How Long Does USPS Hold Packages?

If you have a package being held by USPS, you want to ensure you get it in time before it is sent back. USPS won’t keep the package forever, so it’s important to know how long they will hold it for. How long does USPS hold packages?

The USPS holds packages for 15 days. This is after they attempt to deliver the package to your shipping address. If you fail to pick it up after 15 days have passed, USPS will return it to the sender.

Typically, the USPS will make one or two attempts to deliver a package. If they cannot hand over the parcel due to reasons beyond their control, they will hold on to it for 15 days from their first delivery attempt. If you don’t go to pick up the package within 15 days, they will return it to the sender.

Read on to learn more about how long the USPS holds packages and how to use the USPS Hold Service.

How Long Does USPS Hold Packages?

The United States Postal Service (USPS) holds undelivered packages for 15 days reckoned from the day they first attempted to deliver them. But before they hold on to the parcel, they will first make one or two attempts to hand it over to you. If they were not able to give the package to you, that means they have encountered delivery problems beyond their capacity to solve.

If you encounter this problem, what you need to do is to contact the sender and check their delivery details, e.g., the delivery address and the date they sent the package. Then call your local USPS office and check if the parcel is already there. If it’s there and you need the item badly, you can pick it up instead of waiting for them to deliver it.

For international packages or those sent by people or companies abroad, USPS will hold the items for 30 days. For inbound Express Mail Service packages, USPS returns them to the senders after five days, unless the sender specifies fewer days on the parcels.

Why Does USPS Hold Your Package?

USPS does not just hold packages or mail for no reason at all. They will attempt everything within their capacity to deliver the item at least two times. If they try and they can’t, that’s the only time they will hold the item.

But given life’s realities, mail carriers often encounter problems in their mail and package deliveries. There are times when the address on the package is incorrect, confusing, or entirely illegible. The couriers, no matter how they try, will not be able to locate the place. This situation naturally results in undelivered packages and letters.

There are also times when the address is correct. However, the mailbox is so full of stuff that there’s no way the mailman can put the package inside it. He may try to hand the parcel over to a member of the family. But if the property needs the signature of the recipient, then he could not release the item.

Sometimes, the mailman can’t deliver the package because the recipient is not there or there is no one in the house. He will try to give it again the following business day. If he encounters the same situation, he will leave a PS Form 3849 at the door.

This form informs the recipient that a mailman tried to deliver a package but couldn’t. But understand that it is under the discretion of the mailman if he will leave this form or not. In any case, the USPS office will hold the package in the meantime.

how long does usps hold a package

How Does USPS Hold Your Packages?

USPS has a particular service unit that is called Hold for Pickup. This unit delivers packages to any USPS facility where a specific recipient can pick up the items. The team is also responsible for the undelivered mail or parcel.

All post offices in the land have their Hold for Pickup unit. As soon as an undelivered package arrives at the pickup location, USPS will send an email to the recipient. The email notifies them that the parcel is ready for pickup.

You Can Use the USPS Hold Mail Service to Hold Your Package for a Longer Period

USPS is offering a unique service to its clients. It is called USPS Hold Mail. You will be able to hold your mail or packages in the safety of your local post office if you avail of this particular USPS service.

For instance, if you are going on a vacation for several weeks in the Caribbean, you can ask this service to hold all your packages and mail until your return. USPS can hold your items for a maximum of 30 days.

You can also allow USPS to hold your items longer or even reroute them. To make use of this option, you need to sign up for a mail forwarding service. You can also make an advance request or even as early as the next delivery day on schedule.

The USPS Hold Mail is free of charge. However, you can only use one USPS Hold Mail service for one address at a time. This USPS service will hold all items, including packages and letters, for all individuals who are included in that specific address.

If you have a P.O. Box at your local USPS facility, you don’t need to make a request for this special service. As it is, all letters and packages delivered to a P.O. Box address are allowed to stay there for a period of no more than 30 days.

Anyone can request for USPS Hold Mail service or any authorized agent for a specific address. But the agent must carry authorization from a specific person to act on his or her behalf. A third party can request a USPS Hold Mail service schedule for a specific address as long as the person authorizing him can provide all the necessary information that can complete his or her request.

How to Request the USPS Hold Mail Service

There are four ways a customer can submit his or her request for the USPS Hold Mail service: In writing, by phone, in person, or online. Here are the steps in requesting this special service.

