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

When you ship a package with USPS and it gets lost in transit, it can cost you time and money. Some shipped items are irreplaceable, while others are needed for business.

If USPS lost your package, either the sender or the receiver needs to report it by filing a claim at the USPS website. The claim can be filed 7 days after the mailing date. You will need to sign up for a USPS account and go to the missing mail section. You must keep all the receipts to back up your claim. You will be eligible for a refund as long as your package was insured.

Even if USPS is at fault, customers can lose confidence in a seller and it can cause headaches for you.

Has USPS Really Lost Your Package?

Before we get to any radical solutions and assume that the package is lost, we encourage you to check the USPS tracking one more time and give it 24 hours to update properly.

Sometimes it can happen that the status of your package was not updated properly. It will say “delivered”, yet there will be no package at your doorstep.

In this case, give it 1 day, and if nothing happens, we suggest you file a USPS help request form first.

This will start a process of searching at your local post office, where they may be able to locate the package and finally deliver it to you.  If they don’t find your package, it means that it is lost after all.

What Happens If USPS Loses Your Package?

If USPS loses your package, you need to start by filing a missing mail search request 7 days after the day of shipping. If USPS finds the package, they will reroute it to you or to its intended recipient. Once 15 days have passed, you may be able to file an insurance claim. Most USPS packages are covered up to $100, but you need to purchase additional insurance to recover the full value.

It is important that you keep all of your records so that you have them in case your package is lost. You need any receipts for tracking, as well as your shipping dates and package description. It is important that you file any claims promptly because USPS requires that you file them within 60 days of the package missing.

If you bought something online, you can contact the seller to find out if they will resend it or give you a refund. The person who ships the package can contact USPS and will have paid the shipping fees and any insurance. Some sellers will refund you and collect from USPS.

If you are the shipper, you will start with a Missing Mail Search, and if you insured the item, you can fill out an insurance claim. If you didn’t insure your package, you will do the Missing Mail Search, and once the package is found lost or damaged, you get a claim for a refund in shipping.

How Long Before a Package Is Considered Lost by USPS?

You can first file a Missing Mail Search 7 days after your item was shipped. Once you file this request, the USPS will begin searching through their sorting facilities and trucks to locate your package. You can check the exact timelines here.

You can start this search online at You need to set up an account, and then enter the mailing date, the tracking number, and a description of the package and its contents.

It is also important to make sure that anything in the package is legal to ship. If the package contains items that can’t be shipped, such as drugs, handguns, perishables, or hazardous materials, they will not ship it.

If USPS finds the package, they will either return it to the sender or deliver it, depending on what you request in the Missing Mail Search. USPS might find that it was delivered, in which case you will have to treat it as a stolen package. They could find that it is lost, and you will need to file a claim for your loss.

Is USPS Liable for Lost Packages?

If USPS loses your package, they are liable if you purchased insurance.

However, there are some notable exceptions. First, if you ship something prohibited or perishable, they will not take any liability for it.

If insurance is not purchased when your item is shipped, USPS will not compensate you for lost, missing, or damaged items. Their liability is only for the following:

  • Insured Mail
  • Registered Mail
  • COD
  • Priority Mail Express

They are liable for the insurance value that you give them when you mailed the package. You need to have your receipt to file the claim. Without a receipt, they will pay $100 for Insured Mail, Registered Mail, and Priority Mail Express, $50 for COD Mail, and up to $100 for Priority Mail.

Who Pays If USPS Loses the Package?

With online shopping, the seller pays if USPS loses a package.

Unfortunately, this is a part of doing business. Slight mistakes on the address label or by postal workers can and do lead to lost packages, and this can cause customers to lose confidence.

As a customer, it is inconvenient when you buy something that gets lost in the mail. Most online retailers will replace your item and deal with the USPS themselves, and sellers on sites such as eBay are required to refund or replace your lost item.

If the seller has insurance, the seller can recover the value of the item and the cost of shipping. However, if the item is scanned as delivered, then it is in essence delivered, and it is the recipient’s problem.

In this case, some sellers choose to replace or refund the item, but third-party sites will not hold the seller responsible if the package is marked as delivered at the address the buyer listed.

How to Report a Missing USPS Package

You can report a missing USPS package using the Missing Mail Search. You need to have an account with USPS, and if you don’t, you can create one for this purpose.

You will need your tracking number, and you must wait until seven days after the package has been shipped. You will also need the sender’s and recipient’s mailing addresses. You need to tell them the size of the envelope or box you used, as well as the mailing date.

You should give them as much information as possible, including a description of the contents. If you have any photos, you can upload them at this time.

Once you initiate the missing mail search, USPS will update you periodically. If you haven’t heard anything, you can also contact them and ask them for an update.

If they find your mail, they will send it back to the sender or deliver it to the recipient, depending on what you requested. If they determine that the package is lost, you can file an insurance claim.

It is important to do this right away because USPS only allows you to file a claim for 60 days after you ship the item.

Can You Sue USPS for a Lost Package?

You can’t sue the USPS for a lost package. You can, however, claim a refund if your package was insured. The claim must be submitted within 60 days of the shipping date. 

It is annoying and frustrating, but they have procedures that allow you to recover the value for your items as long as you take advantage of them.

When you choose whether or not to purchase insurance, you are acknowledging that you have an option to cover your item in case of loss.

To be successful in a lawsuit, you have to show intent or breach of contract. The USPS covers this liability through its procedures when you choose to use its services. You can file a complaint with the Postmaster General, but you can’t file a lawsuit.

Q&A Section

Q: How Do I Know If My USPS Package Has Insurance?

A: if you purchased insurance for your package, you have insurance up to that amount. In addition, they will pay $100 for Insured Mail, Registered Mail, and Priority Mail Express, $50 for COD Mail, and up to $100 for Priority Mail as long as you have your receipt.

Q: What Happens If an Insured or Uninsured Package Is Lost?

If an insured package is lost, you should file a claim to collect your reimbursement. If it is uninsured, you will not be able to collect. If you purchased the item, the seller will normally reimburse you or send you a replacement.

Q: What Happens If USPS Loses My eBay Package?

If USPS loses your eBay package, as a seller, you will be required to refund or replace the item for the buyer. If you are the buyer, eBay requires the seller to refund the money to you. If the seller doesn’t do it, you can file a claim, and eBay will reimburse you.

Q: What Happens If USPS Loses My Package with Tracking?

A tracking number normally lets you know where your package is. Once you fill out your Missing Mail Search, the USPS will try to locate the package. They will look at the last location where the package was scanned and start their search there. They may find the package tucked away in the corner of a building.

If they determine that your package is lost, it may have been stolen or lost somewhere in its travels. They can only scan the package if it is in their physical possession, so the tracking number won’t help you find a package that is stolen or lost for good. If you have insurance, you will be able to file a claim once it is determined to be lost.


Obviously, when your package gets lost, it’s a horrible inconvenience. But fortunately, many post services, including USPS, have a great system in place to help you either get your package or get a refund.