How Long Are USPS Tracking Numbers?

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March 19, 2024

No matter how innovative a tool is, if you don’t know how to use it, it won’t do you much good.

This scenario happens with the USPS Tracking service, a feature allowing users to monitor a shipment’s delivery progress.

One USPS (United States Postal Service) Tracking-related problem you might encounter is tracking number concerns.

Ever wonder what the typical length of U.S. Postal Service tracking numbers is? Why are tracking numbers often alphanumeric codes, and what does each string of numbers and letters signify?

FindPostOffice.org is a comprehensive online resource for everything regarding U.S. post offices. 

Our website offers crucial information about USPS retail sites, including the services they provide and their operating hours.

Meanwhile, this article explains various USPS Tracking number formats, including how many digits or letters they usually contain.

Read on for more information regarding USPS Tracking numbers.

What Does A Real USPS Tracking Number Look Like?

The U.S. Postal Service values accountability and transparency regarding its mail and package delivery services.

That’s why USPS runs a tracking system and assigns tracking numbers for each mail and parcel. But how should a USPS tracking number be formatted? 

The USPS tracking number format is typically a sequence of 20 to 22 digits without any letters or symbols — for example, 9400 2367 3884 2000 0000 42. However, international packages have alphanumeric tracking codes.

These tracking identifiers follow specific formats, ensuring each mailpiece or package is traceable as it travels to its destination.

What Does the USPS Tracking Number Start With?

As you learned, mailing class determines how the tracking number will look like. 

The first four (sometimes five) numbers typically define the service code. You can determine which mail service you purchased using these digits.

Understanding The First Four Digits

For example, here are eight of the most common prefixes and what USPS product they indicate:

  • 9205: Priority Mail
  • 9208: Registered Mail
  • EC OOO: Priority Mail Express International
  • 9374: Parcel Select
  • CP 000: Priority Mail International
  • 9202: Signature Confirmation
  • 9407: Certified Mail
  • 9270: Priority Mail Express

What Is the Format of a USPS Tracking Number?

The information above suggests that the format of a USPS tracking number depends on the mailing service you purchase. 

How Many Characters Are in a USPS Tracking Number?

As mentioned, USPS tracking numbers typically consist of 20 to 22 digits. Suppose your tracking number contains fewer or more digits than this range. In that case, it is best to verify the validity of your tracking ID with USPS.

Can a USPS Tracking Number Have 30 Digits?

Again, USPS tracking numbers generally consist of 20 to 22 digits. As cases involving 30-digit USPS tracking numbers are unusual, it will help to check with USPS whether they are valid. This security measure will help protect you from fraudulent activities.

Can a USPS Tracking Number Be 20 Digits?

Based on the info above, a 20-digit tracking number will likely be a valid tracking code. But if you suspect it isn’t a valid one, contact USPS.

USPS Tracking Number Format Examples

Here are some examples of what these numbers might look like:

  • Collect On Delivery Hold For Pickup: 9203 4000 0000 0134 0000 00 
  • Certified Mail: 9407 3000 0191 0000 0004 00
  • USPS Tracking: 9400 2000 0000 0000 0000 01
  • Global Express Guaranteed: 82 000 000 00
  • Priority Mail: 9205 5000 0000 0234 0300 01
  • Priority Mail Express International: EC 000 000 191 US
  • Registered Mail: 9208 7000 0000 0010 0000 02
  • Priority Mail International: CP 000 011 000 US
  • Priority Mail Express: 9270 3000 0000 0000 0003 00 EA 000 000 000 US
  • Signature Confirmation: 9202 4000 0000 1000 0000 00

How to Find Your USPS Tracking Number: Where Can I Find My USPS Tracking Number?

You can find your tracking number in the following places:

  • Your shipping receipt
  • Your receipt if you purchased insurance at the post office
  • Your email confirmation if you sent your item using USPS.com

USPS Postal Service Tracking: What Is U.S. Mail Service Tracking?

USPS Tracking service provides end-to-end item tracking. USPS is sometimes called U.S. Mail service.

The following sections provide in-depth information on using the USPS Tracking feature, what status the service provides, and more straightforward ways to access your item’s tracking information.

How Does U.S. Mail Service Tracking Work?

USPS or U.S. Mail service offers shippers tracking features. This service generally works through a series of events associated with shipping parcels at a local post office:

Labels identify your package’s progress through the USPS’ mail stream, allowing you to track your parcel regardless of whether USPS or a third-party courier manages the delivery.

