Why Is My USPS Package Stuck In Transit? | Easyship Blog (2023)

Key Points:

  • Your parcel could be stuck in transit for many reasons: loss, damage, or perhaps, a USPS tracking system failure
  • Most USPS packages are automatically insured for $100
  • Contact your local post office, submit a search query via USPS, and contact the recipient immediately if your USPS shipment is stuck in transit

Bummer: your USPS package is stuck in transit. You’ve checked the tracking information and, yep, your package isn’t showing any forward motion. If you’re an eCommerce merchant, the customer has likely noticed too and that’s its own headache. What can you do?

Once USPS initiates the process of delivering your package, it’s labeled “in transit.” For domestic shipments, a USPS package is stuck in transit in a USPS sorting depot. For international shipments, it could be stuck with USPS or at customs.

Your package could be stuck in transit for many reasons: loss, damage, or even a USPS tracking system failure. More likely, though, the short-staffed US Post Office has misplaced, mislabelled, or simply overlooked your package. This means it can be located easily enough once you call attention to its absence.

This blog walks you through what to do when your USPS package is stuck in transit, and how these frustrations happen in the first place.

Table of Contents

01What Does Stuck In Transit Mean?

02Why Is Your USPS Shipment Stuck in Transit?

03What To Do If Your USPS Shipment Is Stuck In Transit?

04Your USPS Shipment Stuck in Transit

05USPS Stuck in Transit FAQ

What Does “Stuck In Transit” Mean?

The tracking information says your USPS shipment is stuck in transit. Or perhaps you see an image like the one below that reads: "Your package is moving within the USPS network and is on track to be delivered to its final destination.”

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This notification is how USPS tells you that your package is still en route to be delivered. However, it doesn’t mean that anyone at USPS actually knows where your package is at this time.

This message is meant to reassure, yet it reveals nothing – especially if it's been upwards of a few days. Understanding how this happens helps to understand how USPS moves packages to their destination.

The life of a USPS package begins with USPS accepting your package at the local post office. Next, your package is picked up from the Post Office by a USPS freight driver who transports your package toward the end destination. Your package is scanned before being loaded onto the departing truck and now appears as “in transit” in the USPS tracking system.

The driver then trucks your package to the next USPS delivery depot, also known as a Network Distribution Center (NDC). An NDC is a large regional hub that routes mail out in different directions. Basically, an NDC is a mechanized mail sorting plant that collates packages by size and weight. Sorted packages are then ready to be trucked to the next depot, or go out for final delivery in the surrounding region.

Whenever your package reaches the next distribution center, the shipping label is scanned and the tracking information updates with its new location. Except...when it doesn’t.

Basically, a “stuck in transit” message means that your shipment hasn’t been scanned at any distribution depot in the last 24 hours. You know it arrived at the last location, but what happened next...well...it’s anybody’s guess.

Why Is Your USPS Shipment Stuck In Transit?

USPS ships upwards of 129 billion pieces of mail every year. As you might expect, amidst all the moving pieces, things can go amiss.

Here’s a list of potential reasons why your USPS package is stuck in transit:

  • Wrong/incomplete address: The most common reason shipments aren’t delivered. If this is the issue, you simply need to contact USPS to fix the address and your package will continue on its merry way.
  • Mis-sorted: Thousands of packages flow through USPS sorting facilities every day, and sometimes packages land in the wrong area.
  • Lost: It happens, unfortunately. Your best recourse is to file a claim and ask for a refund if possible.
  • International Customs: Cross-border shipments can get stuck at customs for many reasons, including errors in customs documents, unpaid duty or taxes, or the package contents is prohibited.
  • Environmental forces: From traffic to bad weather, packages can get slowed en route by physical conditions that impede trucks from carrying your package.
  • Weight/size issues: If a depot realizes that your package is overly large or heavy for the shipping label, it can halt progress on the shipment until you pay the difference.
  • Improper packaging: Couriers reserve the right to halt delivery if a package is perceived as unstable or dangerous to move. If your package has come apart due to poor packaging, this could be the cause.
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Whatever the cause, it’s best not to panic or overreact. Most mail lost in the USPS system is found. Plus, most USPS packages are automatically insured for $50-$100.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you try to figure out why your USPS shipment is stuck in transit:

  • Tracking statuses may take 24-48 hours to update.
  • Refer to your estimated delivery time. If you’ve shipped via Overnight and it's a day late, maybe wait a day. But if it’s been four days, something is most definitely amiss.
  • Distance between distribution centers can be hundreds of miles. Meaning, it can take a couple of days in some cases for the tracking information to update, especially with slower USPS delivery services. If you shipped Priority Mail or First Class, though, it shouldn’t take more than a day to update.

What To Do If Your USPS Shipment Is Stuck In Transit

It’s impossible to know what your “USPS shipment is stuck in transit” message means. Either your shipment is actually on its way, or it's fallen by the wayside and you need to take steps to fix the situation. Here’s what Easyship recommends:

1. Contact The Recipient Immediately

Being proactive is the best remedy to the blowback that results from package delays. Contact the recipient to let them know you’re on top of it. Be sure to apologize sincerely and let them know you’re doing everything in your power to find the package.

Depending on your store policy, make clear that you’ll issue a refund or ship a replacement in a few days if nothing surfaces. Bad shipping experiences are a primary reason that customers abandon online merchants, so it’s best to act quickly on customers’ behalf.

2. Contact Your Local Post Office

Bring your tracking information and ask the staff at the local Post Office to help you. Or call and ask to speak with the post office supervisor. Either way, get someone to look into what’s wrong. Being friendly and patient with the postal employees is the best way to respond quickly and thoroughly.

