USPS Envelope Tracking

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March 11, 2024

In 1888, the Albany post office had an interesting visitor— a terrier. Owney, as he was called, became so attached to the post office that he would only let postal workers touch him.

To honor this beloved pooch, the United States Postal Service (USPS) made him its unofficial mascot and immortalized him with a commemorative stamp in 2011.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about terriers: they love to track. And like a match made in heaven, USPS offers various tracking services that allow mailers to monitor their letters’ and envelopes’ journey from the time of mailing to their arrival at their intended destinations.

This article explores the Postal Service’s monitoring solutions, shedding light on everything from tracking numbers and barcode technology to the various mail delivery services that come with tracking options.

Are you wondering how you can keep an eye on your envelope shipments as they make their way through the postal system? Visit the U.S. Postal Service website at USPS.com.

Alternatively, you can talk to a retail associate at your local post office. Find your area’s nearest USPS facilities with FindPostOffice.org’s post office search tool.

Can You Track an Envelope Through USPS?

The short answer to the question, “Can you track an envelope through USPS?” is yes. However, there are nuances to this answer that you must understand.

For one, what envelope type did you mail through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS)? The envelope guidelines, including size and weight, can vary depending on the USPS shipping service.

For instance, USPS requires that large envelopes must be at least 6 ⅛” tall, 11 ½” long, and ¼” thick but must not exceed dimensions of 12” tall, 15” long, ¾” thick, and 13oz in weight to qualify for its First-Class Mail service.

Second, what delivery option did you choose to send your envelope? If your envelope doesn’t meet the requirements of one service, it may still be eligible for another.

The Postal Service’s Priority Mail and Media Mail options, for example, automatically include tracking at no additional cost. Unfortunately, First-Class Mail, Marketing Mail, and some international shipping options don’t.

While you can purchase extra services to get tracking information, including delivery status and location, for envelopes sent via these tracking-ineligible options, you won’t receive the same end-to-end monitoring feature.

In short, you can track an envelope through the Postal Service, provided that you meet your chosen mail delivery solution’s guidelines, and that option includes USPS Tracking.

How Do You Track an Envelope for Shipping?

When you ship an envelope via the U.S. Postal Service, you’ll receive a USPS Tracking number. This unique identifier allows you to monitor your mailpiece as it progresses through USPS’ mailing network.

To determine your parcel’s whereabouts, visit the USPS website at USPS.com, look for the “Search or Track Packages” section, and enter the tracking number in the provided field.

You can also receive your envelope’s tracking information, such as location and delivery status, by calling 1-800-222-1811 or texting the tracking number to 28777 (2USPS).

If you prefer a more traditional approach to finding your mail item’s location, you can talk to a Postal Service representative at your local post office. Use FindPostOffice.org’s USPS facility search tool to find your area’s most convenient ones.

USPS Letter Tracking

You generally have two options to mail letters via USPS: First-Class Mail and Marketing Mail. The former is the go-to option for individual mailers, while the latter is for commercial letters.

Unfortunately, neither option includes USPS Tracking. You must buy add-on services like Certified Mail or Registered Mail to receive tracking information for these mail classes.

U.S. Mail Service Tracking

As its name implies, USPS Tracking is a USPS service that lets you track your mailpieces throughout their transit. This service offers end-to-end monitoring for most domestic-bound parcels.

USPS is also known as the U.S. Mail service. It offers USPS Tracking, also available for items heading to the Army or Air Force Post Offices (APO), Fleet Post Offices (FPO), Diplomatic Post Offices (DPO), and ZIP codes in U.S. territories and Freely Associated States.

In other words, it lets you keep an eye on your packages from when a Postal Service facility, such as a post office, accepts them up to their arrival at their intended destination.

Delivery Confirmation Is Now Called USPS Tracking

In January 2013, the U.S. Postal Service made an official change that impacted how customers tracked their postcards, letters, envelopes, and packages. This modification involved renaming its Delivery Confirmation service to what is now referred to as USPS Tracking.

While the name amendment may have seemed insignificant, it reflected USPS’ commitment to providing the comprehensive monitoring services most mailers benefit from today.

U.S. Mail Service International Tracking

As mentioned, USPS Tracking is unavailable for several mailing solutions, including First-Class Mail and some international package shipping options. In these situations, you must buy tracking information as an add-on service.

About the U.S. Mail Service

The U.S. Mail service, more commonly known as the U.S. Postal Service, is a U.S. federal government agency established in 1775. Today, it’s the second oldest federal department in the U.S.

