Can I Pick Up My Mail From the Post Office?

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November 23, 2023

As of March 2023, the United States Postal Service (USPS) processes and delivers around 44% of the world’s mail volume.

If you have received mail or packages through USPS, you may have picked up one or more parcels from the post office. But did you know you can also pick up packages not delivered to your address?

This article discusses how to pick up packages before USPS delivers them to you and the possible reasons your parcel can become available for pickup.

This article also explains why picking up your package may be worth the money and where you can pick up intercepted shipments.

If you need to locate a U.S. post office to pick up your package, use FindPostOffice.org’s online search tool. This feature allows you to find post offices by city, state, ZIP code, and geolocation and helps make your USPS facility search more flexible and convenient.

Can You Pick Up Your Package From USPS Before It Gets Delivered?

Picking up your package from the U.S. Postal Service before delivery is possible and relatively straightforward.

If you’re one of those people who want to get their hands on their packages immediately before the delivery process is complete, USPS can provide ways to do so.

For example, you can drive to a local USPS post office or facility early in the morning to pick up a package before it goes onboard a truck for delivery.

“Why Is My USPS Package Available for Pickup?”

If your package is available for pickup, the courier has sent it to the local post office but won’t deliver the item to you. Instead, you must pick it up yourself.

This status usually appears when USPS fails or does not attempt to deliver the package. However, other reasons, such as those discussed in the following sections, can also cause your parcel to become available for pickup.

Failed Delivery

This status can appear for various reasons, such as the following:

  • Incorrect address
  • No one to receive the package
  • An unavailable safe spot to keep the package
  • Driver’s access to the delivery address blocked
  • Wrong shipping amount paid

When any of these situations happen, USPS will provide a slip mentioning the exact cause and the post office where the parcel is available.

Non-attempt to Deliver

Suppose you’re a recipient waiting at home for your package to arrive all day, but no delivery has come. Sometimes, your package’s status can change to “available for pickup.” 

Such an incident can happen when the mail carrier misses picking up your package in the morning. Carriers often must gather and transport large mail volumes daily, so missing an item or two can happen.

Hold for Pickup

Hold for Pickup” is a USPS service that holds mailpieces for pickup at a designated post office location for a specified addressee instead of having a mail carrier attempt delivery.

If you are the sender, you can request this service when purchasing postage for eligible products. Your recipient must provide an acceptable form of identification (I.D.) to pick up the package from the post office. 

USPS can hold your item at the pickup location for a limited time. If your recipient doesn’t pick up the package in 15 days (5 days for Priority Mail Express), the courier returns it to you.

USPS Package Intercept

USPS Package Intercept lets you or your recipient stop a delivery or redirect a parcel. You can only request an intercept online, but most domestic shipments with tracking or extra services barcodes can qualify for intercept.

USPS redirects all intercepted items as Priority Mail. Thus, you must pay the applicable Priority Mail postage unless you initially send the package using Priority Mail, First-Class Mail, or Priority Mail Express.

Place Your Mailed Thing on Hold

Suppose you prefer to pick up your parcel from the post office instead of having the courier deliver it to your home. You can submit a Hold for Pickup request so the post office will hold your mail for pickup.

This service lets you send a request online, over the phone, or at a post office and hold your parcel for at least three days.

Show Up Early

If you arrive at the post office early, you may get your package before USPS loads it onboard the truck.

To claim your package, you must provide identification that matches the package’s shipping details proving the item is yours.

Postal workers usually load packages onto the trucks and deliver mail as early as 6:00 AM. However, post offices usually open at around 8:00 AM.

With these time frames, plan your visit to the post office to catch and pick up your item before it gets on the truck for delivery.

Few More Methods

Other things you can consider doing when you decide to pick up your package are the following:

  • Place a signboard or note on your door instructing the delivery person not to leave your package at your doorstep if no one is available to receive the item.

The courier will take the package back to the post office so you can visit and pick up the item instead.

