties and taxes already paid and freight released, DHL will file the appropriate claim with U.S. Customs and monitor the results for the importer. Most disputes concern overpayment of duties, appraised value of merchandise or exclusion of merchandise from entry. 

Prior Notice

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bio-terrorism regulations require that a Prior Notice (PN) for all shipments containing food or food products be filed electronically to the FDA prior to shipment arrival. DHL Express will prepare and submit a PN for all imported food shipments by request. 

Single Informal Clearance

Under 19 CFR 128 Express Consignments regulations, non-restricted merchandise based on value and commodity can be cleared on a consolidated manifest for more cost and time efficient processing. 

Temporary Import/Export

When the document is missing from the shipment at origin, the preparation by DHL of an international Customs document, e.g. ATA Carnet that simplifies Customs procedures for the temporary import/export of various goods. Photographic proof, written details or original receipts are often required to identify the goods. An importer can also import certain classes of goods in the U.S. duty-free by posting a bond according to 19 CFR Part 10. The importer must complete and sign the DHL Temporary Importation under Bond (TIB) contract and processing procedures prior to preparing TIB entry. 

Under Bond/Guarantee

A single transaction bond is used in lieu of a continuous bond, in the event a customer is not bonded. 


For complete descriptions and charge details of Optional Services, Customs services, Surcharges and Fuel Surcharge, download the DHL Express Rate and Transit Guide.

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