The primary purpose of USPS is to provide reliable and affordable mail delivery solutions to all Americans. Suffice it to say that the Postal Service has achieved this goal, delivering to over 160 million U.S. addresses through its many competitive shipping offerings.

How Does U.S. Mail Service Tracking Work?

As cited, you’ll receive a tracking number associated with an item whenever you ship through USPS. However, this tracking number is generally accompanied by a barcode, which you can find on the shipping label.

Postal Service personnel and automated sorting machines will scan this barcode at several junctures throughout your parcel’s journey across the USPS mail stream. These scans update your mailpiece’s tracking information, giving you near real-time access to delivery status and location data.

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

The U.S. Postal Service has two variations of its USPS Tracking service: standard and premium. The standard monitoring option gives you access to tracking data between 120 days and 2 years, depending on whether your package is a signature item.

The premium service USPS Tracking Plus extends this window by giving you an additional 6 months up to 10 years for a modest fee. This longer timeframe can be beneficial if you’re trying to resolve disputes and claims.

That said, the most significant benefit of subscribing to USPS Tracking Plus is the enhanced monitoring capabilities. With the premium service, you can track your mailpieces on a map, giving you its precise location.

How to Track U.S. Mail Service Package

Monitoring your USPS package’s delivery status and location is straightforward. The U.S. Postal Service provides several ways to access tracking information, including its website, hotline, text service, and post offices.

Regardless of your chosen option, however, you’ll need your parcel’s tracking number. Let’s discuss the essential things you need to know about these unique codes.

What Does My Tracking Number Look Like?

The most common tracking number you’ll likely encounter will have up to 22 digits. However, USPS Tracking numbers come in various formats, depending on your chosen shipping service.

Here are examples of the possible USPS Tracking number formats you may receive when you ship via the U.S. Postal Service:

ServiceSample USPS Tracking Number
USPS Tracking9400 1000 0000 0000 0000 00
Priority Mail9205 5000 0000 0000 0000 00
Certified Mail9407 3000 0000 0000 0000 00
Collect On Delivery Hold For Pickup9303 3000 0000 0000 0000 00
Global Express Guaranteed
82 000 000 00
Priority Mail Express International
EC 000 000 000 US
Priority Mail Express9270 1000 0000 0000 0000 00EA 000 000 000 US
Priority Mail International
CP 000 000 000 US
Registered Mail9208 8000 0000 0000 0000 00
Signature Confirmation9202 1000 0000 0000 0000 00

Where Do I Find My Tracking Number?

Like the various methods it provides to monitor your mailpiece, the U.S. Postal Service offers several places to locate your parcel’s tracking number. These locations include the following:

  • Mailing receipt: The first place to look for your mail item’s tracking number is the shipping receipt, which you’ll receive when you drop a package off or buy shipping insurance at a post office.

Your parcel’s tracking number will also be visible on the peel-off portion at the bottom of the USPS Tracking label.

  • Email confirmation: If you purchase postage online through USPS’ Click-N-Ship service, a tool that lets you print shipping labels, you’ll receive a confirmation email with your mail’s tracking number.

You may also receive a confirmation email containing your item’s unique identifier when you order from an e-commerce retailer, such as eBay or Amazon.

If you can’t find your USPS tracking number, call the Postal Service’s customer service hotline at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) or talk to a retail associate at your local post office. Visit FindPostOffice.org to find your area’s nearest USPS facilities.

U.S. Mail Service Intelligent Mail Barcode: Tracking and Tracing

If you’re a business owner, such as an eCommerce retailer, tracking multiple packages can be overwhelming. While USPS’ tracking system lets you monitor 35 parcels simultaneously, it offers a more straightforward solution.

Enter the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb). This 65-bar barcode lets you combine multiple mail items, such as letters, cards, and large envelopes (flats), and track them using one barcode.

How Long Does First-Class Mail Take?

As cited, you can ship an envelope via USPS’ First-Class Mail service if it meets the shipping solution’s requirements. But what is First-Class Mail? Why should you consider using it for mailing an envelope?

Let’s answer those pressing questions, shall we?

The Basics of First-Class Mail

First-Class Mail is the U.S. Postal Service’s most affordable mailing option for items weighing up to 13oz, ideal for postcards, letters, and large envelopes (flats). As of October 2023, the starting price for standard-sized letters is $0.66, $0.51 for postcards, and $1.35 for large envelopes.

Mail in 1–5 Business Days; Small Packages in 1–5 Business Days

One of the significant advantages of choosing the First-Class Mail service for your mail delivery needs is that it combines competitive pricing with a respectable time of delivery. This USPS shipping option promises your items will arrive in one to five business days.

What Is the U.S. Mail Service First-Class Package International Service?