  • Label Scanning: USPS employees or delivery affiliates scan the label’s barcode to update the delivery progress in real time.
  • Package Acceptance: Tracking begins when the USPS employee inducts your package into the shipping carrier’s delivery system.

USPS Tracking ends when the package arrives at its official shipping address, and the recipient accepts the delivery.

  • Tracking Update: USPS Tracking lets you see your parcel’s route to the destination. This way, you don’t miss crucial information regarding your package.

Anatomy of a Tracking Number

The tracking number formats vary depending on the USPS shipping method. As mentioned, they usually consist of 20 to 22 digits. 

But USPS tracking numbers can also be alphanumeric codes (a combination of letters and numbers). 

Track U.S. Mail Service by Number

When you go to a retail counter at a post office, the agent will give you a confirmation receipt with a barcode. Keep the receipt secure while the parcel is in transit.

How To Track A USPS Package

One of the most convenient ways to track your order is to use the USPS online portal and input your tracking number.

Here are additional options for viewing USPS tracking statuses:

  • Contact the USPS customer care center via phone at 1-800-275-8777
  • Install the USPS mobile application for iPhones and Android phones
  • Text 28777 with your package’s tracking number to know the status of your package.

First Class Package Tracking

USPS Tracking is available for First-Class Package Service-Commercial (FCPS-C) and First-Class Package Service-Retail (FCPS-R) mailpieces for no extra charge.

Meanwhile, First-Class Mail postcards, letters, and flats are not eligible for USPS Tracking. But you can buy extra services that provide scanning barcodes for these items.

U.S. Mail Service First Class Mail International Tracking

As noted above, USPS offers tracking for some international packages, depending on your shipping service. These options include the following:

  • Priority Mail Express International
  • Priority Mail International
  • Global Express Guaranteed (GXG)

U.S. Ground Mail Tracking

USPS offers tracking services for Parcels Select (a Ground Tracking feature) without a minimum order limit or additional charge. 

U.S. Mail Service Parcel Select Ground Tracking

USPS offers free tracking features for specific mail classes, including Parcel Select Ground. 

Once you input an item’s tracking number into the USPS Tracking website, you can follow the progress of the item sent.

You may have several options depending on the item’s status, origin and destination, and mail class. 

For example, you can find the package’s tracking history and see what features and services it includes. 

U.S. Mail Service Priority Mail Domestic Tracking

USPS Priority Mail is a bestselling mail service for domestic shipments delivered in one to three business days, depending on the package’s destination. 

This service includes tracking, insurance, and free packing materials, like boxes and envelopes.

U.S. Mail Service Priority Mail International Tracking

USPS suggests using Priority Mail International when shipping overseas packages weighing more than 4lbs. 

Postage prices begin at $30.35, and this service offers USPS Tracking except for Priority Mail International Flat Rate envelopes and small flat-rate boxes.

U.S. Mail Service Priority Mail Express International Tracking

Priority Mail Express International offers money-back guaranteed, on-time shipping for select locations when mailing time-sensitive items overseas. 

Service costs begin at $54.75 and feature USPS Tracking and insurance.

USPS Certified Mail Receipt Tracking

You can monitor the status of a Certified Mail receipt using the tracking number you received when you handed your mail at the post office. Tracking your mail’s receipt helps ensure that it reaches its destination safely.

U.S. Mail Service First Class Tracking

USPS Tracking is available for FCPS-C (First-Class Package Service-Commercial) and FCPS-R (First-Class Package Service-Retail) mailpieces at no extra charge.

Meanwhile, First-Class Mail postcards, flats, and letters aren’t eligible for USPS Tracking. Still, you can purchase extra services, such as barcode scanning, for these items.

USPS First Class International Tracking

FCPIS, or First-Class Package International Service, is a well-known way to send parcels up to 64oz (4lbs) worth up to $400 globally. This service’s cost depends on parcel weight and destination.

USPS Return Receipt Tracking

You can find your return receipt by mail by entering the necessary information on the USPS website’s tracking section.

How To Track USPS Certified Mail

Go to CertifiedMailLabels.com and click the log-in or sign-up button at the top of the page.

After you log in using your email and password, click “Summary Tracking Report” listed under the “Reports” tab.

Here, you can filter your search based on the search criteria fields or just press the blue search button to view all your USPS Tracking data.

