If you’re anxiously waiting for a package or letter to arrive, the best way to follow its progress is through tracking.
Tracking enables you to see the various steps in the logistics process that the package takes.
It starts with the seller or sender and makes its way through a few facilities or checkpoints before finally arriving at your door.
If the USPS is handling your package or letter, then you may wonder how accurate their tracking information is.
Here’s what you need to know about USPS tracking accuracy, what it costs, and how to access your tracking information.
Is USPS Tracking Accurate?
Yes, USPS tracking is very accurate.
Part of the reason it’s so accurate is that the USPS is a federal organization.
Since it also handles delicate and private information, it takes great responsibility in ensuring that deliveries, and thus its tracking information, is accurate.
If you’re watching the tracking information on your USPS account, then you can be sure that it’s accurate.
How Does USPS Tracking Work?
It’s important to know that USPS tracking is a bit different than other companies’ tracking systems.
USPS has tracking information available for some of its mail-delivery services.
However, it doesn’t offer tracking for standard mail.
In most cases, tracking information is available for packages.
It’s also important to remember that it doesn’t provide real-time tracking.
Real-time tracking is when you’re able to see the movement of the package in real-time.
It’s not unlike watching a delivery driver with your food drive to your address.
The USPS instead updates its tracking each time the package arrives at or leaves a facility and when it arrives at or leaves a post office.
Mail carriers also update the tracking information after delivering the package.
Because tracking only occurs during these times, it can take a bit of time for the tracking information to change.
This might make the information seem like it isn’t accurate, but it is.
It’s just a bit slower than real-time tracking information.
Here are the main places where tracking information is typically updated.
1. Distribution Centers
One of the main places where your package’s tracking gets updated is at a distribution center.
This is a location where tons of packages and mail arrives, gets sorted, and leaves.
The center determines where each letter and package needs to go to ensure it will arrive at its destination as quickly as possible.
When a package arrives, it gets scanned to indicate that it has arrived at the center.
When looking at your tracking information, you might see a general location like a city and state.
It might also include that your package is at a distribution center.
Your package might be in the center for a day, two days, or if you’re especially lucky only a few hours.
It all depends on when it arrives at the center.
If it arrives later in the day, then it might not get sorted until the next day.
If it arrives on a Saturday, then it might not get sorted for two days since the USPS doesn’t work on Sundays.
If it arrives early in the day, then it might get sorted that same day and sent to its next stop.
You’ll get another update in your tracking information when the package or letter leaves the center.
2. Postal Offices
The next update you might see is when your package arrives at a postal office.
In some cases, this might be the first step of its journey.
At the post office, a postal worker will take the package and either sort it into the day’s deliveries or send it out to a distribution center.
It all depends on if the package is going to an address that the post office serves.
If they do serve the address, then the package will remain at the post office until the next day.
It will get sorted into the day’s deliveries and the package will likely arrive at its destination shortly after that.
In this regard, the tracking information is going to be less detailed since everything is handled by one post office.
In most cases, the postal office will have to send the package out to a distribution center because the destination isn’t anywhere close to them.
In this instance, you might get an update on your tracking information that states it has left the postal office.
Like with the center, you might see a city and state that designates where the post office is.
If the post office is your local office, then you might get an additional notification that states the package is out for delivery.
The final update you should receive is when the package gets delivered.
A mail carrier will scan the package before putting it at your door or in your mailbox.
This then updates the tracking information and informs you that the mail carrier delivered the package.
It may sometimes include other information like the time they delivered the package or the delivery location.
For example, they’ll usually say that they delivered it in your mailbox or at your front door.
However, in some special cases, they might also say that they gave it to a neighbor.
If the package required a signature and you weren’t there to sign for it, then you’ll also get an update on your tracking information.
It will state that there was an attempted delivery, but that it was unsuccessful.
It might also include the date and time.
There may be some further instructions.
It may tell you that you need to pick up the package at the post office.
It may state that they’ll attempt another delivery.
Whatever the instructions are, they should show in your tracking information.
You’ll also sometimes get a slip of paper on your door or in your mailbox.
The paper will also give information about the attempted delivery and any steps you may need to take.
Otherwise, the tracking information stops updating when a successful delivery has occurred.
Does USPS Tracking Cost Extra?
If you’re thinking of including USPS tracking on your package, then you may wonder if you have to pay extra for the service.
In most cases, you do not.
USPS tracking is already built into the fees associated with certain package prices.
You do need to pay extra if the tracking isn’t already part of the service.
You can do so online.
USPS tracking is a great way to determine the location of your package.
If you are someone who uses USPS to deliver products to customers regularly, it’s worth considering buying the services that include the tracking information.
It can give you and your customer peace of mind.
How Do You Buy Tracking Services?
