Not getting mail? Contacting the USPS When You're Not Receiving Mail Delivery

Not receiving your mail is extremely inconvenient, especially if the item is time-sensitive or special to you. No matter if you were sending or receiving the mail, you don't want your money and time wasted. Fortunately, you can take steps to fix this problem and use helpful links on the postal service website.

The steps you take may depend on the nature of the mail item and whether this is a one-time event or an everyday issue. Whether you are working with residential or commercial mailboxes, there is no guarantee that the post office will be able to find your lost mail.

Not getting mail from Post Office - USPS Mail Delivery

The Reasons Why Your Mail Has Not Been Delivered

The postal service or your letter carrier could misplace your mail pieces for several reasons. Some of these reasons include:

  • No labels - It is possible that the shipping label on your package fell off the mail item. When this happens, there is no way for the USPS mailperson to know who the intended recipient might be.

  • Mail theft – Sometimes, people will see an enticing package on your porch and take it before you can pick it up. It happens every day. If this happens, it can be challenging to get your missing mail back.

  • Incorrect or missing address – One of the most common problems is the address. Sometimes, it can smear on the mail item and be difficult for the delivery person to read - or the address could be incorrect.

  • Change of address - If you move, you need to apply for an address change with USPS. Otherwise, mail will arrive at your old house.

When you are the mail sender, check the other person's address at least twice. One wrong number in the zip code can create a serious error in the case of USPS home delivery service.

Step-by-Step Guide on What You Should Do

If you have missing mail, you want to take the following steps to fix the problem:

Check the Status of Your Packages or Letters

Many mail items have tracking numbers that aid in your search. If you are the recipient, request the tracking number from the sender.

They can usually find it on the receipt, in their email, or on their USPS.com customer account.

If you can use tracking to check the status of your mail, you might find that the mail is still on the way to your mailbox and not lost. When you place an order online, your order should come with a tracking service, even if you use UPS or FedEx. Before you file a report, see if you can track your mail.

Ask Around

Sometimes, your delivery tracking status says "delivered," but you still don't have your mail item. If you can, you should ask your neighbors and your mail carrier for information. Someone may have confused the box numbers if you get mail in a cluster box for a busy neighborhood or live in a large apartment complex. Make sure that your neighbors did not accidentally get your mail.

For valuable packages, you may need to be home before you can receive them. Your mail carrier may leave a missed delivery notice on your door, which will have instructions for scheduling another delivery. If you think someone stole your missing mail from your mailbox or front door, call your local post office and law enforcement.

Complete a Help Request Form

You can complete a help request form on USPS.com using a desktop computer. The form will ask you questions about the item and whether or not it was priority mail. You can also include information about your police report if you filed one.

The U.S. Postal Service has tools to forward this information to your local post office. You will get a phone call or email notification if they locate your mail.

Start a USPS Mail Search Request

When you know that your mail is missing (if it has been more than seven business days), you can start collecting information to contact USPS.

Your local post office will need to know everything about your package to help you. You should be able to tell them:

  • The correct address and name for both the sender and receiver

  • The monetary value of the item

  • If applicable, the tracking number

  • The receipt, if you had an online package

  • Package description, including size, brand, content, pictures, and anything else you can get

You can physically go to the post office or file a missing mail search request on USPS.com. When you submit your request, USPS will send you email notifications updating you on your search status.

If they find the mailing item in question, they will send it to the correct residence. There are a few missing mail recovery safety restrictions that may prevent USPS from forwarding your mail.

USPS.com has a lot of helpful links related to mail delivery service.For example, if you used Priority Mail Express or a similar service for your mail delivery, you may request a refund for the full price on the USPS website. You can also file an insurance claim if you insured your mail item. Don't wait to file your claim because you cannot file any later than 60 days from the mailing date.

Requesting a Refund

You can request refunds related to service failures for Priority Mail Express (PME) and other delivery options with tracking numbers, such as:

  • Certified Mail

  • Return Receipt

  • Return Receipt Electronic

  • Signature Confirmation

  • USPS Marketing Mail

For PME one- or two-day delivery, you can request a refund no sooner than two or three days and no later than 30 days. For PME with extra services such as signature confirmation, you must wait at least 30 days to request a refund but no longer than 60 days.

If the mail arrives after you've received a refund, you can reimburse the postal service a full or partial amount, depending on whether the item was damaged.

File a Claim

If you've sent mail via PME International, contact your local USPS retail location to file a refund request in person. Otherwise, registered USPS.com customers can file for a refund online. Just click on "Register/Sign In," then "Register" if you don't already have a login with your email address. Then navigate to the Help section and click on "Request a Refund."

