By: James McAllister


Have you recently checked your tracking on USPS’ website, only to see a message stating that the package has been tendered to a returns agent?

This message can be confusing to see, especially if it was something you did not initiate yourself.

So, what does ‘tendered to returns agent’ actually mean, and what should you do once you see this message on your tracking page?

In this article, I’ll be answering all of these questions and more!

What Does ‘Tendered To Returns Agent’ Mean On USPS Tracking?

USPS Vehicles

If USPS tracking is showing a message stating ‘tendered to returns agent’, this means that the package is being returned back to the sender.

However, USPS is not the one responsible for ensuring the transit all the way back to where the return is being sent. So, it has been handed off to the company or party responsible for handling the return shipping.

For example, shipping companies like DHL or UPS may tender a package for delivery while it’s actually getting on its way towards you – handing it off to USPS to actually bring it to your door.

If the package needs to be returned back to the sender however, it is that original company that is ultimately responsible. So, they will tender it to the returns agent – such as DHL or Fedex, to actually handle the transit back to the return address.

Additionally, some companies may have third-party companies specifically handle returns.

For example, AT&T will use a company called Newgistics specifically for returns, despite the fact that they may be shipped out to you using a standard courier like Fedex or USPS.

In this instance, Newgistics would be the returns agent that USPS tenders the package to.

Long story short, the package is being returned back to the company that sent it out to you, and will NOT end up being delivered to your address – at least not without any intervention on your part.

To learn more about why this happens and what you can do about it, keep reading!

Tip: You may be able to find out more detailed information about your shipment, by entering your tracking number into this page here.

Why Was My Package Tendered To A Returns Agent?

Now the question that is likely on your mind – if you didn’t explicitly ask the package to be returned, why did it happen? Why would USPS send the package back, especially if it was already close to you?

The ‘tendered to returns agent’ message typically comes up for a few reasons.

1. The Shipper Recalled The Product

One of the most common reasons that packages are returned before actually being delivered is that it was recalled by the shipper.

This may occur if they accidentally sent the package to the wrong address, realized they sent the wrong item, or they weren’t able to collect the funds for the purchase.

For whatever reason, they’ve contacted the shipping company and ask that the package be sent back to them.

2. It Was Unable To Be Delivered

If a package was unable to be delivered, it will ultimately get sent back to the sender. With many couriers, this can occur in under two weeks, or even more quickly if notices are left and ignored.

Some possible reasons the package couldn’t be delivered include:

  • The courier couldn’t physically access your address (due to gates, extreme weather, damage to the road, etc.)
  • The package was being held at the post office or a courier location, and you never went to pick it up.
  • The person the package was not addressed to was not a known inhabitant of your house.
  • The barcode became damaged, and it’s unknown who the package is supposed to be going to.
  • The package was severely damaged during transit.
  • The package required a signature, but nobody was home to provide it.
  • The address was incorrect, and wasn’t verified before shipping by the original courier.

Typically, the courier will leave a notice when possible, with their plans for the package.

For example, if they will attempt redelivery, or whether or not you need to pick it up yourself.

If enough time passes and the package is not claimed, it will end up being returned back to the original sender.

3. The Package Was Refused At The Door

Finally, packages may end up automatically returned (and tendered to a returns agent if USPS wasn’t the original courier), if the package is refused at the door.

People may refuse packages for a number of reasons. If you are an eCommerce merchant, it is common to see this message on a customer’s tracking information if they decided they no longer want the item, but do not want to pay return shipping for it.

Because the package will need to go back to the sender, USPS will tender it to the returns agent when the package is refused, and they aren’t responsible for the return shipping back.

What Should I Do Now?

If your package was tendered to a returns agent and it wasn’t something that you specifically requested, it’s natural to be angry and upset.

So, how should you go about solving the problem?

Ultimately, this needs to be handled by the company that you originally ordered the product from. You will need to contact them, and not USPS, as USPS unfortunately will no longer be able to help you once the package is no longer in their possession.

If you contact the customer service of the company that you ordered from, they may be able to immediately take action that can get the product to you as quickly as possible.

For example, they may be able to contact the courier and have it rerouted back to your address. Alternatively, they may also choose to ship out a new product to you straight away, before the other one even makes it back to them.

At the very least, they should be able to explain why the product is being returned, and offer further insight to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

If the package that you were expecting was not an online order and came from a friend or family member for example, all you’ll be able to do is wait for the product to make it back to them.

If possible, ask them to reship using a different shipping company just in case, as this may decrease the likelihood that the scenario repeats itself.

Additionally, check your original tracking page and fix any issues that were cited by the courier. For example, if USPS listed ‘addressee unknown’, make sure the package is addressed to a person that is known to be living at that address.


If USPS tracking shows that your shipment has been tendered to the returns agent, it’s unfortunately on its way back to the sender.

This is most commonly caused by the shipper recalling it, or issues that the package impossible to deliver.

Therefore, you should contact the party that sent it to you straight away so they can sort it out, and prevent it from happening again in the future.

I hope that this article has answered all of your questions, and you’ll manage to get this sorted out quickly.

If you have any other questions about USPS, please ask them using the comment form below.

Wishing you the best,

– James McAllister

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of 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, 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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