USPS International Claim


March 14, 2024

In 2021, the United States Postal Service (USPS) brought in $2.2 billion in revenue from delivering international mail.

Despite this performance and the Postal Service’s best efforts, there is a possibility that some mail items can get lost or damaged in transit. If you experience any of these problems, consider filing a claim for a refund.

How do you file a claim with USPS for a damaged or lost package? When should you file a claim? What are the processes for requesting a refund based on specific USPS international mail services?

This article tackles these issues and discusses what you can do after starting an international inquiry. This article also briefly discusses what happens when USPS considers an item lost.

When you need to visit a postal facility to send an international package,’s online search tool can help you locate a post office that is convenient for you. Search by city, state, or ZIP code to help narrow your search.

Filing International Claims With USPS: A Step-by-Step Guide

Suppose you send a package from the U.S. to another country, and its contents go missing or get damaged or lost. The following steps can help you learn how to file a claim for the international package’s insured value.

Step 1: Check Filing Periods

Each international mail service has a different filing period based on the mailing date on your receipt.

For example, claims for items sent through Priority Mail International must be filed between seven days and six months from the mailing date.

Step 2: Gather Your Documents

When filing a claim, you must include all required documentation to submit your inquiry. Ensure to save all your evidence documents until the claim is resolved.

USPS requires you to submit the following documents and pieces of information to file a claim:

  • Label or tracking number
  • Recipient’s and sender’s contact information, such as the mailing address and phone number
  • Mailing information, such as the weight and postage paid
  • Proof of mailing, such as the mailing label or customs form
  • Proof of value, such as the sales receipt or invoice

Step 3: Create an Inquiry

When you are ready to begin your claims inquiry, complete the online form by logging in to your account or sign up for an account if you do not have one.

If USPS deems your inquiry eligible for a claim, you will receive a “Claim Sent for Review” notification via email.

After the Postal Service’s claims department processes your claim, you should receive an email with the results.

International Mail – New Process for Claims and Inquiry

USPS’ improved process for inquiries and claims provides more convenience since you only need to contact the International Inquiry Center at 800-222-1811 to start an inquiry on insured, internationally registered, recorded delivery, and ordinary parcels.

Previously, if you wanted to request an inquiry, you had to go to your local post office to fill out PS Form 542 (inquiry form for insured, registered, or ordinary articles). Since 2006, this form has been obsolete.

Briefing Article

When you call 800-222-1811 to start an inquiry, you must provide the following information:

  • Mailing receipt number
  • Names, telephone numbers, and addresses of the addressee and mailer
  • Date of mailing

Before filing an inquiry, you must allow enough time to deliver your mail to the foreign country. During inquiry, you must request within specific time limits, depending on the shipping service you use.

“Why Do I Have to Submit an International Inquiry Before I Can File a Claim?”

The Universal Postal Union, the governing body overseeing international mail exchange, requires you to submit an inquiry before a claim can be processed.

Through an inquiry, the destination country’s postal administration can investigate to determine whether the item was delivered or damaged. This way, you can have evidence of value that can help back you up should you file a claim.

When to File a USPS Claim

When filing a claim for your lost or damaged international parcel, the filing period depends on the service or mail type you use to send the item.

For instance, Priority Mail International and Registered Mail have a filing period of seven days to six months from the mailing date.

Post Office Claim Form

You can request USPS to mail you a claim form by calling 800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777). Fill out the form and send it with the other required supporting documentation for the item’s damage or loss to the address specified on the form.

USPS Claim Number

To initiate an international filing inquiry by phone, you must be a U.S.-based sender and call the USPS Customer Care Center at 1-800-222-1811 within the time limits listed according to the mail service.

Receiving Damaged International Shipments

If you receive a damaged package, present the article, packaging, mailing container, and other contents received to a post office for inspection.

The post office verifies the damage and gives you P.S. Form 3831 (receipt for articles damaged in the mail) for filing.

Furthermore, consider contacting the foreign sender and asking them to file an inquiry with the postal administration from where they mailed the item.

Proof of Damage

These items will help prove the damage to your incoming shipment:

  • Damage-supporting documents from U.S. mailer
  • Damage-supporting documents from foreign addressee
  • Photos of the damage
  • Receipt of damaged articles in the mail
  • Description and value of contents

Requesting an International Service Refund

When requesting international refunds, you can start with an inquiry process. Learn how to make your request by reading the sections below.