The abovementioned First-Class Mail features refer to the domestic variant. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about an international mailing solution, as you can send your mailpieces via USPS’ First-Class package service.

Like its domestic counterpart, First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS) is an economical USPS offering, with prices starting at $15.75 as of October 2023. It also features shipping to over 180 countries for items weighing up to 4lbs or 64oz.

How Long Does It Take for International First-Class Mail?

Unlike the domestic First-Class Mail service, the international solution doesn’t provide a definite delivery window. Arrival dates can vary depending on the destination and can be influenced by factors like customs clearance. That said, you can expect delivery to take between 7 and 21 days.

Can You Track First-Class Mail?

Although end-to-end monitoring is unavailable for this mail class, you can get tracking information for First-Class Mail items. Unfortunately, doing so, as mentioned, requires you to purchase extra services.

Here are the add-on services you can buy to track your First-Class Mail:

Certified Mail

If you want proof of delivery and tracking for your First-Class Mail items, consider purchasing Certified Mail. When you opt for this optional service, you get a P.S. Form 3800 mailing receipt, tangible evidence of your mailing.

This receipt will also contain a USPS Tracking number, allowing you to monitor your First-Class Mail shipment. Other benefits of Certified Mail include requiring a signature from the recipient, the option for return receipts, and age restrictions.

Registered Mail

Like Certified Mail, Registered Mail can be combined with the First-Class Mail service to give you monitoring capabilities. You can also purchase it with other USPS mail delivery options, such as USPS Ground Advantage and Priority Mail.

However, unlike Certified Mail, Registered Mail doesn’t provide tracking during an item’s journey. Instead, it includes delivery status or delivery attempt notifications when your parcel reaches its destination.

Signature Confirmation

Signature Confirmation is a valuable service that can help you obtain First-Class Mail tracking through USPS while adding a layer of security to your shipments.

With this extra service, your recipient must present a valid I.D. and, as its name implies, provide a signature to prove they’re the intended addressee before receiving a mailpiece.

Informed Delivery

If you want to receive digital previews of your incoming letters and packages and the ability to manage and track them, consider signing up for USPS’ Informed Delivery service.

While not an extra service like Certified Mail, this free Postal Service offering automatically includes monitoring options for most domestic parcels heading to your registered address. It also lets you manually add USPS Tracking numbers to your monitoring list.

How Much Is the First-Class Mail With Tracking Cost?

If you chose Informed Delivery to track your First-Class Mail, you won’t incur additional costs. However, expect to pay a base retail price of $4.35 for Certified Mail, $16.80 for Registered Mail, and $3.65 for Signature Confirmation as of October 2023.

How Long Does Priority Mail Take?

Priority Mail is another USPS service you can use to send envelopes. The main advantage of this USPS shipping option is that it offers Flat Rate pricing, which lets you pay the same price for items weighing up to 70lbs to any state.

Fortunately, this economical pricing structure extends to envelopes, making Priority Mail an ideal, affordable alternative for mailpieces that don’t qualify for the First-Class Mail service.

Here are the available Flat Rate envelopes and their sizes:

Priority Mail Flat Rate EnvelopesSize (flap closed)
Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope12 ½” x 9 ½”
Priority Mail Window Flat Rate envelope10″ x 5″ and 12 ½” x 9 ½”
Priority Mail Small Flat Rate envelope10″ x 6″
Priority Mail Padded Flat Rate envelope12 ½” x 9 ½”
Priority Mail Legal Flat Rate envelope15″ x 9 ½”

Shipping in 1–3 Business Days

Priority Mail is one of the U.S. Postal Service’s fastest mail delivery solutions. You can expect your envelopes and packages to arrive at their intended destinations within one to three business days, with Saturday deliveries at no additional cost.

U.S. Mail Service Priority Mail Domestic Tracking

Unlike First-Class Mail, the Postal Service’s Priority Mail option comes with USPS Tracking already included. In other words, you eliminate the additional cost associated with buying extra services, like Certified Mail and Registered Mail, when you use this service.

U.S. Mail Service Priority Mail International Tracking

The U.S. Postal Service offers an international version of its Priority Mail service, the aptly named Priority Mail International. This overseas shipping solution also offers Flat Rate products, including envelopes.

Like the domestic variant, Priority Mail International includes USPS Tracking from the get-go. Unfortunately, if the destination country doesn’t offer the Electronic USPS Delivery Confirmation International service, updates on your mailpiece may stop once it enters that location.

Priority Mail Express

Unlike the non-express version, Priority Mail Express provides year-round shipping, including Sundays and holidays, for an additional fee. This accessibility makes Priority Mail Express one of (if not) the Postal Service’s most reliable mailing solution.

