How Long Does USPS Hold Packages?

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March 22, 2024

You’re about to embark on your first extended vacation in months when you remember your deliveries. However, you remember that the United States Postal Service temporarily holds your packages when undelivered, which can solve your problem. 

So, how long does USPS hold packages in a post office while you take time in your travels away from home? 

This article explains the USPS Hold Mail service and how it works. It also shows how long post offices hold undelivered packages due to failed delivery attempts and those placed on the Hold Mail service.

Furthermore, this write-up explains the delivery attempts made by USPS when items are shipped to addresses with no one to receive them. 

If you need access to contact information for over 31,330 post offices in the country, visit FindPostOffice.org. Our website can help get the address of any local post office location. 

What Is the USPS Hold Period?

The post office takes custody of a mail or package during a holding period. There are two reasons why a package is held in a postal facility. 

The first is because of a failed delivery attempt, and the second is because the customer requested the post office to hold their mail via the USPS Hold Mail service. 

The USPS Hold Mail service is a parcel management service provided by a local post office to hold a customer’s incoming packages for safekeeping. 

The time a package is kept safe by the post office is called the hold period, which lasts up to 30 days or until the customer picks up the mailpieces in person. 

Why Does USPS Have a Hold Period?

The U.S. Postal Service provides a hold period to give time for you to pick up your packages after a failed delivery or a hold request. Once you’ve returned home from traveling or a temporary relocation, you can pick up your package in person anytime. 

Imagine you’re on a long trip with magazine subscriptions and orders that ship packages to you regularly. It would be nice to ask someone to take care of the accumulating packages left on your porch. 

Through the USPS Hold Mail service, you can ask the local post office to take care of your packages while you’re away. 

Why Does USPS Hold Undelivered Packages?

There are many reasons for undelivered packages. The post office doesn’t simply discard a parcel if the carrier can’t deliver it on the first attempt. 

The local post office “holds” these undelivered packages for a second attempt. The mail carriers will do everything they can to deliver these packages. 

Once postal employees have exhausted all possible ways to deliver a package successfully and it’s still undeliverable, it’s returned to the sender. 

USPS Hold Mail – The Basics

You can ask your local post office to hold your mail for up to 30 days. USPS calls this service Hold Mail, and many find it more convenient than leaving their packages unattended on their front porch.  

You can request a Hold Mail service up to 30 days in advance. You only need to visit the USPS website and log in to your account. 

Once you’ve requested a Hold Mail service, its effectiveness starts at 3:00 AM Eastern time, 2:00 AM Central time, or 12:00 AM Pacific time. You can file a request from Mondays through Saturdays. 

The Hold Mail service is a convenient way to safeguard your packages while you’re not home, on vacation, or have temporarily relocated but don’t need a change of address. 

Stop Mail Delivery Online

USPS allows a pause in the deliveries to your address whenever you request it. You only need to submit a Hold Mail request, and the post office will do the rest. 

USPS Hold Mail Customer Verification

One aspect that needs verification is whether the person requesting the mail hold is the actual resident of the address. This verification can only be done through the safety checks that USPS sets to protect against identity theft and fraud. 

Improved Online Security

USPS is concerned with the safety of people using its service. Because of this, anyone wanting to request USPS services like Hold Mail must sign in to their USPS.com account. This requirement verifies the customer’s identity so they can submit a request to hold their mail. 

New USPS Hold Mail Requests

When you need to have your mail item put on hold at your nearest post office, you can do the following:

  1. Create a USPS.com account or sign in if you already have one.
  2. Follow the verification steps instructed on the USPS Hold Mail page.
  3. After the identity verification, you can log into your account without further identification checks. 

Identity Verification Through Informed Delivery

You can also verify your identity by signing up for USPS Informed Delivery. This free service shows the customers a preview of their package’s images before it gets delivered to their doorstep. 

Informed Delivery can verify your identity, which is needed to request a Hold Mail service. Once you’ve completed this verification, you don’t need to repeat this step.

