Updated on June 28th, 2022

There is no denying that missing mail or packages is frustrating. Whether you’re the recipient or sender, your time and in some cases, money is wasted anyway.

USPS handles millions of mail pieces on a daily basis so it would make sense for a letter or package to get lost. But unfortunately, when it’s a critical mail or expensive package, it’s even worse.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About A Forwarded Package

So you’re still waiting for your USPS lost package or mail, now what? Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to try and recover your mail.

However, there is no guarantee that you will retrieve your lost mail or package in the end.

How Does Mail Get Lost? 

There are many reasons as to why you wouldn’t get mail or packages such as the shipping label falling off, the address or recipient name getting smeared in case of bad weather, or the most common reason of all, an incorrect address.

Just one wrong digit in the zip code can make all the difference with mail delivery. Or in another scenario, you move and don’t apply for a change of address so your mail is sent to your old address.

You need to be careful when sending out mail to get the address right, write it clearly and in permanent marker. Now that we have an idea of why this might’ve happened let’s see how we can fix it.

 

Read more: Your USPS Package Was Forwarded To A Different Address: Now What?

How to find lost mail and packages?

When your USPS package or mail doesn’t arrive on the expected delivery date, the first thing that will come to your mind is, the mail or package is lost, and how can I find a lost mail? 

It’s good you know that, at times, late deliveries don’t mean your mail is lost; it might be due to some avoidable issues either from your sender, the shipping company, or USPS. 

Now let’s assume your mail has gotten lost; here’s how to find a lost mail in 4 simple steps:

Step 1: Check your mail or package status:  

If your mail has a tracking option (the sender can give you the tracking number if you’re the recipient), go to USPS Tracking and check on the current status of your mail.

It’s possible that it is only delayed, stuck in transit, and not necessarily lost.

Most online orders are accompanied by tracking numbers so if you’re waiting for a package delivered by USPS, you can use this tool.

If you’re using other mail carriers like UPS or FedEx, they also provide tracking services. So first, find out the latest update with your mail.

Step 2: Ask your neighbors:

It is possible that the status was “delivered” and you never got anything.

In this case, you need to start asking your neighbors if they’ve received any mail or packages for you, it is possible there was confusion with the apt. or building number.

You should also ask your mailman about it; this may even be the first, obvious thing to do.

Sometimes, if you’re not home, but you’re expecting a valuable package, your mailman will leave a missed delivery notice instead. Another answer to a delivered status is mail theft.

It is a common problem with mail in the United States and gets even worse during the holidays. So, if you think this is the case, it’s best to immediately report it to your local Post Office and the Police.

Step 3: Collect Mail info:

Now that you’ve confirmed your mail is missing, you need to collect all the information possible on your mail before contacting USPS.

For USPS to start a mail search, they need to know everything you know about your package.

You need to make sure that:

  • The correct address was used
  • The sender’s and recipient’s address
  • The monetary value of it
  • The tracking number if available
  • The receipt if it’s an online purchase
  • The package description like the package size, content, brand, pictures of the item, and anything else you can gather.

Step Four: Submit a Mail Search Request:

After you’ve gathered information about your missing mail, the next thing is to submit a mail search request with USPS. 

How to submit a USPS missing mail search request

1-Check on the status of your mail: Before submitting a search request, check the status of your mail using the USPS service request status. Sometimes there might have been a delay in delivering it to you due to unavoidable issues; therefore, you’ll have to wait a few days after your expected delivery date.

2-Send a Help Request Form: Your package may just be misplaced at the local Post Office. Submit a help request form at the Post Office or online and it’ll be forwarded to the Post Office.

3-Submit a Search Request for Missing Mail: You can submit this request after 7 days from the expected delivery date and within one year of the original mailing date. USPS will send you a confirmation email and forward your request to the Post Office to start their search.

 

When is a USPS Mail or Package Officially Lost?

A piece of mail must be considered lost by the USPS before you can submit a search request to find it, and there are specific time requirements for different kinds of lost mail. For most mail classes, the package must be lost for at least 7 days from the date of mailing before you can initiate a request to have the USPS search for the missing mailpiece.  Below is a table showing the different times USPS considers mail lost depending on the mail class

 

How do I check the status of my Missing Mail search request?

USPS will send you periodic updates about the search and a final resolution with what they’ve got but you can also log into your account, open the missing mail search history page, and then the missing mail application to check on the status of your application. 

There are various statuses that you can find, here are what they mean: 

  • Accepted: USPS accepted the customer’s search request 
  • Rejected: The application has been rejected, this can be because of a duplicate or for other reasons. Contact USPS for further explanation. 
  • Mailpiece Found: This means that the lost item was found and is currently at the Postal Service inventory, ready to be sent to you. 
  • Expired: This means that the search retention period has expired and the Postal Service is no longer looking for the package. 
  • Saved as Draft: The customer hasn’t completed filling out the search request form so it was saved as a draft. 
  • Canceled: The customer canceled the mail search request as it’s no longer needed. 

