This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Bailey Cho. Bailey Cho is an Editing Fellow at wikiHow, based in Dallas, TX. She has over 2 years of editorial experience, with work published in student journals and lifestyle publications. Bailey graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Advertising and a Minor in Business.
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“In transit” means your package is headed to your shipping address, though the delivery date depends on the courier and delivery method you choose. In this article, we’ll teach you all the important tracking terminology you need to know, show you how to track your package through various companies, and explain what to do if your package is stuck in transit.
Things You Should Know
- The tracking status “in transit” means the courier company has picked up your package and it’s heading toward the final destination.
- It usually takes 1-5 days for an “in transit” package to be delivered, depending on the specific courier and delivery method you choose.
- “In transit” means your package is on its way to a local distribution center, while “out for delivery” means it’s loaded onto a delivery truck and is headed to your shipping address.
What does it mean when a package is in transit?
“In transit” means your package is on its way to the final destination. It indicates the courier company has picked up your package, and it’s moving within the shipping network to reach your shipping address. Sometimes, this means your package is physically traveling between hubs, but it could just be sitting in a shipment facility, awaiting transportation. X Research source
- For example, if your package has left the retailer and it’s currently located at a FedEx, UPS, or USPS warehouse, the status “in transit” still applies.
- The shipping process includes order placement, the retailer packing your order ("processing"), the package being picked up by the courier (“shipped”), the package making its way through the shipping network ("in transit"), and the courier delivering the package to your address (“out for delivery”).
How long will it take for an “in transit” package to be delivered?
It usually takes 1-5 days for “in transit” packages to be delivered. However, the best way to determine your delivery date is to look at the estimated arrival date provided by the merchant. Delivery times depend on the courier, shipping method, delivery distance, and several other factors, so it might take longer than 5 days in certain cases. While these times aren’t guaranteed, here’s how long most major shipping services take:
- UPS Ground: 1-5 business days X Research source
- UPS 2nd Day Air: 2 business days
- USPS Ground: 2-5 business days X Research source
- USPS Priority: 1-3 business days
- FedEx Ground: 1-7 business days X Research source
- FedEx Express: 1-3 business days
- DHL Ground: 6-9 business days X Research source
- DHL Expedited: 2-5 business days
Most major couriers offer more advanced tracking updates via text or email, as long as you get a tracking number for your package. For USPS, input your tracking number into the USPS tracking website and click “USPS Tracking Plus” below the status bar—it costs $0.99 for 6 months. X Research source For UPS, sign up for UPS My Choice for free. For FedEx, sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager for free. For DHL, get real-time updates for free with Express Tracking.
“In Transit” vs. “Out for Delivery”
A package that's out for delivery is heading directly to your address. If a package is marked “in transit,” it could be at a distribution center or warehouse waiting to be picked up for delivery. The status “out for delivery,” on the other hand, means the package has been picked up from your local distribution center (such as the post office), has been loaded onto a delivery truck, and is now heading to your shipping address—you’ll most likely receive the package by the end of the day. X Research source
- “Out for delivery” is typically the last step of the shipping process, right before you receive your package and it’s marked as “delivered.”
Why do packages get stuck in transit?
1Wrong address The most common reason your package is stuck in transit and/or undeliverable is if your shipping address is incomplete or incorrect. Always double check that your address is right before placing an order online, and refer to your order confirmation email if you suspect that might be the case. If your shipping address is wrong, contact the courier company ASAP to see if you can change your shipping address. X Research source
- USPS: Call customer service at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777), Monday-Friday 8AM to 8:30PM EST and Saturday 8AM to 6PM EST.
