Ultimate Guide to Shipping With DHL

  • Written by Martha Kendall Custard
Ultimate Guide to Shipping With DHL

Considering how many services the company has to offer, it’s no surprise shipping with DHL can get confusing. In this post, we’re covering everything you need to know about shipping with DHL Express and DHL Ecommerce. 

Table of Contents

  • What is DHL

  • Benefits of Shipping with DHL

  • DHL Ecommerce

  • DHL Express

  • How to ship with DHL

  • Payment options with DHL

  • DHL Zones and Rates

  • Shipping with DHL and Veeqo

What is DHL?

DHL is a global leader in the logistics industry that specializes in international shipping, courier services, and transportation.

Ecommerce businesses know DHL for its international express mail services, DHL freight transportation, and supply chain solutions.

Benefits of shipping with DHL

DHL’s expertise and diverse set of services make it especially beneficial for ecommerce businesses all over the world. Here’s how:

Reach of DHL

DHL is one of the best ways to ship internationally. The company’s express shipping services reach over 220 countries and territories worldwide, giving businesses access to customers almost anywhere on the globe.

Customs services

Smooth, efficient customs clearance is vital to on-time delivery.

Being an international shipping specialist, DHL Express is well-equipped to handle customs support for standard and non-routine customs clearance processes.

In addition to customs support services, businesses can also prepare their shipments using DHL’s online customs information tool

Sustainability initiatives

The state of the global climate makes sustainability initiatives more important for businesses than ever before.

DHL supports your emissions reduction efforts by offering a range of green logistics solutions and a carbon calculator and is planning to go net zero by 2050. 

Try GoGreen for emission-friendly freight solutions that facilitate transparency, carbon footprint optimization, and carbon offsetting, or GoGreen Plus for carbon-reduced air and ocean freight using sustainable aviation biofuels. 

Supply chain

As a logistics partner, DHL can help your business handle warehousing, transport, real estate, packaging, e-commerce fulfillment, service logistics, and more.

Comprehensive online portal

MyDHL+ combines the most-utilized tools and features into a mobile-friendly interface where customers can import, export, schedule pickups, track shipments, and pay bills, all during one web session and a single login. 

DHL ecommerce tracking/DHL global mail tracking features help businesses maintain transparency throughout the entire shipment lifecycle.

Data security & integrations

EDI and XML services enable businesses to incorporate DHL’s online shipping capabilities into their website, warehouse, or customer service, or ecommerce management software.

This allows for global shipment tracking and easier access to transit info, rates, and courier bookings.

Industry-specific solutions

Additional capabilities are available for businesses requiring specialized solutions.

For example, Medical Express safely transports temperature-sensitive items for the pharmaceutical and medical industry. 

DHL Ecommerce Solutions vs DHL Express

DHL Ecommerce and DHL Express are two different companies under the Deutsche Post DHL Group. DHL Express focuses exclusively on international shipping services and prioritizes faster delivery times. 

DHL Ecommerce, on the other hand, offers both domestic and international services. DHL Ecommerce’s domestic shipping services partner with the United States Postal Service (USPS) for network reliability.

While DHL Express offers faster, more finite delivery times for international shipments, DHL Ecommerce can be more affordable. The best DHL shipping service depends on your product size, origin, destination, and desired shipping speed.

Here’s an overview of both companies and the shipping services they provide:

DHL Ecommerce

DHL E-commerce solutions include three domestic shipping services and three international shipping services:

1. DHL SmartMail Parcel & Parcel Plus

  • Expected delivery times: 

    • Expedited Max: 2-3 business days

    • Expedited: 2-5 average business days

    • Ground: 3-8 average business days

  • Maximum weight: 

    • SmartMail Parcel: Under 1 lbs

    • SmartMail Parcel Plus 1-25 lbs

  • Maximum dimensions:

    • Length 27'', Width 17'', Height 17''

    • Length + Girth ≤ 50” (Girth = 2W + 2H)

2. DHL SmartMail Bound Printed Matter

  • Expected delivery times:

    • Expedited: 2-5 average business days

    • Ground: 3-8 average business days

  • Maximum weight:  1-15 pounds

  • Maximum dimensions:

    • Length 27'', Width 17'', Height 17''

    • Length + Girth ≤ 50” (Girth = 2W + 2H)

3. DHL SmartMail Parcel Return

  • Expected delivery times:

    • Light/under 16oz: 2-4 business days

    • Plus/under 70 lbs: 1-3 business days

    • Ground/under 70lbs: 3-8 business days

  • Maximum dimensions: 

    • Length 27'', Width 17'', Height 17''

    • Length + Girth ≤ 84” (Girth = 2W + 2H)

  • Shipment value protection up to 100 USD

4. DHL Parcel International Direct

  • Expected delivery time: 3-10 days

  • Includes address validation and shipment value protection up to 100 USD

  • Two customs clearance options are available:

    • DDP (Delivered Duty Paid)

    • DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid)

  • Maximum Weight:

    • To Canada: 66 lbs

    • Rest of the world: 44 lbs

  • Ships to major destinations, including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom

5. DHL Parcel International Standard

  • Expected delivery times:

    • Europe and Canada: 4-8 business days

    • Rest of the World: 8-14 business days

  • Customs Clearance: DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid) and Taxes paid upon delivery

  • Shipment Value Protection: Up to 100 USD

  • Maximum Weight:

    • Canada: 66 lbs

    • Rest of World: 44 lbs

  • Dimensions:

    • Length 47'', Width, 24”, Height 24”

    • Length + Girth = 118” (Girth = 2W + 2H)

6. DHL Paket International

  • Expected delivery time: 4 - 8 business days

  • Customs Clearance: DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid) and Taxes paid upon delivery

  • Limitation of Liability: $13.00/lb. or the declared value of the item

  • Maximum Weight: 4.4 lbs

  • Maximum dimensions:

    • Length + Width + Height = 36”

    • Each Side = 24”

DHL Express

DHL Express is a premium suite of delivery services offering fast, reliable shipping to more global destinations in a single network than any other express delivery service. 