You can submit up to five tracking numbers in one refund request. You'll receive a confirmation page and an email if you've entered all the information for the refund correctly. The postal service will ask for the mailing date from your electronic receipt or the receipt from your local post office in some situations. It also might ask to confirm your mailing address to receive a check for the refund.

How Does the USPS Missing Mail Search Work?

If your letters and packages haven't arrived by an expected delivery date, you can start a missing mail search after seven days. First, look up the tracking number at USPS.com. If your mail delivery is still missing, go to this link and click on either "Where is my mail?" or "Where is my package?" Your local post office will start a search.

For an official Missing Mail search request, you'll need to log in as a USPS.com customer and provide:

  • the sender's mailing address

  • the recipient's mailing address

  • the size and type of envelope, container, or packaging

  • any identifying information such as the mailing date from your receipt, a Click-N-Ship label receipt, or a USPS Tracking number

  • a description of the contents

  • any photos that could help the letter carrier recognize your item

The USPS sends all this info to your local office. They'll keep the search request active for 365 days past the expected delivery date or until you cancel it. If they find the item, they'll rewrap it and send it to the recipient. You'll also receive a notification via your email address.

Can the Mailman Not Deliver Mail?

While there is no time of year that the U.S. Postal Service mail delivery is not running, a reason may exist why you don't have your boxes. Some conditions and events prevent U.S. postal workers from delivering your mail. These things include:

Blocked Mailbox

As a customer, you have a responsibility to ensure safe access to your property. For the safety of mail carriers, you should:

  • Remove large accumulations of snow from the area.

  • Move your vehicle so it does not block the USPS mail containers.

  • Be considerate of any other ways the postmaster employee might have limited access to your mailbox.

Mail carriers do not have to deliver mail to your home if they have a safety concern or a recurring problem.

Dog or Other Loose Animals

If there is an immediate threat to the employees' safety, they can suspend delivery. Customers have a responsibility to secure their dogs and prevent trouble during USPS delivery service hours. A loose dog from an owner on your street can affect multiple addresses or all the residents in your community.

If your mail service is on hold, you will get a message about it. As soon as the animal is no longer an issue, the carrier will deliver your mail again.

Other cases that affect the ability of the driver to deliver your envelope or package include:

  • Full mailbox or overflowing mail

  • Hazardous conditions on the route

  • Travel obstructions

USPS will attempt many communications to explain the reasons for delayed service. Check the helpful links on USPS.com for any other inquiries. If you cannot access your mailbox, consider getting a mail key replacement.

How Long Before the USPS Considers Mail Lost?

According to USPS.com, most mail items are officially missing after seven business days. After that time, you can contact the post office about the status of your item. However, the official answer varies by mail class.

You can file an official complaint:

  • As soon as the guaranteed delivery date has passed for priority mail express services

  • After seven days for priority mail or first class mail or package service

  • After 14 days for USPS retail ground, parcel select ground, or media mail

Use the helpful links on USPS.com to find out when you can submit a mail search request.

What to Do When the USPS Loses Your Mail?

The post office has a detailed policy and process for locating mail if your item is valued at over $25. If it isn't, there may be nothing the government organization can do. If you have tried all of the available options and your mail is still lost, then you will want to correct the issues for the future.

To make sure you get your stuff next time, seek answers for what happened in this situation. Make sure you correct your address if you need to, or try to be home during package delivery hours. USPS has helpful links, articles, and resources to track and find your deliveries.

What's the USPS Failure-to-Deliver Rate?

The postal service handled 56.2 billion pieces of first class mail in 2020. According to USA Today, it's not clear what the failure-to-deliver rate is, although first-class on-time deliveries in the second quarter of 2020 dropped to 90.8%.

Where Do I File a Complaint About USPS?

If you have a complaint or suggestion for the U.S. Postal Service about mail delivery, you have several options:

  • Use the Email Us form at USPS.com

  • Call (800) 275-8777

  • Speak to the postmaster or station manager at your local post office

  • Write to the U.S. Postal Service's Office of the Consumer Advocate at 475 L’ Enfant Plaza, SW, Washington, D.C. 20260-2200.

Other FAQs

What happens if USPS delivers to the wrong address?

Sometimes a mistake occurs in postal service deliveries. If your package happened to arrive at the wrong house, complain to the post office and initiate a search request. If they're able to track down your item, your mail carrier can recover it.

Why would my mail not be delivered?

Occasionally, things happen that prevent postal workers from delivering mail. There might have been a change of address for the recipient. In that case, the delivery will go through; it just may take a little longer.

Other times, a letter carrier is unable to deliver mail because of severe weather such as a natural disaster; something blocking the mailbox, such as uncleared heaps of snow; or even a loose dog on the premises. The USPS says that its carriers can suspend delivery service if something threatens their safety.