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What Does “Delivered, To Original Sender” Mean? USPS

You are expecting a package from USPS and have received a “Delivered, To Original Sender” tracking update.

What does this mean exactly, and is there anything you need to do?

Let’s take a look…

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Summary: Delivered, To Original Sender (USPS)

The “Delivered, To Original Sender” tracking update means that for whatever reason, USPS is returning the package to the sender’s address. This normally happens if the destination address details are incorrect or incomplete, or, if after repeated attempts, the package could not be successfully delivered.

USPS: Delivered, To Original Sender – Guide

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The “Delivered, To Original Sender” tracking update from USPS typically means that the package or mail item was unable to be delivered to the intended recipient and has been returned to the sender.

This can happen for a variety of reasons:

  • Incorrect or incomplete address
  • The recipient is unavailable to receive the package
  • The recipient’s address is unreachable
  • The recipient refuses the delivery.

Generally, the recipient should not be surprised if they see a “Delivered, To Original Sender” update.

For this to take place repeated delivery attempts would have been made, or you should have been contacted regarding USPS’s inability to reach your address.

In other words, you would have been informed that the delivery couldn’t take place (or you actually refused it), and now it is being returned to the sender.

If you are the sender and you see this update you may want to contact the recipient to see what went wrong, and why the item is being returned (without being delivered in the first place).

For example, in an Ecommerce scenario, a refund may be required.

I Am the Recipient and I Wanted the Item Delivered

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If you are the recipient and you have received a “Delivered, To Original Sender” and as far as you were concerned, no delivery attempt was made, you will understandably be frustrated.

Your first step should be to contact USPS to see why delivery to your address didn’t take place.

It may be that USPS was unable to get hold of anyone to confirm the destination address.

Access could have been an issue or contact details not working… either way, if you contact USPS in time, there is a chance that the package could be rerouted back to you.

If not, you will need to contact the sender and arrange for the package to be resent.

Steps to Avoid a “Delivered, To Original Sender” Alert in the Future

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If you feel that this situation has occurred in error, there are a few steps you can take to help prevent it from happening in the future.

Triple check Address Details


Whether you’re the recipient filling in an online order with your address details or a sender that is creating a shipping label, ensuring the address is correct is the first major step toward preventing return shipments.

If USPS is unable to find the recipient’s address it will not be long before a “Delivered, To Original Sender” update is triggered.

Be Available to Receive the Package (Ensure the Mailbox is not Obstructed)


As the recipient, you would make simple steps to ensure that for any signed items someone is at the address to receive it, (or alternative delivery arrangements are made). 

The mailbox should also be clear of any obstructions (and emptied) so that new deliveries can fit.

Notify the Recipient

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If you are the sender, you need to make sure you have notified the recipient that the package is on its way and provide them with the tracking number.

This will allow them to monitor the delivery status and make arrangements to receive the package if they will not be available at the time of delivery.

Include all Necessary Address Information

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Be sure to include all necessary information in the shipping address, such as the recipient’s full name, street address, apartment or unit number (if applicable), city, state, and zip code.

Following these steps will definitely reduce the chances of the package being returned to the sender unplanned in the future.

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