Whether you’re a recipient or sender and find yourself eagerly checking for the package to arrive, the USPS tracking feature is an indispensable service that allows you to track the location of your package and its estimated arrival time.

As the national postal service of the United States, USPS offers tracking for most of its services at no additional cost, granting recipients and senders valuable insights into their shipments.

However, despite the convenience and reliability of the tracking feature, there are instances when you may encounter a frustrating issue, where your tracking status refuses to update or simply cannot be found.

USPS Tracking Number Is Not Updating or Found

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the most common tracking issues and also provide a guide on how to fix them.

Reasons Why Your USPS Tracking Number Is Not Found

Recipients may find that their USPS tracking numbers cannot be found or appear to be invalid. There are several reasons that could contribute to this issue, including invalid or expired tracking numbers, unavailable tracking information, and many more. In the following sections, we will delve into these reasons in further detail.

1. Invalid Tracking Number

Encountering an “Invalid Tracking Number” message can result from various factors, such as mistyped characters, missing digits, or incorrect formatting. Common errors include accidental omissions, transposed digits, or misreading characters like the number ‘0’ and the letter ‘O’.

USPS tracking numbers typically consist of 22 digits for domestic and 13 digits for international consignments. 22-digit tracking numbers usually start with “9” or “1”, while 13-digit tracking numbers start and end with two letters.

How to Fix It:

To resolve the issue of an invalid tracking number, you’ll need to ensure you have entered the USPS tracking number in the correct format. Secondly, if the tracking number was provided by someone else, reach out to the sender to verify its accuracy, especially if it was shared manually.

Alternatively, double-check the order confirmation, commercial invoice, or in the e-commerce platform directly if the tracking number that was entered is correct.

No Tracking Information Is Available Yet

Tracking information may not be available yet because the package has not been scanned or processed by USPS. This delay can occur if the sender has not yet handed over the package to USPS, and you will usually get a message stating “Information Available Soon” on the tracking page.

The package may also still be in transit to a USPS facility for sorting. Additionally, there could be a slight delay in the initial scanning and entry of tracking information into the system which is causing it to show no tracking information.

How to Fix It:

It’s important to remember that the tracking information may take some time to update. More specifically, it usually takes anywhere between 24 to 48 hours after the package is scanned or processed.

Patience is key in such situations, so it’s best to wait for a day or two before attempting to check the tracking status again. If the issue persists, you can contact the sender to get more information about your package’s whereabouts as they may not have sent it out yet.

The Shipper Has Used a Service That Doesn’t Offer Tracking

If the shipper has opted for a shipping service that doesn’t offer tracking, it means that tracking is not included as a feature. While USPS tracking is available for most domestic shipping options, certain services like commercial Standard Mail packages may not include this service, typically to keep costs lower.

As a result, you won’t be able to track your package or mail in such cases, and you’ll need to rely on standard delivery updates and estimated delivery times provided by USPS.

How to Fix It:

In this situation, the best action is to contact USPS directly for an update on your package’s whereabouts. USPS customer service will be able to assist you in providing any available information and address any concerns you may have regarding the delivery.

The Tracking Number Has Expired

An expired tracking number is a tracking number that was assigned to a package that has already been delivered. Some tracking numbers have limited validity. For example, tracking information for non-signature items is available for 120 days and up to 2 years for signature items.

It’s important to note that some USPS tracking numbers may get recycled, meaning that unused or expired numbers may not show any results and will remain inactive.

How to Fix It:

Once a tracking number has expired, it becomes inactive and cannot be used to track the package any longer. If you suspect that your package has not yet arrived despite the expired tracking number, the best course of action is to directly contact USPS and request updates on your shipment.

If you are trying to retrieve old tracking data you may reach out to USPS, as they offer options to retain completed tracking information for a small fee with USPS Tracking Plus.

USPS Has Yet to Scan or Process Your Package

When your USPS package is still on its initial journey to the USPS hub, it will not be scanned into the system yet, resulting in a lack of tracking updates. USPS will begin updating the tracking page with the information once the package reaches the first stage of the process, which is typically when it is scanned into the USPS facility.

How to Fix It:

You’ll need to be a bit more patient and wait for up to 2 days. USPS may take some time to process and scan the package into their system. If there is a prolonged delay or you need more information, it’s best to contact USPS customer service directly.