Tracking scans and Signature Reports are updated in your Certified Mail Labels account daily. However, you can access the latest tracking by clicking “Update & Create Report.”

USPS Money Order Tracking

There are different ways to track different money orders. Submit an online form and pay a minimal fee if lost or stolen. You can also visit a local post office.

U.S. Mail Service International Tracking

Unfortunately, USPS First-Class Mail International does not offer tracking services. This mail class also carries no insurance, and the delivery speed varies according to the destination.

U.S. Mail Service Intelligent Mail Barcode or U.S. Mail Service IMB Tracking and Tracing

The Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) is a mailing service for tracking and sorting letters, cards, and flats.

The IMb code has a 65-bar barcode that allows mailers to track mailpieces more efficiently and improve mail stream visibility. 

IMb is also a flexible tool that allows customers to integrate multiple services into one barcode.

What Are USPS Tracking Notifications?

The following sections discuss various USPS tracking notifications to help you understand what a USPS message or status update means. 

What Does “Alert” Mean On My Tracking Status?

“Alert” statuses show up when USPS experiences an uncommon issue during the delivery stages, such as a recipient’s refusal or a problem with the destination address.

What Does “In Transit” Mean in U.S. Mail Service?

This notification means the package is coming to the recipient’s address. “In-transit” indicates that USPS is moving your package or processing it at the post office.

You can find additional tracking information once the package is sent out for delivery. For example, you might get an “Arriving Late” notification indicating a delayed delivery.

What Does “Out For Delivery” Mean in U.S. Mail Service?

 This status means the package has been prepared for delivery at your local post office. Your parcel should arrive at the recipient’s address within the day. 

Note: Not all parcels are transported by the same carrier who delivers your regular mail and might arrive at a different time or later in the day.

What Does “Delivered” Mean in U.S. Mail Service?

A “Delivered” status means your package has arrived at its destination. This notification includes the shipping address, recorded time, and delivery date.

What Does Return to Sender Mean?

Here are three possible explanations for a “Return to Sender” tracking update:

  • Addressee Unknown”: The recipient cannot be found at the address listed on the tracking label.
  • Moved, Left No Address”: The recipient has relocated recently without setting up a forwarding address.
  • No Such Number”: The address details, such as the apartment number, were incorrect or incomplete.

“Inbound Out Of Customs” Meaning

Foreign shipments must undergo U.S. customs clearance. If you’re expecting a package from abroad, you may receive an “Inbound Out of Customs” tracking alert.

This status update could mean the package has passed the U.S. customs clearance process and is now with USPS. 

The next step is for USPS to dispatch the package closer to the recipient’s address to complete the delivery.

Other Tracking Statuses

Here are tracking messages that customers may receive depending on the item’s progress:

  • Delivery or Delivery Attempted
    • Delivered
    • No Such Number
    • No Access to Delivery Location
    • Reminder to Schedule Redelivery of Your Item
    • Notice Left (No Authorized Recipient Available)
    • Redelivery Scheduled
    • Insufficient Address
    • Notice Left (No Secure Location Available)
  • Out for Delivery
    • Out for Delivery
    • Awaiting Delivery Scan
    • Available for Pickup
    • Delivery Status Not Updated
    • Held at Post Office, At Customer Request
  • Moving Through Network
    • In Transit
    • Arrived at USPS Facility
    • Forwarded
    • Departed USPS Facility
    • Forwarded Processed

How Long Does It Take for U.S. Mail Service to Show Tracking Information?

USPS Tracking typically starts when the customer or USPS shipping partner informs USPS to expect a package. However, you can expect a status update within 24 to 48 hours.

USPS publishes the item’s scanning details as soon as scans are available. The scan-then-update process continues until the package is picked up or delivered.

What Are the Reasons Behind Tracking Not Updating?

Here are four different reasons why USPS Tracking does not update:

  • The package is not scanned: Your item’s tracking information reflects shipping updates based on barcode scans. 

However, USPS workers may have forgotten to scan the barcode. This failure to review and record may explain why your package’s status remains unchanged.

Sometimes, shipments go through multiple facilities and are scanned many times before they reach their final destination. With more stops, your item is less likely to be reviewed.

  • Delayed courier: The carrier may be experiencing delay-causing concerns, resulting in scans taking longer than expected. This delay may result in your package’s tracking information not updating.
  • The barcode is broken or unscannable: A broken barcode can appear unreadable to the scanner.
  • Weather situations are unfavorable: Inclement weather can cause shipment delays, which could explain why your tracker isn’t updating. 

