How Long Does USPS Hold Undelivered Mail or Package?

United States Postal Service is an old and reputed organization. USPS has been at its customer service for more than two centuries. But the bigger the organization is, the bigger is the problem. At times, the postal employee faces the problems when there is no one to collect the package he intends to deliver. It also happens that sometimes the mail piece is so large that it does not get into the addressee’s mailbox. And, as a rule, he cannot leave the customer’s package unattended at the door or any place near the mailbox. Hence, in that scenario, he has to ring the bell of the addressee’s door. Again, if he doesn’t find anyone in the house to receive the package, then either he comes back again the very next day to deliver the same customer’s package, or he leaves a PS Form 3849 at the door of the customer.

The letter carrier leaves the PS Form 3849, which is also called Delivery Notice, in case there is no one at the home to receive the mail item. He leaves this form at the door of the addressee. Now, the next thing that would have been coming to your mind would be, how long does USPS store undelivered packages?

This article will explain to you what happens in the case of a failed mail item delivery, what the post office does with it, and how long does it store the packages.

How long does Post Office Hold Undelivered Mail?

How long USPS Hold Undelivered MailThe postal worker takes one or two attempts to deliver the mail item if he does not find anyone at the customer’s address. But, if he finds no one to attend the package and to take the delivery, then he takes it back to the post office. The post office holds the mail item for as long as 15 days. After 15 days, the post office returns the mail item to the sender. The time of 15 days starts from the first attempt of the delivery. There are a couple of scenarios if the mail item is not delivered. These two scenarios are:

  • If the mail carrier knows that there is someone present at the home to receive the delivery of the packages, then he will attempt to deliver the package on the first day. If he does not deliver in the first attempt as he does not find someone, then he will re-attempt to deliver it on the following day. In this case, he does not leave PS Form 3849 on the first attempt of the delivery. But he will leave the PS Form 3849 on the second day which means that the package is held with the post office.
  • If the mail carrier knows that there is no one to receive the package, then he will leave PS Form 3849 at the very first attempt. Since he is confident that there is no one available to receive the package, as usual, he will not wait for the second attempt.
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The mail carriers act in these two situations. Next step to do is to fill the PS Form 3849 so that you can receive the held package from the post office. You can also go to your local post office to collect the mail item. But, in case you do not do any of these within 15 days, then the post office will return the package to the sender.

If the post office finds that there is no sender address on the mail items, then your package will go to the lost mail department.


Now you know that how long will the Postal Service (USPS) hold a package before returning to sender. To know more about the holding process, you can go through the article on USPS Hold Mail.

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