- UPS: Call customer service at 1-800-742-5877, Saturday-Sunday 6AM to 1AM EST. X Research source
- FedEx: Call customer service at 1-800-GoFexEx (1-800-463-3339), Monday-Friday 7AM to 9PM CST and Saturday 7AM to 3PM CST. X Research source
- DHL: Call customer service at 1-800-225-5345, Monday-Friday 8AM-9PM EST. X Research source
2Weather and service disruptions If there is severe weather, natural disasters, or any event outside of the courier company’s control, it may cause an unforeseen delay in delivery. These events include snow, fires, hurricanes, storms, and tornados, as well as power outages, supply chain disruptions, national holidays, and national emergencies. In these situations, there isn’t much you can do but check the courier’s delivery updates and keep tabs on your tracking number. X Research source
- USPS displays its latest disruptions on a designated service alerts page.
- UPS displays active service disruptions with a gold ribbon alert at the top of all ups.com pages. X Research source
- FedEx displays active weather and service disruptions on a designated service alerts and shipping updates page, where you can sign up to receive service alert notifications via email.
- DHL displays its service disruptions on their Important Information page.
3Missing or damaged labels If the shipping label doesn’t have all the necessary postage information, it may cause delays in delivery or lost packages. The courier will return your package to the seller if the return address is still visible, or they will mark it as “undeliverable” and redirect it to their mail recovery center. If you suspect the latter, contact the courier’s customer service to see how you can recover your package. X Research source In general, the label must have the following information: X Research source
- Postal code
- Tracking number
- Destination address
- Return address
- Shipping method (ground, expedited, etc.)
4Incorrect package dimensions or weight If the seller inputs the wrong measurements or weight for your package (and it’s heavier or larger than the ones listed on the shipping label), it may cause delivery delays from the courier. The seller will be notified that the package information is incorrect, and they will need to pay a small shipping charge correction fee for it to be delivered. X Research source
- This may occur when you order items from resellers through eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Depop, Etsy, Poshmark, and/or Mercari.
5Customs and border protection delays International packages have to go through a customs clearance process to ensure they meet your country’s import/export regulations. If your package has incomplete documentation, the seller puts in the wrong address, or customs officers suspect it contains restricted items, you may experience delivery delays of up to several weeks. In some cases, your package may even be returned to the sender so they can provide all the necessary paperwork. X Research source
- Additionally, a package may be held for closer inspection if customs officers don’t think its contents match the customs declaration. Senders need to include the correct name, quantity, and declared value to avoid delays and potential fines.
- If your package status changes to “held by customs,” contact customs to figure out the issue. Provide all the relevant information about your package, including the proof of purchase (order and shipment confirmation emails, receipts, invoices, etc.) and tracking number.
6Lost package With millions of packages moving through the shipping network each day, it’s possible that your package might be in the wrong place. This may happen if your package is misplaced or missorted as it's moving from one shipping hub to another, and if 7 or more days have passed since the estimated delivery date, you can assume that it’s lost. X Research source
What to Do If Your Package Is Stuck in Transit
1Contact the merchant to ask about the estimated delivery date. If your package has been stuck without moving for a while, reach out to the retailer or seller first to get information about your delivery. They can tell you what class they used to ship out your package, when they shipped your order, and how long their deliveries typically take. X Research source
- You can contact most retailers by emailing their customer service team, which should be listed at the bottom of their website. Just provide your order number and/or billing address.
2Visit your local post office to find out the status of your package. If you’ve waited more than 2 days (from the date of mailing) for a USPS Priority shipment or more than 14 days for other mail classes, contact your local post office for additional assistance. They can provide information on why your package is delayed, as well as solutions for what you can do in the meantime. Just bring your tracking number and ask the staff to help you locate your package. X Research source
- If you don’t have your tracking number, contact the merchant and ask them to provide it.
- Alternatively, call USPS customer service at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) for help.
3See if you can pick up your package before delivery. If your package has a tracking number, it might be possible to update the delivery instructions and have it held at another facility for pickup. Contact the specific courier handling your package and provide them with your tracking information. If they can locate your package successfully, ask them if you can go pick up the package before it’s delivered to your address (to avoid shipping delays). X Research source
- USPS: Request a package intercept on the USPS website. Log into your account, input your tracking number, then click “Delivery Instructions” under “Available Actions.” Hit “Hold it at a Post Office” and follow the instructions on the page.
