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

Have you ordered an item online and are wondering when you will receive it? You may track your item after a few days. The company may inform you that your item is out for delivery. What does “out for delivery” mean?

“Out for delivery” means the delivery vehicle has already picked up your item from the destination post office. Your package is now somewhere between your local post office and your residence or your mailing address.

That means, if there is no problem, you will receive the item within the day or the next day.

When the delivery van or truck comes to the destination post office to pick up mail and packages for their delivery route for the day, they will get the parcels and items in a bin. They will scan the barcode on the bin. This will mark all the parcels in that bin as “Out for Delivery.”

Read on to learn more about the meaning of ‘out for delivery,’ variations on its meaning, and what happens during the delivery process.

Out for Delivery – What Does It Mean?

out for delivery

What does out for delivery mean? This phrase means that the staff took the package out for post office delivery. And is now somewhere between the location of the PO and your residence or mailing address. In other words, you can expect your package later today or the next day.

If you have ordered the item and choose to pay COD (cash on delivery), you should be ready with the exact amount of cash. Have someone pay for the item in your absence if you are not available on that day.

Upon tracking your ordered item, you found that it is already ‘out for delivery today.’ What happens is that when the delivery van picks up the parcels that they are going to deliver that day, they will get the items in a particular bin.

Once they scan the barcode of the items on that bin, the items get an ‘out for delivery’ tag. So, this phrase means the items are now in transit to their respective mailing addresses.

By using the tracking number, you’ll get updates on the whereabouts of your package. All eCommerce companies issue tracking numbers to their customers for this purpose.

Actual Meaning of “Out for Delivery”

When people see the ‘out for delivery’ tag on their package, they expect that the delivery man will soon deliver their package.

Actually, out for delivery meaning is much more complicated than you think. What the phrase really meant is that the item has left the factory. It is typically just one of the first steps in the process of delivering items. 

The phrase means that the staff has processed the item, put it through the usual system, and then packaged it inside a box. It just means that the item is already in the first van. In fact, it may not even be in the country you are living in.

There’s even a chance that it’s on a plane, a boat, or a sorting section of the post office. Therefore, when you track your order and see this phrase, don’t get very excited just yet.

Other “Out for Delivery” Meaning

Based on the actual experiences of consumers who have waited for some time before receiving their items, the phrase “out for delivery” – USPS can be a lot of things. It can have more than one meaning.

I will try to explain these other meanings now:

  1. The product you ordered has reached the hub nearest to your residence or mailing address. A delivery man may deliver it today or the next day after the ‘out for delivery’ message;
  2. In e-commerce parlance, the phrase means that your parcel has left the nearest center of the courier partner for the delivery or destination address. You can see this status on the day of delivery. When you see this status, you can expect the item to be delivered within the day;
  3. In some companies, the phrase means that the package has reached your closest delivery boy. You may get a message on that day saying the item is “out for delivery.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get the item on that day. In most cases, the delivery man will get it to you on the next day; and
  4. For some companies, “out of delivery today” means your package has been scheduled for delivery from the nearest courier office to your mailing address or your home today. In rare cases where the delivery guys are overloaded with work, the item will be delivered the next day.

How the Delivery Process Works

The typical delivery process used by companies is more complex than what we think it is. Unless you’re dealing with a small, local store, chances are, the item you ordered will not go straight from the factory or store and then be delivered directly to your home or mailing address.

In fact, when the item you ordered is imported from another country, the delivery process becomes even more complicated, and the delivery time becomes longer. Basically, the delivery process goes like this:

  1. The item is assembled, completed, and tested. Once it is approved for sale, it is boxed and brought into a warehouse.
  2. When an order for the item is received and the payment is verified (if not on a COD basis), the box containing the item is delivered to a postal warehouse where it will be taken to the right port (pier or airport).
  3. Once the item is at the port, the authorities will determine if it is a legal or illegal item. Only legal items are allowed to be shipped internationally. Once this is done, the box is loaded into a boat or an airplane.
  4. The ship or the airplane delivers the box, together with other parcels in the country of destination.
  5. Upon arrival at the destination country, customs authorities will charge customs duties to the item inside the box.
  6. The box is then delivered to a local warehouse used by the mother company.
  7. From this warehouse, delivery boys will load the box into a van to deliver it to your home or mailing address.

Difference Between “Out for Delivery” and “Shipped”

what does "out for delivery" mean

Sometimes, when tracking your order, you will receive an update saying that your item is already shipped. Is it different from being “Out for delivery?”

In eCommerce, when a parcel has the ‘shipped’ tag, then it means:

  • It is either on its way to the courier that will deliver the item, or it is already in the hands of the courier; or
  • Delivery men have yet to pick up the item in the warehouse.

‘Out for delivery’ means the item is already in the hands of your local distribution center or is already in the truck or van which is on its delivery route for the day.

Since the delivery boys have many items to deliver, you may get your package at the end of the day unless you are the first on their delivery route.

