What Does “In Transit” Mean?
November 9, 2023
The 2021 forecast for the global same-day delivery market was that it would exceed $8.4 billion and increase further to $26.4 billion by 2027.
Such numbers suggest an increasing demand for same-day delivery services. However, it is also possible that more people are concerned with delays and transit times.
If you’re one of these people, knowing your item’s delivery information, including status updates, can be beneficial in ensuring a smooth delivery experience.
One of the standard status updates you will likely encounter is the “in transit” status.
What does this status represent? How different is it from the “out for delivery” status? How long should an “in transit” status last?
This article discusses the various tracking messages, including the “in transit” status, among different courier companies. This article also explores the destinations your package will likely pass through in its journey toward its recipient.
If you need to send and track packages through the United States Postal Service (USPS), FindPostOffice.org can help you locate the nearest post office. FindPostOffice.org’s online search tool can let you search post offices by city, state, and ZIP code.
What Does “In Transit” Mean on Tracking Info?
Suppose you send a package and check its tracking information on your courier company’s website. If you see an “in transit” status on your shipping information, your parcel is currently moving from one location to the next within the shipping process.
This status can mean any of the following situations:
- Your package has just left the facility from where you have shipped the item and is heading toward the first stop, such as a shipping warehouse or hub, before getting rerouted to the next location.
- Your shipment is currently traveling between different hubs.
- Your package is heading toward the last destination before arriving at the recipient’s doorstep.
In Transit vs. Out for Delivery
If you aren’t familiar with what “in transit” and “out for delivery” notifications mean, you can easily get confused or think they are the same.
However, these labels refer to different points in the shipping process and do not pertain to the same point in the package’s journey.
“In transit” means your package is en route to its final destination but may also be at the facility awaiting pickup for delivery.
On the other hand, “out for delivery” means your parcel has been picked up from a local distribution center, loaded onto a delivery truck, and is making its way to the recipient’s address.
In other words, an “in transit” status usually comes before you receive an “out for delivery” notification, which should be your shipment’s last status update before it arrives at the destination and the courier marks the parcel as delivered.
USPS Tracking Messages
When you send packages through the United States Postal Service (USPS), you will likely encounter the following status updates in your parcel’s shipping information:
- Electronic shipping info received: This status update usually appears when USPS prepares your package for shipment before the courier gets the physical package from you.
Business owners and eCommerce operators can use online tools to create USPS tracking labels. In such cases, this status update shows up on the parcel’s tracking information upon printing those shipping labels.
- Acceptance: When you see this status update on your tracking information, USPS has received and accepted your physical package and has scanned it into the company’s system.
If you drop off your package with USPS, this message may be the first status update on your item’s shipping information.
- Processed through sort facility: This status means a USPS facility or local sorting facility has processed your package and is preparing to move the item to the next destination in your package’s journey.
- Departed from the USPS facility: Upon your package’s departure from a USPS facility, this status informs you that your package is already moving toward the next hub along the parcel’s delivery route.
- In transit: As discussed earlier, “in transit” indicates that your package is moving between locations. In this case, your item is moving from one USPS location to another.
“In transit” can also mean your package is onboard a plane, train car, or USPS truck.
- Arrival at unit: When you see this status on your parcel’s tracking information, your item has arrived and been scanned at the last USPS hub before moving to the final delivery location.
Sometimes, this status can mean your item has moved to a local post office near the destination and will be loaded into a delivery truck.
This update can also mean your package has arrived at a regional hub and will be dropped off at the recipient’s P.O. box shortly.
- Out for delivery: This status update appears when USPS delivers your package to the final destination. You should expect the postal employee to drop off the item at the delivery address or P.O. box on that day.
- Delivered: Once your package’s shipping information shows this status, your shipment has completed its journey through the USPS system. At this point, your recipient has received your parcel, or the item is in their mailbox.
FedEx Tracking Messages
Federal Express (FedEx) shares some similarities with USPS regarding status notifications. However, there are a few other statuses that you may need to understand. The following tracking messages apply to FedEx shipments:
- New: This status update informs you of new shipping information about your package being added to the FedEx database, either directly from a FedEx location or digitally from a third-party source.
If you’re the shipper, this status can also mean FedEx has picked up your package and has started the delivery to your recipient.
- Delivered: Similar to USPS’ “delivered” status, this FedEx status means your package has arrived at its destination, and the delivery is complete.
When you see this status on your parcel’s shipping information, your recipient has likely received your package at their doorstep, in their mailbox, or at a specific FedEx drop-off point.
