Can I Pick Up a Package From USPS Before Delivery?

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November 16, 2023

According to a 2022 annual package theft report, around 49 million Americans across the United States have had at least one package stolen in the last 12 months.

With so many package theft incidents, many people are concerned about leaving packages at a recipient’s doorstep, especially when no one is home to receive the item.

Fortunately, the United States Postal Service (USPS) pickup services can help address these issues. This article answers the following questions:

What specific USPS services allow you to pick up your package? What benefits do pickup services offer? How do you know if your package is in the post office?

This article discusses when your package can become available for pickup and whether this service is worth your money. This article also explains the different USPS pickup services and how you can track your packages.

If you need to find a post office where you can pick up your package, FindPostOffice.org’s online search tool can help you locate a Postal Service near you. You can read FindPostOffice.org’s blog page for more informative articles about USPS and the courier industry.

Why Is My USPS Package Available for Pickup?

If you receive the notification that your package is available for pickup, it means the local post office has your item but will not deliver it to the recipient.

This situation usually happens for two reasons:

  • The delivery failed.
  • The courier did not attempt delivery.

If you’re the receiver, you must visit the post office to pick up your package. 

Failed Delivery

A failed delivery can happen for several reasons, such as providing an incorrect address, having no one available to receive the parcel, or needing a safe spot to leave the package.

If you’re the sender, delivery failure can happen when you pay the wrong shipping fee or the USPS driver’s access to your recipient’s home is blocked. 

When the delivery fails, the U.S. Postal Service leaves a delivery slip stating the exact cause of the failure and the name of the post office where the parcel is available for pickup.

Non-attempt to Deliver

Suppose you are the recipient waiting an entire day for the package to arrive at your home, but no delivery person came.

In this case, your package’s status will change to “available for pickup,” meaning USPS will not deliver the item. Instead, the Postal Service expects you to pick it up at the local post office.

If this situation happens, you will not receive a delivery slip because the USPS driver did not attempt delivery.

Few More Methods

If you need to pick up your package, consider doing the following:

  • Place a signboard instructing the delivery person not to leave the package at the door. This way, you can inform the courier not to leave your package if no one is at home or office to receive it.
  • Suppose the parcel needs signature confirmation and you’re not home. USPS will hold the package at a local post office, where you can pick it up before delivery.
  • If your package is out for delivery and you know the person delivering it, you can meet them along their route. They may assist you with picking up your parcel.
  • Request permission from the postmaster to pick up your package if you have an emergency.
  • Suppose the post office is small or the staff doesn’t have much work. You can visit the place and ask an employee to find your parcel and hand it to you.

Is It Worth Picking Up Your Packages at the USPS Office?

Because the USPS Package Intercept and Hold for Pickup services cost a fee, you may wonder if they are worth your money.

The following sections discuss why picking up your packages before USPS delivers them is worth it.

Fewer Lost Packages

One of the reasons to consider using Package Intercept or Hold for Pickup is that they can help lower your chances of experiencing lost packages.

When your package is on a truck heading to the destination for delivery, there’s a chance that your item may fall off or go missing.

Picking up your package from a USPS location can help lower the possibility of package loss due to transit.

Fewer Stolen Packages

Another reason that package hold services may be worth it is that they help reduce the chances of having your packages stolen.

In areas where porch pirates (people who steal packages from homes) roam around, Package Intercept and Hold for Pickup services can help improve security by not leaving your item at your address.

Faster Delivery of Packages

Sometimes, delivering packages can take time, especially when the distance between the local post office and the destination address is far.

If you don’t want to wait long to receive your package, USPS lets you pick up your item as soon as it arrives at the post office.

Options Available to Stop the Delivery of the Package for Pickup

You have two USPS services available if you want to stop the delivery of your package for pickup: Package Intercept and Hold for Pickup. The following sections discuss how these options work.

Package Intercept

If you’re the sender, the USPS Package Intercept service lets you or your recipient stop delivery or redirect a mail, package, or flat that isn’t for delivery or has already been delivered.

Many domestic mailings with tracking numbers or barcodes for extra services can qualify for Package Intercept. However, you can only request this service online.

If you have a business, commercial USPS Package Intercept is available through USPS’ Business Customer Gateway.