In Writing

  1. Search for the mailing address of your local Post Office. (Use the Post Office Locator to get the address in your local area).
  2. Write a letter requesting the USPS Hold Mail service.
  3. Address the letter to the Local Postmaster.
  4. Mail your request letter.
  5. Wait for the return mail and follow its instructions.

In Person

  1. Visit your local Post Office. (Locate its address by using the Post Office Locator and look for your local P.O.).
  2. Get a PS Form 8076, Authorization to USPS Hold Mail from the Post Office staff assigned to issue this form.
  3. Fill up this form with all the information.
  4. Submit the form to the Customer Care Center.

By Phone

  1. Call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) and request for the USPS Hold Mail service.
  2. You will be asked by the receiver of the call for certain information. Provide all the information that may be asked of you.
  3. Follow all the instructions that you will be given.
  4. You may be asked to visit your local Post Office to complete the processing of your request.


  1. Visit the USPS Hold Mail Service site. You have to create an account if you don’t have one yet.
  2. Sign in to your account.
  3. Request a USPS Hold Mail service. (You may need to locate a link on the page to make this request).
  4. Provide all the information that may be required.
  5. Requests submitted before 2:00 a.m. Central Time can start on the same Postal business day. Requests submitted after 2:00 a.m. Central Time can start on the next Postal business day.
how long are usps packages held

How Long Can You Place a Package on Hold?

You can request USPS to hold your mail and packages for 3 to 30 days. If you need to keep your mail longer than 30 days, you must sign up for a USPS Forward Mail service. The said unit caters to the needs of customers who are moving or relocating for a short time.

Can You Cancel, Change, or Edit Your USPS Hold Mail Request?

Yes, you can. Once you submit your request, the USPS gives you a confirmation number. You would receive the number via email or by the Customer Care Center if you did it personally. So, you must give the USPS the correct email address.

You can use your confirmation number to make changes and even cancel your USPS Hold Mail request. Just use the link provided in your confirmation email or by calling the Customer Care Center.

If you don’t have a confirmation number, you can still make changes or even cancel your request. But you should visit your local Post Office and present one of the Acceptable Forms of Identification. If you can’t personally see the office, you can call them and signify your intention to make changes or cancellations. You must follow the instructions the USPS gives you.

Can You Pick up USPS Hold Mail Earlier than You Have Requested?

Yes, you can pick up your ‘Hold Mail’ earlier than you have requested initially, but there is a consequence. The USPS will cancel your request automatically, and regular mail delivery will resume on the following Postal business day.

Can You Authorize Another Person to Pick Up Your USPS Hold Mail?

Yes, you can authorize somebody else to pick up your ‘Hold Mail.’ You only have to write an authorization letter permitting that person to pick up your held mail. Address the message to the Postmaster of your local Post Office. The person you have authorized should present an Identification Card acceptable to the Post Office so he can get the held item.

What Happens If the Package Is Not Picked up after the Hold Period?

If you exceed 15 days for domestic packages and 30 days for international parcels, USPS will return the item to the sender. But for Inbound Express Mail Service, the USPS returns the item unless the sender specifies fewer days.

In such situations, USPS follows the rules stated in what it calls the 766 Retention Period. Section 766.1 of these rules states that the Post Office facilities will hold international mail items for 30 days. But inbound Express Mail Service packages must be returned after 5 days unless fewer days were specified by the sender.

But there are exceptions to this rule. If the USPS failed to deliver the package or the receiver refused to accept the package, then the item is considered undeliverable (Section 766.2 of USPS’s Rules and Regulations).

Conclusion: How Long Does USPS Hold a Package?

The USPS holds packages for 15 days. You can pick up the parcel at the USPS location where it is. If you do not claim the package after 15 days have passed, USPS will return it to the sender.

The USPS will make one or two attempts to deliver a package to your address. If they cannot deliver the package, they will hold on to it for 15 days from their first delivery attempt. If you don’t go to pick up the package within 15 days, they will return it to the sender.

Related reading:

How Late Does USPS Deliver Packages and Mail?

USPS Regional Facility – Arrived or Departed [What Does It Mean?]

Out for Delivery – What Does It Mean? (UPS, USPS, etc.)

Does USPS Deliver on Sunday? [USPS Sunday Delivery]