How Can You Find Out if Your Package Is Being Held?

One perk that you can enjoy when you’ve signed up for Informed Delivery is that you’ll find out where your packages are held. Your local post office will notify you that they have received your package. 

What’s great with Informed Delivery is that you can get visual confirmation through photos that your package is at the post office. 

What to Do if USPS Is Holding Your Package?

When you’ve signed up for the USPS Hold Mail service, you can leave your packages under the post office’s care for up to 30 days. However, you can pick up your packages any time you want.  

You can also have all your held mail delivered to your address once you’re home. All you have to do is inform the post office that you want the mail shipped and wait for the arrival of your items. 

How Do You Know Where Your USPS Package Is Being Held?

Aside from the Informed Delivery service, you can use the tracking system to know the location of your package. USPS Tracking is a system used by the Postal Service to provide customers with a way to monitor the progress of their shipments. 

USPS Tracking provides end-to-end package tracking available mostly for applicable domestic mail addresses to addresses within the United States. Aside from this, the tracking service also covers packages sent to military installations inside the country or abroad. 

You get a tracking number when you use a mailing option with a tracking service. Note that First-Class Mail doesn’t have a tracking service; thus, you won’t get a tracking number to monitor your mailpieces. 

What Happens if You Do Not Pick Up Your Package?

USPS holds undelivered packages for a definite period. Once it exceeds the allotted time, the post office returns the package to the sender via the indicated return address. 

However, a hold period depends on the mailing service used or requested. 

  • If no one picks the item up within five days (three days for USPS Priority Mail Express), the postal worker, specifically the mail or letter carrier, makes a second notification attempt. 
  • If no one claims the item within 15 days (five days for Priority Mail Express), then it’s returned to its sender. 
  • If the customer requests a Hold Mail service, their packages are held in a post office for up to 30 days. 
  • If the hold mail period expires, the post office will give the customer another 10 days as a grace period. 
  • If, after 10 days, no one claims the package, then the items are returned to the sender.

What if Someone Else Picks Up Your Package?

USPS doesn’t casually release packages to any claimant without the necessary identification proof. However, anyone can pick up another person’s package, provided the recipient authorizes them. 

You can authorize another person by providing written permission to the local post office. The authorized representative must present any acceptable identification document when claiming or receiving a package.

How Long Does USPS Hold Packages for a P.O. Box?

Packages are held in a P.O. box as long as the customer purchases its service. USPS P.O. Box is a premium service with a rental fee for 3-, 6-, and 12-month increments. 

The P.O. (Post Office) Box is a lockable receptacle provided by your local post office where you can direct all packages intended for you. Instead of using your actual address to receive mail, you can use a P.O. box as an alternative address to keep your address private. 

How to Check the Status of a Package

You can check your package’s status by using the USPS Tracking service. When you purchase a mailing option with tracking services, you can monitor your package using the tracking system.

What to Do if Your Package Is Late

There are many reasons why your package isn’t shipped on time. Here are some tips when your delivery is taking longer than expected.

  • Contact the sender or merchant that shipped your package. They may know the reason for the delay, which can be on their end. 
  • Consider the weather. Some deliveries get bogged down by inclement weather and disasters. If the weather is bad, allow a few days for the delivery to complete before filing a complaint. 
  • Recheck your tracking number and check for any updates about your package’s status.
  • Contact USPS customer service by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS.
  • File a mail search request if all previous steps fail to locate your package.

How Do You Pick Up a USPS Package?

When you finally come home and want to pick up your packages at your local post office, it’s quite simple. 

  • Ensure that you bring your PS Form 3849 (delivery notice).
  • Bring valid photo identification or a passport or driver’s license.

The postal workers will check your documents, photo, and signature; if all match, the packages will be released to you.

Can USPS Hold Mail for More Than 15 Days?

Yes, USPS Hold Mail is a service that allows packages to be kept safe in the post office for more than 15 business days. This service holds a customer’s mail or parcel for up to 30 days. 

