What Does "DHL Forwarded to a Third Party Agent" Mean in 2024? The Ins and Outs Explained

Seeing the "forwarded to third party" message can be worrying for DHL customers expecting door-to-door delivery from DHL itself. However, this practice is quite common – according to DHL‘s 2021 annual report, over 25% of U.S. packages and 15% of international DHL shipments involve final mile delivery by a third-party partner.

While handing off packages does create some drawbacks compared to end-to-end DHL delivery, it ultimately helps DHL provide broader reach and delivery guarantees worldwide. This expert guide will uncover everything you need to know about third party forwarding in 2024.

Why Does DHL Forward Packages to Third Parties?

DHL leverages third-party carriers like USPS and Canada Post for three key reasons:

Expanded Delivery Network

DHL‘s own logistics network covers 220 countries worldwide. However, there are many regions considered "remote" or "rural" where DHL does not have extensive infrastructure. Forwarding packages to regional postal services like USPS allows DHL to offer delivery to these locations.

For example, an estimated 14% of U.S. addresses are considered "rural" – areas where DHL relies heavily on USPS for final delivery.

Increased Capacity

During peak seasons like the holidays, DHL‘s own delivery capacity is stretched thin trying to handle the huge influx of packages. According to DHL data, parcel volumes jumped 47% year-over-year in December 2022. Offloading overflow volume to third parties prevents bottlenecking in DHL‘s network.

MonthDHL Parcel Volume 2022Year-Over-Year Increase
November1.56 billion+4.2%
December1.96 billion+47%

Service Guarantees

Forwarding packages to USPS and other postal networks also helps DHL meet service guarantees for time-sensitive deliveries. If weather, staffing, or other issues constrain DHL‘s own operations, leveraging third parties is crucial for on-time delivery.

Who Are DHL‘s Main Third Party Agents?

DHL has partnerships with over 120 postal operators worldwide to assist with final mile delivery. The main third parties in key countries are:

  • United States: USPS
  • Canada: Canada Post
  • Australia: Australia Post
  • New Zealand: New Zealand Post
  • Europe: National posts like Royal Mail (UK)

DHL also utilizes transportation providers like FedEx and last-mile couriers like Amazon for extra capacity if its own network is at maximum volumes.

The Handoff Process Between DHL and Third Parties

The physical handoff between DHL and third party carriers like USPS often occurs at special logistics facilities located near international airports. DHL trucking transports packages to these facilities, where they are sorted and transferred to the local postal service for last mile delivery.

The handoff process involves scanning each package‘s DHL tracking barcode, then assigning a new tracking number from the third party carrier. Once the handoff is complete in the system, DHL‘s tracking shows "forwarded to third party" and no longer updates.

Delivery Expectations After Forwarding to Third Parties

Delivery timelines after forwarding vary based on:

  • Destination – Remote regions take longer than major cities.
  • Third party carrier – USPS, Canada Post, etc. have different standard delivery times.
  • Shipping service – Express vs. ground transport have major time differences.

According to DHL data, 97% of DHL Express shipments involving third party final mile meet the guaranteed delivery deadline. However, standard ground shipments take 1-4 business days longer on average when forwarded to third parties.

Troubleshooting Issues After Forwarding

Sometimes DHL packages seem to disappear after being forwarded to third parties. Here are tips if your package is delayed or missing after the handoff occurs:

  • Confirm receipt – Check the third party carrier‘s tracking to ensure they actually received the package from DHL.

  • Contact DHL – If the third party never received it, DHL can investigate where it was lost in transit.

  • Report missing mail – If it was received by the postal service but didn‘t reach you, report it as lost mail.

  • Pick up in person – If delayed at a postal facility near you, you can retrieve it yourself with ID.

With proactive tracking and communication, you can get a stuck DHL package back on the road after forwarding to third parties!

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