Postal services, such as USPS are essential for providing a reliable and accessible means of delivering mail and packages.

Although postal delays are undesired, they can sometimes occur. If you’re using USPS and waiting for your package to arrive, you may sometimes receive an “In Transit, Arriving Late” status update. This means that your package is en route to you, but may be slightly delayed.

Some reasons for these delays are related to bad weather, high throughput, routing, or transportation issues. While these factors can often lead to delays, USPS ensures that your mail or package is delivered timely.

In this article, we take a closer look at what the status “In Transit, Arriving Late” means, the reasons why your package may be delayed, and when you can expect your package. 

What Does “In Transit, Arriving Late” Mean?

When the status of a package shows as “In Transit, Arriving Late” on the USPS tracking page, it means that the package is en route and on its way to be delivered to you. However, USPS has noticed a delay along the way, which means that your mail or package may arrive later than initially anticipated.

In Transit, Arriving Late USPS Update
A USPS Shipment With an “In Transit, Arriving Late” Update

Delays may occur before your package reaches a regional hub or when it’s dispatched to the final delivery address. While USPS is aware of these delays, your package is scheduled to arrive later than the original estimated time of arrival (ETA) provided at the time of shipment.

Reasons Why Your USPS Package May Be Arriving Late

Your USPS package may be arriving late due to a variety of reasons, such as weather-related issues, high volume of mail, transportation issues, or errors in sorting or labeling the package. Let’s take a detailed look at each of these reasons. 

Transportation-Related Delays

Transportation-related delays can significantly impact the delivery time of your USPS package. This can occur due to a range of issues, such as truck breakdowns, traffic congestion, road closures, and other transportation-related challenges.

Truck breakdowns can happen unexpectedly and lead to delays in package delivery, especially if there are no backup trucks available to take over the deliveries. Traffic congestion can also be a major cause of transportation-related delays, particularly in heavily populated areas.

Similarly, road closures due to construction, special events, accidents, or other unforeseen circumstances may also delay the delivery of your package, as delivery schedules may need to be replanned and delivery trucks rerouted.

Incorrect or Incomplete Shipping Address

An incorrect or incomplete shipping address can also cause delivery delays. If the address on the package is incorrect or incomplete, USPS may still attempt to deliver the package, but it may take longer for them to find the correct address.

In some cases, USPS may reach out to the sender or recipient to obtain the correct address information, which could cause a delay. However, if they are unable to contact anyone, they may attempt a delivery to the address provided, which can cause further delays.

Carrier Capacity

Carrier capacity can also significantly result in package delivery delays for USPS. During peak seasons such as Christmas or other holidays, carriers typically experience a much higher volume of mail and packages than usual.

This increase in volume can sometimes exceed USPS’ handling capacity, leading to delays in package processing and delivery. Labor shortages during peak seasons (especially national holidays) may also contribute to delays.

Additional Security Screening

If a package is flagged as suspicious or potentially containing prohibited items, it may be subject to additional security screening before it can be delivered.

These additional screenings typically occur inside regional or local distribution centers and can take various forms, such as scanning the package with specialized equipment or even physically examining the contents of the package.

Outstanding Duties & Taxes

When a package arrives at its destination country, you may be required to pay customs duties and taxes before the package can be released for delivery. These duties and taxes are assessed by the destination country’s customs agency and are typically based on the value of the package contents.

If you do not pay taxes on time, the package may be held at customs and not released for delivery, causing a delay in delivery. Please note that this is only applicable to international consignments.

What Actions You Can Take to Ensure A Timely Delivery

While several factors can impact delivery times, there are also steps you can take to help ensure timely delivery. By taking proactive measures and staying informed about the status of your package, you can help to minimize the risk of delays and ensure that your package arrives when it’s expected.

In this regard, you can take a few key actions to help ensure your USPS package is delivered on time.

  • Double-Check Your Shipping Details – It is important to verify that your address and other details are correct, and if they are not, contact USPS immediately to have the correct address reflected in their system.
  • Communicate with USPS Customer Service – If your USPS package is delayed, it is important to communicate with their customer service department to find out the reason for the delay, what you can do to resolve the issue, and to get a new estimated delivery date. Contacting customer service can help you stay informed and take appropriate action to ensure your package arrives as quickly as possible.
  • Engage Your Local Post Office – If USPS customer service was unable to assist with your delayed package, it’s possible that the package has already arrived at your local post office, but they were unable to deliver or locate you. In this case, it’s a good idea to engage your local post office by either giving them a call or visiting them in person.
  • File For Missing Mail Search Request – In case you have not received your package after an extended period, you may want to consider filing a Missing Mail Search Request on their website. This service allows customers to request that USPS locate mail that is missing or has not been delivered to the intended recipient. You can file for this service on the USPS website or by visiting your local post office.

What Activities Happen Before Your Package is In Transit

Before your package is in transit, USPS goes through several activities to prepare it for delivery, such as accepting, processing, and sorting it at their facilities. Additionally, USPS may conduct security checks, verify addresses, and collect any necessary fees before the package is cleared for shipment.

USPS Shipping Label Created

This stage involves picking and packing of goods at the sender’s location or seller’s facility, as well as the preparation of documentation such as shipping labels and invoices. Once everything is ready, the shipping label is printed and your package is dispatched to USPS and handed over with all the necessary documents. 

Package Received by USPS

At this stage, the tracking number and statuses for the package are created, allowing you to track the progress. USPS can receive the package in two different ways – either it is received at a USPS facility, which means that the seller dropped it off at a USPS location, or it is picked up by USPS, which means that USPS came to pick up the package from the seller’s location.

Departed USPS Regional Facility

Your package then departs the USPS regional facility, after it is sorted and consolidated by destination regions and is en route to the designated USPS facility. This stage typically follows the “Package Received by USPS” stage, where the package has been received by USPS and tracking numbers and statuses have been created. The package is now in transit and moving closer to its final destination.

What Activities Happen After Your Package is In Transit

After your package is in transit, it will go through various activities, such as arriving at different USPS facilities, being sorted and processed, and being transported to the destination post office. Finally, the package will be out for delivery and then marked as delivered once it has been successfully handed over to you.

Preparing for Delivery 

The stage of preparing for delivery involves the receiving, deconsolidation, and sorting of packages at the destination facility of USPS. The packages are scanned and processed before being loaded onto the delivery vehicle.

In case a package is sent to the wrong location, USPS will attempt to identify the correct location and re-route the package to the correct facility for correct sorting and processing. 

Out for Delivery

Out for Delivery is the stage where the package has been scheduled and loaded onto a delivery truck, and a delivery attempt will be made to your address. At this point, the package is usually close to its final destination, and your should expect to receive it on the same day.

The delivery driver will follow a set route to deliver packages, and you should keep an eye out for the driver’s arrival. Keep in mind that if your package status indicates “In Transit, Arriving Late”, there is a delay and you may receive your package later than intended.


The “Delivered” status in USPS tracking indicates that the package has been successfully delivered to you. Upon delivery, USPS updates the tracking information with delivery confirmation, including the date and time of delivery and your name.

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Agnes Aui

Head of Marketing
at freightcourse

About the Author

Agnes is the Head of Marketing at freightcourse and seamlessly blends her strong background in content management with strategic marketing expertise.

She brings a wealth of knowledge to readers, specializing in various e-commerce topics such as order fulfillments, purchasing, payments, and more.