If USPS holds your package, you’ll want to ensure you get it before it’s returned. It is important to know how long the USPS will hold the package. So now the question is, how long does USPS hold packages?

Reasons why USPS holds your package

The United States Postal Service (USPS) does not simply hold packages or mail for no apparent reason. Instead, they will try to get the item to you at least twice.  Here are some reasons why USPS holds your packages.

Incorrect, confusing, or invalid address

No matter how hard the couriers try, they cannot locate the location. Therefore, packages and letters can’t be delivered because of this situation.

Jam-packed mailbox

The address can also be correct at other times. There’s no way the mailman can get the package into the mailbox because it’s jam-packed. He might try to give the package to a family member. However, he could not release the item if it required the recipient’s signature.

No one will receive it.

Sometimes, the mailman cannot deliver the package due to the recipient’s absence or the fact that no one is home to receive it. However, he will try to give it again the next business day. PS Form 3849 will be left at the door in case this happens again to him.

If a mailman attempted to deliver an item but was unsuccessful, this form will notify the recipient. Keep in mind, however, that the mailman’s decision on whether or not to leave this form is final. In the meantime, the package will be held by the local USPS office.

Typical package holding time

USPS postal office

Undeliverable packages are held by the United States Postal Service (USPS) for 15 days, counting from the date of the first delivery attempt. The parcel, however, will first be handed over to you in one or two attempts.

For outside the country packages

The United States Postal Service (USPS) will hold on to packages sent outside the country for 30 days. No matter how many days the sender specifies the parcels, the USPS returns them to the sender after five days.

For delayed packages

However, there are instances of an issue with the delivery that prevented them from delivering the package to you. If this happens to you, contact the sender and double-check the package’s delivery information, such as the recipient’s address and the date it was sent.

To see if the package has arrived, call your local USPS office and inquire about it. Then, you can pick up the order rather than wait for delivery.

What happens to undelivered mail

Filling out the PS Form 3849 is the next step customers must take to collect the package that is being held at the post office. The customer can also pick up the package at their local post office. However, if the customer takes no action within 15 days, the local post office returns the USPS undelivered package to the sender.

For packages containing a return address

After 15 days, if the mail item has a return address on it, the post office will return it to that address. The mail may be sent to the lost mail department if the post office determines that no one is available at the sender’s address to receive the mail item.

For packages with no return address

The mail item is sent to the Dead Mail Office if there is no return address on the package. To protect the privacy of their customers, the employees at this location look up the return address and, if they can’t, destroy the mail. There will be a lot of interest in the package if it contains valuable items at the auction.

United States postal service truck

What is USPS Hold Mail?

USPS Hold Mail is a specialty service offered by the United States Postal Service. By availing of this unit, packages can be dropped off at any USPS facility where the recipient can collect them. 

Hence, you can keep your mail and packages safe at your local post office. The team also handles undeliverable mail or parcels. It is available at every post office in the country. The recipient will receive an email from USPS as soon as the package arrives at the pickup location if it hasn’t been delivered. They are informed via email when the package is ready for collection.

How does USPS Hold Mail work?

USPS Hold Mail is available for a single address at a time. Moreover, the US Postal Service does not charge for holding mail.

This USPS service will hold all items, including packages and letters, for all individuals included in that specific address. A P.O. Box at your local USPS facility does not necessitate requesting this service. A P.O. Box address is permitted to hold mail and packages for 30 days, as is the case now.

Anyone or any authorized agent can ask for USPS Hold Mail service for a specific address. However, to act on behalf of another person, the agent must have written authorization from that person. As long as the person authorizing the request can provide all the necessary information, a third party can request USPS Hold Mail service for a specific address.

Perks of using USPS Hold Mail

For instance, while on vacation, you can request that this service hold all of your mail and packages for as long as you’d like. However, your items will be held by USPS for a maximum of 30 days.

