Understanding Why is USPS Tracking No Updating (Steps for lost package)

Last Updated on 07/09/2023 by UPS_ Admin

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has long been a reliable way to send and receive packages. However, like any system, it has its intricacies, especially when it comes to tracking. In 2023, there are several reasons why USPS tracking might not update, from human error to technical glitches. Dive into this comprehensive guide to understand why tracking may not update, the mechanisms behind it, and what steps you can take if your package appears to be stagnant or lost in the system. Whether you’re a sender or a recipient, staying informed will help alleviate concerns and ensure a smooth delivery process.

Why Is USPS Tracking Not Updating In 2023?

There are several reasons why USPS tracking might not update:

  1. Weather Conditions: Inclement weather can cause delays in transportation or make it challenging to deliver packages, leading to tracking not getting updated. More on Weather Delays.
  2. Package Not Scanned: Sometimes, if a package is not scanned into the system, it won’t show any updates. This can happen if the barcode is damaged or if the package was inadvertently missed. USPS Barcode Standards.
  3. Wrong Address Delivery: If a package is delivered to an incorrect address, the status might not update. It’s crucial to ensure the correct address is provided when shipping. Addressing Tips.
  4. Sorting Machine Collection: Tracking data is mostly gathered by sorting machines. There might be no tracking update while mail is in transit, especially if it’s inside a container or vehicle. Usually, packages are sorted after midnight on the day they are delivered, which is normal. USPS Sorting Process.
  5. International Packages: If a package is coming from another country, it might not get scanned for a longer period due to customs and other procedures. International Mail Services.
  6. Volume & Pandemic-Related Delays: Due to the high volume of packages, especially during peak times or pandemic-related disruptions, there can be delays in scanning and updating. Packages might get rerouted, causing further delays. USPS COVID-19 Updates.
  7. End of Shift: If a delivery worker’s shift ends before they can complete all deliveries, some packages might remain in the vehicle, and the tracking won’t update until the next day. USPS Working Hours.
  8. System Errors: On rare occasions, system errors or malfunctioning barcode scanners can cause the tracking to not update. USPS Technology Improvements.
  9. Priority of Delivery: Remember, USPS’s primary function is delivery, and tracking is secondary. A lack of update does not mean your package is stationary. It might be on its way but hasn’t been scanned yet.

If your USPS tracking hasn’t updated for a significant time, it’s recommended to contact USPS for more detailed information.

How Do I Make Sure That I Have The Right Tracking Number?

Ensuring you have the correct tracking number is paramount for tracking and receiving your shipments seamlessly. Here’s how to verify and understand your USPS tracking number:

  1. Source of the Tracking Number:
    • Shipping Receipt: When you ship with USPS, you’ll receive a shipping receipt which will contain the tracking number.
    • Confirmation Email: After making an online purchase or when a seller ships your item, you’ll often receive a confirmation email from USPS or the retailer with the tracking number included.
  2. Characteristics of the Tracking Number:
    • A typical USPS tracking number is usually 20-22 digits long and consists solely of numbers.
    • For USPS Express Mail, the tracking number will have 13 characters, starting with two letters, followed by numbers, and ending with “US”.
  3. Missed Delivery & Additional Services:
    • Orange Slip: If you’re not at home when a package is delivered, USPS may leave an orange slip on your door. This slip will contain the tracking number.
    • Insurance Receipt: If you’ve chosen to insure your package, the sales receipt from this purchase will also have the tracking number.
  4. Verify on the USPS Website:
    • Before assuming a tracking number is correct, it’s a wise practice to enter it into the USPS tracking website. If the number is valid, you’ll see the package’s tracking details. If it states the number is invalid or doesn’t show any information, you might want to double-check the number or its source.
  5. Identifying Fake Numbers:
    • Fake tracking numbers usually don’t conform to the standard format of USPS tracking numbers. Domestic USPS services usually have 22-digit numbers, while international services begin and end with letters.
  6. Other Locations for Tracking Numbers:
    • Online Label Records: If you’ve used online postage services like Click-N-Ship® or eBay, you can check your online label record for the tracking number.
    • Barcode: The barcode placed on your mailed item will have the tracking number beneath it. To understand how tracking works, refer to the USPS article “USPS Tracking® – The Basics”.

Lastly, if ever in doubt, it’s always a good idea to contact the sender or USPS directly to confirm the authenticity and accuracy of the tracking number.

How Often Is USPS Tracking Updated?

The USPS shipment tracking system is designed to keep both the sender and receiver informed about the whereabouts of a package. However, it’s important to note that tracking isn’t real-time for USPS. Here’s a detailed look into the frequency and accuracy of USPS tracking:

Frequency of Updates:

Your package’s tracking information is updated whenever it’s scanned – either when arriving at a facility, being loaded onto a truck, or other significant points in its journey.

Even after scanning, the system might take up to 24 hours to reflect the new information.

External factors like inclement weather or understaffed facilities can delay tracking updates beyond 24 hours.

If a package is covering a greater distance, it will likely undergo more scans, leading to frequent updates.

For packages shipped from nearby locations, you might only see an update once or twice before it gets delivered.

Accuracy of USPS Tracking:

USPS tracking is generally accurate. It reflects the package’s journey based on scans at different points.

While it’s typically accurate to the day, the Informed Delivery Daily Digest might occasionally be off by a day or two due to it being updated centrally and not by local post offices.

Tips for Package Recipients:

Tracking is not just for peace of mind; it’s a tool that helps logistics services streamline deliveries and address potential issues.

If purchasing valuable items, consider additional services like insurance or signature-required delivery for extra assurance.

Always make sure you’re using the correct and full tracking number when checking the status of your package.

Remember, while technology has improved package tracking immensely, no system is flawless. Delays or hiccups can happen, but they are generally the exception and not the rule.

