How To Return The USPS Mail To The Sender?(Easy Steps)

You have probably faced the problem of receiving someone else’s mail. The true receiver might be a neighbor, previous resident, or simply a stranger, but you need to return it to ensure that it gets to them. The mail might contain something important that the receiver can’t afford to lose.

To prevent any mishap, it’s better to know how to return the USPS mail to the sender. It’s really simple. All you should do is put a sticky note on the mail and write ‘return to sender’ or ‘not at this address.’ Then, post it and let the mail carrier take it back to the sender. That way, the sender will contact the addressee and obtain their correct address.

How To Return The Mail To The Sender?

Returning mail to the sender is a simple process.

Deliver it to the past resident

If the addressee is a neighbor or a past resident, you can deliver the mail yourself or contact them so they can collect it.

Call the landlord for the address

If the addressee is a past tenant, you can call your landlord and ask for their current address and post the package.

However, if you don’t know the addressee, or if you don’t want to deliver it yourself, here’s the easiest method you can follow to return the mail to the sender.

Leave a note on the package

Take a sticky note or a paper and write ‘return to sender’ or ‘not at this address’ on it. At this point, you should also deface the barcodes so that you don’t receive the mail again.

Then place the package in your mailbox and ensure that you erect the red flag so that the mail carrier takes the mail.

Tell the mail carrier about the situation

If you get lucky and spot the mail carrier picking the package out, you can explain your situation to them.

Make sure that you clarify that the true receiver doesn’t live at the address mentioned on the mail and that it needs to be returned to the sender.

Go to a USPS mail collection box

If you don’t have a mailbox, you can also go to a mail collection box. USPS has these boxes installed at different locations. You can go to their website and use the ‘find locations’ option to spot the nearest mail collection box.

If this issue persists, you can go to the post office to clear things out.

Can You Just Write Return To Sender On A Package?

Yes, you can simply write ‘return to sender’ on the package but not directly.

Take a sticky note and write ‘not at this address’ or ‘return to sender.’ Then attach it to the mail. Instead of a sticky note, you can also use a simple piece of paper with a paperclip to secure it to the mail.

We do this so that the ink from your pen doesn’t accidentally bleed through the paper into the mail. That can damage what’s inside, leading to serious consequences for the receiver.

Make sure you put the sticky note after writing on it. Otherwise, the ink can bleed through the note as well.

Writing ‘not at this address’ can be better than the other option. That’ll clarify to both the mail carrier and the sender that the correct receiver no longer lives at the address provided.

Does The Post Office Charge For Return To Sender? 

No, you won’t have to pay to return the mail to the sender.

You will only be charged if you have opened the mail and want to return it. In that case, you’ll need new packaging, and you’ll have to pay to post the mail.

The amount of money that goes in this depends on the size, weight, and type of item you’re returning.

A standard first-class mail requires a single stamp but posting large packages will require paying $10 or more.

How Long Does It Take To Return To Sender With USPS?

It will take about 3 weeks to return the mail to the sender. The post office will hold on to the mail for about 15 days.

During this period, if the receiver comes in to collect it, the postal workers will give it to that person. If no one comes to the office to claim it, the package will be sent back to the sender.

Can You Track A Return To Sender Mail?

No, tracking a return to sender mail won’t be an option for you in most cases. When the sender posts the mail, it can be tracked until it reaches its destination. Once it has arrived, the parcel cannot be tracked.

In this case, you will have to repackage the item to track it again. Simply writing ‘return to sender’ won’t allow you to see the progress as the mail travels back.   

What Happens When A USPS Package Is Returned To The Sender? 

When you return a USPS package, the post office keeps it for 15 days, waiting for someone to come and claim it. They will also call the sender or addressee if a telephone number is provided on the mail.

If they can’t contact anyone, the mail will be returned to the address it came from. On receiving the package, the sender can then contact the addressee and ask for their updated address.

Q&A Section 

There might be a few more questions you have regarding this topic, we will try to cover all of them here.

Q: Can I return an unopened package to USPS?

Yes, you can return an unopened package to USPS.

You just need to write ‘return to sender’ or ‘not at this address on the mail. A mail carrier will take it to the post office from where it will be sent back.

Alternatively, you can also drop the mail off at a USPS mail collection box. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to track the package if you return it unopened. Tracking will require you to repackage the items inside.

Q: Why does USPS tracking say return to sender? 

The postal workers are usually in a hurry. They only have a few moments to look at the information on the package. If it seems insufficient, then the mail is returned to the sender.

That’s probably why your USPS tracking says that your parcel is being returned. Here are a few other reasons why this may be happening:

  • The address may be incomplete or incorrect.
  • The postage owed might not have been charged.
  • The recipient may have declined the package.
  • The package may have been held at the recipient’s local post office and was never picked up.
  • The mail carrier may have had trouble getting to the address provided due to a locked gate or restriction to access the area.
  • The recipient may not be living at the address provided.

Q: What does “returned to sender processed” mean? 

It means that the post office sent the mail back to the address it came from. From there, the sender processed the returned item, gave you a refund, and put it back in the inventory.

In simpler words, it’s the same as when you’re returning something at a store. They will process the product before giving you a refund.

Q: What does return to sender no mail receptacle unable to forward mean? 

It means that the addressee doesn’t have a proper mailbox where the package can be delivered, and there isn’t anyone to give the mail to.

In this case, the mail won’t move forward, and the post office will return it to the sender.

Q: Why are USPS packages returned?

Here are some reasons why packages are returned:

Attempted Not Known: It means that the delivery was attempted, but the addressee is not known at the address provided.

Deceased: It is used when the addressee has passed away and no one else received the mail.

In Dispute: It means that there is a dispute over who receives the mail, and the mail carrier cannot decide its receiver.

Insufficient Address: The address provided in the mail is not enough. The essential details required to deliver it to the addressee correctly are not mentioned.

Illegible: It means that the address written isn’t readable.

No Mail Receptacle: There is no mailbox to receive the mail, and the package cannot be handed over to someone else.

No Such Number: This is when the mail is addressed to the wrong number that doesn’t exist, and the correct information is unknown.

No Such Street: It means that the package was addressed to the wrong street that doesn’t exist, and the correct address is unknown.

Refused: It is used when the addressee refuses to receive the mail or pay the charges for the postage.

Unclaimed: It means that the addressee didn’t claim or call for the mail, and no one came looking for it.

Not Deliverable as Addressed – Unable to Forward: The addressee may have moved from the address, provided no other address.

Vacant: The place of delivery, whether a house, apartment, or office, isn’t occupied.

Related Post: USPS “Return To Sender” Message: 4 Main Reasons

Final Words

To sum this up, you can return USPS mail by writing ‘not at this address’ on a sticky note or paper and attaching it to the package.

Then you can give it to a mail carrier or utilize USPS mail collection boxes. The sender will receive the mail within 3 weeks.