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How Long Does USPS Hold Packages? A Complete Guide

How Long Does USPS Hold Packages In 2022? That’s what we’ll answer today.

The fact is the length of time USPS holds a package varies.

Let’s take a look.

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SUMMARY: How Long Does USPS Hold Packages?

  • Most USPS mail services have a 15-day hold limit
  • After 15 days unclaimed packages are returned to the sender
  • You can submit a “Hold Mail” request online to extend this to 30 days
  • Priority Mail Express is held for only 5 days
  • You will be issued 3 notices: Initial, Second, and Final
  • Held mail items can be collected from your local post office

How Long Does USPS Hold Packages?

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For most available USPS mail services, the post office will hold packages up to 15 days after the date of attempted delivery.

Where a package delivery has been placed on hold USPS will send a second and final notice within 15 days.

The second will arrive a few days after the attempted delivery, the final notice will arrive 2 or 3 days before the 15 days is up.

After this period the package will be returned to the sender.

Exceptions to the 15-day USPS Hold Rule

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The main exception to the 15-day holding rule is implemented on packages sent via the Priority Mail Express service

This type of mail item is only held for five days. The second and Final notices are the same thing and are issued after three days.

After 5 days the item will be returned to the sender.

Can I Ask USPS to Hold Mail for More than 15 days?

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It is possible to have USPS hold your mail for more than 15 days. This is via the USPS hold mail service.

It requires having a free account made online that is related to your home address.

You can then submit a request that your mail be held for up to 30 days.

How Long will USPS Hold Packages For A PO Box?

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In situations where you have a package sent to your P.O. Box that will not fit inside, the post office will hold the package for 15 days, (unless Priority Mail Express was used).

A notice will be placed inside the P.O. Box with details of the package and instructing you to pick it up from the counter inside the post office.

If you do not do so within 15 days of the notice being issued, the package will be returned to the sender.

How Long Does USPS Hold Packages

How To Know When USPS Holds Your Package?

The main way you will know that USPS has a package on hold for you is a notice in your mailbox.

This comes in the form of the peach-colored PS Form 3849, which is left when an attempted delivery is made.

In the case of the package being placed on hold, the notice will inform you of the attempted delivery date and time and at which post office it is being held.

Although the postal worker will make every effort to ensure you see the notice, (placing it on the top of your mail for instance), sometimes recipients do not see them.

However, the issuing of a second and final notice is used to mitigate this. A total of 3 notices are issued before an item is returned to a sender.

This provides ample opportunity to collect any held packages or to place them on extended hold.

You can also check the tracking number of an item to see details of its hold. Signing up and using USPS Informed Delivery is another way of keeping track of any held mail items.

How to Know Where a USPS Package is Being Held?


In small towns and residential areas, it should not be difficult to know where your USPS package is being held.

In most cases, it will be at your nearest local post office.

If you live in a city or large metropolitan area knowing exactly which post office your package is being held at can be more confusing. 

The package could be at any one of multiple Post Offices.

If you are unsure, you can find the address details of the post office by looking at the tracking information of the package.

In some cases, the post office will be written on one of the PS Form 3849s that you have been issued.

Alternatively, you can call USPS customer services and cite your tracking number for details.

How to Pick Up a USPS Package That is on Hold

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If it is your name and address on the package, picking it up is straightforward.

Simply take your PS Form 3849 and a valid photographic ID (driver’s license, passport, etc) to the post office where the package is held.

Hand over the form and your I.D. at the counter and a staff member will retrieve the item for you.

Asking someone to pick up on your behalf

To authorize a 3rd party to pick up your held package is also relatively simple.

You can write on the PS Form 3829 or in a separate letter giving permission for the 3rd party to collect the mail on your behalf.

You should also sign off on the note and have the person collecting your mail take an item of your I.D. for good measure.

What Happens if USPS Holds My Mail Without Permission

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We have written an entire article on the situations where USPS will hold mail without permission.

This is generally connected to issues with delivery, (obstructions, safety concerns reaching your mailbox, etc).

If USPS holds your package for these reasons, the 15-day limit applies. You will need to pick up your item in that time span.

You should also make efforts to rectify the issue that is causing USPS to place your mail items on hold.

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