Global Express Guaranteed Postage

Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) has a money-back guarantee subject to specific terms and conditions. USPS provides guaranteed delivery within GXG’s service standards, or you may qualify for a full postage refund.

When to Apply 

When requesting a refund, you must do so within 30 days of the mailing date.

What You Need

You must provide the shipping label or air waybill’s original receipt when filing a GXG refund request.

Request a Refund

For more details on filing a refund request, call the USPS Customer Care Center hotline at 1-800-222-1811.

International Click-N-Ship Labels

You can request refunds for unused international Click-N-Ship (CNS) labels up to 60 days after the print or label transaction date. CNS allows you to print shipping labels for some mail classes.

Online Refunds For Unused Click-N-Ship (CNS) Labels

The following unused CNS labels are eligible for refunds:

  • Labels not scanned by the postage system
  • Labels created within 30 days of the label print date
  • Labels without a refund request yet

If your CNS label is eligible, request a refund online by doing the following:

  • Log in to your CNS account
  • Click “Shipping History”
  • Select the labels you want refunded
  • Select “Refund Labels” from the dropdown list where you see “Track Labels”
  • Click “Proceed”

Older Unused Click-N-Ship (CNS) Labels

Suppose you printed a label more than 30 but less than 60 days ago. Email the CNS help desk for a refund and include the following information in your email:

  • Username
  • CNS account number
  • Label number
  • Transaction number and date

Priority Mail Express International (PMEI)

If you file a claim for your PMEI items, USPS may refund your postage based on some restrictions below.

When to Apply

You must request an inquiry within 90 days of your item’s mailing date.

What Is Eligible

USPS will only process postage refunds under the following conditions:

  • You start the inquiry within the 90-day filing period.
  • The inquiry process confirms lost, damaged, or missing contents.
  • The postmaster receives verification from the international research group or product tracking system that the content is damaged, lost, or missing.
  • You submit P.S. Form 3533 (voucher for refund of postage, fees, and service application form). You can get this form from a post office, postal retail unit, or business mail entry unit (BMEU).

Request a Refund

Call the Customer Care Center at 1-800-222-1811 to request a PMEI refund.

Priority Mail Express International With Money-Back Guarantee Service

Suppose your Priority Mail Express International shipment does not arrive on the guaranteed delivery date. You can request a refund according to the information below.

When to Apply

You must start your inquiry within 30 days of the mailing date.

What Is Eligible?

USPS will refund your postage for this service under the following conditions:

  • You initiate the inquiry within 30 days after the date of mailing.
  • The USPS Customer Care Center receives the foreign postal administration’s confirmation that your shipment did not arrive on the service’s guaranteed delivery date.
  • You received the P.S. Form 3533-GE (voucher and application form for refund of postage and fees for PMEI with guarantee service).

Request a Refund

You can request a refund for PMEI with guaranteed service by calling the Customer Care Center at 1-800-222-1811.

After Initiating an International Inquiry

After requesting an inquiry, you can check its status and whether USPS approves or denies your claim. The following sections discuss these topics and explain how to appeal if your claim gets rejected.

“How Do I Check the Status of My International Inquiry?”

You can check the status of an international inquiry submitted online by logging into your account and clicking on the following link:

You must provide at least the following information:

  • login credentials
  • Tracking number

You can also check your international inquiry’s status by calling 1-800-222-1811 and speaking with a customer service agent. At the minimum, you must provide the following details:

  • Your name
  • Case or tracking number

“How Do I Check the Status of My Claim?”

If you want to check your claim’s status online, log in to your account and visit the following link:

Upon accessing this link, provide your login credentials and tracking number to check the claim status.

If you prefer to check your claim’s status by phone, contact the accounting help desk at 1-866-974-2733 and provide your name, tracking number, and original mailing date.

Claims Decisions

USPS typically sends claims decisions in 5 to 10 days. You can also log in to your account to check for updates in your claims history.

Claim processing times can vary depending on whether your item is lost or damaged.

For lost mail claims, USPS will first do a Missing Mail Search before processing them. On the other hand, claims for damaged items are typically processed faster than claims for lost mail.