Reasons Why Your USPS Tracking Number Is Not Updating

If you have been provided with the correct USPS tracking number but the tracking information is not updating there could be several reasons for this issue. In the following sections, we will take a deeper look into these reasons and explore possible solutions to address the problem.

The Package Is Still In Transit

If your USPS tracking is not updating, it’s possible that the package is still in transit and hasn’t reached the next scanning point yet. Transit times can vary, taking several days depending on the final destination with international shipments generally taking longer than domestic ones.

During the main transportation leg, it’s not uncommon to experience a lack of updates, as the package may be moving through various modes of transportation without real-time tracking information available.

How to Fix It:

The best course of action here is to be patient. In-transit packages may take some time to reach the next scanning point, and updates may not be immediate. You can also try clearing your browser’s cache and refreshing the tracking page periodically to ensure you’re viewing the most current information.

However, if the tracking delay persists and you have concerns, you should contact USPS customer service for further assistance and updates on your package’s status.

USPS Is Facing Technical Issues

USPS may encounter technical issues, such as system glitches or maintenance, which can affect the tracking system’s functionality. The warehouse scanners play a crucial role in updating the USPS system with the package’s current location, indicating when it was received in the warehouse.

During a technical downtime, users may experience a lack of tracking updates as the system is temporarily unable to provide real-time information.

How to Fix It:

It’s best to wait a day or two, as the system may resume normal operation during this time. If the tracking updates do not appear even after waiting, it’s advisable to contact USPS customer service for assistance and to check if there are any ongoing technical issues affecting their tracking system.

USPS Is Facing Operational Challenges

When USPS faces operational challenges, several factors can contribute to tracking issues. Labor issues, such as strikes or staff shortages, can impact the efficiency of processing and scanning packages.

Equipment problems, like breakdowns or technical failures, can hinder timely tracking updates. During peak periods like the holiday season, increased shipment volume may lead to bottlenecks and delays in tracking information. Additionally, human errors during sorting processes can also cause tracking discrepancies.

How to Fix It:

To address tracking issues caused by USPS facing operational challenges, give a few days for USPS to resolve their internal issues. They often resolve these challenges within a reasonable timeframe, and you should receive tracking updates promptly once the bottlenecks have been addressed. However, if the tracking problems persist for an extended period, it’s advisable to reach out to them.

The Package is Delayed Due to External Reasons

When a package is delayed due to external reasons, it’s common not to receive updates during the delay period as the delivery cannot progress as expected. Notifications about weather delays may be provided, indicating regional or local weather conditions affecting the shipment.

In such cases, further updates might be on hold until the weather conditions improve. Some external factors causing delays include inclement weather conditions such as heavy snow, hurricanes, or severe storms.

Road closures due to accidents or construction can also hinder transportation. Additionally, flight delays can impact air freight shipments, leading to a prolonged delivery process.

How to Fix It:

It’s essential to wait patiently until the issues are resolved, whether it’s inclement weather, road closures, or flight delays, USPS will resume updating the tracking information once the external challenges are mitigated.

If the delay persists for an extended period and you need more information, contacting USPS customer service is recommended. They can provide updates on the situation, offer an estimated resolution timeframe, and provide a new expected delivery date for your package.

The Package Has Already Been Delivered

If you notice that your USPS tracking is not updating, it could also be because the package has already been delivered. Once a package is delivered, there are no further tracking updates as the final status has been reached.

The last update you see on the tracking page signifies the successful delivery, and recipients can no longer expect any further updates beyond that point.

How to Fix It:

To address the issue of your USPS tracking showing the package as delivered but not received, first, check with neighbors or household members to verify they haven’t received the package on your behalf.

If you’re unable to locate the package, contact USPS customer service and request proof of delivery. They can provide additional information to help determine the delivery status and assist you in resolving any discrepancies.

The Package is Stuck

If your package is stuck and the tracking hasn’t been updated, it might be at a checkpoint for an extended period. During this time, the tracking will remain stagnant until the package reaches the next checkpoint.

Several reasons can lead to such delays, including customs clearance hold-ups, or incorrect and incomplete shipping details. Additionally, package mishandling, misrouting, or security and inspection holds can also cause prolonged delays.

How to Fix It:

Review the tracking update to understand the reason for the delay. If specific information is mentioned, such as additional inspections or unpaid customs duties, take note of it.

Then, contact USPS customer service to seek assistance in resolving the issue. By providing any necessary information or clarification, you may be able to facilitate the package’s progress and expedite its delivery.

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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.