How Long Does USPS Hold Packages? What To Do If You Missed The Delivery

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 3rd, 2022

If you have a box held by USPS, you’ll want to ensure you obtain it before it’s returned. Because USPS will not retain the shipment indefinitely, it is critical to know how long they will keep it.

How long does the USPS keep packages? The USPS holds packages for 15 days. This happens when they try to deliver the goods to your shipping address. If you do not pick it up within 15 days, USPS will return it to the sender.


The USPS will usually make one or two efforts to deliver an item. If they cannot deliver the item due to circumstances beyond their control, they will keep it for 15 days after the initial delivery. If you do not pick up your package within 15 days, it will be returned to the sender.

Continue reading to find out how long the USPS holds items and how to utilize the USPS Hold Service.

How long does the USPS keep packages?

The United States Postal Service (USPS) keeps undeliverable parcels for 15 days, counting from the day they were attempted to be delivered.

However, before they keep the parcel, they will make one or two efforts to pass it over to you. If they could not deliver the package to you, it implies they experienced delivery issues beyond their ability to resolve.

If you run into this issue, you should call the sender and double-check their delivery data, such as the delivery address and the date they shipped the goods.

Then call your local USPS office to see if the item has arrived. If it is available and you want the item urgently, you can pick it up instead of waiting for them to deliver it.

USPS will store foreign packages or those sent by persons or corporations from other countries for 30 days. Inbound Express Mail Service shipments are returned to senders after five days unless the sender specifies a shorter time frame on the parcels.

Why is USPS keeping your package?

The USPS does not just keep shipments or mail for no apparent reason. They will do their best to deliver the item at least twice. If they attempt and fail, that’s the only time they’ll have the item.

However, due to the realities of life, postal carriers frequently meet challenges with their mail and package delivery. There are situations when the address on the package is wrong, illegible, or both.

The couriers will be unable to locate the location, no matter how hard they try. This condition inevitably leads to undeliverable shipments and mails.

There are situations when the address is accurate. However, the mailbox is so stuffed that the mailman won’t be able to fit the parcel inside. He could try to give the parcel to a member of the family. However, if the property requires the recipient’s signature, he will be unable to release the object.

The mailman may be unable to deliver a package because the addressee is not there or there is no one in the house. He’ll attempt to provide it again the next work day. If he runs into the same problem again, he will leave a PS Form 3849 at the door.

This form tells the receiver that a mailman attempted but could not deliver a package. However, keep in mind that it is entirely up to the mailman whether or not to leave this form. In any event, the parcel will be held at the USPS office in the meantime.

What Happens When Mail Isn’t Delivered:

The customer must complete the PS Form 3849, which is required to retrieve the parcel held at the post office. The consumer can also pick up the parcel at the local post office.

However, if the consumer takes no action after 15 days, the local post office returns the USPS undelivered parcel to the sender. When it comes to returning the package, there are two options:

  • Package with the return address: If the postal item has a return address, post offices will return it to that address after 15 days. If the local post office discovers no one is accessible at the sender’s address to receive the postal item, the item is routed to the lost mail department.
  • Package without a return address: If a package does not have a return address, it is sent to the Dead Mail Office. Employees attempt to track the return address, and if they cannot locate the sender’s address, they burn the letter to protect the consumers’ privacy. The shipment will be auctioned off if there are valuable items in the shipment.

How Long Does USPS Keep Your Packages?

The US Postal Service offers a service unit called Hold for Pickup. This device delivers packages to any USPS location where a designated recipient can pick up the products. The staff is also in charge of undeliverable mail or parcels.

Every post office in the country has a Hold for Pickup facility. USPS will notify the receiver via email when an undelivered box arrives at a collection site. The email informs them that the delivery is available for collection.

You may use the USPS Hold Mail Service to keep your package for an extended period.

USPS provides a one-of-a-kind service to its customers. It’s known as USPS Hold Mail. If you use this USPS service, you can store your mail or parcels in the security of your local post office.

For example, if you are on vacation in the Caribbean for many weeks, you can ask this service to keep all your goods and mail until you return. The USPS might keep your stuff for up to 30 days.

You can also request that USPS hold your things for a longer period or reroute them. To utilize this feature, you must first join up for a mail forwarding service. You can also make an advance request or even as early as the next scheduled delivery day.

The USPS Hold Mail service is free. You can, however, utilize just one USPS Hold Mail service for one address at a time. This USPS service will keep all things, including parcels and mail, for any people listed at that address.

You do not need to request this special service if you have a P.O. Box at your local USPS facility. All mail and goods delivered to a P.O. Box address are only permitted to stay there for 30 days.

Anyone or any authorized agent can request USPS Hold Mail service for a specific address. However, the agent must have permission from a specific individual to act on their behalf.