- In transit: This message can mean different things and does not necessarily mean your package is moving through the FedEx shipping process.
When you see an “in transit” message on your package’s shipping information, your item may be in any of the following situations:
- Awaiting movement at a FedEx facility
- Already left a FedEx facility
- Moving between FedEx locations
- Traveling in a FedEx delivery vehicle for drop-off at the recipient’s address
The context of these messages on your tracking information can help determine what’s happening to your package while in transit.
- Delivery exception: While the “delivered” status may be an outcome you prefer seeing on your package’s tracking information, “delivery exception” may be something you don’t want to encounter.
Receiving this message means FedEx has attempted but cannot complete the delivery for various reasons, causing the delivery date to be pushed back by one day or more.
If you see this message, contact FedEx’s customer service to see what you can do to resolve the situation and facilitate a smoother delivery.
UPS Tracking Messages
If you send a package through the United Parcel Service (UPS), some common updates you’ll likely find are as follows:
- Arrival scan: This status indicates that your package has arrived at a UPS facility and lets you know whether your item arrives at the originating or a follow-on facility before reaching the final destination.
- Clearance completed: This message appears when your package arrives from overseas or is being sent to a different country and must go through customs.
If your package doesn’t need to clear customs, you won’t likely see this update in your item’s tracking information.
- Departure scan: This update lets you know that your UPS package has departed one facility and is heading to another.
If you haven’t seen an “in transit” status in your shipment information, the “departure scan” message lets you know that your package is on the move.
- Destination scan: This delivery status means your package has arrived at the last UPS facility before the courier attempts the final delivery.
- In transit: As discussed earlier in this article, this status indicates that your package is moving through the courier’s shipping process, such as by ground or air.
- Out for delivery or on vehicle for delivery: This status message means your UPS package is in a truck heading to the delivery location, and you can expect the courier to drop off your parcel within the day.
- Delivered: This tracking status update means the courier has delivered your package to its final destination and is ready to be received by the recipient.
How Long Does “In Transit” Take?
The “in transit” duration usually depends on several factors, like how far one facility is from another or whether the vehicle carrying your package is a truck or plane.
Your chosen shipping service with a published or guaranteed delivery speed can also affect this duration. If the guaranteed delivery is overnight, you can expect the status to last no longer than a day.
However, there are times when your recipient receives the item sooner. There are also instances when the delivery gets delayed, causing the “in transit” status to last longer.
Examples of such situations that can cause your package to arrive late include:
- Adverse weather conditions
- Heavy traffic
- High shipping volumes during festive seasons
- Failed delivery attempts
- Customs delays
How Long Is a Package in Transit With UPS?
If you send a UPS package, its tracking information shouldn’t display the “in transit” notification for more than 24 hours. The reason is that the transit time between UPS facilities usually takes 24 hours or less.
Packages traveling overseas can sometimes have the “in transit” status for an extended period due to longer travel times.
The number of facilities your package has to travel through can also affect the duration and number of times the “in transit” notification appears in your package’s shipping information.
However, if your parcel’s delivery time takes too long and the tracking information shows the “in transit” notification for an extended period, consider contacting UPS customer service to ensure your package is not misplaced or lost.
What Are the Destinations Your Mail Piece Is Moving Ahead Through?
During the shipping process, your package will likely pass through different facilities or destinations, including the following:
- Processing centers
- Regional delivery hubs
- Local post offices
If you mail a USPS package, the courier processes your item in a processing facility, which is often the fastest stop. This facility efficiently manages high-volume mail by routing mail pallets or packages to the next step in the process as soon as possible.
Suppose your package gets separated from its original pallet and recombined with other items heading to a smaller processing center overseas. Your item may sit in a regional hub for a while before shipping out.
When your package reaches a local post office, the mail carrier will deliver your item to the recipient’s physical address or P.O. box. If your item has a tracking number, you can use that number to check your item’s delivery status update.
What Are the Other Tracking Updates You Will See Apart From “In Transit”?
As discussed in the earlier topics about USPS, FedEx, and UPS tracking messages, other updates you can receive aside from “in transit” involve acceptance at the original facility, processing through different hubs, and delivery to the final destination.
- What does “package stuck in transit” mean?
This status means your item is currently in transit but may be experiencing delays for any reason that may or may not be in the courier company’s control.
- Why is my parcel stuck in transit?
