How to Prepare your Shipment

All you need to know about sending your first shipment with DHL Express! Our comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to get started.


Your air waybill (AWB) is arguably the most important piece of document when you are shipping internationally. It contains all the instructions and information about the contents and characteristics of your shipment that is necessary for transportation. But more importantly, the AWB is the document that proves the ownership of the shipment – based on the details of the sender and recipient.

Properly furnishing the details of your waybill can play a big part to facilitate a smooth journey for your shipment. Below we will discuss the various fields of the AWB, and how you can go about creating one in a few minutes!

The waybill is usually attached to the exterior of the shipment for anyone handling the shipment to easily access important details.

A look at the DHL Express waybill.

Shipper's Address & Details Receiver's Address & Details Payee Account Number Barcode Shipment Details


Details will be referred to as the main point of contact in-charge of the shipment.



Identifies your intended recipient and the destination address.



The barcode is scanned throughout the network to give you accurate tracking updates! Make sure this portion of the waybill is not defaced or blocked before handing over your shipment.



State the weight, dimensions, and a clear description of the contents should be accurate.

filling in your waybill Useful information when filling in your waybill
  1. Unless the duties & taxes paid (DTP) service is selected, they will be borne by the consignee. If nothing is indicated, duties & taxes unpaid (DTU) is the default
  2. The weight and dimensions of your shipment that you have declared will be subject to re-weigh and you will be billed accordingly, if applicable.
  3. The shipper’s address and details should reflect you or your company’s name, telephone or mobile number, email address and your complete mailing address including postal code.
  4. The receiver’s address and details must include the company or individual’s name – a valid contact person, contact number, email address, as well as complete mailing address including postal code.
  5. The shipment information will be used for customs clearance to ensure that the details tally with the actual contents and the shipping invoice.
  6. Air waybills have an expiration date and will be invalid beyond that.
  7. You will be prompted to provide a sender/receiver Tax ID for many countries if your shipment is for a sale of goods, please have this handy.

Your new DHL Express air waybill will be identified by a unique 10-digit code known as your AWB number. It acts as the reference for your shipment in the event that you need to communicate with us for anything about your shipment!

Now that you’ve learnt how to create your own waybill, we can proceed to the next step.


When shipping internationally, your document or parcel travels within the DHL Express network, transiting through multiple facilities, people, vehicles and airplanes. A well-packed shipment can reduce the risks of damage, ensuring your consignee receives the contents in pristine condition.

While DHL Express does our very best to handle your shipments carefully, it is important to remember that the responsibility of the packaging lies with the shipper.

1. Assess what you are shipping

Start by determining the weight and shape of your shipment to help you decide on a suitable external packaging. Heavier shipments will require a more durable box or even a double layer of packaging.

For odd-sized shipments, you should select a box that can fit your shipment comfortably while leaving sufficient room for inner packaging materials to eliminate excess spaces.

For more valuable shipments, you might want to take the extra initiative to wrap your shipment and use 2 types of inner packaging material for added protection.

Similarly, for more fragile shipments , it is advised to take additional precautionary measures to protect the weaker points of your item.

2. Packaging Materials

After having a better understanding of your shipment profile, you have to decide on the ideal external and internal packaging material that will garner optimal protection for your shipment.


Select a suitable, preferably new box that can fit the contents of your shipment with about 6cm of excess space. If you are unable to find a suitable box, you can self-lodge , your shipment into one of our retail points, where you will have an option of 8 different boxes to choose from.


Lay the bottom of the box with protective inner packaging material. Some good examples include bubble wrap, foam blocks or chips, and cushions.


Place the contents to be shipped on the bed of protection within the box and fill the void spaces with more protective materials until there is no empty space.

No boxes? No problem!

Let us know what kind of external packaging you need and we will
provide you with the boxes.

3. Sealing

Tape up all the edges and seams of the box, it is advisable to reinforce the edges as they are most susceptible to compression during transportation.

TIP: If you are a non-account holder, please do not seal your shipment until the courier has inspected its contents upon collection.

4. Labelling

Stick on any special handling label you might have, our staff will take the necessary measures to adhere to it.

Paste your shipping label (DHL air waybill) on the top of the box for easy reference.

Ensure that no other older labels or duplicate labels are on the box as it might confuse our scanners, affecting the routing of the shipment.

Apply a plastic pouch to house any other documents that is necessary to the shipment, for example: your shipping invoice.

Handling Labels

Every shipment has different packaging requirements, this guide should not be perceived as a final solution for all customers.

DHL acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.