Next-Day to 2-Day Guarantee by 6 PM

The “express” in Priority Mail Express represents USPS’ fastest delivery times. This service boasts next- to two-day shipping, guaranteed by 6 PM, or your money back.

U.S. Mail Service Priority Mail Express International Tracking

Priority Mail Express not only offers Flat Rate options, free package pickup at your home or office, and proof of delivery signature record, but it also provides monitoring capabilities.

All you need to do is visit the USPS website at USPS.com, enter your Priority Mail Express item’s tracking number, and receive delivery status and location information.

Media Mail

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to ship books, educational materials, and various forms of media, Media Mail is your go-to option. This service provides a cost-effective solution for sending eligible items within a reasonable delivery window.

Shipping in 2–8 Business Days

Media Mail parcels typically reach their destination within two to eight business days, making it a reliable choice if you can wait a bit longer for your mail items to arrive at their intended destination.

Fortunately, because the estimated delivery time is longer than what First-Class and Priority Mail offers, expect appropriate postage costs. Retail prices start at $3.92 as of October 2023.

Using Media Mail

Media Mail is tailored for specific types of items, so it’s essential to know what you can and cannot send. Here’s a quick overview of the eligible Medial Mail content:

  • Books (with a minimum of 8 pages)
  • Films with a width of 16mm or narrower
  • Printed music and test materials
  • Video and sound recordings, including tapes, albums, and CDs/DVDs
  • Playscripts and manuscripts
  • Printed educational reference charts
  • Medical loose-leaf pages and binders
  • Computer-readable media

Please note that certain items like video games, computer drives, and digital drives are ineligible for Media Mail prices. So, when preparing your shipment, ensure that your items match USPS’ eligibility criteria to avoid any postage rate adjustments.

Weight, Size, and Shape Requirements

Like First-Class Mail, Media Mail has strict guidelines you must follow. The maximum weight allowed for Media Mail parcels is 70lbs, providing flexibility for sending multiple items in a single shipment.

As for the maximum size, Media Mail packages cannot exceed 108” in combined length and distance around their thickest part. It’s worth noting that while the weight limit is 70lbs, certain mail items, such as printed matter, may incur surcharges if they surpass 25 lbs.

For a comprehensive list of requirements and allowed items, you can visit the U.S. Postal Service website at USPS.com. Alternatively, you can talk to a retail associate at your local post office. You can find your area’s convenient post office locations using FindPostOffice.org’s search tool.

USPS Ground Advantage

Have you ever wondered, “Does USPS discontinue some of its offerings?” If so, then yes. Enter USPS Ground Advantage, a combination of three discontinued mailing services, which include Parcel Select Ground, First-Class Package, and Retail Ground.

USPS Ground Advantage combines the best of the three defunct shipping options. It features reliable delivery at economical rates, with retail prices starting at $4.75 as of October 2023, to all 50 states, U.S. military bases, territories, and Freely Associated States.

Shipping in 2–5 Business Days

Like First-Class Mail, the USPS Ground Advantage service offers a shipping solution with a delivery window within five business days. The only difference is that you won’t get next-day delivery with the latter option.

Nonetheless, USPS Ground Advantage is an efficient choice for your shipping needs, especially if you’re planning to mail hazardous materials (HAZMATs) that can’t be sent via air travel.

Using Ground Advantage

As mentioned, envelopes that exceed dimensions of 12” tall, 15” long, ¾” thick, or are over 13oz become ineligible for First-Class Mail shipping. For these mail items, the Postal Service will require you to send them through a different mailing option, mainly via USPS Ground Advantage.

Weight, Size, and Shape Requirements

The maximum weight for a USPS Ground Advantage parcel is 70lbs. Conversely, the length and girth limit is 130”. Note that non-standard length fees may apply.

Additionally, USPS Ground Advantage pricing considers your shipment’s dimensional (DIM) weight, which is its length multiplied by the width and height divided by 166. If your parcel’s DIM weight exceeds its actual weight, it will be charged based on the former number.

U.S. Ground Advantage Mail Tracking

Like Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express, the USPS Ground Advantage service includes USPS Tracking, letting you stay up-to-date on your mailpiece’s whereabouts and delivery status.

U.S. Mail Service Global Express Guaranteed

While First-Class Mail International and Priority Mail International can be viable overseas mailing solutions, they may not be for every situation. If your concern is speed, you can consider the Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) service.

This Postal Service option boasts one- to three-business-day delivery to over 180 countries. As its name suggests, GXG backs its claim with a money-back guarantee, ensuring your packages arrive as promised.