For example, the plane carrying your package may have been stranded due to bad weather.

I’ve Received My Packages, but Still, U.S. Mail Service Tracking Is Not Updating

After a post office employee scans your package, the tracking system may take up to 24 hours to reflect the change.

Just ensure that the tracking number you provided is accurate. You might be unable to view your package’s tracking information if you entered the incorrect tracking number on the USPS Tracking page.

U.S. Mail Service Delayed Mail and Packages

When your mail or package is redirected or delayed, USPS offers several ways to track the item’s status in the mail stream.

For instance, USPS’ delivery standards specify how many days you must wait before contacting USPS to report a delayed delivery.

USPS’ mail volume changes daily, so the organization cannot consistently deliver on schedule. 

Still, USPS is committed to completing all shipments by 5:00 PM (local time) from Monday to Saturday unless delivery is slow or adverse weather, heavy traffic, or emergencies occur.

U.S. Mail Service Package Not Moving for a Week, a Month, or Stopped

USPS can temporarily experience a surge in deliveries. Some parcels may take longer to process than others, despite the company’s efforts to process packages quickly.

A non-updating tracking status could also mean that the transport vehicle carrying your parcel broke down or was delayed due to unforeseen events.

My Package Shipped by U.S. Mail Service Shows No Tracking Information

Some mailing services don’t offer tracking features, even though USPS offers delivery confirmation. So, some products shipped via USPS provide little or no tracking information.

My Tracking Number Doesn’t Work, What Should I Do?

Before the invention of the internet, people had no way of knowing anything regarding their packages while in transit.

Today, most shipping companies can update customers about an item’s delivery status via a tracking code.

But what if you entered the tracking number only to receive an error notification or no updates?

While this scenario can be distressing, there are typical explanations and steps to address the problem based on the carrier:

USPS

As shown above, USPS tracking numbers typically only work after their first scan. 

Suppose you still don’t see any delivery notification days after you shipped the package. In that case, you can contact the local post office for assistance.

FedEx

FedEx updates shipment details once it receives the package. 

Say you used your tracking number or reference I.D. (identification) but don’t see any delivery update. Your package is likely at the shipper’s original location.

FedEx will keep you informed after its representatives pick the package up until it arrives at your door.

Other reasons for the FedEx tracking number not working include input errors, system delays, and technical glitches.

Recheck the code, wait a while, or consult FedEx customer service for help.

UPS

Likewise, UPS tracking numbers may experience activation delays. You might have to wait 24 hours after you handed the package before seeing any information regarding your shipment. 

Tracking Tips

Here are seven tips for tracking your package:

  1. Duplicate your USPS tracking number and keep a copy safe. You can print the tracking I.D. (identification) from the USPS website or your confirmation email for future reference.
  2. Use a printer that prints small text, like a laser or inkjet print. Print on plain white paper without a background via a regular inkjet printer.
  3. Track packages by providing the recipient’s address on the USPS website or calling 1-800-ASK-USPS.
  4. You can keep your shipment in its original box. However, remove anything likely to damage the tracking number (like scissors) or any material that could reveal its contents.

Pencils and pens might stain your parcel’s label, so keep these items away from the tracking label.

  1. Wait some time before sending a replacement item for stolen or lost goods. 

When unsure if your item was stolen or lost, call 1-800-ASK-USPS and request an investigation.

  1. If your mail or package has been marked as “Delivered” but still hasn’t arrived, contact USPS immediately and submit a report.
  2. Use an expedited delivery option to receive your package faster than regular mail. Note that there might be no tracking info for these services.

What Is the U.S. Postal Service?

USPS is the only agency with a delivery service that can reach every location in the U.S. The organization does not collect tax dollars for operating costs. It relies on the sale of postage, services, and products to fund its operations.

USPS prides itself on having more than 33,000 retail sites and one of the most frequently visited federal government websites (USPS.com). 

Additionally, USPS handles 44% of the world’s mail, giving the organization a $78.8 billion annual operating revenue in 2022.

Lastly, USPS manages over 630,000 employees, making it one of the country’s largest employers.

Priority Mail vs. Priority Mail Express

These two USPS shipping options offer expedited delivery. However, they differ regarding costs, features, and delivery timeframes.

The following sections summarize the distinctions to help you decide which mailing service meets your needs.