A third party can request a USPS Hold Mail service schedule for a specific location if the person authorizing him provides all of the essential information.

How Does the USPS Hold Mail System Work?

  • First, confirm that you have access to Hold Mail.
  • Fill out the online form on the USPS website to see whether you qualify for this service.

(Please remember that Hold Mail holds mail per address, not per individual, so make sure your family or housemates consent to the service.) You can also phone 1-800-ASK-USPS or go to your nearest Post Office.

  • Next, select your dates. Please remember that Hold Mail is not meant for changes of residence or durations of more than 30 days. You might consider USPS Forward Mail Service or USPS Premium Forwarding Service for longer-term temporary delivery, such as for a summer home or a college student living on campus. Fill out a Change of Address form if you are permanently moving your address.
  • Determine how you will get your mail when your Hold Mail Service expires. Pick up your held goods at your local Post Office, or have your postal carrier bring the collected mail to your home after your Hold Mail expiration date. (If you pick up your mail at the Post Office, bring your picture ID with you; you’ll need to show it to have your held mail passed over to you.)
  • Delivery resumes on its normal schedule the day after your End Hold Date. For example, if your End Hold date was October 4, regular activities will resume on October 5.

How to Request a Hold Mail Service from the US Postal Service

A client can submit a request for the USPS Hold Mail service in four ways: In writing, over the phone, in person, or on the internet. The following are the procedures for seeking this particular service.


A hold mail or package request can be triggered by phoning USPS one day in advance during business hours: 1-800-ASK-USPS.


During business hours, fill out an authorization form at your local post office. This can also be printed and filled out ahead of time. Make sure to arrive before closing to initiate a vacation hold with USPS that will last until the following day.


  • Sign up for a new account or sign in if you currently have one. Before you begin, check if the service is available in your region. To verify, enter the specified address.
  • Provide a genuine cellphone number for identification before answering the questions. If the address is not recognized, then alternative techniques must be tried.
  • The USPS will ask you to specify the days you want your mail held.
  • Next, figure out how to get the mail once the USPS hold package service expires.
  • After completing all verification and authorization, a request confirmation number will be shown, and a confirmation email will be issued to the specified email address. This number can then be used if there are any issues with the request or if revisions are required.

By mail

  • Look for your local Post Office’s mailing address. (To find the address in your region, use the Post Office Locator.)
  • Send a letter to the USPS requesting the Hold Mail service.
  • Address the letter to the Postmaster of the Local Post Office.
  • Send your request letter through the mail.
  • Wait for the return message and follow the instructions it contains.

How Long Can a Package Be Placed on Hold?

You can ask USPS to hold your mail and parcels for three to thirty days. You must sign up for a USPS Forward Mail service if you need to keep your mail for more than 30 days. The unit above serves the demands of consumers who are moving or migrating for a brief period.

Is It Possible to Cancel, Change, or Edit Your USPS Hold Mail Request?

You certainly can. After you submit your request, USPS will provide you with a confirmation number. You would get the number by email or via the Customer Care Center if you completed it. As a result, you must provide the right email address to the USPS.

You can alter or cancel your USPS Hold Mail request using your confirmation number. Click the link in your confirmation email or call the Customer Care Center.

You can still make modifications or cancel your request if you don’t have a confirmation number. However, you must go to your nearest Post Office and provide one of the Acceptable Forms of Identification.

If you cannot visit the office in person, you may phone and notify them of your desire to make modifications or cancelations. You must follow the procedures provided by the USPS.

Can You Pick Up Your USPS Hold Mail Earlier Than You Requested?

You can pick up your ‘Hold Mail’ earlier than you asked. However, there will be a cost. The USPS will instantly rescind your request, and regular mail delivery will resume on the next Postal working day.

Can You Give Someone Else the Authority to Pick Up Your USPS Hold Mail?

You may ask someone else to pick up your ‘Hold Mail.’ All you have to do is draft an authorization letter allowing that individual to pick up your held mail.

Send your message to the Postmaster of your local Post Office. The authorized person must provide a valid Identification Card to the Post Office to obtain the detained item.

What Happens If the Package Isn’t Picked Up After the Hold Period Ends?

USPS will return the item to the sender if you surpass the 15-day domestic package limit and the 30-day international parcel limit. However, for Inbound Express Mail Service, the USPS returns the item unless the sender requests a shorter time frame.

In such cases, USPS adheres to the standards outlined in the 766 Retention Period. Section 766.1 of these rules stipulate that foreign mail will be held at Post Office premises for 30 days.

However, unless the sender specifies otherwise, incoming Express Mail Service shipments must be returned within 5 days.

There are, however, exceptions to this rule. The item is deemed undeliverable if the USPS fails to deliver the package or the receiver refuses to accept it (Section 766.2 of the USPS Rules and Regulations).

