USPS Lost My Package


March 16, 2024

The United States Postal Service (USPS) handles over 700 million mailpieces daily. It’s a massive feat of organizational efficiency to manage the delivery of millions of packages, let alone ensure all of them are shipped safely. 

However, despite the numerous systems set in place to ensure packages are delivered smoothly, missing and lost packages still occur. 

What will you do if USPS loses your package? Is USPS always responsible for the loss of any package under their supervision? Can you get your money back if this problem happens? If so, how can you get reimbursed? 

This article explores how USPS helps people find their lost or missing packages, including how to file a missing mail search request and get a refund. This write-up also provides tips on how to file an insurance claim and how to avoid experiencing missing packages in the future. 

Resolving a lost package issue should be easy and quick. But it’s best to have direct contact with the nearest USPS facility in your area. You can visit and access a database of over 31,330 facilities nationwide. 

Does USPS Usually Find Lost Packages?

The actual mail percentage lost by the U.S. Postal Service is not readily available as most “benchmarks” are unsuitable for any straight answer. 

However, to give an idea of how many missing packages end up in the USPS lost and found section, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for USPS provides this figure. 

According to the OIG website, in 2019, an estimated 67 million lost packages were sent to the USPS Mail Recovery Center (MRC) in Atlanta, Georgia. The MRC is where all USPS lost packages go unless claimed. 

The OIG data showed only the number of unclaimed packages, not the number of packages that have gone missing and recovered, were delivered to the wrong address, or were lost in transit and remained unrecovered or stolen.

Who Is Responsible if USPS Loses a Package?

You can’t just point fingers when dealing with lost packages. You have to assess the situation and see where the problem started. 

The shipper may have placed the wrong address or improperly placed the label on your package. Or the recipient may have given an outdated address to the shipper or have relocated to another area without prior notice. 

However, one can’t discount the possibility that the delivery service may also be responsible for lost packages. 

In the case of USPS, lost packages or mailpieces are not rare occurrences. However, it’s also prudent to consider that the lost mail items could have been due to the shipper or recipient. 

What Happens if USPS Loses Your Package?

Initially, three things can happen when USPS loses your package.

First, USPS will try to find your package and forward it to your address. Second, USPS is not able to locate your package. Lastly, USPS loses your package, and you get a refund if the package is insured. 

A 2020 report by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a private research university, showed that the number of packages stolen or lost daily has reached 1. 7 million.

Missing Mail by the USPS: What to Do if Your Package Is Not Delivered or Missing

Experiencing missing or lost packages sent through big-name courier services like USPS can be frustrating, annoying, and stressful. 

Some may succumb to anger and give the local postal office worker a mouthful. However, keeping calm and resolving the issue without confrontation is always best. 

If, for unfortunate reasons, your package gets lost in the delivery process, here are things you should remember when you file a missing package report.

The Do’s

  • Inform the shipper or retailer of the lost package. Ask the shipper if you can request a refund or a replacement to cover for the lost package. 
  • Once you know the package has gone missing, contact USPS. You should fill out a USPS help request form. 
  • If you’re to file a claim, ensure you have all your receipts, order confirmation number, tracking information, and shipping confirmation email. You can use these documents to fully establish your report and file a claim if USPS is responsible for the lost package. 
  • To avoid the hassle, you can have your package insured in the first place, especially if it is high-value. 
  • Always keep any “proof of value” for items shipped via a courier service. 
  • If all avenues have been exhausted, you can go to and file a claim if your package is insured. 

The Don’ts

  • Don’t just wait. If you think there’s a problem because your package didn’t arrive at the expected delivery date, report it to USPS immediately. It’s better to call customer service and ask what to do than sit tight and do nothing. 
  • Don’t take security lightly. Stolen packages are among the reasons why packages get lost during delivery. Ensure you have adequate security to deter porch pirates, catch them on camera, and report them to the police.
  • Don’t forget to file a report. For stolen packages, file a police report with your area’s local law enforcement unit.  
  • Don’t underestimate the power of community. Work with your community to ensure the safety of your area from porch pirates. Your neighbors can help you receive your packages or watch over your porch when packages are left there when you’re not around. 