USPS Priority Mail

This USPS service offers fast and reliable shipping. Priority Mail provides no-cost package pickup at your location, offers tracking, and covers up to $100 of insurance for most shipments. Its service label includes fields for outgoing and return addresses.

Priority Mail Express

This premium USPS service guarantees domestic delivery in one to two business days, providing an excellent solution for urgent shipments.

With Flat Rate Envelopes, you can send more packages, including those weighing up to 70lbs. You can buy a Priority Mail Express postage and label online or at a post office. As of 2023, prices start at $28.75.

U.S. Mail Service Priority Mail International Standard and Express Service

Priority Mail International and Priority Mail Express International allow customers to get updates regarding the delivery progress of their Priority Mail parcel for overseas shipments, even as the package moves across national borders.

These services allow customers to ship parcels to around 180 countries, including Australia, Mexico, and Canada.

Priority Mail Express International and Priority Mail International let users track packages or mail for most destinations. 

However, this tracking option is unavailable for Priority Mail International shipments using flat-rate envelopes or small boxes.

The estimated delivery time for Priority Mail International is 6 to 10 business days. In contrast, Priority Mail Express International shipping may take three to five business days.

U.S. Mail Service Global Express Guaranteed

The GXG, or Global Express Guaranteed service, is an international expedited delivery service USPS offers in collaboration with FedEx (Federal Express). 

GXG is available at over 16,000 participating retail stores throughout the U.S.

First-Class Mail vs. First-Class Package Service

USPS can ship letters, postcards, and large envelopes via its First Class Mail service. This option delivers in one to five business days for items weighing up to 13 ounces.

In contrast, First Class Package Service is USPS’ lowest-cost option for small packages weighing 15.99 ounces or less. 

With its fast delivery within three days, this mail class is a USPS shipping method often used to send time-sensitive material by the finance and pharmaceutical industries.

USPS Certified Mail

This mailing service allows senders to get a mailing receipt as proof of shipping. Certified Mail requires the recipient’s signature upon delivery. 

Customers can also pair it with the Return Receipt Service, providing them with a copy of the recipient’s signature through the mail or online.

Say you want to verify delivery information. You can do so via the following ways:

  • Inputting the Certified Mail service number on the USPS website (USPS.com)
  • Calling USPS via phone with the Certified Mail service number
  • Through a bulk electronic file transfer (for bulk senders who submit an electronic manifest to USPS)

Furthermore, Certified Mail offers enhanced delivery features, ensuring shipment only to the addressee or their authorized representative.

Certified Mail Costs Plus Postage Rate and Other Fees

The fee for Certified Mail depends on the delivery destination, item type, and extra services. 

For instance, Certified Mail costs for retail letters start at $3.35. Added features like restricted delivery or return receipts can affect the overall cost.

U.S. Mail Service Business Solutions

USPS enables business partnership opportunities by providing the following shipping services:

  • Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM)
  • Shipping best practices
  • Package pickup and drop-off
  • Pricing calculator
  • Shipping services, like Click-N-Ship
  • Postal exporter
  • Marketing campaigns

U.S. Mail Service Parcel Select Ground

USPS offers Parcel Select Ground, an economical delivery service for bulky shipments. 

Customers who opt for this mail class can ship packages weighing up to 70lbs. Rates differ according to a mailpiece’s weight, dimensions, and delivery proximity.

USPS International Service Options

USPS offers various options for customers to ship international packages:

  • Fastest delivery speed
    • Global Express Guaranteed
    • Priority Mail Express International
  • Affordable options
    • Priority Mail International
    • First-Class Package International Service
  • Printed materials only or best for documents
    • First-Class Mail International
    • Airmail M-Bags

How Does U.S. Mail Service Premium Tracking Work?

USPS Tracking Plus grants extended access to your tracking history for 6 months to 10 years. USPS Tracking Plus also provides emailed tracking statements.

Sending USPS Packages

You now know USPS offers tracking tools for specific mailing services. Still, you should know the crucial guidelines for shipping with USPS. The following sections discuss what you can and can’t send with USPS.

What Can You Send With USPS?

You can send anything from letters to large items with USPS, provided you follow the shipping carrier’s guidelines.

Remember the following factors when shipping with USPS:

  • Some products are prohibited (completely forbidden).
  • Some mail items are restricted (allowed under specific conditions).
  • HAZMAT (hazardous materials) might be banned or restricted.

What Can’t You Send With USPS?