How much does USPS’s Hold Mail Service cost?

The USPS provides freehold mail service.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Hold Mail?

  • Plan ahead of time… or don’t!
  • If you desire Hold Mail Service, you can notify the Post Office 30 days before your original hold date or the day before your next planned delivery date.
  • When your Hold Mail option expires, be prepared for a flood of mail.
  • Understand that deliverable held mail refers exclusively to items that will fit in your postal receptacle. If the amount of held mail does not fit in your mailbox on the selected re-delivery day, you will receive a reminder to pick up the rest directly from the Post Office.
  • Prepare for non-USPS delivery.
  • Whether you get packages from carriers other than USPS, have a friend or neighbor check your door for you, or contact the shippers directly to see if they provide alternatives for storing or redelivering components.

Is it possible to pick up a package from USPS before it is delivered?

You should know that it is feasible to pick up a box from USPS before delivery is begun (or finished), but it’s also really quick and uncomplicated to do so.

The USPS recognizes that many people around the country are ready to meet USPS halfway (and sometimes more) to receive their packages as soon as practicable.

Some people are even ready to drive down to the local USPS facility or post office extremely early in the morning (often before the sun comes up) to pick up a box before it is placed onto a truck and delivered.

Most of the time, going down to the post office and picking up a parcel before it is delivered is a fairly simple (and easy to pull off) operation. It’s something that millions of people around the country do every week!

As a result, the USPS has established two distinct alternatives for getting your hands on a box before it is delivered. You have the option of using a package intercept or a package hold.

The wonderful thing about the solutions is that they give you much more freedom over how you acquire your delivery.

Is it possible to pick up USPS packages if delivery was missed?

If you suspect your package delivery was missed (for whatever reason), you may be able to request that the USPS hold your package for you until you can come down to the post office and pick it up yourself.

Most of the time, the USPS will attempt to redeliver parcels the next business day; however, if there were delivery challenges that prevented them from dropping off on the first day, those same issues may make it difficult for them to drop off the following day as well.

In those circumstances, a short phone to the post office to ask them to hold your parcel until you can get there later that night or early the next morning is frequently all that is required to resolve the situation.

Where Do I Go to Pick Up Intercepted Packages?

Packages that have been intercepted can be picked up at your local post office, a USPS distribution facility, or at diverted locations. Picking up parcels at a USPS distribution facility is the most difficult of the lot since certain distribution centers do not allow public access.

This is why it’s crucial to contact beforehand, to work out how to best handle the logistics of acquiring a parcel before it’s delivered, and to iron out all of the little issues before driving down to a distribution center or post office and expecting your box to appear virtually out of thin air.

Can USPS tell me where my package is before I begin an interception?

One of the questions you should ask any postal employee before launching an intercept effort is where your package is at the moment.

Suppose your item is being held up in a distribution center, for example. In that case, it may make perfect sense to intercept it and pick it up personally, especially if the holdup means your box will not be delivered for another day or two (maybe even longer).

On the other hand, the USPS notifies you that your parcels are being delivered right now (at this very moment) – and you know that the mail will reach you in a matter of hours, if not sooner – you may not want to conduct an intercept at all.

Most individuals want to decide whether or not to intercept a shipment at least a day or two before the scheduled delivery date.

Any closer than that (for example, the day of birth), and starting this process will almost always result in more stress and difficulty than anything else.

Will USPS Deliver My Package to a Location Other Than the Delivery Address?

In general, USPS isn’t interested in delivering your product to any address other than the one written on the mailing label.

However, there are certain exceptions.

For example, you can request that your items be kept at your local post office (behind the counter) until you can come down and pick them up personally. Because there aren’t many postal employees at the USPS, such demands will be denied.

Second, you can have your shipment delivered to a different place at your intended delivery address.

Instead of having your items delivered beneath your mailbox or at your front door, request that they be slid into the breezeway, placed inside the garage, or hidden behind a shrub.

Most USPS postal carriers will do everything possible to meet such requests. They strive to ensure that you receive your mail and shipments with as little stress and inconvenience as possible.

The one thing the USPS (usually) will not do is run your item across town for no additional postage. These intercepts can occasionally) be launched online or at the post office. Still, clients will almost always have to pay a small cost to cover the intercept price and the additional postage (when applicable).

Finally, how long does USPS keep a package?

The USPS holds packages for 15 days. You can pick up the parcel at the nearest USPS office. If you do not claim your shipment within 15 days, USPS will return it to the sender.

The USPS will attempt to deliver an item to your address twice. If they cannot deliver the package, they will keep it for 15 days after the initial delivery attempt. If you do not pick up your package within 15 days, it will be returned to the sender.


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