How It Works

To use this service to intercept a package, you can request your local post office to hold the item for you or have it returned to the shipper by doing the following steps:

  • Verify your shipment’s eligibility for Package Intercept.
  • If your package qualifies, log in to your USPS.com account and submit an online request.
  • After submission, you must pay an intercept fee plus the estimated postage for Priority Mail, if applicable. USPS will then attempt to intercept and redirect your shipment.
  • USPS will charge a $17.00 package intercept fee plus any applicable postage after the company intercepts the shipment. If the actual postage exceeds the estimated cost, USPS will charge additional postage accordingly.
  • USPS will redirect your shipment to the original sender or hold it at the local post office for pickup.

Paying for Package Intercept

USPS redirects all intercepted items as Priority Mail. Thus, you must pay the applicable Priority Mail postage unless the item was initially sent through Priority Mail, First-Class Mail, or Priority Mail Express.

If USPS does not intercept the shipment, USPS will not charge you. But if the intercept is successful, the courier will apply a nonrefundable package intercept fee per intercept request.

Suppose you’re a commercial or retail customer who wants to purchase additional services for the intercepted package. You can pay for additional services like the following:

Determining Eligibility

Despite its benefits, USPS Package Intercept is not a guaranteed service, and specific conditions apply. The following conditions determine whether or not your package is eligible.

What Is Eligible?

Items eligible for USPS Package Intercept are as follows:

  • Items shipped using domestic mail services with USPS Tracking or extra services barcode
  • Packages with a total length and girth not larger than 130 inches (in)
What Is Not Eligible?

Items that don’t qualify for Package Intercept include the following:

  • USPS Marketing Mail products and periodicals
  • Items addressed to a commercial mailing receiving agency (CMRA)
  • Items redirected to a post office box (P.O. box)
  • Nonmailable items, items bearing hazardous materials markings, and items with surface-only transportation markings

USPS Package Intercept Programme Has Some Limitations, As Given Below

The USPS Package Intercept program can help redirect a domestic shipment that is not sent for final delivery or has already been delivered.

This service lets you send a package to a different location and allows the post office to hold that item for pickup.

You can use this service for mailpieces with a tracking barcode or extra service. However, you must verify whether your package qualifies for this program using the eligibility conditions discussed earlier as a reference.

Hold for Pickup

If you request the Hold for Pickup service when mailing an eligible package, you allow the recipient to pick the item up from a designated post office.

The following sections describe the USPS Hold for Pickup service in detail.

How Does Hold for Pickup Work at USPS?

The Hold for Pickup service allows USPS to hold mailpieces at a designated post office so that the specific addressee or designee can pick up packages rather than have a mail carrier attempt the delivery.

If you’re the mailer, you can request this service when purchasing postage for eligible items. For your addressee or designee to pick up the parcel from the post office, they must provide acceptable identification (I.D.).

How Do You Pick Up Packages From USPS Before Delivery?

While picking up your package from a USPS facility before the courier delivers it is possible, you must go through some advanced planning to ensure the pickup process goes smoothly. Below are the steps to pick up your item from USPS.

Step 1: Determine Whether Your Package Is Eligible for Pickup

Packages that are delivered or released for delivery are not eligible for pickup. However, you can use USPS Tracking to check if your package is still in transit and eligible for pickup.

Step 2: Notify USPS That You’ll Pick Up Your Package

If you visit a USPS location without notifying that you will pick up your package, the staff may not hand over the item. Due to the volume of orders the postal workers fulfill daily, you must inform USPS about your visit and let the staff know the location from where you will pick up the item.

You can notify USPS about the pickup through any method described in the following sections.

Mark the “Hold for Pickup” Option on Your Shipping Label

When creating a shipping label online, you can specify on the label the location from which you want to pick up your package.

To mark your package as “Hold for Pickup,” follow these steps:

  • Visit USPS.com and go to the Click-N-Ship page.
  • Sign in to your USPS account or create one for free if you don’t have one.
  • Fill out your return address.
  • Instead of filling out the recipient’s address, go to the “More Actions” section and select “Hold for Pickup at a Post Office.”
  • Using the ZIP code search, select the post office to assign as your package’s pickup location.
  • Continue filling out the rest of your shipping label’s details.
Hold for Pickup

When your package arrives at the designated USPS facility, you will receive a notification that your parcel is ready for pickup. Follow these steps to use the Hold for Pickup service:

  • Go to the Hold for Pickup page on the USPS website.
  • Follow the steps to choose which item will be held for pickup and the facility that will hold the package.
Call Your Post Office

If you’re unsure about the pickup process or whether your package qualifies for pickup, you can contact your local post office for more information.