- UPS: Login to your UPS dashboard, then click on “Delivery Options.” Follow the prompts on the screen to reroute your package to a different location or hold it at a UPS facility. X Research source
- FedEx: Go to the tracking page, enter your tracking number, and select “Manage Delivery.” Click “Hold at Location” and follow the instructions on the screen.
- DHL: Contact customer service at 1-800-225-5345, and ask them if they hold your shipment for collection. X Research source
4File a claim on the courier’s official website. If you suspect your package might be lost or customer service isn’t helpful, submit a claim online within 60 days of the scheduled delivery date. Hopefully, your package will be found, but if not, FedEx and UPS will insure up to $100 in declared value on every package, which is included in your shipping rate at no extra charge. All you need to do is fill out a claim and wait for the courier to approve it. Once it’s approved, you can add your bank information and receive your payment. X Research source
- USPS: If your package is uninsured, file a Missing Mail Search Request online by providing the sender and recipient addresses, size, and type of mailing container, USPS tracking number or electronic label receipt, mailing date, and description of your package. If your package qualifies for insurance, file a USPS claim and follow the instructions on the site to get refunded.
- UPS: On the claim page, log into your account, provide details about your package, add supporting documents (receipts, invoices, etc.), then submit your claim. If your claim is approved for a refund, provide documentation that shows the purchase price of the lost item, and input your preferred payment method to get paid. X Research source
- FedEx: Complete the online claim form, add supporting documents, submit your claim, and track the status of your claim online (via your account). If your claim is approved for a refund, input your payment information to get paid. X Research source
- DHL: Contact customer service at 1-800-225-5345 to start the claims process. Provide supporting documents (invoice, proof of payment, etc.), then wait for DHL to approve your claim. X Research source
- ↑ https://www.fedex.com/en-ca/contact-us/faq/track-packages/package-status/in-transit.html
- ↑ https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/shipping-support/shipping-services/domestic.page
- ↑ https://www.uspsoig.gov/our-work/did-you-know/how-long-does-it-take-my-mail-and-packages-get-here
- ↑ https://www.fedex.com/en-us/shipping/ground.html
- ↑ https://www.dhleasyshop.com/en/pages/faq/delivery-how-long
- ↑ https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Tracking-Plus-The-Basics
- ↑ https://www.fedex.com/en-ca/contact-us/faq/track-packages/package-status/out-for-delivery.html#
- ↑ https://faq.usps.com/s/article/How-is-Undeliverable-and-Misdelivered-Mail-Handled
- ↑ https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/contact-us.page
- ↑ https://www.fedex.com/en-us/developer/get-support.html#
- ↑ https://www.dhl.com/us-en/home/customer-service.html
- ↑ https://www.fedex.com/en-ca/contact-us/faq/track-packages/package-status/weather-delay.html
- ↑ https://www.ups.com/us/en/service-alerts.page?id=alert1
- ↑ https://faq.usps.com/s/article/How-is-Undeliverable-and-Misdelivered-Mail-Handled
- ↑ https://www.usps.com/ship/packages.htm#
- ↑ https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/shipping-support/shipping-dimensions-weight/avoid-additional-shipping-fees.page
- ↑ https://www.ups.com/us/en/supplychain/insights/knowledge/five-ways-to-avoid-international-shipping-delays.page
- ↑ https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Missing-Mail-The-Basics#
- ↑ https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Delayed-Mail-and-Packages#
- ↑ https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Delayed-Mail-and-Packages
- ↑ https://www.usps.com/manage/package-intercept.htm#
- ↑ https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/tracking-support/change-delivery-options.page#
- ↑ https://www.dhlexpress.nl/en/helpdesk/additional-services/hold-for-collection#
- ↑ https://www.pitneybowes.com/us/blog/shipping-insurance.html#
- ↑ https://www.ups.com/us/en/support/file-a-claim.page
- ↑ https://www.fedex.com/en-us/customer-support/claims.html
- ↑ https://www.dhl.com/global-en/home/our-divisions/freight/customer-service/how-to-prepare-a-claim.html