  • Request the post office to hold your package if you’re not home to receive the parcel with the required signature confirmation.
  • If your item is out for delivery and you know the driver or mail carrier, you can find them along their route.
  • Ask for the postmaster’s permission to pick up your package only in an emergency.
  • If the post office is small or the staff does not have much work, you can visit the place and ask the employees to help find your parcel.

Picking Up Mail That Is Being Held at Your Post Office

Suppose you receive a redelivery notice (PS Form 3849) after the courier fails to deliver your package. You can go to the local post office pickup location and claim the item on or after the date and time indicated on the notice.

What Is Package Pickup?

Package Pickup allows you to schedule a pickup for the designated or next delivery day. This service is free regardless of the number of items you need to pick up.

How to Pick Up Mail at a U.S. Post Office

If you miss your package’s initial delivery, you can pick it up by visiting your local post office. You can also pick up your mail at the post office if you rent a post office box (P.O. box) or place mail delivery on hold if you’re going on vacation.

Picking Up the Mail

When picking up your mail, you must determine the correct post office location where your package is.

One way to do so is to visit USPS.com and locate a post office near you. You can search using your street address and ZIP code. Then, call the phone number next to the specific post office location in the search results to confirm that your mail goes through this facility.

Signature Required

USPS typically delivers mail to your delivery address. But if the letter is Registered or Certified, your recipient must personally sign for the item upon delivery.

What if you’re not at your address when the letter carrier attempts delivery? They will leave a notice on your door or mailbox indicating the parcel’s arrival. 

The notice can provide delivery rescheduling information or specify when and where to pick up the mail.

Vacation Holds

You can pick up mail at the post office if you request a hold on your mail while you’re out of town or have forwarded your mail from a previous address.

P.O. Boxes

If you prefer receiving mail at a post office, consider renting a P.O. box. Rental fees can vary based on your selected post office location and box size, and payment terms range from three months to one year.

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

You might be wondering whether picking up your parcel at a post office is better than having USPS deliver the item. The following sections discuss why picking up your package can be a better option for you.

Fewer Lost Packages

One reason to pick up your package, such as through USPS Package Intercept, is that you’re less likely to lose your packages.

By having the post office hold your package, USPS can put a flag on your item. This way, more eyes can monitor your package.

Fewer Stolen Packages

Porch pirates can be a menace in your neighborhood as these people can steal packages left sitting and unprotected at your front door.

Letting the post office hold your package can help add security to your parcel and prevent or minimize the chances of theft.

Faster Packages

USPS can sometimes take a while to deliver your packages to your doorstep. If you don’t want to wait too long, picking up your parcel at the post office is a viable and quicker option to receive your item.

“Can USPS Tell Where My Package Is Before I Can Initiate an Intercept?”

Before requesting a package intercept, you should first check your package’s delivery status to find out where your package is at a particular time.

Suppose your package is stuck in a distribution center. You can consider intercepting that package and picking it up in that facility, especially if the delay can take a day or two.

On the other hand, if USPS says your package is currently out for delivery and may arrive at your residence in a few hours or earlier, you can consider not intercepting your item.

How to Start the Package Intercept Process

To request an intercept for your package, follow these steps:

  • Verify your shipment’s eligibility for package intercept.
  • If eligible, sign in to your USPS.com account on the USPS website and submit an online request.
  • After submitting your request, USPS will provide an estimated total cost, including intercept fees and other applicable postage.
  • If the courier intercepts your shipment, USPS will bill you from your credit card. As of July 2023, the intercept fee is $17.

“Where Do I Pick Up Packages That Have Been Intercepted?”

You can pick up intercepted packages at your local post office, a USPS distribution center, or an address where they are rerouted.

Among these options, picking up packages at a USPS distribution center is likely the most challenging because some of these facilities may not allow public access to these facilities.

Is Your Package Held Up by USPS?

Before attempting to pick up your package, one of the first things to determine is whether USPS or another courier holds your package.