1. DHL Express Worldwide 

  • Delivery times: End-of-next-business-day, no money-back guarantee.

  • Maximum Weight:

    • Individual piece: 150 pounds

    • Pallet: 2,200 pounds

    • Total shipment: 6,600 pounds

  • Dimensions:

    • Individual piece: 118x48x63 in

    • Pallet: 118x17x63 inches

  • Destinations: 220+ countries and territories

2. DHL Express 12:00

  • Delivery times: by 12 noon the next business day, includes money-back guarantee.

  • Maximum weight: 150 pounds per piece, 660 pounds per shipment (max. 10 pieces, no pallets)

  • Dimensions: 47.2x31.5x31.5 inches

  • Destinations: 151 countries and territories

3. DHL Express 9:00 (10:30 to the USA)

  • Delivery times: delivery by 9:00 (10:30 am for USA recipients), includes money-back guarantee

  • Maximum weight: 66 pounds per piece, 660 pounds per shipment (max. 10 pieces, no pallets) 

  • Dimensions: 47.2x31.5x31.5 inches

  • Destinations: 85 countries and territories

4. DHL Express Worldwide Import

DHL Express Worldwide Import supports shipments from over 220 countries and territories. Customers local to the USA can order imports from China to another country through Third Country shipments. The service streamlines imports, eliminating the need for local brokers and forwarders. 

Businesses can also import via DHL Express 12:00 and DHL Express 10:30 services.

5. DHL Express Envelope Import

The Express Envelope service offers door-to-door international delivery of lightweight documents under 10oz, delivered by the end of the next possible business day. 

How to ship with DHL

Shipping with DHL is pretty standard:

1. Weigh and measure

DHL Express shipments require accurate weight and dimensions. 

If your shipment is lightweight with large dimensions, calculate the volumetric (dimensional) weight. If the package’s volumetric weight exceeds its actual weight, the cost to ship will be calculated based on how much airplane space it occupies.

To find the volumetric weight, multiply the length by height by weight in inches and divide the resulting sum by 139. 

2. Create your shipping label

Next, you’ll need to create your shipping label and attach it to your package. Shipping labels are individually numbered for easy tracking.

Additional customs documentation may be necessary depending on the destination country, contents, and value. 

3. Create your invoice

A commercial or proforma invoice is required for all international non-document shipments for tax and duty purposes.

Use a commercial invoice for regular sales and proforma invoices for goods with no commercial value (like samples). 

DHL invoices require the following information:

  • Description of goods: Include the item, quantity, what they’re made of, and what they’ll be used for. 

  • Commodity code: Product identification code used for classifying goods by the exporting country. 

  • Country of manufacture/origin: All countries that participated in manufacturing the item. 

  • Total declared value: Total transaction value, including any freight and insurance charges.

  • Type of export: Choose between permanent, temporary, and repair/return. 

  • Incoterm: Choose the incoterm that aligns with buyer and seller responsibilities for each transaction (examples: DAP - Delivered at Place; DPU - Delivered at Place Unloaded)

  • Reason for export: For Sale, For Repair, etc.

4. Pack your item

Cover and/or remove all old labels. Secure your label to the top or side of each piece in your shipment. Make sure the barcode is scannable by keeping it away from corners, edges tape, shrink wrap, and strapping. If any one piece exceeds 150 pounds, it will need to ship on a pallet. 

Review the list of prohibited and restricted items and seek prior approval when necessary. 

Payment options with DHL

Businesses can pay for DHL Express services via credit card or through an open DHL Express account with auto ACH. Payments can be processed online, via bank transfer, phone, or mail. 

All export and import invoices are received, reviewed, and paid through the DHL Mybill portal.

The system is designed to reduce paperwork and avoid costly billing system integrations. For convenience, businesses can register multiple DHL Express accounts with the same login. 

DHL Zones and Rates

To calculate the price of your DHL shipment, you’ll first need to answer a few questions:

  • What zone are you shipping to?

  • Is your shipment a document?

  • Are you shipping international or domestic?

  • What’s your desired shipping speed?

After answering the questions above, use the weight, zone, and desired shipping speed to find your shipment’s base price.

The total shipping cost will be your base price plus the cost of optional services and applicable surcharges. Input this information into DHL’s quote generator to save time.

A current list of all DHL zones and rates can be found on pages 21-56 of this guide

Shipping with DHL and Veeqo

DHL offers discounted rates for high-volume shippers, but businesses have to pay retail until they meet the order minimums. 

Veeqo’s DHL integration gives businesses instant access to lower DHL shipping rates without worrying about negotiations or volume requirements. 

With shipping software, businesses can compare and choose the best rate without the hassle of manually calculating and comparing rates for each shipping service. 

Sit back while the order management tool analyzes your package origin, destination, weight, and desired arrival date to populate the most efficient, affordable shipping options available. Automatically compare and find the best DHL shipping methods.

Create automation rules to streamline the process even further. For example, set a rule that ships all international packages above a certain weight through DHL.

And once your automation rules are set to choose the lowest rates automatically, save time by bulk purchasing and printing up to 100 shipping labels in a single click. 

Create a free account with Veeqo. It includes unlimited users, unlimited shipments, and no monthly fee.

About the author


Written by Martha Kendall Custard


Martha is a B2B SaaS writer who loves writing strategic blogs, petting fluffy cats, and good books.

Join Veeqo

Start shipping with Veeqo today