Processing Exception & USPS: All You Need To Know

Have you ever seen the phrase “processing exception” after shipping something with USPS? If so, you might be wondering what this means and what you should do.

A processing exception just means that something has gone wrong with the package being sent to its destination, and it has been delayed. There are many explanations for this; it may have been sorted onto the wrong truck or the weather may be causing delays. Whatever the reason, your package is not lost, but it is likely to be delayed.

Let’s talk about what causes this issue, and what you can do to get your package sooner.

What Does Processing Exception At USPS Mean?

A processing exception at USPS means that your package is going to be held up for some reason that is beyond the control of the company. It is a very general message that can be triggered by quite a few issues, but all that really matters to you as the sender or recipient is that it is likely to delay the item in transit.

Things are bound to go wrong occasionally, especially when you handle and process as much mail as USPS does every day.

The message is a catch-all for packages that have run into issues, but it is not intended to explain what the issue that the mail has encountered is.

This makes it a rather frustrating message to receive because you don’t know what has happened or why.

You will not have any sense of how long it is likely to take to resolve the issue, and you won’t have much that you can communicate to your buyer (assuming you are a seller).

What Are The Types Of USPS Delivery Exception?

There are many things that can cause a “delivery exception” message to be displayed, but a few of the common ones include:

  • Customs have held the package up for inspection
  • There has been a strike that is affecting the package’s journey
  • Environmental factors such as bad weather are affecting the package’s journey
  • A natural disaster is preventing the package from moving
  • USPS tried to deliver the package but was unable to because the recipient was not available
  • The label has been damaged or the address does not exist/contains errors
  • The package has been damaged
  • USPS needs an employee to physically handle the package, rather than a machine (usually due to an inappropriate shipping fee having been paid)
  • USPS is having issues with its machines or is changing the equipment
  • The holiday season is even busier than expected and this is slowing down handling – especially if you have mislabeled your package or paid for incorrect shipping

Any of these things can delay the package and while they are frustrating, there is very little that either the sender or the recipient can do.

The recipient should make sure that they are available if they know they have missed delivery, or organize to collect the package from a depot nearby.

Why Does My USPS Package Say Processing Exception?

Your package will say this because one of the above incidents has arisen and USPS is having difficulty getting your package to the intended destination. The message is there to let you know what is going on and to forewarn you that the package may arrive late.

Be aware, however, that this does not necessarily mean it will arrive late. It is more likely to because it has been delayed and is not following the anticipated route, but it is not a guarantee that it will not arrive on time.

USPS employees may manage to speed it up again to get it to the intended destination as planned, in which case, no damage will have been done.

You should not panic if you see the message “processing exception,” because it doesn’t mean that you have done something wrong or that your package is lost forever.

How Long Does It Take To Process An Exception USPS?

Unfortunately, because this message is vague and does not pertain to any certain type of delay, it can vary enormously in how long it takes for the problem to be overcome.

If your package has been delayed due to a staff strike, it may not move until the strike is resolved. If a natural disaster has slowed it down, you may have to wait for an alternative route to be established, or infrastructure to be rebuilt to solve the issue.

In general, however, delivery exceptions are resolved within seven days of occurring. You will not normally have to wait longer than this unless circumstances are really extreme.

What Is A USPS Processing Exception Other Delay?

You may sometimes see the message “processing exception, other delay” on the USPS website, instead of just “processing exception.”

This is nothing to be concerned about. The message appears to carry the same meaning – that the package has been delayed because of a situation beyond USPS’s control.

How Do I Fix The Delivery Exception USPS?

In general, there is very little that you can do to correct the “delivery exception” message, but if it occurs, it is worth reaching out to USPS.

They may be able to give you more information about what has caused the delay and when they expect it to be resolved by.

Before you send any package, it is worth undertaking the following steps:

  1. Double-check that the name and address is correct, and verify these with the USPS Zip Code Checker if necessary
  2. Display labels clearly on your package
  3. Ensure that you have paid the correct fee for shipping a package. Pay attention to weight, dimensions, and shipping zone so that there are no errors, as this is likely to slow your package down

If you do experience a “processing exception,” make sure you discuss this with your customers so that they know what is going on. Clear communication is key to good customer service.

Related Post: Processing Exception & FedEx: All You Need To Know


Nobody likes to see the words “processing exception,” and they are frustratingly vague. However, you can assume that something beyond the control of USPS has delayed your package, and it should be on its way again soon.