USPS & Tracking Numbers: 10 Common Questions (Answered)

If you frequently send or receive packages, you know what tracking numbers are. 

These numbers are assigned to a package so the customer can easily check its status and know its current location. This also gives customers an idea of when their package will arrive.

Here are some of the most common questions about USPS tracking numbers:

What to Know About USPS Tracking Numbers:

Whenever you send a package through USPS, the post office personnel assigns a number to that package, and that number is the Tracking Number. The USPS tracking number is usually composed of 22 digits and starts with 9, with the first 2 to 4 digits indicating the type of USPS service used.

Does USPS Automatically Give A Tracking Number?

You’d always get a tracking number when sending a package through privately-owned shipping companies like UPS and FedEx. Is it the same for US Postal Services?

USPS does not automatically give a tracking number because not all USPS services provide package tracking.

Whether you are sending a package or an envelope, package tracking is automatically given only when you avail of certain services.

Here is the list of USPS services that include tracking:

  • Priority Mail
  • Priority Mail Express
  • First-Class Package Service
  • USPS Retail Ground for packages
  • Media Mail for packages

If you availed of any of the services listed above, you would automatically be given a USPS Tracking Number. Otherwise, you would have to pay additional fees to track your mail.

If the service you selected does not include tracking, here are a couple of add-on services that you can avail of so you can get tracking for your mail:

  • Certified Mail
  • Registered Mail

When things go wrong, Does USPS Answer Emails & Phone Calls? Find out here!

Does It Cost To Get Tracking On USPS Packages?

When sending a package through Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, First-Class Package Service, USPS Retail Ground, and Media Mail, end-to-end tracking is already included, so it does not cost anything to track your package.

But not all USPS services include end-to-end tracking.

One example of a service that does not have tracking is First-Class Mail, which is one of the most affordable USPS services that you can avail of.

This is a popular choice for people who want to send postcards, letters, and flat envelopes.

USPS does not provide tracking First-Class Mail because it is the standard mailing option. Lots of people use it every day because it is cheap.

Because a huge bulk of First-Class Mail is being sent out daily, it is difficult for USPS to track every single mail.

If you want to track your First-Class Mail, you’d need to avail of the Certified Mail service as an add-on. It costs $3.75 and entitles you to get updates once the mail isis delivered.

Another option is to add Registered Mail service. This is a great way to add tracking to First-Class Mail, as it lets you view the current status of the mail.

This add-on service costs $13.75.

Want to know more about USPS & Certified Mail? We have answered 9 Common Questions!

Do USPS First-Class Packages Have Tracking Numbers?

First-Class Package is one of USPS’s most popular package shipping services.

It guarantees delivery in 2 to 5 business days for small packages.

While delivery for First-Class Packages is slower than Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express, it is more affordable.

USPS First-Class Packages have tracking numbers.

Unlike First-Class Mail services, end-to-end tracking is included for First-Class Package services.

The fee for sending a First-Class Package starts at $4.80 and could be pricier depending on the delivery location and package weight.

Once you ship a First-Class Package, you will get a 22-digit tracking number which you can use on the USPS website to view the current status of your shipment.

How Reliable Is The USPS Tracking System?

Once you have the USPS tracking number, it is quite easy to track your package. All you have to do is go to the USPS website and access their tracking page.

The USPS tracking system is very reliable.

When you enter the tracking number on the page, you can view the current status of your package. It will also include other tracking options, such as delivery date, time, and location. 

The tracking page will also show all delivery attempts made by USPS in case the first attempt was a failure.

All information you can view on the tracking page is updated in real-time. Once the package has been delivered, the page will be updated right away.

If a package goes missing, are USPS Packages Insured Automatically?

How Do You Know What The Tracking Number Is?

The USPS Tracking Number is the 22-digit number associated with your package.

It usually starts with a 9, so it’s easy to spot.

Here is where you can find your USPS Tracking Number:

  • On the receipt issued to you when you ship the package through your local post office or at an online retailer
  • On the receipt printed at a USPS self-serve kiosk
  • In the shipping history of your USPS account, if you purchased the shipping label through Click-N-Ship
  • In the email confirmation, if you shipped the package via the USPS website
  • On the bottom of the peel-off portion of a USPS shipping label

Once you get the tracking number, take note of it so you can use it to check the status of your shipment.

How Do you Recognize A USPS Tracking Number?

Every shipping company has its own format for tracking numbers so that you can distinguish one from the other.

For example, a FedEx tracking number would have 12 digits, while a UPS tracking number would have 18.

A USPS Tracking Number consists of 22 digits and always starts with 9 for domestic shipments.

The first 2 to 4 digits of a USPS Tracking Number would tell you what shipping service has been used for that particular package or mail.

Here’s what the tracking Numbers look like for each USPS service:

  • USPS Tracking – 9400 1000 0000 0000 0000 00
  • Priority Mail – 9205 5000 0000 0000 0000 00
  • Priority Mail Express – 9270 1000 0000 0000 0000 00
  • Certified Mail – 9407 3000 0000 0000 0000 00
  • Registered Mail – 9208 8000 0000 0000 0000 00

For Priority Mail International and Priority Mail Express International, the USPS Tracking Number consists of 13 characters.

The first 2 characters are letters, either EC or CP, followed by 9 numbers, and the last 2 characters are US.

What Happens When A USPS Package With Tracking Gets Lost?

Sometimes packages can get lost even if they have tracking. Remember that having end-to-end tracking does not guarantee that the package will be delivered.

In case a USPS package with tracking gets lost, you can initiate a search for it or file a claim.

Before contacting USPS or filing a claim, you need to verify that the package has not been delivered. Sometimes, packages can get delayed.

So it is best to wait a few more days from the expected delivery date before taking action.

If a few days have passed and the package is still not delivered, you can try to recover your package by initiating a Missing Mail search request on the USPS website.

You will be asked to provide information about your package, such as the tracking number. You can also visit your local post office to ask for assistance.

If the package cannot be found after initiating a Missing Mail search request, you can file a claim if the package is insured.

How Long does it take Before USPS Considers A Package Lost? Find out more here!

Do USPS Tracking Numbers Expire?

USPS Tracking Numbers do expire after a certain period.

For non-signature items, you can access the tracking information for up to 120 days. Meanwhile, you can view the tracking information for signature items for up to 2 years.

If you want to extend your access to the tracking information of your packages, you can pay a small fee. You can extend your access for an additional 6 months up to 10 years.

Do USPS Tracking Numbers Show Addresses?

Apart from a shipment’s current status and location, a USPS Tracking Number contains relevant information about the package.

USPS Tracking Numbers do not show addresses.

When you log on to the USPS website to track a package, it will not show the exact address of the recipient. It will only show the delivery location, which includes the city, state, and zip code.

It will also include helpful information on how the package was delivered.

It will indicate if the package was delivered inside the mailbox, on the front porch, at the reception of an office, if a neighbor received it, and so on.

Does USPS Retail Ground Shipping Have A Tracking Number?

USPS Retail Ground is a shipping service commonly used for single-piece shipments that do not need to be mailed as First-Class Mail.

USPS Retail Ground shipping does have a tracking number.

If you avail of the USPS Retail Ground shipping service, you will get end-to-end tracking for your package at no additional cost.

The tracking number for this type of service will also follow the USPS standard format for tracking numbers, which consist of 22 digits starting with 9.


USPS Mail & Shipping Services

USPS Tracking – The Basics

How To Track A USPS Package

Does First-Class Mail Have Tracking?

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