This method is not the most efficient option for requesting a pickup, and USPS doesn’t recommend this option. But if you’re stuck with few or no choices, USPS can generally accommodate your request and will take time to help address your issue.

Step 3: Pick Up Your Package

If the package’s delivery address on the shipping label has your name as the recipient, only you can pick up the item. To claim the package addressed to you, visit the pickup-designated USPS facility during business hours and present a valid photo ID.

Place Your Mail on Hold

When you place your mail on hold, USPS can hold your item at the post office until you arrive with your identification. This way, you can pick up the item instead of waiting for your parcel to arrive on the delivery day.

To use this option, submit a “Place Your Mail on Hold” request at the post office so that USPS will hold your package or mail that arrives. You can accomplish this task online on the official USPS website.

Show Up Early

There’s a possibility that the delivery truck carrying your package will depart the USPS facility before you arrive to pick up your item.

However, if you arrive early at the post office, there’s a chance that you can get your package before it goes onboard the truck.

Like standard pickup procedures, you must provide identification that proves you are the package’s recipient before USPS can hand it to you.

What Is the Difference Between USPS “Hold for Pickup” and USPS “Hold Mail”?

Some people may confuse both terms as referring to the same service. However, “Hold for Pickup” allows the post office or USPS distribution center to hold your package so that you can pick up that item later.

Meanwhile, “Hold Mail” lets the facility hold your letters, parcels, and other mail for a specific period. If you go on vacation and no one will receive mail at your address, USPS will hold your mail until you return.

Is Your Package Held Up by USPS?

Suppose you purchase something online, such as on Amazon or other eCommerce stores, and the seller ships your product via USPS. You can assume that the Postal Service will handle the shipping from start to finish.

While that situation can be true sometimes, USPS also partners with other shipping companies that can help move your package closer to its destination before handing it over to USPS on the last leg of the delivery.

For example, a company like Federal Express (FedEx) may handle most of your package delivery until your local post office, where your item gets transferred to USPS.

“How Do I Know if My Package Is at the Post Office?”

To determine whether or not your package is at the post office, go to the USPS website’s tracking page and enter your USPS tracking number in the search box to find your parcel easily.

Ensure not to include dashes or spaces when typing the number. Afterward, click “Track” to check your package’s status.

Tracking Info Breakdown: What You Need to Know

Your package’s tracking information can show different kinds of notifications and relevant information, such as status, location, and estimated delivery time, to help you determine when and where you can pick up your parcel.

You see where USPS last scanned your package throughout the delivery and determine whether the scan indicates the package’s arrival, departure, or transit.

Arrival scans mean your shipment has arrived at a particular USPS facility. There’s a good chance that you can directly request that facility to hold your package or track that item in the Postal Service’s warehouse.

A departure scan indicates that your package has left that facility and is heading to the next one. Unless you know what route your USPS package is taking, or where the next facility is, you must wait until your item’s tracking status receives a new update.

An “in transit” status can mean any of the following:

  • Your package is moving, often through a third-party carrier.
  • Your package hasn’t been scanned yet.
  • The delivery information hasn’t been updated.

“Where Can I Go to Track My Package?”

Visit the official USPS website at USPS.com and use the search box on the home page or the USPS Tracking page to track your package.

How to Track Your Package With USPS

To track your parcel through USPS, follow these steps:

  • Check your tracking number.
  • Visit the USPS Tracking page on USPS.com.
  • Input your tracking number in the box provided and hit “Track.”

Important Details to Remember

Overall, you have plenty of opportunities to redirect, reroute, or hold your packages if you need to pick them up before they go out for delivery.

Suppose having lost, stolen, and undelivered items are among your concerns when sending packages. The ability to intercept or hold parcels at a specific location can help address such challenges.

FAQs

  1. Why do USPS Package Intercept and package hold have fees?

If USPS flags your package for holding or intercepting, it takes time and effort to track and keep an eye on that package. The staff must ensure they don’t put that item on a truck to its final destination.

Since this process costs additional time and energy, the fees you pay for this service can help cover these costs.