On Packages That Require the Recipient’s Signature

USPS Signature Confirmation is an additional service that requires the recipient to provide their signature before a package is released during delivery. 

If your package requires the recipient’s signature, it’s not necessary to fill out P.S. Form 3849. 

You may have to request redelivery to have your package shipped to you after being held after a failed delivery attempt. 

However, you can also head to your local post office and pick up your package in person. 

The post office will hold your undelivered mail for up to 15 days. If the mail isn’t claimed within 15 days, the mail is returned to the sender. Meanwhile, packages with illegible return addresses are sent to the lost mail department. 

If you need a handy website to search for the nearest post office in your area, visit FindPostOffice.org. You can get updated contact information for over 31,330 post offices in the country. 

USPS Failed Delivery or Return to Sender – Timeframe

In the event of a failed delivery attempt, USPS will make one to two attempts to ship the mail to your address. 

If the delivery isn’t successful, the packages will be held for up to 15 days since the initial delivery attempt. If no one claims the parcel after this grace period, it is returned to the sender.

Essential Information About UPS and USPS

UPS (United Parcel Service) is one of the major shipping providers in the United States. It was founded in 1907 and provides domestic and international shipping services for millions of people. In 2022, UPS earned $83.9 billion for Global Small Package Operations and $16.4 billion for Supply Chain Solutions. 

USPS was established in 1792 and is an independent agency of the U.S. government’s executive branch. USPS, or the Postal Service, needs to operate with a business model to compete with other carrier companies like UPS, DHL (Dalsey Hillblom Lynn), and FedEx (Federal Express). Compared to UPS, the Postal Service reported revenue of $78.5 billion in 2022. 

Tips for Shipping With USPS

Here are some tips you can consider when shipping packages with USPS. 

  • It’s best to use a mail option that has tracking. For instance, Certified Mail has tracking, while Registered Mail does not. 
  • Package your items securely to avoid shipping delays.
  • Ensure that the mailing address you write is accurate. Always include the P.O. box number if you’re shipping to a P.O. box.
  • If shipping abroad, learn the customs and regulations imposed on a

specific country. 

  • Pay for insurance if your package is valuable. 
  • Take advantage of the free packaging supplies offered by USPS. You can order them online and have them shipped to your home. 
  • You can request USPS to pick up your packages at your home.

If you need a helpful website with a vast database of post offices in the country, visit FindPostOffice.org. Our website provides access to updated contact information of over 31,330 post offices and USPS retail facilities in the United States. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How long does USPS hold a package before returning it to the sender?

USPS holds undelivered mail with extra services of up to 15 days. Meanwhile, packages under the Hold Mail service are usually held for 30 days, with a grace period of 10 days. 

2. How long does a package stay in retention?

It depends on the mailing service purchased. For instance, USPS holds undelivered Certified Mail for up to 15 days. 

3. What are the second and final notice and return dates for redelivery?

Here is a table of some popular USPS mailing options that you can refer to when you need a guide on the dates for the second and final notice and the redelivery date. 

ServiceSecond or Final NoticeReturn Dates
Certified MailFive days after the first notice15 days after the initial delivery attempt 
Priority MailFive days after the first notice15 days after the initial delivery attempt 
Priority Mail ExpressThree days after the first noticeFive days after the initial delivery attempt 
Registered MailFive days after the first notice15 days after the initial delivery attempt 

References

  1. USPS Hold Mail Service
    https://www.usps.com/manage/hold-mail.htm
  2. Informed Delivery by USPS
    https://www.usps.com/manage/informed-delivery.htm
  3. USPS Tracking® – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Tracking-The-Basics
  4. Types of First-Class Mail
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-6EeISXBBsWVJcwtLsFspE4kAqZj-Ky0gcaw2HpF-94/edit
  5. PO Box™ – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/PO-Box-The-Basics
  6. What are the Second and Final Notice and Return Dates for Redelivery?
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/What-are-the-Second-and-Final-Notice-and-Return-Dates-for-Redelivery

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