Your package’s tracking information can tell you who is responsible for transporting your item from one point to another within the USPS delivery infrastructure.

Sometimes, USPS handles the entire delivery from origin to destination. Other times, other shipping partners move your package to the destination, then send it over to USPS at the last mile.

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

To know whether the post office has your parcel, go to the USPS website’s tracking page and enter your USPS tracking number in the search bar to easily find your package.

Suppose the tracking information shows your mail has the “Arrival at Unit” status. This update means your package has arrived at the local post office and will soon depart for delivery.

USPS Hold Mail – The Basics: What About a Package Hold?

USPS Hold Mail service holds all mail types, including letters and packages, for all individuals at the designated eligible address. Requesting this service is free of charge.

If you have a P.O. box, a USPS Hold Mail request is no longer necessary since mail delivered to this box can accumulate for up to 30 days. Ensure to note the confirmation number for future reference if changes are necessary.

How to Set Up a USPS Mail Hold

You can set up your USPS Hold Mail service online, in person, or by phone. When setting up, prepare an appropriate identification (I.D.) form, such as a passport or U.S. government-issued I.D.

The following sections discuss the ways to set up your hold mail service.

Over the Phone

To request a mail hold over the phone, call USPS at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) and tell the agent you want to set up your USPS vacation mail hold. The agent will guide you through the process.

In-Person

Another option to request a mail hold is visiting a post office to fulfill your request. FindPostOffice.org’s online post office locator can help you find the nearest local post office.

Online

To place a hold mail request online, log in to your USPS.com account or sign up if you don’t have one.

A hold request submitted online before 2:00 AM Central Time (C.T.) can start that day. If you request after 2:00 AM C.T., the hold will begin on the next business day.

USPS Mail Hold Troubleshooting

Despite the Postal Service’s best efforts, issues regarding your package being held can still arise. In such cases, the following sections explain what you can do to address these challenges.

“Why Is USPS Not Holding My Mail?”

If USPS continues delivering your mail even after you place a hold mail request, contact USPS customer service to resolve the issue.

“My USPS Hold Mail Didn’t Start or Stop As Asked”

Suppose you have issues with your hold mail request, such as when your mail delivery does not resume even after the hold period. Like the previous case, you must contact USPS to address and resolve this issue.

“How Do I Request to Unhold My Mail?”

If you have your hold mail confirmation number, you can use it to modify your USPS Hold Mail details or cancel your request. You can also pick up your item before your hold mail service ends, and USPS can start delivering your mail again.

“Why Is My Mail Being Held at the Post Office?”

A post office is a public facility that provides numerous mailing services, including package hold and pickup. By having the post office hold your mail, you can choose whether to have the letter carrier deliver your item or pick up the package in person when the hold period ends.

How Do You Check if There Is a Hold on Your Mail?

You can contact USPS customer service and use your hold request’s confirmation number to check your hold request’s status. You can also check the hold status online if you have a USPS.com account.

Why Does Package Intercept and Package Hold Have Fees?

Postal workers must take extra time and effort to track and monitor your specific package aside from their other duties. They need to ensure they hold your parcel and not place it on a truck for delivery to the final destination.

This extra effort can be an additional cost for the Postal Service. One way to help offset those costs is to implement fees on package intercept and package hold services.

Can You Pick Up USPS Packages if a Delivery Was Missed?

Suppose the USPS courier has missed delivering your package because no one was home to receive the item. You can initiate an intercept by requesting USPS to hold your parcel until you can visit the post office and claim your package.

“Will USPS Leave My Package Somewhere Aside From the Delivery Address?”

For security purposes, USPS will only deliver your package to the address written on the shipping label. However, there are a few exceptions.

For example, as mentioned earlier, you can request your local post office to hold your packages until you can pick up the item at the post office. Another example is when you request an intercept to redirect the delivery to another address.

Tracking Info Breakdown – What You Need to Know

Your package tracking information on the USPS website can show various notifications, such as whether USPS scans your package for arrival, departure, or transit.

