How Long Does USPS Hold Packages? A Complete Guide

David Hughes
By David Hughes 11 Min Read
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Ever wondered, “How long does USPS keep packages in 2022?” Well, you’re in the right place because we’re gonna dive deep into that question today!

You see, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. The time USPS holds onto a package can change based on a few things.

Stick around, and let’s unravel this mystery together!

How Long Does USPS Hold Packages?

Imagine you’re waiting for a super cool package from a friend, and you’re not home when it arrives. How long will USPS wait before they give up and send it back? Let’s find out!

Most of the time, USPS will keep your package safe and sound for 15 days after they’ve tried delivering it to you. They’re pretty nice about it too. They’ll leave you a little reminder note a few days after their first attempt. And then, just to make sure you didn’t forget, they’ll drop another note a couple of days before the 15-day deadline.

But after that? If they still don’t hear from you, they’ll send the package back to whoever sent it.

Exceptions to the 15-day USPS Hold Rule

For those speedy deliveries using Priority Mail Express, USPS has a shorter waiting game. They’ll only hold onto these packages for 5 days. And you’ll get a reminder note after three days. If you don’t grab it in 5 days, back it goes to the sender!

Can I Ask USPS to Hold Mail for More than 15 days?

Think you might need more than 15 days? No worries! USPS has your back. They have this cool service called the USPS hold mail service. All you need to do is sign up for a free account online, linked to your address, and voilΓ ! You can ask them to wait for you for up to 30 days. Sweet, right?

How Long will USPS Hold Packages For A PO Box?

Got a P.O. Box? If someone sends you a package too big for it, the post office will still keep it for you for 15 days (unless it’s one of those speedy Priority Mail Express ones, remember?). They’ll leave a note in your P.O. Box telling you all about it and asking you to collect your package from the counter. If you don’t swing by in those 15 days, you guessed it, back to the sender it goes.

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How To Know When USPS Holds Your Package?

So, you’re expecting a package, but it hasn’t shown up yet? Here’s how you can tell if USPS has it waiting for you:

  1. The Famous Peach Note πŸ‘
    Ever seen a peachy-colored slip in your mailbox? That’s the PS Form 3849. USPS leaves this when they’ve tried to deliver something, but you weren’t around. This little note is super helpful – it tells you when they tried to bring your package and which post office is safekeeping it for you.
  2. Where’s My Peach Note? 🧐
    The mail folks usually put this peach note right on top, so you can’t miss it. But let’s face it, sometimes things get overlooked. Maybe it’s buried under a pile of bills, or perhaps it flew away with the wind. No stress! They’re thoughtful enough to leave you two more reminders. So, in total, you get three notices before they decide to send your package back to the sender.
  3. Tech-Savvy Tracking πŸ–₯️
    Got a tracking number for your item? Pop that number into the USPS site, and it’ll tell you if your package is chillin’ at the post office. Want an even cooler way? Try out the USPS Informed Delivery. It’s like a virtual mailbox where you can see and track all your mail items.

How to Know Where a USPS Package is Being Held?

Whether you’re in a cozy small town or a bustling big city, finding where USPS is keeping your package might be different:

  1. Small Towns & Residential Areas 🏑
    If you’re in a place where everyone knows everyone, it’s simple. Your package is probably at the closest post office, where the mailperson might even know your dog’s name!
  2. City Life & Big Metropolitans πŸ™οΈ
    Here’s where it gets a tad tricky. Big cities have LOTS of post offices. So, if you’re thinking, “Which one has my package?” you’re not alone.

Here’s How to Pinpoint Your Package’s Location:

  1. Peek at the Tracking Info πŸ”
    Got that tracking number handy? Plugging it into the USPS site will show you where your package is waiting. It’ll give you the address of the post office holding onto it.
  2. The Trusty Peach Note (Again!) πŸ‘
    Remember our peachy friend, the PS Form 3849? Sometimes, it’ll have the post office’s address written right on it. So, check those notes you’ve got.
  3. Phone a Friend at USPS πŸ“ž
    Still unsure? Give the USPS customer service a ring. With your tracking number, they’ll guide you straight to your package. They’re like the helpful neighbor in this mail quest!
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How to Pick Up a USPS Package That is on Hold

Got a package waiting at the post office? It’s like a mini treasure hunt! And it’s super easy to claim your prize. Here’s how:

  1. Your Ticket to the Package 🎫
    Remember that peachy slip, the PS Form 3849? Grab it. That’s your ticket!
  2. Flash Your ID πŸ†”
    Next, you’ll need a photo ID. It can be your driver’s license, passport, or any other official ID with your lovely face on it.
  3. Visit the Post Office 🏀
    Head over to the post office that’s holding your package. Hand over your PS Form 3849 and ID at the counter. The kind staff will then fetch your package for you. It’s like magic!

