USPS Missing Mail Search

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June 13, 2023

There are a few worse things in life than failed expectations. Like when you expect your mail to arrive on a particular date and time, only to find out that it hasn’t arrived yet.

In this case, you might wonder if it’s lost or missing. If so, you’ll want to know what to do, for example, how to report lost mail or whether you can check the status of your missing mail.

Also, you might want to know about the process with USPS (United States Postal Service) for recovering missing or lost mail.

Suppose you’ve lost your USPS mail. In that case, you might want to know the location of the nearest post offices in your area.

Check out FindPostOffice.org. Our website provides essential information about every United States post office, including their address. You can find local post offices in Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, Denver, Oklahoma, and other cities in the United States using our online search tool.

This article offers a comprehensive guide on what to do when you lose your mail with USPS. It also answers when your mail is considered lost or missing and how you can check the status of missing mail.

Lastly, this article explains the USPS recovery process for missing or lost mail, including how to report lost mail.

Missing Mail – The Basics

While other carriers might offer mail delivery on a universal basis, USPS considers it an obligation to provide Americans with a reliable universal service at affordable rates. 

Consequently, USPS regards missed or delayed mail as a serious matter requiring an immediate solution.

Following the basic steps below, you can help USPS find your mail or package if you think it was lost or delayed.

Missing Mail Definition

Missing mail refers to mail that fails to arrive by the expected delivery date. Undeliverable, lost, or late packages fall under this category. 

If your mail has been lost, late, or missing for more than seven days, you can do the following:

  • Visit USPS.com for more information (read Find Missing Mail).
  • Submit a claim (for insured items within the specified timeframe).
  • Go to a nearby post office and ask for assistance completing the missing mail request.
  • File a missing mail search request at MissingMail.USPS.com.

 What to Do if Your USPS Mail or Package Is Lost

Each hour, the US Postal Service processes 20.2 million pieces of mail. Consequently, USPS sends 146 billion mail items annually. 

Although most of that mail will reach its intended destination safely, some packages will inevitably get lost while in transit.

If the Mail Item Hasn’t Been Delivered, Check USPS Tracking Before Taking the Action Indicated Below:

Mail ServicesService DetailsAction




First-Class Mail Service
You can track your delivery status online if your First-Class Mail package includes a trackable service (your mail uses the USPS Tracking service, Signature Confirmation, or Certified Mail service).If it has been seven days or more since the date of mailing and your mailpiece has yet to arrive, you may send USPS a search request.




Priority Mail Service
You can track the cost of mailing with this service.Using the tracking numbers, you can track delivery status via USPS Tracking.

The process is the same as recovering missing First-Class Mail items.
USPS Tracking,Signature Confirmation or Certified Mail Services
You can monitor the delivery status online through the USPS tracking system using the tracking numbers.
The process is the same as recovering missing Priority Mail or First-Class Mail items.





Insurance



Use the insurance tracking numbers on the receipt to check the delivery status online at USPS Tracking.
Wait fourteen or more days from the date of mailing to receive your item.
You can submit a search request for your missing mailpiece on the Missing Mail application or file a claim if you have not received the item after 14 or more days.
Domestic Registered Mail ServiceUSPS Tracking allows you to check the delivery status online using the Registered Mail tracking numbers.The process is the same as recovering missing items with the insurance.
USPS Parcel Select, Retail Ground,andParcel Select Lightweight ServicesYou can track mailpieces shipped via USPS Retail Ground. However, note that these items do not have insurance.
Check delivery status online with USPS Tracking using your tracking numbers.
You can expect your item to arrive eight days after mailing. 
You can submit a search request for your mailpiece using the “Missing Mail” application or email USPS if 14 or more days have passed since the date of mailing.

Typical Causes of Lost USPS Packages

In most cases, USPS loses packages because the address label falls off or the shipping label is illegible or smudged.

To avoid this issue, you can include an additional address label with the delivery and return address inside the package.

The USPS staff can then open the package and print a shipping label without returning the package.

Missing Mail by USPS

If you suspect a package has been lost or stolen, start a missing mail search immediately. USPS will then begin looking for your package in their sorting facilities and trucks.

If your mail has not arrived after 14 or more days, you can initiate a missing mail search.

When Is a Package Officially Lost With USPS?

Before submitting a search request for lost mail, USPS must consider it lost. Note that there are specific timeframes for different types of lost mail. 

Generally, you must wait 7 to 14 days from the date of mailing before requesting that the Postal Service locate the missing package.