There are two main ways to activate your tracking.
The first is to buy a service or product that already offers tracking on it.
When you buy this product or service, the tracking information immediately activates after purchase.
The second way is to create an account on the USPS website.
With your account, you can then find the USPS tracking label page.
Once you’re there, you can print tracking labels on your own.
You’ll need to pay for the labels, however.
Once you pay and print the labels, you can affix them to the appropriate package.
Your package is now trackable.
Along with the tracking label, you’ll also get a receipt.
The receipt will have the tracking number on it as well.
This is great for those who use USPS labels for their business needs.
It allows you to carefully track each product to ensure it arrives at its intended destination.
If a customer has a problem, then you have the tracking number on hand to look up the information and see what’s going on.
How Do You See USPS Tracking Information?
If you’re not sure where to find or how to access your tracking information, there are several different ways to do so.
Here are some of the ways that you can access your tracking information.
One of the easiest ways to track your package is through the USPS website.
Simply log into your account and go to the USPS tracking page.
Once there, you should see the available tracking information attached to your account.
You can see the location of the package, its status, as well as other information about it.
The great thing about checking the status of your package online is that you’re also able to immediately take certain actions.
For example, if you realize that the package is going to the wrong location, then you can request an Intercept Package service.
You can also choose to hold the package or return it to the sender.
Using your online account allows you to see your tracking information as well as make other necessary changes to your shipments.
If you don’t have Internet access, then you can still get your tracking information elsewhere.
All you need to do is text the USPS.
To do so, you need to text your tracking number to 28777.
This activates the USPS’ mobile services.
You don’t need to type anything else.
Simply type in the tracking number and hit send.
The system will then give you information related to that tracking number.
You might also receive a few prompts on things you might like to do with that package like hold it.
If you’re unable to get online but you have a phone nearby, then you can always text USPS to find out information about your tracking.
3. USPS App
If you do have Internet access but it’s only on your phone, then you can still use your smartphone to gain access to your tracking information.
While you can use your phone to get online and visit their website, a better solution is to download the USPS app.
The USPS has an app available for both Android users and Apple users.
The app is a bit more streamlined than their mobile website.
To get your information, you just need to log into the app and look at the tracking page.
You’ll see all the information you need there.
Like on the website, you’ll also see different things that you can do to the package.
Using the app is a great way to keep an eye on your tracking information when you’re on the move.
4. Call USPS
A final way to access your tracking information is to call USPS.
You’ll get an automated message and can navigate to the appropriate section by answering its questions.
You’ll likely have to type in your tracking number, so you’ll want to have it on hand.
Calling the USPS can also allow you to make certain changes or decisions about the package.
All you need to do is press the appropriate button to make your changes.
Calling USPS is another great way to stay updated on your tracking information.
How To Receive Automatic Updates About USPS Tracking
If you don’t want to have to keep checking tracking yourself, there’s a way to automate it.
All you need to do is get online and go to your tracking information.
Once you’re on the right page, you should see an option to turn on text and email notifications.
When you turn that on, you’ll get either a text or email or both, whenever your tracking information gets updated.
This is an easy way to stay updated on the progress of your package without having to check your account each time.
You can also choose to receive notifications for all future packages.
Why Isn’t My USPS Tracking Information Updating?
Although USPS tracking is pretty accurate, you may have some concerns when your tracking information doesn’t seem to be updating.
There are a few reasons why your tracking information may not be receiving updates.
The main reason is simply that the package hasn’t moved at all.
It may be a Sunday and people are off work.
It may be because it’s a holiday.
It may simply be because its current location is extremely busy, so it hasn’t gone through sorting or processing yet.
The main reason you don’t receive updates is because the package hasn’t moved.
Another reason you may not have received an update is that someone failed to scan the package.
This can sometimes happen when a mail carrier is extremely busy.
If they’re in a rush, then they might not have the time to scan every single package.
Since this step has been skipped, you may have to wait a little while before the next person scans it and updates its tracking information.
Sometimes a failure is a result of the scanner not working.
If the scanner breaks, then there’s no way for the mail carrier to scan your package.
Without scanning the package, the tracking information doesn’t get updated.
It may seem like the package isn’t moving anywhere, but it’s actually just because the carrier was unable to scan it.
Finally, there’s always a chance that updates aren’t populating because the item is lost.
The USPS handles tons of packages and letters every day.
There are always going to be some that unfortunately end up in the wrong place or go missing.
While there’s a good chance your package isn’t lost, it is a possible reason why you’re not seeing updates in your tracking information.
USPS tracking is very accurate since the scans are performed manually by carriers and workers at distribution centers.
You can find information about your tracking by calling, texting, or using your online account.
Because tracking information only gets updated when the package is scanned, there can sometimes be long delays between updates.