You can also give USPS permission to keep or even reroute your packages for a longer period. You must first sign up for a mail forwarding service to take advantage of this feature. It’s also possible to place an order ahead of time, even if it’s not due until the following day.

How to avail USPS Hold Mail Service

Here are the steps needed to avail of the USPS Hold Mail Service.

Check if you are eligible for the service.

Fill out the online form on the USPS website to see if you qualify for this service. (Keep in mind that Hold Mail stores mail per address, not per person, so make sure your family or roommates are on board with the service before ordering.) Then, visit your local Post Office, or call 1-800-ASK-USPS.

Book your chosen date.

Knowing how long the USPS will hold your mail for you is important. Keep in mind that Hold Mail isn’t meant to be used for relocations or periods exceeding 30 days.

Consider USPS Forward Mail Service or USPS Premium Forwarding Service for longer-term temporary delivery, such as for a summer home or a college student living on campus. Please use this form if you’re moving out of state permanently.

When the service expires, plan for how you’ll receive your mail.

After the expiration date of your Hold Mail, you can either pick up your items at your local Post Office or ask your postal carrier to deliver them to your home. Picking up your mail at the Post Office will require you to show your photo ID, so be sure to bring it along. The day following your End Hold Date, delivery will resume according to the original schedule.

How to Request the USPS Hold Mail Service

Customers can request USPS Hold Mail in four different ways: by phone, online, mail, or in person. There are many ways to communicate with us. Here are the steps you need to take to get this unique service.

Through phone calls:

To place a hold on mail or packages, call USPS at 1-800-ASK-USPS one day in advance, during regular business hours.


Stop by your local post office during regular business hours and fill out an authorization form. This can also be printed and completed in advance of your visit.


  1. Log in if you already have an account, or create a new one. Make sure the service is available in your area before getting started. To confirm, type in the requested address.
  2. To verify your identity, provide a valid mobile phone number and answer the following questions. It is necessary to try other methods if the address is not recognized.
  3. The US Postal Service (USPS) will inquire when you need the mail.
  4. Determine how to retrieve the mail after discontinuing the USPS holds package service.
  5. After all verification and authorization have been completed, an email and a request for a confirmation number will be sent to the email address provided.

Through written communication

  • Look up your local Post Office’s mailing address online. You can use the Post Office Locator to find the address in your area.
  • Send a letter to the US Postal Service requesting that it hold your mail addressed to the Postmaster in your area.
  • Wait for the return mail and follow the instructions provided in the mail.

The maximum length for USPS can hold a package.

Your mail and packages can be held for up to 30 days if you request them from the USPS. A USPS Forward Mail service is required if you need to keep your mail for more than 30 days. Temporarily relocating customers can take advantage of the services provided by the unit above.

Changing status of USPS hold mail request: cancel, change, or edit

You can cancel, change, or edit your USPS hold mail request. After submitting your request, you’ll receive a confirmation number from the US Postal Service. If you did it yourself, you would receive the phone number via email or phone call from the Customer Care Center. It’s, therefore, imperative to provide the USPS with the correct email address.

Changing or canceling your USPS Hold Mail request is easy with your confirmation number. There’s a link or phone number provided in your confirmation email. Cancellation is still possible even if you do not have a confirmation number.

First, however, visit your local Post Office and show one of the Acceptable Forms of ID. If you cannot visit the office in person, you can call and indicate your intent to change or cancel your appointment. Of course, you must abide by the USPS’s instructions.

Picking up USPS Hold Mail earlier than the requested date

A cost is associated with picking up your ‘Hold Mail’ earlier than you requested. Regular mail delivery will resume on the next Postal business day after the USPS automatically cancels your request.

Authorizing another person to pick up your USPS Hold Mail

You can permit someone else to pick up your ‘Hold Mail.’ You only need to draft a letter authorizing that individual to pick up your held mail. Your message should be addressed to your local Postmaster. Moreover, to obtain your package, the authorized person must provide an appropriate Identification Card to the Post Office.