How to Find Lost Mail and Packages

It can be frustrating to lose mail or packages. Whether you’re the recipient or sender, you lose time and money.

The U.S. Postal Service deals with millions of mailpieces a day, so it certainly is possible for a letter or package to be lost. 

Below are some ways to find lost mail and packages with USPS.

Check Your Mail or Package Status

If your mail has a tracking option (the sender can provide it if you’re the recipient), visit USPS Tracking to view the delivery status of your mail.

Your package is likely only delayed or stuck in transit rather than lost.

 Typically, online orders are accompanied by tracking numbers, so this tool can be helpful if USPS is delivering your package.

Mail carriers, such as UPS or FedEx, also offer tracking services. Get the latest mail update first.

Ask Your Neighbors

You can also ask your neighbors if they’ve received any items for you. There may have been a mix-up with your apartment or building number.

Collect Mail Info

You must collect all the information you can about your mail before contacting USPS.

For USPS to search for your mail, they need all the information you can provide. Check for the following things before filing a missing mail search:

  • The address provided 
  • The online purchase receipt
  • The package description, including the size, content, brand, and pictures of the item
  • The address of the sender and recipient
  • The item’s monetary value
  • The tracking number, if applicable

Complete a Help Request Form

You can complete your online help request form before you begin a missing mail search. Submit your form using a desktop computer. 

USPS can then forward your request to a local post office facility to help search for any missing items.

Submit a Mail Search Request

If, after seven business days from when you filed your online help request form, the mail or package still hasn’t arrived, file a missing mail search request with the following details:

  • Container or envelope size and type
  • An identification number from USPS, the mailing date from your mailing receipt, or the label receipt for a Click-N-Ship order
  • Sender mailing address
  • Recipient mailing address
  • Contents description, including brand, model, color, and size
  • Pictures that could help USPS recognize your item

Requesting a Refund

You might be eligible for a refund if you use a service that offers a money-back guarantee like Priority Mail Express.

USPS refund requests require proof of purchase (including fees and postage). If you want a refund, you may need one or all of the following:

File a Claim

You can submit an insurance claim depending on whether your mail or package included insurance. 

USPS recommends filing a claim immediately if your package is damaged or missing contents, but you must do so by 60 days after the date of mailing.

USPS Claim Details

USPS’s claim process covers the shipping costs and package value up to the amount you specify if your delivery is insured. 

Missing mail searches can determine if your delivery is lost or damaged, even if you don’t have insurance. Note that you can file an insurance claim between 0-60 days after the date of mailing.

How to File a USPS Claim

You can file a claim for mail without insurance if you use the missing mail search. Save your receipt; it will serve as your proof of insurance. 

The tracking number may also help the post office verify your mail item has insurance.

You can then file your claim online. This step involves logging in to your USPS account. USPS will consider your claim and, if valid, refund the package’s value and shipping costs. 

How a Missing Mail Search Request Works

USPS will send you an email confirming receipt of your missing mail search request after receiving your submission.

USPS might then use your tracking number to determine where your package went off the radar by checking all the times the item has been scanned in transit. 

You might also receive email updates as USPS gathers more information about your package. Hopefully, you’ll receive an email notification informing you your package that your mail has been found.

USPS will package and deliver the item to the address specified in your missing mail search request.

What Mail Types Are Eligible for Search?

The postal service will try to locate and return your lost item, but there is no guarantee of the item’s retrieval.

Suppose USPS finds an accurate address or matches it with an official search request. In that case, the institution will return the mailpiece to the recipient.

However, USPS does not search for or return the following items:

  • Hazardous material
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Prescription drugs
  • Live ammunition
  • Opened hair or beauty products
  • Perishables or food
  • Handguns

“What Do I Need to File a Missing Mail Search Request?”

When completing a Missing Mail search request for a lost mailpiece, you must provide the following information:

  • Mailer and recipient addresses
  • Date of mailing
  • Tracking numbers
  • Important information on the mailpiece, including the container’s or packaging’s  type, size, and color 
  • A description of each item’s content (attach photos, if available, to aid in identification)

How to File or Submit a Missing Mail Search Request

If you want to request a missing mail search, go to USPS’s “Find Missing Mail” page and click on the “Start Your Missing Mail Search” option.

Mail All the Information

As soon as it finishes loading, enter your package’s tracking number. USPS will then automatically fill in your mailing date and service type.

Input Recipient Information

You must also give the recipient’s address details to USPS. Then, USPS will deliver the item to the original recipient if the item was misdelivered.

On the other hand, you can provide a new address to USPS. 