  1. Can USPS inform me about a package’s location before intercepting it?

You should know your package’s location before making an intercept request. This way, you can discover whether your parcel is going from a sorting facility or distribution center to your local post office to decide the ideal time for an interception.

Call USPS or use the Postal Service’s tracking tool to determine your shipment’s location.

  1. Where do I pick up intercepted packages?

Some of the common places to pick up your package are as follows:

  • Local post office
  • USPS distribution center
  • Rerouted address

Usually, the best and easiest option is to pick up your parcel at a local post office.

  1. Is USPS Package Intercept free?

The USPS Package Intercept service is not free. The Postal Service charges an intercept fee plus other applicable postage.

  1. How much does USPS Package Intercept cost?

As of July 2023, the USPS Package Intercept fee costs $17 plus other costs associated with your chosen mail delivery service, such as Priority Mail.

  1. Is USPS holding for pickup free?

The USPS Hold Mail service is available for free. However, each address can have only one Hold Mail service in effect at a time.

  1. How long will USPS hold a package?

Most USPS mail services can hold packages for up to 15 days. Afterward, the Postal Service will return unclaimed items to the sender.

  1. Will USPS leave my package somewhere other than the delivery address?

You can ask USPS to hold your package at your local post office until you can pick it up.

You can also request that your package be dropped off at a specific location at your intended delivery address.

For example, instead of having your item dropped off at your front door or mailbox, you can ask the letter carrier to place your item inside the garage or behind a bush.

  1. Can I pick up my package if it is at the post office?

You can go to the post office to pick up your package, provided you present an acceptable I.D.

  1. Where do I pick up my mail if it cannot be delivered?

If USPS cannot deliver your mail for any reason, the courier will notify you via email, call, or text. USPS will provide a redelivery option or direct you to the post office holding your parcel.

  1. Can I pick up a USPS package without notice?

You cannot pick up your parcel from USPS without a notice. You must first apply for pickup and have it approved before you can pick up your package before its delivery time.

  1. What do I need to pick up a package at USPS?

You usually only need your I.D. to pick up your package from the post office.

However, you can also show your confirmation email if you need tracking information to ensure you pick up the correct package.

  1. Can I pick up a USPS package without I.D.?

You cannot claim a package without an I.D. For your safety and that of their customers, USPS requires you to present an I.D. and match it with your package for pickup.

  1. Can USPS packages be picked up if delivery was missed?

If you think USPS may have missed your package delivery, you can initiate an intercept by requesting USPS to hold your item until you can visit the post office and pick it up.

  1. How can I pick up a missed USPS package?

Suppose you miss a USPS delivery, and the mail carrier leaves a redelivery notice form. You can pick up your package at your local post office based on the details of that notice.

  1. Can I pick up the USPS package at the distribution center?

You cannot pick up your parcel once it arrives at the distribution center. Instead, you can only pick it up at the post office after requesting the facility to hold your package.

  1. What happens if USPS cannot deliver a package?

Should USPS fail to deliver your item, the courier will inform you that it will remain at the post office for at least 15 days before sending it back to the sender.

  1. Can I call USPS to see where my package is?

If you need more information about your package, call USPS Customer Service at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

  1. Does USPS deliver on the same day?

Yes, USPS can provide redelivery on the same business day if you miss the first delivery.

  1. Does USPS leave deliveries at the doorstep?

USPS can leave your package at your doorstep if that item does not require any signing. If your item requires a signature, but you’re not home during delivery, USPS will leave a notice at your address and attempt redelivery the next day.

  1. Will USPS deliver the package somewhere that isn’t on the label?

USPS usually does not deliver a package to a location that’s nowhere near the address on the shipping label. One reason is that doing so costs time and money, which the Postal Service can’t afford.

Although you can place an intercept request that includes delivering the item to a new address, this request will cost money.

  1. Can you keep a package that is delivered to you by mistake?

You can keep any package delivered to you by mistake, and you have the right to keep any such package.

But if you believe doing so goes against your principles, you can return the package to USPS.

References

  1. 2022 Package Theft Annual Report
    https://www.security.org/package-theft/annual-report/
  2. USPS Package Intercept
    https://www.usps.com/manage/package-intercept.htm
  3. Hold for Pickup Service
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Hold-for-Pickup-Service