Additionally, unlike the two other international services mentioned, Global Express Guaranteed provides USPS Tracking to all destinations, letting you ride along your mailpieces as they journey.

U.S. Mail Service Business Solutions

The U.S. Postal Service isn’t exclusive to individual mailers. It also caters to businesses, offering various mail delivery options and tailored solutions, such as postage discounts and custom contracts, for diverse and ever-changing shipping needs.

Compare Mail Services

Whether you’re an individual mailer or a business owner, comparing available USPS mail delivery services is essential, especially if you’re trying to find the cheapest option that provides the fastest delivery.

Here’s a quick overview of the various domestic and international shipping options’ starting prices based on USPS’ October 2023 postage rates:

Domestic ServiceRetail PriceCommercial Price
Priority Mail Express$28.75$24.90
Priority Mail Express Flat-Rate Envelope$28.75$24.90
Priority Mail Express Return$24.90
Priority Mail$9.35$7.64
Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope$9.65$8.05
Priority Mail Return$7.64
First-Class Mail$0.66$0.49
USPS Ground Advantage$4.75$3.59
USPS Ground Advantage Return$4.75$3.59
USPS Marketing Mail$0.19
Parcel Select$3.78
Parcel Select Lightweight$2.46
Media Mail$3.92$2.59
Library Mail$3.72$2.46
International ServiceRetail PriceCommercial Price
Global Express Guaranteed$71.10$67.55
Priority Mail Express International$56.00$53.07
Priority Mail Express International Flat-Rate$54.75$51.98
Priority Mail International$42.10$39.53
Priority Mail International Flat-Rate Envelope$30.35$28.57
Priority Mail International Small Flat-Rate Box$31.45$29.64
Priority Mail International Medium Flat-Rate Box$60.55$56.10
Priority Mail International Large Flat-Rate Box$74.00$69.10
First-Class Package International Service$15.75$14.96
Airmail M-Bag$55.00$30.00 (International Priority Airmail M-Bag)$30.00 (International Surface Air Lift M-Bag)
International Business Reply Service$2.10

Get Informed Delivery

As mentioned, there are several ways you can track your envelopes and parcels. One of these avenues is the USPS Informed Delivery service, a convenient approach to monitoring and managing incoming mail.

Let’s discuss what you can expect from Informed Delivery and why you should consider it over other alternative tracking methods.

What Is U.S. Mail Service Informed Delivery?

At its core, the USPS Informed Delivery service lets you preview images of your incoming mail and efficiently manage those items, all from a single dashboard. This system eliminates the tedious need to enter multiple tracking numbers manually.

From the Informed Delivery dashboard, you can also set up text or email notifications, schedule delivery alerts, request redelivery for missed parcels, and leave unique directions for your mail carrier through USPS Delivery Instructions.

Fortunately, this U.S. Postal Service offering is free. All you need to do to reap Informed Delivery’s benefits is to be in an eligible ZIP code location, which most states are.

For more information on USPS’ Informed Delivery feature, visit the USPS website at USPS.com or talk to a Postal Service representative at your local post office. Use FindPostOffice.org’s search tool to locate your area’s nearest USPS facilities.

USPS Electronic Signature Online

Apart from the advantages and components of Informed Delivery mentioned, it also offers USPS Electronic Signature Online (USPS eSOL). This handy tool lets you digitally sign signature-required packages.

This feature applies to Priority Mail Express, Signature Confirmation items, and those insured for $500 or more. Additionally, USPS carriers will ensure any items you digitally sign are secure, leaving them in your mailbox or your preferred delivery location.

Simple Ways to Manage Your Mail

Managing your mail has never been more straightforward, and USPS offers various services to help you streamline the process. Here are some convenient options:

Forward Mail

Whether moving permanently to a new location or taking an extended vacation in a far-off countryside, the USPS Mail Forwarding service lets you reroute incoming parcels from your old mailing address to a different one.

Unfortunately, the standard forwarding service only redirects First-Class Mail, periodicals, Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, USPS Ground Advantage, and Media Mail items. Other mail classes, such as Marketing Mail, are ineligible.

That said, you can enroll in USPS’ Premium Forwarding Service, which forwards virtually all mail classes, including Bound Printed Matter, Media Mail, and Library Mail. However, doing so will involve additional costs, starting with the enrollment fee of $25.45 as of October 2023.

Change Your Address

Although the USPS Mail Forwarding service is ideal if you don’t want your mailpieces piling up somewhere you no longer call home, it doesn’t automatically apply when you move.

Whether you choose the standard or the premium rerouting option, you must submit a change of address (COA) request. Fortunately, you can do so online or in person at a post office.

