In Transit by Post Office – What Does It Mean?

You’ve been tracking your package, and then you noticed it went from “out of delivery” to “in transit.” Why? What does “in transit by post office” mean?

“In Transit by Post Office” means “on the move.” Once the originating post office has your mail or package, it is considered in transit until “out of delivery” (or due for final delivery to the recipient). The package goes through several processing facilities during the shipment process and is sorted out for the final delivery.

Read on to learn more about the “In Transit by Post Office” delivery status, what it means, and how long it will take to receive your package.

In Transit by Post Office

in transit by post office

“In Transit,” “In Transit by Post Office,” or “In Transit to Next Facility” means your package is being shipped to your address. That means your chosen delivery company (FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc.) has already picked up your package and loaded it on a truck at the origin location for delivery to its final destination.

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your package is on a moving vehicle. It could still be at the facility of the delivery company.

It also doesn’t mean that your package is lost, so don’t worry. In general, it may indicate that there’s a delay in the shipment of your package from one distribution facility to the next.

When should you worry? How long does your package remain in transit?

Factors Affecting How Long Your Package Is In Transit

  1. The type of item
  2. Delivery company used
  3. Where it’s going to be delivered
  4. Nature of your business

It’s not uncommon for a package to be in transit for over 24 hours without being scanned while in transport. You could go to the “shipping tracker” page of your shipper’s website to check the transit times. To be sure you got the correct tracking number, contact your shipper.

Let’s take, for example, USPS’ in-transit standard times based on its various services:

  • First-Class Mail®: 1 to 3 business days
  • Priority Mail®: 1 to 3 business days
  • Priority Mail Express®: 1 to 2 calendar days
  • USPS Retail Ground®: 2 to 8 business days

Stages of the Delivery Process

Let’s review the stages of the delivery process to help you better understand “in transit by post office.”

1. Pre-Shipment

This means that the delivery company has received the information about your item, which may still be waiting for scanning before it starts its journey to you. Or, this could also mean the delivery company hasn’t started the whole shipping process yet.

2. Accepted

This means that your package has been accepted and received by a partner local carrier or at a Post Office from the sender. Now, it’s going to move through the company’s processing system.

3. In-Transit

As I earlier explained, this is the part of the delivery process wherein your package is already on the move and will arrive at its final destination or your address after a few days.

4. Alert

If ever there are any issues or delays, the delivery company warns you.

5. Delivered

Your package has arrived at its destination.

How Long Does “In Transit by Post Office” Take?

You don’t have to push the panic button just yet if your parcel tracking has stopped updating for 2 to 3 days. There are times when scanning of tracking numbers at each stop is missed or skipped.

Normally, it takes 2 to 9 days for delivery service companies to deliver packages in the 48 contagious states in the United States. That’s excluding federal holidays. Depending on the mail or package service you’ll be using, a company might make up to three delivery attempts. So the delivery status or shipping status “In Transit by Post Office” should appear for about 2 to 9 days.

What should you do if your package or mail is stuck in transit or the tracking system isn’t updating for more than three days?

Well, it depends, because each company has its own policy. One thing you could do is to call your local post office and talk to the supervisor if your package or mail is missing or stuck in transit for too long.

You can expect them to send an email inquiry (“Network Distribution Center Package Inquiry”). If you’re willing to wait, they’ll typically get a reply within hours.

Or, if your concern is simply about their tracking system, make a simple phone call to the officials. They’ll give you all the information you need to track your package or mail.

Why Is My Package “In Transit by Post Office” for so Long?

in transit by post office ups

Delays are inevitable. But, if your package shipping status shows “In transit by Post Office” for a while, what is the cause of this? Let’s find out the top 6 reasons:

1. Overweight or Oversized Package

How big is an oversized package? The answer will depend on the courier service you choose.

For instance, FedEx considers a package to be oversized if the length is more than 96 inches or the length plus girth is 130 inches. UPS considers a package as oversized if its length and girth combined are more than 118 inches but less than 157 inches. For USPS, a huge package is 84 to 165 inches in length and girth combined.

Reasons Why the Size and Weight of a Package Cause Delays

One reason for the “In transit by Post Office” (UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc.) message is the package is not a priority. On average, a courier driver makes around 18 deliveries every hour. A team that handles over-dimensional loads makes an average of 10 deliveries for a whole day.

Heavy or large packages will eat into the profit margins of these companies because they require more space and time. So, if there’s limited space or time, couriers will prioritize delivering larger volumes of smaller packages.

Larger and heavier packages tend to be more difficult to handle. This could increase the possibility of them getting damaged at some point during the delivery process. If the label or assigned bar code gets damaged, a courier may have to resort to time-consuming manual sorting.

Possible Solutions

  • If possible, ship the items or parts separately. While this is a more expensive option—because you’ll pay multiple shipping fees—it ensures your package gets to its final destination and without the oversized surcharges.
  • Get in touch with the courier company if you know your package is extra large or heavy before they pick it up for delivery.

2. Processed for Customs Clearance

Customs clearance typically takes less than 24 hours. However, there are times when it would take a couple of days or even weeks because of different reasons.