How to Start Your Search

Start your search by checking the current status of your package. You can use your tracking number in the tracking system portal provided by USPS.

The tracking number is a unique series of numbers assigned to your package. This number helps you monitor your package through the delivery process. 

You can receive status updates through the tracking system, which alerts you when your packages have delays or problems during delivery. 

How to Complete the USPS Help Request Form

Once your package is delayed, you can fill out a help request form from USPS. Submitting this form alerts USPS of your issue, have them recheck your package’s status, and resend the lost packages to your address. 

Here’s how to complete the USPS help request form:

  • Step 1: Visit and go to the help request form page. You may need to log into your USPS account.
  • Step 2: Fill out the form. Provide the necessary information, including the package’s USPS tracking number. You can get this number from your confirmation email or receipt. 
  • Step 3: Once you’re done, a pop-up will show where you’ll need to provide additional information, like the mail service you’ve used. 
  • Step 4: Once all information has been provided, click “Next.” 
  • Step 5: Fill in the fields where you have to provide the sender’s information and click “Next.” 
  • Step 6: Provide your address and contact information and select “Finish.”

How a Missing Mail Search Request Works

After you’ve submitted a help request form, USPS will send an email confirmation that they’ve received your missing mail request. USPS will use your package’s tracking number and review the times your package got scanned while in transit

USPS will find where the package wasn’t scanned and start investigating there. You’ll receive regular updates on the course of the investigation as USPS tracks your lost package.

Once the package is found, you’ll receive an email informing you of the location and status of your package. USPS will then send it directly to the address you’ve provided in the help request form or the nearest post office in your area.  

What to Expect Next

It’s best to have an idea of the search process done by USPS when looking for lost packages.

Once you’ve submitted a help request form and a missing mail search request, you can expect the following to happen next. 

USPS Mail Search

Once you’ve requested a missing mail search, you’ll get a confirmation email from USPS. They will also provide updates about the search and the status of your package. 

Once your package is found, USPS will send it directly to the address provided. However, there are cases where USPS can’t recover mail items because it’s no longer safe to forward

Requesting a Refund

When you use a mail service with a money-back guarantee like Priority Mail Express, you can request a refund once your mail goes missing during delivery. 

For domestic refunds, you have to submit a USPS refund request. You’ll have to provide proof of purchase and the following information:

  • Tracking number
  • Purchase receipt
  • Photo identification

You may be eligible for a postage or fee refund for international refunds if the following applies: 

  • The delivery standards of a USPS mail service with a money-back guarantee were not met.
  • USPS didn’t render full service, or you were charged with incorrect return charges for undeliverable items.
  • USPS overcharged you.

File a Claim

You can only file a claim if your mailpiece is insured. Also, you can file an insurance claim if your package has been damaged or has missing contents. 

It’s best to file a claim immediately and no later than 60 business days from the mailing date. 

How to File a USPS Claim

Only claims made by customers with insured packages may be granted. If you don’t have any insurance, you won’t be able to file a claim. 

Suppose you’ve used a mail service like Priority Mail Express. In that case, you are eligible for insurance claims because the service is automatically insured. As mentioned above, you must have your package’s tracking number and recipes as proof of your transactions. 

USPS Claim Details

USPS claims can help you cover the shipping cost and the package’s value up to the specified insured amount. 

However, if your package isn’t insured, you can only request a missing mail search, which focuses on retrieving your parcel and will cover only the shipping cost if lost or damaged. 

You’ll also need to establish the price of the package lost. You may need to provide proof of the item’s value. You can also include a description of the contents to add weight to your claim. 

Find Out if Your Lost Package Is Eligible for an Insurance Claim

You could file a USPS insurance claim 15 days after the shipping date if you used a Priority Mail service. 

On the other hand, if you use Priority Mail Express for your shipment, you may be eligible for a full refund. You might also get reimbursement for other costs if you’ve protected your packages with additional shipping insurance. 