For packages not picked up after the holding period

For domestic deliveries, USPS will return the goods to the sender if the delivery time exceeds 15 days; for international parcels, the delivery time exceeds 30 days. USPS returns items for Inbound Express Mail unless the sender requests a shorter delivery time.

When this occurs, USPS adheres to the guidelines outlined in its 766 Retention Period. Section 766.1 of these rules stipulate those international postal items will be held for 30 days at the Post Office. Express Mail Service items, on the other hand, must be returned to the sender within 5 days unless the sender specifies a shorter period.

A few exceptions can be found. Section 766.2 of the USPS Rules and Regulations states that a package is deemed undeliverable if it is not delivered by the USPS or is denied by the intended recipient.

Facts about USPS Hold Mail

  • There is a 30-day grace period after your original hold date to notify the Post Office if you want to use Hold Mail Service.
  • When your Hold Mail option expires, you’ll be inundated with mail. It’s important to know that only mail that can fit your mailbox counts as deliverable-held mail.
  • The Post Office will notify you to pick up the remaining mail if it is too large to fit in your mailbox on the requested re-delivery day or if the volume of held mail does not fit in your mailbox.
  • Take into account the possibility of non-USPS delivery. For example, a friend or neighbor can check your door if you get packages from carriers other than USPS, or you can inquire directly with the shippers about storing or redelivering packages.


USPS vehicle waiting at a stop sign

Is it okay to pick up a package from USPS before it is delivered?

Most of the time, going to the post office to pick up a box before it is delivered is a simple and uncomplicated operation. However, millions of individuals around the country do the same thing every week.

Because of this, the United States Postal Service has implemented two distinct options for customers who want to pick up a box before it arrives at their doorstep. Package intercepts and package holds are both options.

Can I pick up USPS packages if delivery was missed?

You can request that the USPS hold your box for you until you come down to the post office and pick it up if you suspect your package delivery was missed. USPS usually tries to redeliver parcels the following business day. Still, if they could not do so on the first attempt because of delivery issues, they could have difficulty doing so again the following day.

Once in a while, calling the post office and requesting that they hold your parcel for you until the next day is all it takes to get things back on track.

Where can I pick up intercepted packages?

It is crucial to arrange delivery of a box ahead of time by making a phone call and working out the kinks, rather than showing up at a distribution center or post office and expecting a package. It is because intercepted packages can be picked up at various locations.

It can be at your local post office, a USPS distribution center, or the new locations they were sent to. Picking up parcels at a USPS distribution center is the most difficult option because some facilities won’t allow the public in.

When is it okay to intercept a package?

The location of your item is an important question to ask any postal worker before making an intercept attempt. It may make sense to intercept your delivery at a distribution facility and pick it up yourself if the holdup ensures that your box will not be delivered for another day or two or even longer.

On the other hand, you may not want to launch an intercept if the USPS notifies you that your parcels are being delivered right now and you know that the mail will arrive in a few hours, if not sooner.

Can USPS leave my package somewhere other than the delivery address?

Generally speaking, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is not interested in delivering your shipment to an address other than the one on the label. There are, however, certain exceptions. For example, it is possible to have your packages held for you at your local post office (behind the counter) until you can go and pick them up. However, a few postal workers in the USPS will likely reject such demands.

Secondly, you can request that your shipment be delivered to a different place at the delivery address you’ve entered in your order.

However, there is one thing that the United States Postal Service (USPS) will not do for free: run your package across town. These intercepts can be initiated on rare occasions online or at the post office. Still, clients will typically be charged extra for the intercept service and subsequent over-the-top postage charges (when applicable).


The United States Postal Service (USPS) will make one or two delivery attempts to your address. They’ll keep your package for 15 days after your initial delivery attempt if they can’t deliver it. The package will be returned to the sender if you don’t pick it up within 15 days. You can also pick up your package from the nearest USPS facility. Again, the package will be returned to the sender if you don’t claim it within 15 days.