‘Shipped’ means the company got the order, placed the item in a box, labeled it, and placed some postage on it, and that the package is on its way to you. ‘Out for delivery’ means that the package is on its last leg of its trip and that you may get it that day.

Why Does Cheap Delivery Take Longer?

Oftentimes, you have control over whether the shipment of your goods will be fast or slow. The time it will take for your item to be delivered depends primarily on the service you choose.

If you can pay more, the delivery will be faster. But if you are working on a budget, the delivery will take longer.

Shipping by air is costlier than shipping by sea. But if you need the item urgently, and delivery delays will add up to your cost. It is wiser to choose an air courier than an ocean courier.

You can even make air shipment faster by tagging your item as priority mail. But that will jack up your transport cost even more.

“Out for delivery” -how long will it take? Usually, when your parcel has an “out for delivery” tag, it will take one to two days for it to reach your home. Of course, this also depends on the destination and if you’re shipping by air or sea.

Is It Worth Waiting?

In the real world, the phrase ‘out for delivery’ means that the item has left the warehouse or the company factory where you placed your order. So, the only thing you can do is wait.

But is it worth waiting? It is worth waiting for the item if the item is not available locally. You don’t have any choice. Or you have discovered that even when you add the delivery charges, the total cost of the item is still less than the price of the same item that is locally available.

But it is not worth the wait if the amount you will save is minimal compared to the amount of time you are forced to wait for the item before you can use it. Just buy the item in a local shop even if it costs a few pennies above its price from abroad.

Again, what does “out for delivery” mean? When your package has an “out for delivery” tag, it means that it has been picked up from the post office. In short, it is in transit to its destination. And it should reach your home or local post office after a day or two.

Problems Can Cause Undelivered Package

The final stage in delivering a package is usually controlled by two circumstances or cases: the good and the bad:

Good Case

“Out for delivery”- UPS is the good case or circumstance. If your package has this tag, you are lucky. You will be able to get your package pretty soon. This means everything went well with the delivery process.

You don’t have to give additional information. Your item has cleared customs successfully.

The only thing you can do when you see the “UPS out for delivery today” tag is to wait for a few more days. You will hear from the delivery boys when your item will be delivered, or they will give you the address of the nearest hub where you can pick it up.

What should you do when USPS tracking says out for delivery but not delivered? In this case, you can follow up with USPS and ask for your package’s real status.

If it’s indeed out for delivery, then you have to wait for it. And if the delivery man missed you, then you’ll have to get your package in their hub.

Bad Case

If there are shipment problems, you won’t be receiving the item on time. Your package could be tagged “Exception” or “Failed Attempt.” For some reason, your package can’t be delivered, or the delivery has failed.

Customs is the hardest hurdle to overcome for international and cross-border packages. If your item faces customs clearance issues, the delivery process will take longer.

UPS out for delivery

Any of the following reasons may cause unsuccessful custom clearance:

  1. The invoice is incorrect or is missing;
  2. The customs clearance fee is not yet paid; or
  3. The item is illegal, restricted, prohibited, or controlled by a license.

You can resolve custom clearance issues by doing the following:

  • Contact the customs office and get all the details about the problem. Provide what they need, e.g., required documents, pay the customs duties and taxes required.
  • Contact the seller and inform them to provide the required documents or pay the customs fees.

If you successfully resolve these customs issues, you will see your delivery status changed to “Released by Custom.” In a few days, the delivery boys will be at your door with your item.

However, if you are unsuccessful, your item will be tagged “held/retained by customs.” It will stay that way until you have resolved these issues. The worst consequence is the item won’t be delivered to you.

The best way is to call the courier directly or the seller/company to see how they can help you solve your customs problems.

Out of Delivery as Used by Different Couriers – UPS, FedEx, Amazon

Different couriers use this phrase in almost the same way. For instance, ‘UPS out for delivery’ means the item has reached the local UPS facility and has dispatched the driver who will deliver it.

If the update says ‘UPS out for delivery but not delivered,’ it means UPS tried to deliver but could not because you’re at work or something else. It carries practically the same meaning in ‘USPS out for delivery,’ ‘Amazon out for delivery,’ ‘DHL out for delivery,’ and ‘Ontrac out for delivery’ phrases.

With ‘FedEx out for delivery,’ it means the parcel was scanned by a package handler, placed into a pallet for loading onto the delivery van. It will undergo another scan when the driver delivers the item.

What does it mean when Amazon says arriving today but not out for delivery? In this case, Amazon might just haven’t updated their record to reflect that the package is already in transit or “out for delivery” Amazon.

Conclusion: What Does Out for Delivery Mean?

“Out for delivery” means that your item has already been picked up by the delivery vehicle from the destination post office. Your item is now somewhere between the area of your local PO and your mailing address or residence.

If the courier does not encounter any problem, you will receive your package within the day or the next day.

Related reading:

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

Does USPS Deliver on Sunday? [USPS Sunday Delivery]

How Late Does USPS Deliver Packages and Mail?

How Long Does USPS Hold Packages?