Inform USPS About Parcel Contents

Identifying your missing mail will require you to give USPS more details about the item. The more content you share, the more likely you are to find your shipment.

It would be great to know what type of packaging you use. This information might help USPS recognize the mail faster.

Check USPS Terms, Conditions, and Disclaimers

USPS will prompt you to agree to the Missing Mail terms and conditions after you complete the information section correctly. Check the boxes carefully.

Verify Your Shipment Address

Afterward, you’ll have to confirm your shipping address. Sometimes, USPS will refer you to some parts requiring edits.

Recheck All Information and Submit the Report

Lastly, you will have to review the information you gave USPS. Then, you can begin the search for your missing mail. 

USPS lets users recheck all the information. Correct and edit wherever necessary.

How to Register a Request for Searching Your Missing Mail for International Delivery Systems

Requests for international shipments in Missing Mail follow almost the same procedure. Select the addressee option if you prefer it sent to the intended recipient.

On the other hand, choose Mailer if you want the package returned.

“When Can I File a Missing Mail Search Request?”

You can submit a search request seven days after the mailing date through the Missing Mail application.

 At the same time, you can submit a search request for missing mail by 365 days after the original mailing date.

USPS strongly suggests submitting your search request within the 7-to-365-day window as quickly as possible.

“What Happens if My Lost Mailpiece Is Recovered?”

Upon successfully matching your missing mail search request and retrieving your lost mailpiece, the postal service rewraps your mail. USPS will then send the item to the address you put on the search request form.

Also, you will receive a confirmation email indicating that the missing mail search request status is now ”Mailpiece Found.”

“What Happens if My Lost Mailpiece Is Not Found?”

Missing Mail will continue to search for matches until the search expires.

Suppose a search request can’t find any matches and expires. In that case, you’ll get an email notification indicating your mail cannot be found. 

Searches that fail will change their status to “Expired.”

Can You Include Multiple Items in Your Missing Mail Search Request?

If you have multiple items inside your mailpiece, you can combine them into one missing mail search. Just ensure you include each item’s description. 

Once you have finished describing your first item, you can add another under the “Contents of Your Mailpiece.” 

 However, you must only ask for one request for missing mail search for various mailpieces using one request. Make a separate missing mail search request for each missing mailpiece.

Can I Edit a Submitted Search Request?

You can change the contents of your mailpiece by clicking on the search request from the “Missing Mail Search History” page and then selecting the edit option. You can add or remove items or adjust their details.

However, you cannot edit any other information in your search request. 

On the other hand, you can cancel the search request if the other information is incorrect and submit a new request.

“How Do I Cancel a Search Request?”

The “Missing Mail Search History” page allows you to cancel a submitted search request. 

From this page, locate your submitted request and click on the “X” next to it or select the request and choose the ‘Cancel’ option. 

Your search request will be marked as “Cancelled.” USPS will no longer match your request, and you will receive no further email notifications.

“How Do I Check or Know the Status of My Missing Mail Search Request?”

USPS will update you on the search and send you a final resolution.  

However, you can also go to your account, open your missing mail search history page, and then click on the missing mail application to check on the status of your application. 

For In-Progress Missing Mail Search Requests

USPS offers a few options for ongoing missing mail searches. 

The institution recommends calling 1-800-275-8777 (1-800-ASK-USPS) to find out the phone number of your local Consumer Affairs office to file a missing mail request. 

You can also visit the USPS FAQ page for information on missing mail search requests in progress.

Do USPS Missing Mail Searches Work?

USPS will do its best to locate and return your lost item, but requesting a missing mail search does not guarantee a successful search.

Here Are Some Procedures and Tips for the Times When a Package Is Stolen, Lost, or Missing

While you might find the information you need on USPS’ website, you might not have the time to read through all USPS resources. 

Aside from the tips already mentioned above, you can also do the following steps for lost, stolen, or missing packages:

  • Ensure you have all the necessary information, including tracking info, receipts, shipping dates, package description, and damage documentation. 
  • Check with the retailer if they will resend or refund the item.

USPS Mail Recovery Center

The Postal Service maintains its own lost and found department called the Mail Recovery Center (MRC) in Atlanta. Some may recognize this facility by its older name, the “Dead Letter Office.” 

MRC staff members are dedicated to reuniting lost packages and letters with their intended recipients.

References

  1. Missing Mail – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Missing-Mail-The-Basics
  2. Find Missing Mail
    https://www.usps.com/help/missing-mail.htm
  3. USPS Lost Package
    https://www.stamps.com/usps/usps-lost-package/