Note that this process will involve an identity verification stage. If you’re struggling with mobile validation, visit one of the 18,000 post offices offering identity-proofing services. Visit FindPostOffice.org to locate the nearest of these facilities.

USPS Package Intercept

Like the USPS Mail Forwarding service, USPS Package Intercept lets you reroute mailpieces with a tracking or extra services barcode to a different address.

While this USPS service only applies to items that the Postal Service is yet to deliver or release for delivery, it allows you to change your shipment’s destination.

Reserve a P.O. Box

A P.O. (post office) box is a secure, lockable compartment where you can direct envelopes and packages. The primary benefit of renting a P.O. box is that it’s located within a post office, keeping your residential or business address private.

USPS Hold Mail

As its name suggests, the USPS Hold Mail service will hold your mail items at your local post office for up to 30 days until you retrieve them. This USPS service can be highly beneficial if you won’t be available at the mailing address for a few days. Otherwise, consider USPS Mail Forwarding.

Hold for Pickup

Like USPS Hold Mail, the Hold for Pickup service securely holds your envelopes and packages at a post office. The only difference is that this USPS feature is meant for your recipient to collect mail at a USPS facility.

Schedule Redelivery Service

In case you miss a delivery attempt, you can ask USPS to redeliver your parcel with its Schedule Redelivery service. This service lets you choose a redelivery date using your item’s tracking barcode.

In select markets, you can also request redelivery to a USPS Smart Locker, which works like a P.O. box. However, instead of the traditional lock-and-key system, Smart Lockers use six-digit passcodes and Q.R. (quick response) codes for access.

USPS Delivery Instructions

USPS Delivery Instructions is a U.S. Postal Service feature that lets you authorize other individuals, such as a neighbor, to receive incoming shipments or redirect these items to a specified location.

USPS Delivery Instructions also lets you reroute incoming mail to a different domestic address for a fee. At the same time, it allows you to change your package’s mail class to Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express and add extra services.

U.S. Mail Service Expected Delivery Window

Postal Service delivery windows can vary wildly depending on your chosen mail delivery solution and the destination country for international shipments.

Here’s an overview of the shipping times you can expect for domestic and international mailpieces:

Domestic ServiceDelivery Window
Priority MailOne to three business days
Priority Mail ExpressNext to two business days
USPS Ground AdvantageTwo to five business days
First-Class MailOne to five business days
Media MailTwo to eight business days
InternationalDelivery Window
Priority Mail International6 to 10 business days
Priority Mail Express InternationalThree to five business days
Global Express GuaranteedOne to three business days
First-Class Package InternationalVaries by destination

U.S. Mail Service Delivery Hours

Like delivery windows, delivery hours for USPS can vary depending on the mail class. For instance, regular mail delivery generally happens between 8 AM and 5 PM. However, Priority Mail Express items can arrive as early as 10:30 AM.

It’s also noteworthy that deliveries can occur past USPS’ standard operating hours. Factors like mail volume, traffic, weather, and unexpected events like natural disasters can impact your parcels’ delivery time.

Additionally, working hours can differ from post office to post office. In other words, some locations may have deliveries well into the night while others don’t.

To determine your area’s delivery hours, visit your local post office. Find your area’s available USPS facilities using FindPostOffice.org’s post office locator tool.

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

If you rely on the U.S. Postal Service for your mail delivery needs, understanding whether it operates during the weekends is essential, especially if you eagerly await a parcel’s arrival.

Fortunately, the short answer is yes. Unfortunately, like the question, “Can you track envelopes?” there are nuances you must consider. Here’s what you need to know:

Does U.S. Mail Service Deliver on Saturdays?

USPS provides delivery services on Saturdays. However, these shipments are limited to Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express items. In other words, if you shipped an envelope through First-Class Mail or USPS Ground Advantage, don’t expect it to arrive on a Saturday. 

Does U.S. Mail Service Deliver on Sundays?

The U.S. Postal Service also provides shipping services on Sundays. However, like Saturday deliveries, these mailing solutions are only available to select mail classes. In this case, Sunday delivery is only available for Priority Mail Express and Amazon packages. 

U.S. Mail Service Tracking Statuses

One of the many benefits of choosing USPS as your mail and package delivery provider is that you can monitor your items’ progress throughout the mail stream.

That said, you’ll likely encounter various status messages when you track your mailpieces. Understanding these statuses can give you insights into what’s happening with your parcel. 

Let’s look at some of the most common USPS Tracking statuses.

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

When you see the “In Transit” status in your mailpiece’s tracking updates, it indicates that USPS has scanned your parcel and is now heading toward its final destination.