But Wait… What If You Need a Buddy to Get It for You? 🀷

A. Sending a Friend to the Rescue!

Sometimes, we’re just too busy, or maybe you’re chillin’ on a beach somewhere (lucky you!). Don’t worry, you can send someone to pick up your package:

  1. Jot Down a Note πŸ“
    On that PS Form 3829 or even a separate piece of paper, write a quick note giving permission for your buddy to pick up the package for you.
  2. Sign It Off ✍️
    Put your John Hancock (that means signature) on the note.
  3. Hand Over Some ID πŸ†”
    It’s a good idea to give your friend something of yours with your name on it. An old ID card or something similar will do. It’s just so the post office knows you sent them!

What Happens if USPS Holds My Mail Without Permission

Sometimes, USPS might decide to hold onto your mail, even if you didn’t ask them to. You might be wondering, “Why?” Well, we’ve got a whole article breaking it down, but let’s go over the basics here:

  1. Delivery Dilemmas 🚫
    Maybe there’s a big ol’ tree branch blocking your mailbox. Or perhaps a family of raccoons has claimed your mailbox as their new home. Basically, if there’s something making it tough (or unsafe) for the mailperson to deliver your mail, they might hold onto it for a bit.
  2. The 15-Day Clock is Ticking! ⏲️
    Just like other held packages, there’s a time limit here. If USPS is holding your mail because they can’t deliver it, you’ve got 15 days to pop over to the post office and grab it. After that, well, it might be on its way back to the sender.
  3. Problem-Solving Time πŸ› οΈ
    If USPS can’t deliver to your mailbox, it’s a sign something’s up. So, you’ll want to fix whatever’s causing the issue. Clear away obstructions, gently ask the raccoons to move out, or make your mailbox more accessible. This way, future mail can find its way to you without any hiccups!
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Navigating the world of USPS and held mail can seem like a puzzle at times. But, as we’ve journeyed together, it’s clear that whether it’s about picking up a held package, understanding why a mail is on pause, or getting a buddy to help out, there’s a method to the mail madness!


  • Peachy Notices are Key πŸ”‘: That PS Form 3849 is your best friend in the mail world. It’s your gateway to finding and fetching your held packages.
  • Safety First πŸ›‘: If USPS pauses on delivering, there’s usually a good reason. Maybe it’s a mischievous squirrel or a fallen branch. It’s all about ensuring mail – and mail carriers – stay safe.
  • There’s Always a Solution 🧩: Whether you’re visiting the post office yourself or sending a trusted friend, there’s always a way to get your hands on your mail.

The USPS’s main goal is to get your mail to you safely and efficiently. And now, equipped with all this knowledge, you’re ready to face any mail challenge that comes your way. Cheers to smooth mail days and always finding that special package or letter waiting for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will USPS hold a package for pickup?

USPS will hold a package for pickup for up to 15 days.

Will USPS leave a package if no one is home?

If no one is available to receive the package, USPS will leave a notice and attempt delivery again the next day. If delivery is not successful after three attempts, the package will be held for pickup.

Can USPS hold a package at the post office for me?

Yes, USPS can hold a package at the post office for up to 15 days for pickup.

How do I request USPS to hold a package for pickup?

To request USPS to hold a package for pickup, you can use the USPS Package Intercept service or redirect the package to a hold location using the USPS website.

What happens if I don't pick up my package from USPS?

If you don't pick up your package from USPS within the specified holding period, it will be returned to the sender.

Can someone else pick up my package for me?

Yes, someone else can pick up your package for you. They will need to have a copy of the shipping label or a government-issued ID.

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