The tracking feature is instrumental for recipients as it provides real-time updates of their USPS mail and packages. In most cases, tracking becomes available for users immediately after the shipping label is created.

However, there are instances where a package or mail items may not be trackable. When this happens, users are notified with a “Not Trackable” update. Commonly, a secondary message will be shown stating “Delivery status information is not available for your item on this website”.

usps not trackable

There are several reasons why this happens and there are also several ways to fix this. We’ll be exploring all of that and more in this article!

Reasons Why Your Mail or Package is Not Trackable

In general, all packages are trackable with USPS, except commercial standard mail. However, there are situations where you may not be able to make sure of the tracking feature. While this may initially lead to frustration, there are reasons for it, and always various ways you can fix this.

Tracking Function Processing

Once USPS shipping labels are printed, and a tracking number is generated, there may be a short delay before the tracking functionality becomes available. Although the tracking functionality is typically available almost instantly, there are rare instances where it may take 1-2 days for the system to reflect the updated tracking information. For such cases, you should not be concerned as your tracking is just taking a while to process and will resolve automatically.

Technical Issue With USPS

In addition to the normal processing delays, there can be occasional technical issues with USPS that might delay package tracking. These issues may include software glitches, incorrect scanning, or even system maintenance. Nevertheless, USPS is usually prompt in resolving such issues, with an average turnaround time between 1 – 3 days.

Issues With the e-Commerce Platform

Issues can arise when it comes to the integration or connection between certain e-commerce or fulfillment platforms and USPS. Platforms like eBay, Etsy, or Pirate Ship, which are commonly used for online selling and shipping, have occasionally been reported to have problems syncing with USPS tracking updates.

As both platforms usually operate independently, either one may have software updates that may cause synchronization failures. Consequently, you may find yourself unable to view the tracking updates directly on the e-commerce platform, even though the information may still be accessible on the USPS website itself.

In such cases, the platform typically displays a message along the lines of “That item is not trackable on this site”. In this case, you can try using the tracking features on the USPS website instead.

Mail or Package Has Not Been Scanned

There are instances where your mail or package may not have been scanned yet. This means that there is no status to be updated and reported. There can be several reasons why this may be the case.

One possible reason is damage to the barcode on the label caused by mishandling or water damage, rendering it unreadable by the scanning equipment. Bottlenecks in sorting facilities during peak periods can also lead to delays in scanning, causing a gap in tracking updates.

Additionally, human error can occur, causing your mail or package to be inadvertently missed during the scanning process. In rare cases, mail or package loss within the USPS system can further complicate tracking efforts.

It is essential to contact USPS customer support if you suspect any of these issues may be affecting your shipment to explore potential solutions.

What To Do If My Mail or Package Is Not Trackable?

Being annoyed, frustrated, or anxious is natural if your mail or package is not trackable, especially over prolonged periods or if your items are of high value. However, the good news is that you can take a few steps to address the issue.

  1. Be Patient – In cases where your mail or package is not trackable, it is advisable to give it some time to fix the issue. While the tracking functionality is typically available immediately, certain circumstances as mentioned in the section above, such as technical issues, may require some time to resolve. 
  2. Contact USPS – By getting in touch with USPS, you can inquire about the reason behind the lack of tracking updates and ask for clarification. You might have to provide any relevant information related to your shipment, such as tracking numbers or specific details about the package. This allows USPS to investigate the matter more effectively and provide appropriate guidance or follow-up steps to resolve the issue promptly.
  3. Contact the Seller – If you have ordered an item from an e-commerce platform and encounter a situation where the mail or package is not trackable, it is best to contact the seller. Inform them about the status issue and provide details regarding the tracking problem. The seller can then take the necessary steps to follow up with USPS on their end and work towards resolving the issue.

How Long Does It Take For My Mail Or Package’s Status To Update?

While you should be able to track your package the moment you receive a tracking number, in some instances you may need to wait. Sometimes you’ll need to wait for your mail or package to be scanned or processed and you would get an update after a certain period of time.

This updating process typically takes around 24 to 48 hours. However, in rare cases, it may take even longer. As explained earlier, USPS may take additional time to resolve technical glitches, sorting bottlenecks, or human errors before being able to provide certain updates.

Best Practices for Senders

Sending mail or packages involves more than just dropping an item off. To enhance the delivery and tracking experience, it is essential for senders to follow best practices that range from using accurate labeling and providing detailed information to choosing reliable shipping services.

In this section, we explore the essential practices that can help senders ensure a smooth and efficient delivery process for their packages.

  • Use Reliable E-Commerce Platforms – This practice is crucial for ensuring a seamless experience for both senders and recipients. Reputable platforms have established a robust and dependable integration with USPS’s platform, guaranteeing that tracking information and delivery updates are accurate and reliable.
  • Ensure That the Shipping Label is Valid – Ensuring the accurate information on the shipping label is vital for a smooth and trackable delivery process. Double-check that all the information on the label, such as recipient address, sender address, and tracking number, is accurate and legible. A valid shipping label helps USPS properly process your mail or package, minimizing the chances of it being set aside as non-trackable or experiencing delays in the tracking system.
  • Ensure Label Is Legible – To prevent scanning failures and ensure accurate tracking, it is crucial to ensure that the label on your mail or package is legible. It’s also important to make sure the label is securely attached to the package. Additionally, to protect against water damage, consider using waterproof labels or placing the label in a protective covering to maintain its readability and integrity throughout the delivery process.
  • Contact USPS If the Issue Persists – If it was brought to your attention that the receiver of your mail or package is unable to receive tracking updates for an extended period of time, it is advisable to contact USPS proactively. By reaching out to them, you can seek further clarification and guidance regarding the persistent issue.

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Gerrit Poel

Co-Founder & Writer
at freightcourse

About the Author

Gerrit is a certified international supply chain management professional with 16 years of industry experience, having worked for one of the largest global freight forwarders.

As the co-founder of freightcourse, he’s committed to his passion for serving as a source of education and information on various supply chain topics.