  • Arrival scans indicate your parcel’s arrival at a specific USPS facility.
  • Departure scans mean your package has departed a particular facility and is moving to the next one.
  • Transit scans indicate that your package is on the move, such as when a third-party carrier moves your item, the tracking information is yet to update, or the courier has not performed a package scan.

Important Details to Remember

You may have received a redelivery notice and want to pick up your parcel but are unsure where USPS is holding your item. To know your package’s whereabouts, contact USPS in any of the following ways:

  • Online: Look up the package’s barcode or tracking number using the tracking feature on the USPS website.
  • By phone: Call 1-800-ASK-USPS to talk to a USPS customer service representative during the following hours:
    • Mondays to Fridays: 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST)
    • Saturdays: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST

When looking up an item via USPS Tracking, the post office information may not immediately appear after an attempted delivery. Instead, the post office name, location, and business hours will show up when the package returns to the post office.

FAQs

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

You cannot pick up your USPS package when it arrives at the distribution center. You can only do so at the post office after asking the postal workers to hold your package.

  1. What happens if USPS cannot deliver my package?

Suppose USPS fails to deliver your package for any reason. The post office will notify you and hold your package for at least 15 days. You can pick up your parcel within this period before USPS sends it back to the sender.

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

Aside from using USPS Tracking or going to the post office, you can call USPS customer service at 1-800-ASK-USPS to determine your package’s location.

  1. Does USPS deliver on the same day?

If you miss the first delivery, USPS offers same-day redelivery for packages and mail. Thus, you can receive your item in the second round if you’re not home during the initial delivery.

  1. How exactly does USPS pickup work?

Suppose you’re the shipper and want USPS to pick up your parcel. You can submit a package pickup request online at the USPS website’s pickup page.

If you’re the receiver, you can pick up your USPS package or mail item at the post office. Ensure to present a valid photo I.D. and the P.S. Form 3849 redelivery notice left by the carrier.

  1. Does USPS leave deliveries at the doorstep?

The USPS courier can leave packages at your doorstep if they don’t require a signature.

If your parcel requires a signature, but you’re unavailable to receive the item, USPS will leave a notice and attempt redelivery the next day.

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

Yes, you can keep packages delivered to you by mistake. But even when you have the right to keep such unsolicited goods, returning them to USPS is the noble thing to do.

  1. Can I collect my letters from the post office?

You can collect letters from your local post office if you rent a P.O. box at that location. USPS offers various P.O. sizes depending on the mail volume and package size you expect to receive.

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

If you miss a USPS package delivery, you can pick up your item by visiting your local post office. In the redelivery notice, the courier can specify when you should claim your item.

  1. Is USPS holding for pickup free?

The USPS Hold for Pickup service is free for eligible addresses. However, only one address can have the USPS Hold Mail in effect at a time.

  1. Where do you pick up intercepted packages?

If you choose the USPS Package Intercept service, some places you can commonly pick up intercepted parcels are the following:

  • Local post office
  • Rerouted address
  • USPS distribution center
  1. Can USPS inform me about a package’s location before intercepting it?

Many USPS mail services have tracking, so you can usually tell where your item’s general location is during delivery. This information can help you decide whether or not to intercept your parcel.

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

In most cases, USPS won’t deliver your parcel to an address not specified on the package’s shipping label.

References

  1. SIZE AND SCOPE
    https://facts.usps.com/size-and-scope/
  2. Hold for Pickup Service
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Hold-for-Pickup-Service
  3. USPS Package Intercept
    https://www.usps.com/manage/package-intercept.htm
  4. Picking Up Mail that is Being Held at Your Post Office
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Picking-Up-Mail-that-is-Being-Held-at-Your-Post-Office
  5. Package Pickup & Pickup on Demand
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/What-is-Package-Pickup
  6. USPS Hold Mail® – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Hold-Mail-The-Basics