USPS In Transit Arriving Late: When To Get Worried?

Have you ever wondered how long you should ignore the “in transit, arriving late” message before you get concerned about it?

Usually, USPS will also provide you with an updated extension window that suggests when the package will arrive. If you haven’t got one or your package still hasn’t arrived, it may be worth contacting USPS to find out what’s going on and where the parcel has got to. “Arriving late” could mean any period of time.

It’s a tricky message to handle because it doesn’t offer any information about what’s going on. We will do our best to explain everything in this article.

What Does USPS In Transit Arriving Late Mean?

“In transit, arriving late” means that your package has been delayed while it is traveling. This message means that your package will not arrive as it was expected to when you sent it. It could be one day late, or significantly longer, depending upon what has caused the delay.

It does mean that the package is on its way, however. If you are waiting for a package, you can rest assured that it has been dispatched and is in USPS’s system, so all you need to do is wait for it to arrive.

How Long Does In Transit Arriving Late Mean?

Unfortunately, there is no estimate for how long the “in transit, arriving late” message means. USPS does its best to resolve issues quickly and minimize delays, but the length of the delay will depend heavily upon what has caused the delay.

The only way to find out how soon your package might arrive is to call USPS and see if they can provide you with an assessment. Otherwise, you will simply have to wait.

Hopefully, within a few days, the tracking information will update to show that the package has moved, and you will have it.

Why Is My Package Delayed?

Your package may be delayed for a whole range of reasons, including:

  • Bad weather
  • Natural disasters
  • Strikes
  • Transport issues
  • Problems with the USPS machines
  • Problems with the package labeling
  • The package has been misplaced
  • USPS is short-staffed
  • The package has been misdirected and ended up in the wrong place
  • Customs are examining the package

Many other issues can arise with packages that are being processed by USPS, but these are some of the common ones.

You are unlikely to find out what has caused the delay; this message is simply intended to warn you that the delay exists.

Most of these issues should be reasonably quick to resolve, but if USPS has lost the package, it may take longer. Certain big issues, such as strikes, may also cause more significant delays.

Should I Be Worried If USPS Tracking Hasn’t Been Updated In 5 Days?

A package being sent by USPS should be updated every time the package is scanned, and the package should be scanned every time it moves between facilities or is processed by a member of staff. This means that, in theory at least, the package tracking should be updated every day or two.

However, this doesn’t always happen, and it isn’t necessarily anything to worry about. Sometimes, the tracking page won’t get updated for a while for perfectly normal reasons. It may simply be a technical issue.

Sometimes, couriers and staff members will forget to scan a package or fail to notice that it hasn’t been scanned properly. This is particularly true around holidays when the company is extremely busy.

This is nothing to worry about, because your package should still be moving, and will arrive with you safely. However, if it goes past the time your package is due to arrive, you may need to get in touch with USPS.

What To Do When USPS Tracking Does Not Update For Days?

If your tracking information consistently does not update, you only have two options.

  1. The first is to simply wait and see whether the package arrives.
  2. The second is to contact USPS’s customer services and ask them for an update. They may be able to help you locate the package.

Does In Transit Arriving Late Mean Lost?

Not necessarily, no. “In transit, arriving late” simply means that the package has been delayed by something, and this could be for a whole range of reasons. However, it is also possible for it to mean that the package has been lost.

In general, an “in transit, arriving late” message should be rectified when whatever delay occurred is overcome and your package gets back on track.

However, if the package has been misplaced or has lost its shipping label, it is possible that your package has been lost.

If this occurs, you may not receive it.

How Do I Know If USPS Lost My Package?

If you think USPS has lost your package, you should first wait for a few days to see if it turns up. It may simply have been delayed with poor tracking updates. However, if it is several days past the estimated delivery date and your package still hasn’t come, follow these steps:

  1. Fill in a “Help Request” form. This will be sent to your local post office, and they will make efforts to trace the package if they can. You should allow a few days for them to do this.
  2. Submit a “Missing Mail” Search Request to USPS. You will need to fill in the sender and recipient addresses, the size of the container used, the tracking number (or other identifying information), a description of the contents, and any photos that could help USPS recognize the item.

USPS should then make an effort to locate the package if possible. Not all lost packages get recovered, although some do. The sender may be able to claim a refund if they sent the package using a guaranteed service.

Related Post: USPS Lost Your Package: Step-by-Step Action Plan


When you first see an “in transit, arriving late” message, you will still hopefully have your package within a few days. However, if this message does not get updated and you do not receive your package, it may have been lost.