How Long Does USPS or Post Offices Hold Undeliverable Mail?


Many times the mail carriers face problems during delivery of packages. Almost all the mail carriers face problems like sometimes they don’t know where to deliver the package because they find the incomplete address on the envelope or the mail piece. Sometimes, they find the mailbox full of mail, and it becomes difficult to put the mail piece into the mailbox. So, in this case, they try to deliver the mail item in the hands of any member of the family or anyone from the recipient side (unless the signature of the recipient is required).

And if the mail carrier finds no one at the address, then he could try to deliver that mail item on the next business day or leave a PS Form 3849 at the door. This form is the delivery notice that someone tried to deliver your mail item but couldn’t. It’s up to mail carrier whether he/she leaves the delivery notice or not. In that case, USPS or the post office holds the undelivered mail or package. Now, the people want to know that how long does USPS hold undeliverable mail?

Let’s find out the answer:

Read More: How to Hold Mail

How Long Does the Post Office Keep Undelivered Parcels:

USPS Failed Delivery

Image Source: www.msnbc.com

As mentioned above, the letter carrier has two choices – first, he could try to deliver the mail item on the next business day, and second, he could leave the Delivery Notice (PS Form 3849) at the door, and it’s totally up to him/her. After the unsuccessful delivery, the letter carrier brings the mail item back to the post office, and the post offices hold mail for 15 days before returning it to the sender. If someone comes to claim for the mail item within 15 days, then it’s okay, and if no one comes, then that mail item will be returned to sender.

We were talking about the two choices, and those choices are based on the following situations:

  • If the letter carrier knows that there is someone at the house or the business address, then he/she would not leave the Delivery Notice at the door during the first attempt and would try to complete the delivery on the very next business day, and if he/she doesn’t find anyone on the next day, then he/she would leave the notice.
  • If the letter carrier knows that there isn’t anyone to receive the item and won’t available at the time of next delivery attempt, then he/she would leave the Delivery Notice during the first attempt.

Note: Any additional delivery attempt will be made on the personal request of the customer only.

So, if you were unable to receive your mail item, then fill the PS Form 3849 and pick it up from the post office. Otherwise, USPS  will send it back to the sender after 15 days, and this period starts from the first delivery attempt.

If there is no return address on the mail item, then these type of mail items are sent to Dead Mail Office where the workers try to find the return address, and if they fail to find the address, then they obliterate the item to protect the privacy of the customers. If there is something valuable in the package, then they sell out the valuable thing at the auction (except for pornography and firearms).

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