You’re expecting a delivery from USPS and have received a “USPS in Possession of Item” tracking update.
What does this mean exactly? How far is your item from delivery when you receive this update and what do you do if your tracking is stuck?
Let’s take a look…
Summary: USPS in Possession of Item
The “USPS in Possession of Item” tracking status means that the shipment has entered the USPS delivery infrastructure. The update is triggered the first time USPS takes a physical scan of the package. In other words, at the point USPS takes physical possession of the item.
USPS in Possession of Item – Guide
Although the update is quite self-explanatory, it does help to consider where the shipment is when you receive the “USPS in Possession of Item” update.
Normally, this update follows from a “Pre-Shipment info sent to USPS, USPS Awaiting Item” status alert.
An update that is triggered once the sender makes a delivery order, and a tracking number is first assigned.
However, at this point, the sender still has the physical package. They will now prepare it for shipment (add the label etc) and will have to organize either drop-off with USPS or collection.
Once this happens, the “USPS in Possession of Item” will be triggered.
Essentially, once USPS actually has its “hands” on the physical package and can process the first scan, you will receive this alert.
Needless to say, the mail item is at the very beginning of its journey when the “USPS in Possession of Item” update is sent.
- Related Content: What Does “In Transit, Arriving on Time” Mean? (USPS Tracking)
What Happens After the “USPS in Possession of Item” Alert?
Now that USPS has the shipment within its delivery infrastructure, it will go through a number of steps before it reaches the destination address.
Domestic delivery will first reach a USPS regional facility (with updates such as “in transit” and “Arrived at regional facility”), before being sorted and dispatched toward a facility in the area of the recipient, (destination facility).
Finally, you should receive the “out for delivery” update, meaning that delivery to the recipient’s address is imminent.
An International shipment will make its way to a USPS International Service or Distribution Center, before going through customs clearance and cross-border transit.
The length of time for delivery is very much dependent on location, service speed used, and whether any delays or issues are experienced.
- Related Content: Attempted Delivery Abroad – USPS Tracking Guide
Tracking Stuck on “USPS in Possession of Item”
Let’s face it, you have probably Google Searched the “USPS in Possession of Item” status and reached this article because your tracking is stuck on this alert.
This is understandably frustrating. Your mail item has only just begun its journey and it has been stuck on “USPS in Possession of Item” for several days.
Firstly, there are three main reasons your tracking might be stuck:
1. Delays or Backlog Inside the Facility
As mentioned, one of the first steps after you receive the “USPS in Possession of Item” update is sortation within a USPS facility.
If there are any backlogs, high seasonal volumes, staffing, or technical issues, your mail item can be delayed.
These issues are preventing the next step of the delivery journey, and without a follow-up scan, your tracking will be stuck.
2. Missed Scan
Another situation that causes a stuck tracking alert is when your package is released but does not receive another scan.
In other words, the shipment has continued progress and is in transit toward the destination address, but no update was created.
- Related Content: “Shipment Received Package Acceptance Pending” Meaning?
3. Mail Item Not Being Scanned
To confuse the issue further, some USPS deliveries can pass through the various steps of the delivery infrastructure without triggering any updates beyond the “USPS in Possession of Item” alert.
These are normally domestic, low-priority delivery items. In other words, you will not see any more updates until the item reaches the receiver’s post office.
At that point, an “out for delivery” update will be sent once the item is on the truck for delivery.
So, What Should I Do?
In any case, if your tracking is stuck on “USPS in Possession of Item” for more than 3-5 business days, (if an expedited delivery service speed has been ordered this wait time can be reduced accordingly), you should contact USPS.
At the very least, customer services should be able to give you an update on the location of your mail item, and whether it is in fact stuck, or proceeding as it should but without regular tracking updates.
- Related Content: What Does Arrived at Hub USPS Mean?
Essentially, the “USPS in Possession of Item” status alert is simply telling you that USPS has your mail item.
It is at the very beginning of its transit journey, so there are a number of steps before delivery.
You should keep an eye on your tracking to ensure the shipment is proceeding as it should.
If any delays do take place, you may have to contact USPS to get things moving again.
I’m a 25 year veteran of USPS. I’m retired now, but as the editor of Mailbox Master, I can’t quite remove myself from the carrier industry just yet. 🙂