However, if your shipment remains “In Transit” for an extended period, it may have hit a snag in the delivery process, such as inclement weather conditions, delaying its arrival. 

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

The status message “Out for Delivery” means that your mail item has departed one of USPS’ facilities and is on the final leg of its journey, heading toward the intended recipient’s address.

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

If a “Delivered” message appears on the USPS Tracking tool, it indicates that your shipment has successfully reached its destination and has been received by the addressee.

However, if the Postal Service cannot deliver a package, you may encounter one of two statuses: “Delivery Failure” or “Return to Sender.” The former signifies that USPS failed to deliver the mailpiece for various reasons, such as an incorrect street number or no access to the mailing address.

What Does “Return to Sender” Mean?

As mentioned, you may receive a “Return to Sender” status message if USPS cannot deliver a parcel. Generally, this status appears after the U.S. Postal Service has attempted to ship and failed several times.

What Does “Inbound Out of Customs” Mean?

An “Inbound Out of Customs” status signals your package has cleared the U.S. customs process, and it’s now with the Postal Service for final delivery.

On the other hand, if you see an “Outbound Out of Customs” message, your parcel has been released from U.S. customs and is now heading towards the destination country.

What Does Customs Do?

A country’s customs administration plays a critical role in international shipping. Some of its primary responsibilities include assessing package compliance for public safety via X-ray scans and inspections and ensuring that the mailer has paid the mailpiece’s applicable taxes.

How Does the Customs Clearance Process Work?

The specific customs clearance process can vary wildly depending on the country. However, the process generally involves verifying the validity of customs declarations and the package’s contents.

Other Tracking Statuses

Aside from the above statuses, you may also encounter other messages that provide specific information regarding your mailpiece’s progress. These statuses include the following:

  • Damaged in Transit: This message signals that your parcel sustained damage during its journey. Fortunately, the U.S. Postal Service offers compensation if you file a claim.
  • Uncontrollable Customs Delay: If the customs administration holds your parcel for regulatory or procedural reasons, you’ll see an “Uncontrollable Customs Delay” status.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if your item’s tracking information displays this message. To determine your next steps, contact USPS at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) or visit your local post office.

  • Missed “In Transit” Pickup Scans: As mentioned, destination restrictions can affect your ability to monitor mail items. If you see the “Missed “In Transit” Pickup Scans” status, it could mean the destination country has limited or no tracking service.

U.S. Mail Service Tracking Not Updating

Tracking your Postal Service shipments is usually a smooth and reliable process. However, there are instances where your mailpiece’s tracking information isn’t showing what it should.

Let’s discuss the possible reasons behind USPS Tracking not updating and offer insights into some situations you may encounter.

What Are the Reasons Behind Tracking Not Updating?

The USPS Tracking service relies on a barcode-scanning system to provide delivery status and location updates. Unfortunately, while this approach is dependable, it isn’t infallible to problems.

Here are several reasons why USPS Tracking isn’t updating:

  • Unfavorable weather conditions: Severe weather events like snowstorms, thunderstorms, or hurricanes can disrupt transportation operations, leading to delays in scanning.
  • Barcode irregularities: Damaged or ineligible barcodes make it challenging for the Postal Service to scan and update your mailpieces’ tracking information, causing a lapse in updates.
  • Transit delays: At times, packages can encounter delays or become temporarily stuck at specific points during transit, such as in customs, resulting in a halt in tracking updates.
  • Incomplete scans: Mistakes can happen. Postal workers may sometimes miss a parcel for scanning, leading to gaps in the continuity of tracking updates.
  • Technical glitches: Occasional technical glitches or system malfunctions within the USPS Tracking system can cause delays in the timely update of tracking information.

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

There are situations where you may have already received your package, yet your item’s tracking information remains stagnant. This issue typically occurs during busy holiday periods when mail delivery experiences a surge in demand.

Fortunately, it’s not something you should worry about. Instead, it’s how USPS expedites the delivery process, temporarily skipping scanning procedures.

My Package Was Shipped Through U.S. Mail Service But Shows No Tracking Information

As mentioned, not every mailpiece you send through the U.S. Postal Service will include USPS Tracking. For instance, First-Class Mail items require you to buy extra services to get tracking information.

If you’ve dropped off a parcel at USPS and don’t receive tracking updates, it could mean your item isn’t or is yet to be eligible for USPS Tracking.

Why Can’t I Track a USPS First-Class Large Envelope Shipment?