3. Submit a Search Query Online

If the postal service employee can’t help you – or you just prefer to do things online – submit a customer service request via the online portal on UPS.com.

USPS will launch an inquiry into where your package is and email you the findings. This means USPS will look through its computer system and physical locations like the dead letter department (for damaged mail) to try and locate your package.

4. Follow Up

Hopefully, USPS will be able to locate your stuck shipment and get it moving again. You should hear back within a day on any developments from your online query.

If your shipment isn’t found, make sure to update the recipient as soon as possible. Then, do what you can to make amends. Many shoppers are agreeable to a replacement item shipped post-haste.

If your shipment was insured, and most are to some amount, file a claim online. It could take a couple of weeks to receive your compensation, but it’s better than nothing.

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Your USPS Shipment Is Stuck In Transit

USPS shipments get stuck in transit every now and again. Whenever a package is stuck in transit with USPS, it’s best to wait for a tick to see if it moves.

If a day passes to no avail, get in touch with your local Post Office or file a query online. Make sure to contact the package recipient to mitigate the bad feelings from a delayed package. Then, just cross your fingers and hope your package turns up. If not, you can file for an insurance claim – but this may be too little too late.

If you want to ship with a more reliable courier but still pay cheap USPS prices, you can create a free account with Easyship. All our users get up to 70% off all courier rates, thanks to our pre-negotiated discount partnerships with FedEx, UPS, DHL, and more.

USPS Stuck in Transit FAQ

How long does a USPS package stay in transit?

Depending on the courier service, your USPS package can stay in transit from a day to a couple of weeks.

What does "in transit, arriving late" mean for a USPS package?

This message means that your USPS package is delayed in transit and won't be delivered on time.

What does "item currently in transit to the destination" mean for a USPS package?

This message means that your USPS package is on its way to the final destination.

If you found this article valuable, you might want to check out the following:

  1. Tracking USPS Shipments
  2. 8 Reasons USPS Shipments Are Delayed
  3. A Guide to USPS Delivery Times for 2021


Why is my USPS package stuck in transit? ›

Generally, when USPS says a package is stuck in transit, it means your package has not been scanned at any distribution depot in the last 24 hours; therefore, nobody knows the current location of your shipment.

Why is my package stuck in one spot? ›

The package stays in transit until the driver/postman delivers it. When parcel is stuck in transit it means that the package is no longer progressing towards its destination and it is either kept in one of the courier company's depots for further checks or stuck in customs.

How long does a USPS package stay in transit? ›

USPS Retail Ground: 2 to 8 business days. Package Services (including Media Mail, Bound Printed Matter, and Library Mail): 2 to 8 business days. Parcel Select (including Parcel Select Lightweight): 2 to 9 business days. Periodicals: 3 to 9 business days.

Why has my UPS package not moved? ›

There are a few reasons why your package status may not be updated right away: If you drop your package off after hours, USPS or UPS won't scan it in until the next day. It's in queue at a USPS or UPS facility. The postal workers or UPS workers scanning packages simply didn't get to it that day.

Should I be worried if my USPS package is stuck in transit? ›

If you receive an “In Transit Arriving Late” status message from USPS, it usually means that your package is running late and may not be delivered on time. Usually, there is no need to worry, as your parcel will most likely still arrive on time.

How do I know if USPS lost my package? ›

Find Missing Mail
  1. Check the Current Status. Before you begin your search, if your package or mail has tracking, check USPS Tracking® to see its current status. ...
  2. Complete a Help Request Form. ...
  3. Submit a Missing Mail Search Request.

How do I contact USPS about a stuck package? ›

You can also file a claim for the lost/delayed mail. Or call the U.S. Postal Service Domestic & International Tracking department at (800) 222-1811.

Why is my USPS tracking not updating? ›

If the tracking information for your package has not been updated in a few days, it's possible that there was an issue with the scan, or that the package has been temporarily misplaced. Sometimes packages just aren't scanned into the carrier's system at intermediary stops, so it looks like nothing is happening.

Why is my USPS package tracking not updating? ›

Contact USPS Customer Service

This number – 1-800-275-8777 – will get you with the USPS customer service support hotline on the phone, giving you a chance to explain your situation, provide your tracking information, and see if the USPS can find your package (and give you an update) using their backend tools.

What happens if USPS tracking hasn't updated in a week? ›

Your Parcel Was Not Scanned

Maybe the USPS courier is using a malfunctioning scanner, or they simply forgot to scan the parcel. In any case, if the parcel has not been scanned for 14 hours or more, you will notice USPS tracking not updating as you will not receive any updates on your dashboard.

Can I call USPS to see where my package is? ›

Who do I contact for additional help? You may call this phone number to obtain additional information on USPS Text Tracking: 1-800-222-1811. To obtain help from your mobile device, use any of the following: HELP, INFO, or AIDE.

Why has my USPS package been in pre transit for a week? ›

If it has been several days and your tracking status says 'pre-transit', this means that the package missed it's initial scan at the post office before it continued on its journey.

How long does it take USPS to update tracking? ›

The USPS typically updates your status within 24-48 hours. When tracking your package, you should have your tracking information ready. To understand how often USPS tracking updates, let us look at how USPS shipment tracking works. USPS provides a tracking number for each shipment.

What happens if UPS doesn't deliver on scheduled date? ›

Any UPS ground or express packages that don't arrive on time are completely free to you. However, you probably won't be surprised to hear that UPS doesn't automatically refund you after a late delivery. It's your responsibility to file a claim with the company to request a refund.

Why is my UPS package still in transit? ›

Your package is moving within the UPS network and is going to be delivered on the scheduled delivery date. A package can remain in this status until delivery. Packages moving long distances are often not scanned again between origin and destination.


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