Guide to a lost or stolen USPS package
Here are some tips and procedures for the times when a package is lost, stolen or missing.
We try to make navigating the system a little easier — from starting a Missing Mail Search to filing a claim, we’re here to help!
Pro tip: Avoid the USPS website. All the information for filing a claim can be found on USPS’ website, but let’s be honest, nobody’s got time to read all that. This is why we created the ultimate guide to save you time and reduce headaches!
Roadmap to dealing with a lost or stolen USPS package. Make sure you keep all your records and have all the information you need in advance. You will need receipts, tracking info, package description, shipping dates and proof of damage or value, depending on the circumstances. This will help you through the process more smoothly but don’t waste any time as you have to file the claim within 60 days of the missing package.
Contact the retailer to see if they will resend or refund. We’d say the first step in any case where a package was lost or stolen is to open lines of communication between shipper and recipient. All major delivery companies and some online retailers give you a way to recover a lost or stolen package, companies like Amazon provide a great customer experience. If your USPS package was sent by Amazon, contact them first!
Missing Mail Search or Insurance Claim? Where do I start? If your item was insured, you qualify for both a Missing Mail Search AND an Insurance Claim for damaged or missing contents. If no insurance was purchased, a Missing Mail Search is your only option at first. If your item was determined to be lost or damaged, you would have a Claim for a refund in shipping
USPS Claim Details
What does a USPS Claim cover? If your delivery were insured, USPS’s claim process would cover the costs of shipping and the package value, up to the amount specified. If you did not have insurance, but a Missing Mail Search determined your delivery is lost or damaged, a claim will cover the cost of shipping. You can file a claim anytime between 0-60 days for insurance related claims.
What if I didn’t buy insurance? If your package was sent first-class and you didn’t purchase insurance, then I’m sorry, but you’re out of luck. All USPS will do for you is a Missing Mail Search.
Damaged or missing contents. Sometimes your delivery will arrive, but the contents are missing or damaged. Although this isn’t exactly what we’re talking about here, a claim is your next step. You need to provide USPS with evidence of the damage in your claim. This can include estimates for repair or a sales receipt if the item needs to be replaced. (and estimates for repair costs, if possible).
Refund of shipping costs. Don’t forget that some services provided by the USPS have delivery guarantees. For example, Express Mail has a delivery guarantee of 10:30 AM the next day. If the package doesn’t arrive on time, you can file a claim!
International Claim. International claims are handled differently because they require to cooperation and coordination of another country’s post office. Any international claim must be started by a U.S. based mail sender. Also, depending on the service level, the only relief available may be a postage refund.
Missing Mail by the USPS
Mail is missing, can it be found? Whenever you suspect a package is lost or stolen, the first step to take is to begin a Missing Mail Search. This is exactly what it sounds like. The USPS will begin searching their sort facilities and trucks to try and find your delivery.
When can I start the search? USPS will make you hurry up and wait. You have to wait until at least seven days from the shipping date. If it’s still not there after seven days, you can initiate a Missing Mail Search.
Make sure your items are legal to ship. If your package contained items that cannot be shipped like drugs, handguns, perishables, or hazardous materials, then you won’t be able to start a Missing Mail Search. You shouldn’t have been trying to ship those things in the first place…seriously.
Start a Missing Mail Search online. Visit missingmail.usps.com and setup an account. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen a lot, and you don’t have one. Be prepared to enter the mailing date, tracking number (if you have one), and a description of the package and contents.
The Search continues! USPS will search for your package and determine if it was delivered. If the package turns up, USPS will either return the package to the sender or deliver it to the recipient, depending on your request.
What happens if they say it was delivered or can’t be found? If USPS determines the package was delivered, you’ll have to treat it as a stolen package. If USPS cannot find the package, you will need to file a claim for your loss.
How to Start a Missing Mail Search
Before you begin the Missing Mail Search, check your tracking number. Before you start your Missing Mail Search, you will want to double check the status of your package. Missing Mail Searches can be initiated seven days after the items have been sent. You will want to confirm the mail date and ensure you are seven days in the future.
Create a Missing Mail Search. To start the search, you will need both the senders and receivers mailing address. USPS will also need the size and type of envelope or box used to ship, mailing date and tracking number. Description of the contents will help identify the missing mail and can help if/when you are trying to get obtain a refund for damaged or missing items. Keep in mind, the Jpegs or PDF’s have to be less than 2mb to upload.
Mail Search is created, what are my next steps? USPS will send periodic updates on how the search is going. We were unable to figure out when these updates are sent; our guess is that it is a case by case basis.
They found my mail! If this happens, you are in the clear. The USPS will forward the mail or package to the address provided. Keep in mind this only happens if the package wasn’t too damaged in the shipping process. It is possible that they find the missing mail, but the damage prevents them from forwarding to you.
Get your Money Back! If you shipped your mail or package with Express or Priority Mail request refund. These services provide money back guarantee that the items will be delivered and arrive on time.
Did you buy the insurance? If so, you should immediately file a claim. We cover the claim process in more detail below. Keep in mind you can only file a claim up to 60 days after shipping.
How to file a USPS Claim
Who can file a claim? If it’s lost, was it insured? If your mail doesn’t have insurance, then filing a claim won’t help you, unless you have gone through a Missing Mail Search. Make sure you save the receipt; this will act as your evidence of insurance. The Tracking number may also allow the Post office to verify insurance.
Was it damaged before it was delivered? A claim for a damaged package is very straight forward. If the item was insured and the USPS staff damaged the item while in their possession, a claim will reimburse you for the loss. Keep in mind you need a proof of value or an estimate of the cost to repair the items that were damaged.
Sign into account. Next, you can start your Online Claim. This will require you to login to your USPS account (or create one). USPS will process your claim, and if they decide it’s appropriate, refund both the value of your package and the shipping. This process could take up to a month. Keep your fingers crossed.
Were you the shipper or receiver? You will need to fill in the blank address information in the online claim. You will also need to describe the items that were lost or damaged.
Proof of value is required. In the claim form, you will be able to upload a 2mb Jpeg or PDF to prove the proof of value. Items that can be provided are sales receipts, invoices, electronic receipts for online purchases. There are many items they will request, just hover over the info button in the claims form for more.
Claims Dashboard. Your USPS account will keep track of all the past claims. If you send and receive a lot of packages than this will be where you handle all of the claims. A good nickname will help you remember the lost of damaged items in the future.
Visit claims page or FAQ’s. The claim history page is located in your USPS account, and it is the single place to see details or status of your claims. In the event your claim is denied or the amount refunded isn’t sufficient, you can also appeal the decision from the claims page. Good luck on that!
Congratulations, You filed your claim. What’s Next?
Packages or Mail that has been determined as delivered. Be aware that if USPS can prove that the package was delivered, you won’t be able to file a claim with them because they fulfilled their end of the bargain.
Does this mean I am a victim of Package Theft? Yes. If the USPS has checked their facilities, vehicles and have a record that your mail was delivered they are not liable to refund your shipping or replacement cost. At this point, you are a victim of mail or package theft, which is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S.
Who can I report a stolen package too? You can file a complaint with U.S. Postal Inspector. USPS has a police force that investigates mail theft. You can also file a police report with your local city or county. Keep in mind that it isn’t an urgent matter and the report should be done online or through the non-emergency phone line.
What does a report do for me? While neither of these options will help, you get your package back; they can help law enforcement better understand and map crime rates in your area. If you paid for third party package insurance, or your homeowner’s insurance covers it, they will require one of these reports to file a claim.