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Tendered to Returns Agent: USPS Tracking Guide

USPS is in charge of the final delivery of a package and you have received a “Tendered to Returns Agent” tracking update.

What does this mean exactly? Where is your mail item when you receive this notification and is there anything you need to do?

Let’s take a look…

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Summary: Tendered to Returns Agent

The “Tendered to Returns Agent” tracking update means that the parcel is being returned to the sender and that the carrier responsible, (Returns Agent), now has the package within its delivery infrastructure.

Tendered to Returns Agent – Guide

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The most common reason the “Tendered to Returns Agent” update is triggered is when a recipient returns an eCommerce package to the sender.

Although USPS may have completed the last mile of delivery of the mail item to the recipient’s address, another carrier will have been used for the majority of transit.

The fact is, FedEx and UPS as well as a huge number of smaller carriers have business relationships with USPS so that the postal service completes the final part of the delivery.

When returns take place, USPS is often still responsible for retrieving the package from the recipient, (or the customer is provided the option to drop off the item at their local post office).

However, USPS will not undertake the full return to the sender. USPS will hand over the mail item to the “Returns Agent”.

At this point, the “Tendered to Returns Agent” is triggered and the carrier in question will be responsible for ensuring the item ends up back at the origin location.

But I am the Recipient and I Didn’t Request a Return!?

Tendered to Returns Agent

If you have received the “Tendered to Returns Agent” update and did not initiate any kind of return, you will understandably be confused and frustrated.

There are three possible reasons this may have happened:

  • The sender has recalled the item and requested a return via the carrier
  • A mis-scan at the facility or by the USPS driver while the item is actually en route to the destination address
  • USPS had an issue locating the destination address and has begun the process of returning the item to the sender
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Either way, your first port of call should be contacting the sender. If they have requested that the item be returned to them for whatever reason, you will want to start your enquiry here.

If the sender is just as confused as you, it will be time to contact USPS or the main carrier responsible for transit, (it is likely the sender will want to contact them too).

If the package has been returned to the sender by mistake, or there were issues delivering to the destination address you will need to rectify this via USPS Customer Services or your local post office.

I Am the Sender and Tracking is Stuck on “Tendered to Returns Agent”

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If the tracking ends up stuck on “Tendered to Returns Agent” you will need to contact the carrier responsible.

The item is no longer the responsibility of USPS, therefore it is the carrier that has caused the delay.

The reason behind the delay could be anything from technical issues, transit, and logistical problems, to the package being stuck inside a facility.

Only by contacting the carrier will you be able to solve this and get the return moving once more.

What Happens After the Update?

Tendered to Returns Agent

If delivery processes flow as they should, the package will be returned to the sender in line with the service speed originally used to deliver the item.

Whether the sender’s local postal service completes the final stages of the return or the original carrier depends on the nature of the service ordered.

Final Words

Essentially, the “Tendered to Returns Agent” tracking update from USPS is telling parties that the package has been handed over to the returns agent responsible for delivering the item back to the sender.

If the return has been initiated in error or the tracking ends up stuck, inquiries will need to be made.

Otherwise, the item should be back with the sender in a time period relative to the original service speed.

2 thoughts on “Tendered to Returns Agent: USPS Tracking Guide”

  1. I am the sender and used a USPS flat rate box to send items. I received this message in the tracking of the box sent. How do I find out who the return agent is? What steps should I take? There are no FAQs addressing this message on the USPS website.

    • Hi there, take a look at the tracking status chain. It should reveal which carriers had the item at each stage. Try the USPS tracking page first. If you have no luck there, use or as these often reveal more information if more than once carrier service was used. Failing that, you will need to contact USPS customer services for information on the shipment, (including why it is being returned).


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