 

How does the USPS Missing Mail Search work?

USPS starts their search at the Mail Recovery Center which is headquartered in Atlanta, GA, also known as the mail’s lost & found. This is where all the mail with an “incorrect address” or “return to sender” winds up.

However, most of the time, if mail or packages are left unclaimed and have a monetary value of less than $25 it is shredded without opening.     

USPS holds the mail according to its delivery service and value. For example, priority mail, certified or ordinary mail is kept for up to 3 months.

While insured packages or express mail is help for up to 6 months, maybe even longer sometimes.

At the end of this period, the valuable packages are put up in auctions.

If your package is insured, valuable, priority, or registered mail, you can file a claim.

Claims can be filed for domestic and international shipping; however, they shouldn’t be delayed any later than 60 days from the time of mailing.

In this case, if the package is not found, you will be reimbursed for it.

It is also recommended that the sender and recipient submit a mail search in case you’re missing a USPS package or mail. This way, the priority for finding your mail would be higher. 

  

An Alternative Solution?

To save yourself from the frustration of losing your mail and packages, you can secure them by signing up for a virtual mailbox. 

Know What’s the Difference Between Physical PO Box and Virtual PO Box?

A virtual mailbox is a convenient, online mailbox. Your mail will be delivered to state-of-the-art mail facilities lessening the risk of mail theft and mail going missing.

Experienced mail operators will scan the envelopes of your mail and upload them to your mailbox.   

PostScan Mail offers virtual mailboxes with a variety of nationwide addresses. You can choose to have a virtual PO Box or a virtual mailbox with a real street address.

Logging into your online mailbox can be done through your phone; you just choose the mail piece and pick an action like open & scan, forward, archive, or shred.

You can forward mail to yourself wherever you are, no matter how many times you move. Get your virtual mailbox today and never worry about your mail getting lost, stuck, or misplaced again. 

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USPS Lost Packages and Missing Mail

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions by consumers about How to Find USPS Lost Packages or Missing Mail

There are so many reasons why your mail may not be delivered. It might be due to problems with your sender, or maybe the mail is stuck up in transit. This can result from the USPS system’s loss, damage, or tracking failure. Also, it can be that the post office has mislabeled or misplaced your package. 

There are so many reasons why your package is still stuck in transit. It might be due to a USPS tracking system failure, a lost or damaging package, or an incorrect or incomplete address. Also, if your package is too large or heavy for its label, a shipping depot has stopped progress on the shipment until you pay the difference; it will be kept in transit. 

Environmental conditions like traffic or bad weather can slow down USPS trucks responsible for delivering your package.

If your package crosses international borders, it may be stuck at customs due to errors in customs documents, unpaid duty/taxes, or prohibited items in your package. 

If your USPS package is lost, consider checking its status using the tracking number, and ask your neighbours and your mailman whether there’s a mistake in the building or apartment number when delivering. You can file a mail search request with USPS if it’s not found. 

Suppose USPS says delivered, but you have received no package. In that case, it’s either the mailman has mistakenly delivered the package to one of your neighbours or the package has been stolen after it was delivered to your doorstep or mailbox. 

You can easily contact USPS about a missing package by filling out their help request form online before starting a missing mail search. USPS will then forward your request to your local post office to help you search for your missing items. 

If you’ve not received your USPS package, consider submitting a help request form, and if after 7 days there’s no development, then you’ll file for a mail search request with the USPS. 

Even if the United States Postal Service (USPS) lost your package, they’d likely try to do everything in their power to make good with you, though they may or may not necessarily be responsible for the lost package.

 

A lot of this depends on whether or not you or the sender invested in postal insurance. It’s always a good idea to purchase postal insurance when sending something of value, especially since it is so affordable compared to losing an important piece of mail and then having to buy it again, even if the package is replaceable. 

 

Most of the time, the USPS will continually look for your missing packages. The fact that your package is missing never gets deleted from the USPS database, and that means that if it is found at any point in time in the future and then scanned again, the USPS will be alerted, you’ll be contacted, and you’ll be able to track that package from the point that it will be delivered to your doorstep once again. USPS also offers refunds for lost mails and never delivered to their final destination as long as the package is insure

Before filing a USPS lost package claim, we recommend you fill out a help request form and submit a missing mail search request. Both steps have been discussed extensively above. 

If both steps fail, you could file a packaging claim with USPS online or by calling 800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777) to send a package claim form to your mail. Also, you’ve to get your evidence of insurance, proof of value, and proof of damage or package lost ready as you’ll be requested to show them.

 

USPS will begin to search for your mail from the time you submit your online search request for up to 3 months before the search period expires.

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