Common Reasons Your Package Gets Stuck in Customs

  • Documentation problems: This could mean the proper documents are missing, incorrect, or incomplete. A commercial invoice (a special export document), shipping label, and packing slip are the most important documents for customs clearance.
  • Prohibited items: A few examples of prohibited or restricted items that you can’t ship to the United States are some meats (e.g., bushmeat), absinthe and some alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, non-domesticated animal skins, and precious items (e.g., antiques and precious stones).
  • Unpaid duties and taxes: Or, you may owe sales tax on shipping and handling. The good news is the item is usually released once you pay the tax charges.

Possible Solution

  • Contact both the courier company and the recipient (if applicable). They can tell you all the necessary details about the shipment, including the proper documentation, to finalize customs clearance.

3. Rerouting Request

Another reason why your package delivery status shows “In Transit by Post Office” could be because of a routing request. You can make changes to the delivery date or the delivery address of your package. However, if it’s already in transit, your courier company may have to stop the delivery of your package to process the new details (even if they’re insignificant). Naturally, this could lead to delay issues.

Possible Solution

  • You can contact the courier company, but in most cases, all you can really do is to wait for their tracking system to make updates. This process could take a while.

4. Tough Weather Conditions

Delays due to tough weather conditions (snow, poor visibility, floods, tornadoes, etc.) aren’t rare. They happen year in and year out, whether where you live or along the way to your home or delivery address.

Most courier service companies (e.g., FedEx and UPS) continue to deliver during inclement weather unless it makes delivery dangerous or causes disruption in their operations. It’s easy to know if there’s an active disruption in their services because an alert status will appear on their web pages.

Possible Solution

  • You have to take a “wait-and-see” approach. That might be difficult, but a delay of one day can’t be that bad.
  • You could try to get a refund. Most courier service companies, like FedEx, give a money-back guarantee for every parcel shipment. However, there are a few instances wherein you may not be able to get a refund, including weather delays.

5. Holiday Shipping Rush

in transit

In the U.S., the holiday shipping rush usually happens between August and October. Many popular holidays fall between these months, including Christmas, New Year, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. But nowadays, with the ongoing pandemic, courier service companies are busier than ever. This can cause the message “In Transit by Post Office” to appear for longer than usual.

Normally, courier companies try to prepare for these major yearly holidays. But sometimes, they fail to take the necessary steps to ensure every delivery reaches the recipient safely and on schedule. This could be due to many reasons, like having too few trained workers, courier management software glitches, or getting higher than expected shipment delivery volumes.

Possible Solution

  • As always, if you have concerns about your packages, you can visit your courier’s website or contact their customer service for assistance.
  • Always prepare for the holiday shipping rush. One thing you could do is to keep track of your holiday shipping all year round. Like FedEx and UPS, major courier service companies will usually offer detailed updates on their holiday shipping guidelines.

6. Damage to the Package

When we choose a courier company, we expect them to deliver our package on time and free from any damage. Unfortunately, according to a study by Stella Service, there’s a one out of ten chance that a package will be damaged while in transit.

A courier company has to ensure the safety of your goods and that of the people handling them. Therefore, the courier company will most likely stop the delivery of your package to conduct an investigation. This will obviously result in a delay.

Possible Causes

  • Weather – Packages are exposed to harsh weather conditions any time during handling and transit. For instance, staff members may leave them on the ground outside while reloading.
  • Poor road conditions – Examples of poor road conditions are unmarked speed bumps, damaged roads, excessive driving speed, and animals on the road.
  • Shape and size of a package – The shape and size of your package will determine how the staff will load it into the delivery truck. For instance, oddly-shaped packages are difficult to stack and could still move around during transport.
  • Handling of the package – Let’s face it. Some staff members don’t handle packages with care. This makes packages prone to damage.
  • Using reused boxes – It’s a terrible idea to use old, worn, and/or thin boxes to send your package. Don’t be surprised if they fall apart during transport. Besides, misusing these boxes could be a violation of federal law.
  • Human error or machinery damage – Whichever of the two is the reason, mistakes are inevitable, especially if courier companies are processing many orders.

Possible Solutions

  • You can make a faulty goods claim to the seller. According to consumer rights, you should receive a refund, replacement, or repair for your damaged item. Like FedEx and third-party companies, Courier service companies usually provide insurance options to protect your package if there’s damage or loss.
  • Make sure to keep the original packaging materials if ever you decide to make a claim.

Conclusion – In Transit by Post Office

The delivery status “In Transit by Post Office” means your package is on its way to its destination. You might see this status many times during transit since a package is scanned multiple times.

While courier service companies try their best, delayed delivery is unavoidable. If you notice anything unusual about your package’s shipping status, the best way to address it is to contact your courier company or retailer to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Related reading:

DHL Vs. FedEx Vs. UPS [What Are the Differences? Which is Better?]

How Long Does It Take to Ship from China to the US?

What Is UPS Mail Innovations? [Expedited, Returns, and more]

Pick and Pack [What Is It? What Does It Mean?]