How Do You File a Refund or Insurance Claim?

You can file a refund or insurance claim by doing the following:

  1. File a claim by visiting the official USPS website.
  2. File a claim via mail by first calling 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) to mail the claim form to your address.

You’ll have to complete the form and resend it to USPS, along with the required supporting documentation. 

Will USPS Reimburse for Lost Package?

Yes. However, the package should have proper insurance for USPS to provide reimbursement if it gets lost. Remember that you must file a claim with USPS within 60 days of the mailing date to be eligible for reimbursement. 

Note that USPS will only reimburse packages that are lost while in transit. The company won’t reimburse packages sent to the wrong address or damaged during delivery. 

Typical Causes of Lost USPS Packages

Several reasons explain why USPS packages get lost during delivery. Here are some of the common ones listed:

  • Wrong or incomplete address: A wrong spelling or a missing number can send your package to an entirely different place in the country. So, check and recheck your address before you have your package shipped.
  • Broken labels: Labels can sometimes get damaged by mishandling or improper label placement. Once the label falls off, the package can’t be scanned at a facility.
  • Stuck at customs: This happens for international deliveries. Your package may be stuck at customs due to regulation issues. 
  • Missorted package: Your package can also be lost when sorted incorrectly due to human error.
  • Environmental factors: Your package may get delayed due to inclement weather. It’s best to wait up to seven days before you file a search request. 
  • Lost in the system: The USPS delivery network handles millions of packages daily. One package with a problem label can easily get lost in the system. So, always ensure your package has the labels attached correctly and securely. 

How Long Before a USPS Package Is Considered Lost?

Typically, if your mail or package doesn’t arrive at least seven days after the expected delivery time, you can file for a missing package search. 

Alternatively, you can head to your local post office to check your package’s status. You can visit to check the addresses of your area’s nearest local post office. 

What Happens if My Lost Package Is Not Found?

Once you’ve submitted your search request online, USPS will look for your lost package. The company will continually search the system for your packages for up to three months after you’ve submitted the request. 

If, after three months, the search didn’t give results, then an email will be sent to you informing you that the search has ended unsuccessfully. 

USPS Mail Recovery Center

The USPS Mail Recovery Center is the official “lost and found” center of the U.S. Postal Service. All unclaimed mail or packages are sent here for processing. USPS will dispose of any unclaimed, nonvaluable items. Valuable items may be sold.

The MRC will hold unclaimed items for 60 days for packages with barcodes and 30 days for non-barcoded letters. 

The MRC disposes of undeliverable items via the following methods:

  • Donated to charitable or welfare groups
  • Sent to trash, recycled, or shredded
  • Put up for auction, especially for merchandise with value

How Do You Avoid USPS Missed Packages?

You can use the following tips to minimize the risk of missing or losing a package. 

  • Regularly monitor your package via the tracking system provided by USPS.
  • Get Informed Delivery service, which provides notifications and visual images of your package before it reaches your mailbox.
  • Use a P.O. Box (Post Office Box) so that your local post office can hold your mail and packages while you’re not around to pick them up. 
  • Use the Hold Mail service to request your local post office to keep your mail stored in the facility for up to 30 days.

Congratulations, You Filed Your Claim. What’s Next?

After filing your claim, USPS will determine whether the package was lost while under its responsibility. 

If the claim was valid and USPS is accountable for the loss, you may get your refund or insurance claim. 

The United States Postal Service is a vast network of delivery couriers that work daily to provide shipping service to millions of Americans. 
To learn more about this massive mailing service, visit You can read more about the different services provided by USPS and other helpful tips on managing your mail via the Postal Service.


  1. Lost and Found at the Postal Service
  2. How to report a missing USPS package, file a help request and submit a missing mail claim
  3. How to complete the USPS help request form
  4. Find Missing Mail
  5. Request a USPS Refund: Domestic
  6. Claims for Loss or Damage
  7. What is the USPS Mail Recovery Center?