While the USPS tracking system provides valuable insights into a package’s journey, occasional delays in updates are normal. Staying patient and understanding the behind-the-scenes workings can alleviate some of the anxieties tied to waiting for a package.

How Long Before A USPS Package Is Considered Lost?

Packages sent through the United States Postal Service (USPS) might sometimes experience delays or issues. Understanding when to consider a package as ‘lost’ and knowing the steps to take is crucial. Here’s a summarized answer:

A package is generally considered lost if it hasn’t been delivered and it’s been at least seven days since the expected delivery date, as provided by the sender or the USPS Tracking system.

The type of mail affects the timeframe:

  • For Priority Mail, a package is considered lost after 15 days.
  • For Express, the package is considered lost after 7 days.

Steps to Take for a Lost USPS Package:

  1. Check the Current Status: Always start by checking the USPS Tracking® system for the latest status of your package.
  2. Informed Delivery®: This is a service that offers a digital preview of your incoming mail. Delays can sometimes occur, and Informed Delivery can provide some insights. Check out Informed Delivery FAQs for more details.
  3. Complete a Help Request Form: If your package hasn’t been delivered, it’s recommended to first complete the online help request form. This form alerts your local Post Office about the issue, and they might help locate the missing item. It’s preferable to submit this form from a desktop computer.
  4. Submit a Missing Mail Search Request: If your package or mail hasn’t been found or delivered after 7 business days from your help request, initiate a Missing Mail search request. This requires details such as:
    • Sender and recipient mailing addresses.
    • Container or envelope details.
    • Identifying information like the USPS Tracking number, mailing date, and receipt details.
    • A description of the content.
    • Any relevant pictures.

After Submitting Your Search Request:

  • You will receive a confirmation email and periodic updates about the search.
  • If your package is found, it will be sent to the provided address. In some instances, the USPS may not be able to recover some items, especially if it’s unsafe to forward them.

Additional Considerations:

  • Refunds: If you used services like Priority Mail Express®, which offers a money-back guarantee, you might be eligible for a refund. Learn more about refunds.
  • File a Claim: If your package had insurance and it gets lost or damaged, you can file an insurance claim. For damaged or missing contents, it’s advised to file a claim as soon as possible. The deadline for filing is 60 days from the date of mailing.

While it’s distressing to deal with a potentially lost package, understanding the procedures and having a clear course of action can make the process smoother. Always consider insuring valuable packages for added peace of mind.

Why is my USPS international tracking not updating?

If you’re expecting an international shipment through USPS and the tracking information isn’t updating, it can be unsettling. Here’s a comprehensive guide to understanding why this might be happening:

Reasons for Lack of USPS Tracking Updates:

Item Not Received by USPS: The package hasn’t been handed over or received by the carrier or post office yet.

Item Not Scanned: Even if the package is with USPS, it might not have been scanned in by the postal clerk. Sometimes during high-volume periods, scanning might be missed or delayed.

Scanner Malfunction: Electronic devices aren’t foolproof. If the scanner malfunctioned, your package could get its next scan at a subsequent delivery station.

High Volume: Especially during peak seasons, there might be so much volume that scans and updates get delayed.

USPS Tracking Delays: USPS typically updates your package status within 24-48 hours. However, sometimes tracking might not be updated for several days. This doesn’t necessarily mean your package isn’t moving.

Package Stuck in Transit: There could be various reasons for this – including loss, damage, or even a USPS tracking system failure. Additionally, understaffing issues can sometimes lead to packages being misplaced, mislabeled, or overlooked.

Customs Hold: This is particularly common for international shipments. Customs can sometimes hold onto packages for extended periods, either for routine checks or other reasons.

Participating Countries and E-DELCON: The Electronic Delivery Confirmation Program, or E-DELCON, allows some countries to update USPS tracking for First Class Package International shipments. However, many countries aren’t part of this program. Thus, once a package reaches such a country, you might not see further updates until it’s delivered.

Steps to Take:

  1. Stay Informed: Keep your tracking information handy. Track your package regularly, especially if expecting time-sensitive parcels.
  2. Contact USPS: If your package hasn’t moved in several days or if it seems stuck in one location for longer than expected, contact USPS.
  3. Check E-DELCON List: If you’re expecting an international First Class Package, check if the destination country is on the E-DELCON list of participating countries.

While the lack of tracking updates can be worrisome, it’s often a result of routine operational or system delays, especially for international shipments. Your package is likely still on its way. However, always stay proactive by keeping track of the shipping status and reaching out to USPS when necessary.

Can USPS deliver without updating tracking?

Absolutely, USPS can deliver packages without the tracking being updated. Here’s a concise explanation:

While the U.S. Postal Service prides itself on timely and accurate tracking updates, there are situations where a package might be delivered without an update to the tracking status. Here’s why:

  1. Human Error: The USPS delivery system is operated by humans, and sometimes a delivery person might forget to scan the item upon delivery. This oversight means that even though your package has reached its destination, the tracking information might not reflect this. An occurrence like this was noted on May 2, 2023.
  2. Technical Glitches: Sometimes, the handheld scanners might experience technical issues, preventing the tracking update.
  3. High Package Volumes: During peak mail seasons or in regions with an exceptionally high volume of packages, there might be delays in scanning all items, leading to missed updates.


The USPS tracking system, while extensive, is not infallible. Reasons for non-updating tracking can range from weather conditions, unscanned packages, incorrect address deliveries, and system errors, to high package volumes or end-of-shift time constraints. It’s also possible for USPS to deliver without updating tracking due to human error or technical issues. For accurate and up-to-date tracking, ensure the correct tracking number is used, and in case of prolonged delays, contact USPS directly. Remember, while occasional hiccups can occur, they are exceptions rather than the rule.

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