Approved Claims

USPS can completely or partially approve your claim. Afterward, you should receive payment for the claim value in 7 to 10 business days. USPS will not pay the claim higher than the item’s actual value.

Denied Claims

In case of denial, USPS can fully or partially reject your claims. Your decision letter will provide a list of reasons for the denial.

How Are Claims Paid?

For loss claims, USPS pays the amount to the sender. Meanwhile, content damage or loss claims are payable only to the addressee if they accept the package delivery.

Who Receives the Claim Payment?

USPS pays the claims as follows:

  • Priority Mail Express International claims: The country of origin pays the claims to the sender. The U.S. Postal Service makes the payment to U.S. senders.
  • Indemnity for the loss of insured mail, Registered Mail, and ordinary parcels: The origin country pays the sender. USPS makes the payment to U.S. shippers.
  • Claims for items delivered with damaged or missing contents: The origin country pays the sender. U.S. senders who make claims should expect payment from USPS.
  • Claims for items from foreign countries and parcels with lost, damaged, or missing contents: The origin postal administration pays the claim to the sender.

“How Do I Appeal a Claim That Was Denied?”

If your claim gets rejected, you can dispute the denial by doing any of the following:

  • If you filed the claim online, start your appeal by going to your USPS account’s inquiry history page and selecting an inquiry. Enter any additional information for consideration and resubmit.
  • If you filed by phone, you can write and send an appeal within 60 days of the original decision’s date to the following address:

PO BOX 80146
ST. LOUIS, MO 63180-0146

“If My Claim Is Denied a Second Time, What Is the Next Step?”

You can file a final written appeal to the Consumer Advocate within 60 days of the denial date. Explain in your appeal why USPS should review your case. Also, ensure that the article’s evidence of mailing, proof of value, and insurance coverage have been submitted.

Finally, submit your final appeal to this address:

WASHINGTON, DC 20260-2200

Is Postage Refunded?

USPS will refund postage for completely lost articles, with some exceptions like the following:

  • Application fees for permit imprints
  • Fees for Priority Mail Express insurance, insured mail, Collect on Delivery (COD), and Registered Mail
  • Unused adhesive stamps
  • Adhesive stamps affixed to unmailed matter
  • Postage when a postmarked (round-dated) mailing receipt, retail post office mailing receipt, or valid USPS mail processing scan event is not available

How to Request a Postage Refund

When sending something from the U.S. to another country, you may qualify for a postage refund if any of the following conditions apply:

  • The courier did not meet the guaranteed delivery standards for applicable GXG, PMEI, or PMEI with money-back guarantee services.
  • Full service was not rendered, or you were incorrectly charged return costs for First-Class Mail International, First-Class Package International Service, Priority Mail International, or undeliverable-as-addressed items.
  • You were overcharged.

The postage refund process can vary depending on the international service you use. For example, GXG requires you to request a refund within 30 days of your item’s mailing date and prepare the air waybill’s original receipt.

Are Special Service Fees Refunded?

According to the USPS field information kit on inquiry and claims processes for international mail, the Postal Service will not refund any special service fees.

At What Point Does the Postal Service Consider Your International Shipment “Lost”?

Typically, the package should have a tracking or event scan showing that the USPS network received the item. The package will be considered lost if USPS does not have a Return to Sender” or “Delivered” scan after 30 days.

The item may be eligible for a claim following the applicable filing periods.

What Happens if USPS Loses an International Package?

If you send a package from the U.S. to a foreign country and the item gets lost, you can file an international claim based on the package’s insured value.

Unlike domestic claims, international claims must be coordinated with foreign postal administrations. If you are a U.S.-based sender, you can request an online inquiry to start an international claim.

To get complete details on the international inquiry and claims processes, check the USPS International Mail Manual (IMM) and read chapter nine on inquiries, indemnities, and refunds.

How the USPS International Insurance Claims Process Works During the Coronavirus Pandemic

USPS international shipments during the COVID-19 pandemic experienced significant delays due to an air cargo capacity reduction. Despite these challenges, USPS implemented an international claims process described in the following section.