Unlike Priority Mail and USPS Ground Advantage, the First-Class Mail service doesn’t include USPS Tracking. If you use this mail delivery option to ship an envelope, you won’t receive tracking information unless you purchase add-on services like Certified Mail.

My U.S. Mail Service Package Has Not Moved for a Week, a Month, or Stopped. What Does It Mean?

In some cases, your package may appear stuck in one location and display an “In Transit” status for an extended period due to various factors. Possible reasons include high mail volume, equipment breakdowns, or the destination country may be restricting tracking.

If you’re concerned about your package having stuck tracking information, contact USPS customer service or a post office representative at your local Postal Service facility. Find USPS facilities by visiting FindPostOffice.org.

If Your Mail Is Lost

The U.S. Postal Service handles over 23.8 million daily. Despite its best efforts, occasionally, a piece of mail goes missing or gets misdirected. If you suspect your mail is lost, the first step is to wait at least seven days.

If it doesn’t arrive at the delivery address after the waiting period, you should initiate a missing item search by talking to a Postal Service representative at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) or your local post office.

Resolve your missing mailpiece issue quickly with FindPostOffice.org’s USPS facility search tool, allowing you to locate your area’s nearest and most convenient post office locations.

How Do I Track a U.S. Mail Service Return Receipt?

The Return Receipt service is an add-on option that provides proof of delivery, including the recipient’s signature and the delivery date and time. Like other extra services, such as Certified Mail and Registered Mail, Return Receipt includes a barcode and USPS Tracking number.

To track your Return Receipt, visit the Postal Service’s tracking page and enter the tracking number. Doing so gives you access to its tracking information, giving you insight into your Return Receipt’s progress.

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

USPS offers several ways to allow you to ship a mailpiece via its many package delivery services. These options include putting your parcel in your mailbox, dropping it off at a blue collection box or your local post office’s lobby, or requesting free pickup.

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

USPS Tracking only provides tracking information in near real time. In other words, updates to a parcel’s delivery status or location may appear as soon as a couple of minutes or hours. However, in some cases, updates may take as long as 48 hours to reflect in the USPS Tracking system.

How Much Does It Cost to Track a USPS Envelope?

For mail delivery solutions that come with USPS Tracking, such as Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and USPS Ground Advantage, there’s no additional cost to monitor an envelope.

However, for mail classes that don’t automatically include USPS Tracking, including First-Class Mail, the tracking cost will be the price you pay to buy the extra service. For instance, you’ll incur an additional $4.35 if you use Certified Mail to give your envelope tracking.

Do USPS Flat Rate Envelopes Have Tracking?

Flat Rate products, such as envelopes and boxes, are available for the Postal Service’s Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express options. Since these shipping services automatically include USPS Tracking, the Flat Rate envelopes you send through them will also do.

How Can I Leave Delivery Instructions?

If you want to leave specific instructions for the USPS carrier, you need an Informed Delivery account. With this account, you get access to the Informed Delivery dashboard.

On the dashboard, select the “Packages” option, which gives you a list of incoming mail. By clicking on the blue arrow on the right side of the item you want to leave directions for, you’ll receive an option to leave Delivery Instructions.

References

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  4. Sizes for Letters
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  5. Sizes for Large Envelopes and Flats
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  6. First-Class Mail
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  7. Priority Mail
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  8. Insurance & Extra Services
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  10. Search or Track Packages
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  16. Chapter 1: Our Mission
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  24. Certified Mail® – The Basics
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  26. Registered Mail® – The Basics
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  28. Informed Delivery® – The Basics
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  29. USPS Signature Confirmation
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  30. Priority Mail
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  31. What Priority Mail Flat Rate® Envelopes Are Available?
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  32. Priority Mail International
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  33. Priority Mail Express
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  34. Mail & Shipping Services
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  35. What is Media Mail® (Book Rate)?
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  36. USPS Ground Advantage™
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  38. Global Express Guaranteed
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  40. Mailing & Shipping Prices
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  41. What is M-bag Service?
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  42. Receive Mail & Packages
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  43. Standard Forward Mail & Change of Address
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  44. Premium Forwarding Service – Residential®
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  45. Change of Address – The Basics
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  46. USPS® In-Person Identity Proofing
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  47. PO Box™ – The Basics
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  48. USPS Hold Mail Service
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  49. USPS® Smart Locker
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  50. International Services
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  51. What Time Does USPS Stop Delivering?
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  52. The Multifaceted Role of Customs and Its Importance for the Economy and Society
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  53. File a USPS Claim: Domestic
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  54. ONE DAY IN THE POSTAL SERVICE
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  56. Return Receipt – The Basics
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  57. How to Send a Package: Domestic
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  58. Visibility And Tracking
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