Sometimes your package can take longer to reach its destination due to unforeseen events like bad weather or getting stuck in customs. Such events can cause your item to remain “stuck in transit” for an extended period.
In such cases, contact your courier for information about your package.
- Why has my package not moved in a week?
Some reasons your package is not moving for a long time are:
- Incomplete or wrong address
- Customs clearance requirement
- International shipping, which can have longer delivery times
- Traffic or adverse weather conditions
- Oversized or overweight package
- Improper packaging
- Lost package
- Undeliverable shipments, such as prohibited items
- What do I do if my package is stuck in transit?
If you’re a recipient and believe your package is stuck in transit, contact the parties involved to determine your package’s status. These parties include the shipper or courier company.
By contacting these parties, you can ask about your parcel’s location or ensure the shipping process goes smoothly.
- My package is delivered to the recipient. Will it still show that it is still currently in transit?
Suppose your package is in its last leg of the shipping journey, such as from the local post office to your recipient’s address. Your item’s status should change to “out for delivery,” such as in the case of USPS and UPS deliveries discussed earlier.
Once the recipient accepts your package, the status should be “delivered.”
- Why is my shipment still in transit when it was supposed to be delivered already?
If your item’s tracking information still shows an “in transit” message, your package may have encountered delays, or the courier has not updated the status on time.
You can contact the shipping company and ask for some information about your package if there is a delay in delivery.
- Can I pick up my package while it is still in transit?
You can pick up an in-transit package depending on where it is and whether the courier allows you to do so. Contact the shipping company or local post office beforehand if you plan on picking up an in-transit package.
- Does “out for delivery” mean I get it today?
An “out for delivery” status typically means your shipment has left the local shipping facility and is onboard a delivery truck heading to your recipient’s home. You can expect your shipment to arrive by the end of the day.
- Am I entitled to a reimbursement if my parcel was stuck in transit?
Suppose the shipping service you use has guaranteed delivery, and the package got stuck in transit, causing the courier to be unable to honor that guarantee.
You can file a claim if your shipment meets the conditions to qualify for reimbursement.
- What does USPS “item currently in transit to the destination” or “in transit to next facility” mean?
USPS uses the “in transit to next facility” status as a placeholder to mean the company has no specific scan to describe your item’s status other than the mail is still en route to the next stop.
This status usually appears when your package has no other scanning activity during the last 24 hours.
- Why has my package with FedEx not moved?
FedEx packages typically receive scans at various points between pickup and delivery, and shipments traveling for more than 24 hours without a scan between these points is not uncommon.
If you enter a tracking number but don’t see scans indicating movement for your shipment, contact your shipper to verify that you have the tracking number.
You can also ask the shipper to contact FedEx if your package has not moved for a long time.
- Why has my package with UPS not moved?
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, UPS experienced an influx of packages and delayed deliveries. Due to the high volume, trailers full of shipments often sit at facilities because the company can’t process deliveries on time. Consider waiting for a day or two to see if movement resumes.
- Why has my USPS package not moved?
Your USPS package may appear not moving for many reasons mentioned in this article. Examples include issues with customs clearance, traffic, weather conditions, and lost packages.
You can always contact USPS for information about your package’s status if the delivery has not moved for an extended period.
- How late and on what days does UPS deliver?
UPS delivers packages from Monday to Friday. Some services allow Saturday deliveries and pickups for commercial and residential packages and Sunday deliveries and pickups for residential addresses.
Most UPS trucks deliver from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM for specific delivery windows. But if you live near a UPS facility, the company can deliver packages from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
- Can you track your UPS package in real time?
In 2016, UPS implemented Follow My Delivery, a tracking feature providing real-time package tracking when your item is out for delivery.
This feature doesn’t reveal the driver’s route but lets you track your package’s movement on a real-time map to see its distance to your address.
The downside of this feature is that it is not available to everyone.
- What comes after “in transit” at UPS?
Since the “in transit” status means your package is traveling from one UPS facility to another, the next step should be your item arriving at the next stop, resulting in an “arrival scan” or “destination scan” status.
- What if a package from AliExpress is still in transit?
Any courier company delivering shipments, such as those ordered from AliExpress (a Chinese online retail service), will strive to avoid transit time delays as much as possible.
However, despite the couriers’ best efforts, you may still see delivery statuses like “parcel is still in transit” or similar messages. This tracking status means your order is progressing as usual and on its way to you.
If you think the delivery is taking too long, contact the shipper or courier regarding your shipment’s status.
- Forecast of the global same-day delivery market size from 2021 to 2027