You can’t send these items in the U.S. mail:

  • Air Bags
  • Ammunition
  • Liquid Mercury
  • Marijuana (medical or otherwise)
  • Hemp (cannabidiol, a compound found in marijuana, is allowed but restricted)
  • Explosives
  • Gasoline

How Do You Get Your Package With U.S. Mail Service Delivered?

Below are eight steps to take when shipping USPS mail or packages:

  1. Choose the ideal box for your items.
  2. Ensure safe packaging.
  3. Address the package using DIY (do-it-yourself) or handwritten labels or those generated online.
  4. Bring your parcel to a post office for weighing.
  5. Select a USPS service.
  6. Apply postage to the package.
  7. Hand off the parcel to a USPS representative.
  8. Track your shipment.

How Do I Send USPS Packages Under the EU IOSS Import System?

The Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) was created as an optional program to facilitate and simplify the declaration and payment of the value-added tax (VAT) for goods sold from a distance by sellers from either the European Union (EU) or from a non-EU country or territory.

USPS IOSS Number Registration

The IOSS VAT Identification Number contains 12 alphanumeric characters in the following format of IMxxxyyyyyyz:

  • The “xxx” represents the 3-digit ISO numeric code of the Member State of identification.
  • The “yyyyyy” represents the 6-digit number assigned by the Member State.
  • The “z” is a check digit.

How Long Does a USPS Package Take to Deliver?

The estimated delivery time of USPS mail or package depends on the mailing service you choose.

U.S. Mail Service Expected Delivery Window

When you view your parcel’s progress, the USPS tracking system may show Expected Delivery Window (ExDW). This window is a two-hour period during which you can expect your parcel or mail to arrive.

U.S. Mail Service Priority International Delivery Times

USPS delivers Priority Mail International items within 6 to 10 days. This product provides insurance coverage of up to $100 for nonnegotiable documents or $200 for particular merchandise.

U.S. Mail Service Parcel Select Delivery Time

Understanding the delivery times of USPS Parcel Select Ground is crucial for ground shipments. 

As mentioned, Parcel Select shipments usually take two to eight days. Suppose you send a package to a remote area like Hawaii or Alaska. In that case, your delivery time is likely to be longer.

U.S. Mail Service Delivery Hours

USPS’ policy is to deliver mail and packages by 5:00 PM (local time) from Monday to Saturday. 

However, since the delivery company does not guarantee delivery times, packages may reach their destinations after 5:00 PM.

U.S. Mail Service Sunday Delivery and Saturday Delivery Hours

USPS delivers on weekends for some mail classes or services. However, schedules differ depending on the sender’s location and the recipient’s address.

Does U.S. Mail Service Deliver on Saturdays?

USPS ships on Saturdays, with estimated delivery times varying according to the parcel’s intended location.

Postal employees’ Saturday shifts follow the same pattern as their Monday-to-Friday routine. They deliver packages between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM for every delivery service.

Does U.S. Mail Service Deliver on Sundays?

Yes, depending on the mail class and the metro area you live in, the U.S. Postal Service delivers packages on Sundays. 

If you pay extra, USPS delivers on Sundays for the following mailing services:

  • Priority Mail Express (pay an additional fee of $12.50)
  • Priority Mail (for large metro areas only)
  • First Class Package Service (for large metros only)

3 Tips for Packing Boxes Safely

One of the most frustrating situations in life is eagerly awaiting a parcel, only to find the item inside broken upon arrival.

Imagine buying an awesome decor piece from Amazon, counting the days until delivery, and finding out it broke in transit.

Ensuring items are packaged securely is essential to prevent such mishaps. Below are three tips for packing boxes safely so they arrive intact at their destination.

Save Money by Fitting Your Items to the Size of the Box

You should determine if your item fits optimally inside the box. USPS mailing costs vary depending on package weight, size, and shipping address. 

It helps to measure your parcel, ensuring it meets USPS size standards. 

Suppose you give inaccurate dimensions and don’t pay the DIM (dimensional) weight rate (when it applies). In that case, you usually pay a dimension-noncompliance fee.

For Priority Mail, you will pay extra for sending a nonstandard size item if your parcel has the following measurements:

  • 22 and 30 inches long: Add $4
  • Over 30 inches long: Add $15
  • Over 3,456 cubic inches (2 cubic feet): Add $25

Prevent Loss, Pack Everything Well

Losing an item from the mail is one of the most frustrating things in life. It can be costly for the sender and annoying for the recipient.

