Have you checked the tracking on your USPS package, only to see that it is being held at the post office for pickup?

This can feel like an inconvenience at best, and a large source of frustration at worst. After all, one of the greatest things about receiving stuff in the mail is that it comes right to our door!

So, you may be wondering – why would your package be available for pickup, and is there anything you should know about when going to retrieve it?

In this article, we’ll cover everything that you need to know!

Package Available For Pickup – Causes And Meaning

When USPS states that your package is available for pickup, it most commonly means that they weren’t able to deliver it for one reason or another.

Depending on the exact cause, they may attempt to redeliver it the following day, however this is not guaranteed.

So, let’s look at each cause in more detail, so you’ll have a better idea on why your package is being held at the post office.

1. Failed Delivery

USPS Vehicles

One of the most common causes of a package becoming available to be picked up from the post office, that is that the delivery of the package failed.

USPS may have tried to deliver it, but were not able to successfully. If possible, USPS will usually leave a slip with more information.

For example, it could have been that the package required a signature, but there was nobody available to sign the package when USPS attempted to deliver. This is common for households in which everybody works during the day, and nobody is home during USPS delivery hours.

Alternatively, it could have been that there hasn’t been any access to the delivery location. For example, the package needed to be delivered to your door because it was too big to fit in your mailbox, but a locked gate prevented USPS from reaching your driveway.

While USPS will usually attempt to redeliver packages that they couldn’t deliver the first time, they may hold the package at the post office if delivery attempts fail repeatedly.

So, you will need to go pick up the package from the post office instead.

2. The Package Was Too Valuable To Be Left

In some circumstances, USPS may require the package be picked up at the post office, due to the value of the shipment.

Often times, this is due to a request by the sender. However, this is rare, as usually merchants will simply require a signature instead.

Some examples of items that may be too valuable to leave at your doorstep include precious metals, electronics, or jewelry.

Some merchants may be more likely to request that the post office hold the package, if your area is prone to theft, or you have reported packages missing in the past.

So, if you’re expecting something expensive, you may need to go pick it up from the post office instead. Note that USPS may not attempt to deliver these items at all, so there’s no need to wait.

3. The Package Wasn’t Loaded Onto The Truck

In some circumstances, it’s possible that the package was supposed to be delivered to your address today, but by mistake it didn’t actually end up on the truck.

USPS will mark the package as available for pickup at the post office, so you are able to get it more quickly. They understand that some packages are time sensitive, and want to let you know that you can go retrieve it right now should you wish to do so.

Unfortunately, USPS doesn’t make second trips on the same day for packages that they forgot to load by mistake.

However, the package will be loaded onto the truck the following day (except Sundays), where delivery will be attempted.

So, if you believe that the package was simply left behind by mistake, you are free to pick it up if you want, but you can also wait for it to be delivered by USPS themselves.

4. The Size Or Weight Was Too Large

In very rare circumstances, it’s possible that the package was too large or heavy to be delivered on the mail truck.

This is rare, because USPS does have limits to the size and weight of items that they’ll ship.

However, it’s always a possibility, as senders may put the wrong package dimensions in by mistake.

So, if you ordered something particularly large or heavy and it was shipped via USPS, it’s possible you’ll need to come retrieve it yourself. USPS will usually not attempt to deliver these items.

5. Postage Is Due

Finally, it’s possible that the package may be held because postage is due on the order.

This happens when the person sending the package has made mistakes in the dimensions or weight of the order, meaning that they did not actually pay enough for the package to be shipped. So, this cost may be passed onto you.

USPS will require payment for the postage due before handing over your package. Because it can be difficult to collect this during normal delivery, they may require you to pick it up at the post office instead.

What Happens If You Don’t Pick The Package Up?

If USPS states that the package is available for pickup, you should go to pick it up within 15 days of the initial notice. You can find out the first day your package was marked as available for pickup by examining the details of your package’s tracking history.

After 15 days have passed, the package will usually be returned to the original sender.

Although you can reorder items that were returned to sender, you may be charged shipping and restocking fees, depending on the merchant that you ordered from. Additionally, you will need to wait for the new item to be shipped out, which can take a significant period of time.

Therefore, it’s best to simply retrieve your package from the post office as soon as possible to prevent any inconveniences.

Because it’s not always possible to determine the exact reason a package was held for pickup, you may wish to wait 1-2 days in order to see if USPS attempts to deliver.

However, if the package still isn’t delivered to you after several days, it would be best to make the trip to the post office to retrieve it yourself.

How To Pick Up Your Package From The Post Office

In order to pick up the package from the post office, you will need to have a few things ready before you get there.

First, you should have a picture of your legal ID on hand in case the person at the counter asks for it. This is to ensure only the person that the package was actually shipped to is able to pick it up.

Secondly, you should have the tracking number for the package available. This will make it easier to locate and identify your package among the others being held at the post office.

Finally, if you live in a city with multiple post office branches, you should research ahead of time which post office is actually holding your package. This will prevent you from having to make multiple trips.

Normally, the post office responsible for your mail is based in the same zip code as your address.

So, even if your city has multiple zip codes with multiple post offices, you should first visit the post office that is based in the same zip code as your delivery address is.

Alternatively, you can speak with someone at USPS and inquire about the exact location of your package.


If USPS states that your package is available for pickup, this usually means they were unable to deliver it.

Packages held for pickup are typically kept for 15 days, before being returned to sender. So, you should wait no more than a couple days before going to retrieve it, just to be safe.

I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any other questions about USPS, pleas ask them using the comment form below.

Wishing you the best,

– James McAllister

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of JamesMcAllisterOnline.com. He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on JamesMcAllisterOnline.com, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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