COVID-19 Return to Sender Postage Refunds

Suppose you sent a package from the U.S., but the courier returned it due to a COVID-19 service suspension. You may be eligible for a refund through the following methods:

  • If you bought postage from a USPS post office or with a postage meter, bring your package to a local post office for a refund.
  • If you purchased postage through CNS, you can start a refund inquiry by contacting the CNS help desk.


  1. Does the parcel indemnity apply to APO/FPO shipments?

Shipments to Army or Air Force Post Offices (APO) and Fleet Post Offices (FPO) are not eligible for parcel indemnity coverage. This coverage applies only to international air parcel deliveries.

Although you used customs forms for APO/FPO shipments, these are still considered domestic services.

  1. What is the difference between indemnity and insurance coverage?

Indemnification involves contracting a non-insurance agreement to transfer risk between parties. On the other hand, insurance transfers risk from one entity to another in exchange for payment.

  1. What is an ordinary parcel post?

USPS defines an ordinary parcel post as any uninsured economy or air parcel.

  1. Will a customer still need to file PS Form 542?

You do not need to fill out P.S. Form 542 as it is obsolete. Instead, you can initiate an inquiry for parcels mailed on or after January 17, 2006, by calling 800-222-1811.

  1. What information must a customer provide when calling 800-222-1811 to initiate an inquiry?

When you call this number for an inquiry, you must provide the following:

  • Mailing receipt number
  • The mailer and addressee’s names, addresses, and phone numbers
  • Date of mailing
  1. Is there a charge for filing an inquiry on international mail?

USPS does not charge anything for filing an international mail inquiry.

  1. How soon after the mailing date can a customer initiate an inquiry?

You can initiate inquiries within the following time limits:

  • Items sent via GXG: Start inquiries not earlier than three days but not later than 30 days from the mailing date.
  • Articles sent via PMEI: Initiate inquiries not earlier than three days but not later than 90 days (for items that are missing, lost, or damaged) from the mailing date.
  • Items sent through Priority Mail and Registered Mail: Begin inquiries not earlier than seven days but not later than six months from the mailing date.
  1. How will a customer know if the inquiry has become a claim?

Suppose there is a certainty that your article is damaged, lost, or rifled. The USPS International Inquiry Center will mail you a claims packet with P.S. Form 2855 (indemnity form).

  1. Does USPS return international packages?

Suppose an international shipment you send through USPS is undeliverable or refused by your customer. The package will be sent back to the return address on the label.

  1. What if the damaged or rifled items are returned to the sender?

If you are the sender, you can file a claim and be the payee if the courier returns a damaged or rifled item to you.

  1. Suppose an international shipment traveled to the destination market but went dark on scans, and the shipment was not returned to the sender. Is it handled differently from a claims perspective than as a shipment that never left the country when the tracking event went dark?

The foreign post authority will be liable for indemnity if the scan events reveal that the destination country received the item but failed delivery. USPS will assign liability to the foreign post and pay the U.S. customer.

  1. Will international claims related to damages be honored?

If the item is damaged, the U.S. customer must bring it to the local post office for inspection. The post office will fill out P.S. Form 2856 (damage report form) and forward it to the USPS international claims department.

Upon receiving the form and proof of value, the department will review the claim for the item’s insured amount or cost.

  1. Suppose a shipment did not leave the country and got damaged during the return process. Will an international insurance claim be honored?

If the package is insured but damaged while in USPS possession, the Postal Service will honor the insurance claim.

  1. Do claims need to be filed on time?

USPS requires filing claims within specific periods depending on the service used to send the international package. The filing periods for these international services are as follows:

  • GXG: File a claim between 3 and 30 days from the mailing date.
  • PMEI with a money-back guarantee: File a claim not less than 3 and not more than 30 days (for late delivery) from the mailing date.
  • PMEI: File between 3 and 90 days from the mailing date.
  • Priority Mail International: File between seven days and six months from the mailing date.
  • Registered Mail: File a claim not less than seven days and not more than six months from the mailing date.


  2. File a USPS Claim: International
  3. International Mail — New Process for Claims and Inquiry
  4. International Inquiries – The Basics
  5. Claims for Loss or Damage
  6. Request a USPS Refund: International
  7. File a USPS Claim: Domestic
  8. 604 Postage Payment Methods and Refunds