Here are some tips to ensure this scenario doesn’t happen:

  1. Use a sturdy box to protect the items inside. 
  2. Pack fragile items with cushioning. Use affordable items, like bubble wrap, newspapers, or old T-shirt materials, as cushions.
  3. If you’re recycling an old box, remove the old logos, shipping labels, or address information you used before.
  4. Seal the box and ensure its flat on all sides. Remember to reinforce the closed flaps once you’re done.
  5. Print the USPS peel-off shipping label or write the addresses with a permanent marker. 

Put the return address in the top-left corner and the delivery address at the center of your package.

Ask for Help to Calculate Costs

Many people make mistakes regarding the service type they need and how to calculate the costs.

Visit a post office for specific suggestions regarding your desired service, depending on how soon you need the mailing service and the item’s size and weight).

The staff at the post office will calculate your postage and deliver your package.

Letters and Cards

Whether an official document or a handwritten note, a letter or a card holds sentimental and professional value.  

Ensuring these items reach their destination safely is just as crucial as shipping parcels. So check if they’re appropriately sealed and addressed to avoid mishaps. 

If the contents are highly valuable, consider using a padded envelope or tracking service as an extra precaution.

How Do I Contact USPS Tracking Customer Service?

You can contact the USPS Customer Care Center via the following channels:

USPS Tracking Phone Number

 If you want to speak with a USPS representative regarding an issue with your package, call USPS at 1-800-222-1811.

How to Find a USPS Post Office With Find Post Office

You can search nearby post offices using FindPostOffice.org’s free and comprehensive search tool.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How can I track regular mail without using a tracking number?

USPS cannot track your mailpiece without its tracking number. So, remember to keep your retail receipt.

  1. Where is my USPS package?

You can learn your package’s whereabouts by providing its tracking I.D. in the USPS Tracking page’s search bar.

  1. How do I track a USPS international mail or package?

You can monitor USPS international shipments via a USPS tracking number:

  • Global Express Guaranteed: Tracking to every location
  • First‑Class Package International Service: Tracking for most destinations 
  • Priority Mail International: Tracking for most locations (unavailable for flat-rate envelopes or small boxes)
  • Priority Mail Express International: Tracking for most addresses
  1. Has USPS changed international services on its packages?

USPS changed international service options, which you should note if you want to know which option is ideal.

For instance, USPS changed Airmail to First-Class Mail International. This mail type covers small parcels weighing up to four pounds (4lbs) or 1.8 kilograms.

  1. Do USPS packages use subcontractors for their international packages?

USPS usually works with subcontractors when delivering parcels to overseas locations. 

USPS might partner with subcontractors based on the following factors:

  • Shipping route
  • Package’s size and weight
  • Customs requirement

Subcontractors handling your USPS parcels may implement different procedures at various points of the delivery progress.

In such cases, USPS Tracking may not always update tracking info regarding your mailpiece’s latest location.

USPS also encourages supplier diversity and development among prime suppliers through the courier’s subcontracting policy that caters to small, minority, and women-owned businesses (SMWOBs).

  1. When will my mail or letter carrier arrive?

As shown above, the answer to this question depends on the following factors:

  • The distance between the sender and recipient’s addresses
  • The mailing service you purchased
  • External factors, like mail volume, weather conditions, and the destination’s socio-political environment 
  1. How do you get free USPS shipping?

You cannot get free USPS shipping services. But you can get free USPS shipping supplies here.

  1. What is U.S. Mail Service First Class Package International?

FCPIS, or First-Class Package International Service, is a well-known way to send parcels up to 64oz (4lbs) worth up to $400 globally. This service’s cost depends on parcel weight and destination.

  1. Does USPS ever make a mistake while shipping a package?

Yes. Like other couriers, USPS may make mistakes during the delivery process. 

  1. How do I complain about my USPS package shipment?

You can file a complaint about problems with your mail service online, via phone, or in person at a USPS facility.

  1. Why is my USPS tracking number not updating?

Again, there are several reasons why your USPS tracking scan may not update. Tracking info might not be available for a newly shipped package or if USPS hasn’t scanned it yet. 

If your package hasn’t been updated in a few days, there could be a scan issue or a temporary misplacement. 

  1. How long does Priority Mail take?

The mail delivery period for Priority Mail changes, but it usually takes one to three business days for local shipments.

