Does USPS Lose Packages?

Does USPS Lose Packages? Let’s find out in this article. The United States Postal Service (USPS) processes an average of 20.2 million mail pieces per hour. This equates to more than 146 billion postal pieces sent through the USPS each year. No shipping service is perfect, and occasionally the worst-case scenario occurs: shipments are lost in transit and might never be seen again. However, the USPS is a governmental institution that reports to the President, which means it never loses a package, right?

Does USPS Lose Packages?

While the majority of USPS mail arrives safely at its intended destination, some parcels inevitably become lost in transit. According to, the USPS loses approximately 3% of the total mail it processes for various reasons. While three percent may not seem like a lot, it equates to 4.38 billion pieces of mail lost each year. Other sources still dispute this rate, some claiming it to be higher. Nevertheless, this may not happen often, but lost packages affect other delivery services like Amazon and FedEx

However, there are a few reasons why USPS packages are lost. Some of these reasons are mentioned below.

Why does USPS Lose Packages?

Label problems are a frequent cause of USPS package loss. While the zip code is the piece of the label that has the potential to make or prevent a parcel from reaching its destination, it is critical to remember that the barcode portion of the label (not the written numerical zip code) ultimately decides success, as the zip code information is embedded in the barcode. Hence, if the label is smudged, comes off, or otherwise rendered indecipherable, the machines that feed and scan the parcels may route the item erroneously.

Additionally, this is why it is critical to include a readable return address so that if the package is unable to reach the receiver, it will have a destination other than Lost Mail. Similarly, completely incorrect addresses, where the zip code and the address or name do not match, can account for missing mail.

Another reason may be due to ‘porch pirates.’ About 210 million packages were estimated to “disappear” from porches between November 2020 and November 2021 due to porch pirates (Rebecca 2021). According to some sources, lost packages are often stolen from someone’s doorway. In 2017, more than 26 million parcels were stolen from their destinations. Others may not even see their items arrive at their doorstep, raising the question of when a package should be considered officially lost.

When is a package officially lost with USPS, and When to take Action?

Before you file a search request to locate a piece of mail, the USPS must declare it lost—and different types of missing mail have varying time restrictions. For the majority of mail classes, you must wait at least seven days from the date of mailing before requesting that the USPS look for the missing mail piece.

Seven days are required for First-Class, First-Class Package, and Priority. While Retail Ground, Parcel Select, and Media Mail require 14 days. Priority Mail Express is the sole exception, guaranteed upon purchase. If your parcel does not arrive by 6 p.m. on the specified, guaranteed date, the sender may immediately request a refund, and the recipient may make a missing package claim.

Who Bears the Loss of Lost USPS Packages? 

While the USPS may legally be accountable for the package’s loss, the seller is ultimately responsible for the item’s replacement or refund. On the other hand, if the item were sent via Insurance or Priority Mail, or Priority Express, that would be a different story.

A $50 and $100 insurance value is automatically included in the package (respectively). You can then submit a claim to get your money back if you have insurance.


The USPS misplaces packages, which happens to billions of pieces of mail every year. However, the Postal Service has devised ways to detect missing packages to keep occurrences to a minimum.


Rebecca Edwards (2021). What to Do If You Have a Lost or Stolen Package.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to file a missing mail claim on the USPS website?

When submitting a Missing Mail Search Request, be sure to include as much detail as possible regarding the lost mail item. There are a few pieces of information you should have ready to submit to USPS: the sender and recipient address, the package’s size and shape (as well as tracking information), and any related photographs.

What happens if my lost package is not found?

The USPS will begin searching for your misplaced mail as soon as you make your request online. The Postal Service will continue to search for your missing mail until the search period expires, which is usually three months after you make your request. An email notification will be sent to you if the search for your item has been unsuccessful.

Does USPS Lose Packages?

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