Does USPS Scan & X-Ray Packages? (Explained)

Whenever you send a package through the US Postal Service, it always goes through a certain process before it is shipped and delivered to its destination.

Part of the process is inspection, which involves scanning packages through a machine.

What goes on during package scanning? Is it really necessary?

Here’s What You Need to Know About USPS Package Scanning:

Every time you send a package through the US Postal Service, it can be subjected to scanning and further inspection when needed. USPS has the right to scan, x-ray, and inspect mail pieces and packages that look suspicious and may contain prohibited or restricted items.

How Many USPS Packages are Inspected?

Millions of mail pieces are being shipped and processed daily through USPS. Many of these packages travel thousands of miles before they reach their destination.

There is no way to tell how many USPS packages are being inspected, but you can expect that the postal service does random check and inspect packages.

In general, packages traveling to or through a city or densely populated area are likely to be scanned during shipping.

The inspection process is quite straightforward and starts with a simple scan.

If the package looks too suspicious, then further inspection may be conducted. This can involve putting the package through an x-ray machine or opening it to closely check the contents.

No one knows whether a package will be subject to scanning because it is always done randomly. Some packages may be scanned, while some may not.

However, there are certain red flags that postal inspectors look out for in a package. If they see any of these red flags, then the package will surely go through a thorough inspection.

These red flags include the following:

  • The package is oddly shaped
  • The package is addressed to someone who no longer lives or works at the recipient’s address
  • The package has no return address
  • The return address of the package does not match the sender’s address
  • The package has a label that says “confidential,” “personal,” or “do not x-ray.”
  • The package is sealed too much
  • The package is leaking some unknown liquid substance

Does USPS Really Care What’s in a Package?

The US Postal Service provides shipping and logistic services to the entire United States. Its international mail services also cater to 180 countries.

Since it has a large scope of service with millions of customers, USPS does care a lot about what’s in a package.

One reason packages are being scanned and inspected is to protect the postal workers and the people receiving the package. USPS would not ship something that puts the safety of other people at risk.

Another reason packages are being scanned is to ensure that they do not contain anything violating USPS’s policies. There are several prohibited and restricted items, and these items cannot be shipped through the postal service.

What Security Checks Does USPS Have?

USPS has security checks such as random scanning and x-raying to quickly check if the packages contain something illegal or harmful.

Most packages pass this basic security check, but there are still some that don’t. If they don’t, they go through further inspection.

Packages may be opened for thorough checking, which is necessary if the postal inspector finds something suspicious in them.

Is USPS Required to Scan or X-Ray Packages?

Not all items can be shipped.

If you check the USPS website, you will see a list of items you cannot ship through the USPS under any circumstances. You will also see a list of items you can ship under certain conditions.

USPS is required to scan or x-ray packages to ensure that nothing prohibited is contained in them. This also ensures that no restricted items are shipped without proper documentation.

One common item that USPS looks out for when scanning packages is legal and illegal drugs. Illegal drugs cannot be shipped under any circumstances.

Legal drugs can be shipped, but they must have proper documentation and prescription. It would be illegal to ship legal drugs without a prescription, even for medicinal purposes.

Another thing that postal inspectors look out for are items that are not properly secured or packed. If a box is leaking some unknown substance, it must be scanned and inspected so that postal workers will know what is contained in it.

Even if the contents are not illegal, the package has to be inspected to ensure that it does risk damaging other parcels.

For example, if a box contains a liquid substance or food item, postal inspectors must check it thoroughly to ensure it does not spill over other packages.

Can You Request to Not Have Your Package X-Rayed?

Once you send a package through USPS, it will be subjected to random checks, which may involve scanning and x-raying.

You cannot request not to have your package x-rayed unless it contains film and media materials that can be damaged when x-rayed.

If you request not to have your package x-rayed, it will give the postal workers and inspectors more reason to suspect you and the contents of your package. This may trigger further inspection, and your package may be opened.

If you send film or media items that cannot be x-rayed, it’s best to ship them as Media Mail and label them as film.

What Happens If USPS Finds Something Illegal in a Package?

If you try to ship something that’s prohibited but still legal, for example, intoxicating alcoholic drinks, the item will not be shipped.

Illegal items will be detained, and USPS will contact you so you can pick them up.

When you bring your packages to USPS for shipping, postal workers will ask you if they contain any liquids, flammable, or hazardous items. As the shipper, you must ensure that anything you send through USPS follows the policies and complies with what is allowed.

If you try to ship something that’s restricted and lacking paperwork but still legal, then you will be contacted so you can process the necessary documentation.

For example, you want to ship tobacco as a vendor but failed to include your business license. USPS will contact you so you can present the necessary paperwork to ship the items.

If USPS finds something illegal in a package, it will not be shipped. Furthermore, the shipper and receiver may face penalties. They may even receive some jail time.

Sending illegal items is considered a felony, and the receiver is just as guilty as the sender if they know the items are being shipped.

Do Other Shipping Companies Scan or X-Ray Packages?

It’s not just USPS that scans or x-rays packages. All other shipping companies do it.

This is to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including the employees, handlers, delivery men, truck drivers, and of course, the people receiving the package.

Safety checks are part of the shipping process.

The rules are simple when it comes to passing safety checks. Make sure anything you send is legal and allowed, so you won’t have any problems.

Sources:

Does USPS Scan Packages? (All You Need To Know)

How Much Screening Does Your Mail Get?

What Does USPS Do To Packages That Contain Prohibited Items?

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