  1. What can I do if my mailpiece hasn’t been delivered?

Suppose you think your mail or package is lost or delayed. In that case, follow these steps to help USPS find your mail:

  • Check USPS Tracking to see your mail’s current status.
  • Complete USPS’ online help request form before you file for a missing mail search.
  • Say seven business days have passed since you completed your online help request form, and your package or mail hasn’t arrived. In that case, send a Missing Mail search request to USPS.
  1. How long does First Class Mail take?

The delivery time for First Class Mail can vary depending on several factors. Typically, it takes one to five business days for domestic delivery. 

Still, it’s important to note that various variables, such as location and service options, may influence specific timeframes. 

If you need faster shipping, consider using services like, FedEx (Federal Express), DHL (Dalsey, Hillblom and Lynn), or expedited shipping options through eBay. 

For slower, cost-effective options, you might want alternatives such as Retail Ground shipping.

  1.  How long does it take for an international First Class Mail to arrive?

This international mail service generally takes 7 to 21 days to arrive, although the USPS does not guarantee delivery times or dates. Mail may travel to its destination by air, ground,  or a combination of both. 

  1. What is U.S. Mail Service Informed Delivery?

“Informed Delivery” is a no-cost and optional notification feature allowing business, residential, and eligible P.O. Box users to preview their letter-sized mail and monitor their upcoming deliveries digitally.

This service allows USPS customers to view what’s coming to their mailbox anytime, anywhere – even while on the move – on a tablet, computer, or mobile device.

You may be eligible for Informed Delivery if you have any of the following addresses:

  • Residential address
  • Business address
  • P.O. Box address in a qualified ZIP code
  1. Where is the tracking number on the U.S. Mail Service receipt?

Look at your sales receipt. The tracking number is usually printed on the top right corner of your USPS sales receipt.

  1. What does customs do?

Customs agencies impose duties, fees, or taxes on shipments from one country to another. 

Each country has customs policies. So, costs vary based on the items, origin, and destination countries.

  1. Does the customs clearance process work?

Customs representatives examine every item arriving in the country and collect additional fees if necessary. 

Specifying the exact contents of your shipment will help ensure your shipment clears customs smoothly.

  1. What do I do if my U.S. Mail Service package is lost or stolen?

You can do the following for late or lost shipments or missing mail for seven days or more:

  • Check USPS.com for more details (read Find Missing Mail).
  • File a claim for insured merchandise within the prescribed timeframe.
  • Go to your local post office to get help with missing mail.

File a request for the lost mail search at MissingMail.USPS.com.

References

  1. USPS Tracking®
    https://tools.usps.com/go/TrackConfirmAction_input
  2. Where do I find my tracking number
    https://tools.usps.com/go/TrackConfirmAction_input
  3. Parcel Select
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Parcel-Select
  4. Mail & Shipping Services
    https://www.usps.com/ship/mail-shipping-services.htm
  5. International Mail & Shipping Services
    https://www.usps.com/international/mail-shipping-services.htm
  6. Intelligent Mail® Barcode
    https://postalpro.usps.com/mailing/intelligent-mail-barcode
  7. Priority Mail Address Label
    https://store.usps.com/store/product/shipping-supplies/priority-mail-address-label-P_LABEL_228
  8. Priority Mail Express
    https://pe.usps.com/businessmail101?ViewName=PriorityMailExpress
  9. Priority Mail International
    https://www.usps.com/international/priority-mail-international.htm
  10. Make sure USPS international tracking is available for your package.
    https://www.stamps.com/usps/international-package-tracking
  11. Global Express Guaranteed® Service Guide
    https://about.usps.com/publications/pub141.pdf
  12. How to Do Business with USPS®
    https://www.usps.com/c360/images/business/SMB_Onboarding_DIGITAL.pdf
  13. Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS)
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Import-One-Stop-Shop-IOSS#
  14. What is USPS Tracking®?
    https://faq.usps.com/articles/Knowledge/USPS-Tracking-The-Basics
  15. Priority Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail.htm
  16. Subcontract Management
    https://about.usps.com/suppliers-diversity/subcontracting.htm
  17. File a U.S. Postal Service complaint
    https://www.usa.gov/postal-service-complaints
  18. First Class Package International Service
    https://www.stamps.com/usps/first-class-international/
  19. Informed Delivery® – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Informed-Delivery-The-Basics
  20. Understanding Customs
    https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/international-tools-resources/understanding-customs.page
  21. Missing Mail
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Missing-Mail-The-Basic