What Does “Arriving Late” Mean with USPS

Usps Postman On A Mail Delivery Truck

Encountering the delivery status “Arriving Late” while tracking your USPS package can spoil your mood and make you think about when you will receive your parcel after being delayed.


The phrase “Arriving Late” is a self-explanatory shipment tracking update which means that your parcel from USPS is stuck in transit due to some unwanted issues and may arrive later than the expected delivery date provided at the booking time.

To clarify, we will discuss what “Arriving Late” means at USPS, what you can infer from it, what causes this update to pop out, and what to do if you receive this tracking alert.

What Does “Arriving Late” Mean at USPS?

A United States Parcel Service Mail Truck Leaves For A Delivery

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is one of the largest U.S. shipping companies with over 34000 store locations, delivering almost 150 million parcels to home addresses and nearly 12 million shipments to commercial sites daily.

The company has gained a reputation for timely and efficient delivery of parcels, even in the countryside, but delays can sometimes occur due to several technical and logistical issues.

However, USPS informs both senders and recipients via email or delivery tracking update whenever their package is delayed than the expected arrival date and time.


You can track your USPS package and determine its expected arrival date and time via the company shipment tracking tool

If this happens, the delivery status of your package may appear as “In Transit, Arriving Late,” which means that it is facing some unfortunate circumstances, causing delays in the delivery.

Once your shipment is delayed from the expected arrival date, USPS provides you with a new and revised anticipated date.

Why Is My USPS Package Arriving Late?

Here are the reasons that can cause delays in your USPS package delivery, resulting in the mail tracking status converting to “In Transit, Arriving Late.”

1. Parcel Misses a Scan

Hands Scanning Barcode On Delivery Parcel

A missed scan at the USPS facility is the most common reason for the delivery status “Arriving Late” to appear while tracking a package.

The company’s employee may have forgotten to scan your parcel by mistake due to the immense volume of packages in the processing queue.

If this happens, the USPS tracking system may not have the updated information about your parcel, resulting in showing in the shipment status “Arriving Late” even if the package has left the facility and is moving towards the next destination.


You typically do not need to worry about your package’s timely delivery if it experiences a missed scan.

USPS scans shipments at every facility, so their tracking system automatically updates the delivery status during the following scan.

2. Parcel Lost or Misplaced

Lots Of Cardboard Boxes And A Red Position Pin

If the tracking update for your package shows “Arriving Late” for a week or more, USPS may have lost it during transit. However, it happens rarely.

USPS sorting facilities handle an enormous amount of mail daily, sorted and scanned on conveyor belts. In some cases, packages can fall off them and get lost or misplaced.

The shipping company proactively chooses to locate missing mailpieces by using their last known details to find the package location and initiating an in-person search.

If USPS successfully finds the missing item, they return it with overnight delivery, changing the delivery status from “Arriving Late” to “Out for Delivery.”

Otherwise, the company will pay for the loss if your parcel is insured.

3. Parcel Damaged

Asian Young Delivery Man With Damaged Cardboard Box

Your parcel may also experience a delay if it gets damaged during transit due to a torn envelope, a popped-open box, or an accident that crushed the packaging.

If this happens, USPS investigates its cause and prepares reports containing the reasons for vandalism to help you file a claim.

Your package delivery status remains “Arriving Late” during this process until the case’s dissolution.


Purchasing insurance and using sturdy packaging materials when sending your items via USPS is advisable to avoid any inconvenience and damage to your parcel.

4. Incorrect Address Details

Hands Of Woman Writing Address On First Class Mail Package

Incorrect address details can significantly cause delays for USPS parcels as they often misinterpret the package and cause difficulty for delivery drivers in finding the destination, leading to an “Arriving Late” status update.

If a failed delivery attempt occurs, USPS may contact you to confirm the accurate address for a re-delivery. If you do not respond to their request, the company may return the package to its original sender.

The best way to prevent this problem is to validate your mailing address using a USPS Address Validator.


The USPS address validator is a tool that helps ensure the accuracy and completeness of postal addresses by cross-checking their details against the USPS database containing updated information on over 160 million delivery points in the United States.

5. Inclement Weather Conditions

United States Postal Service (Usps) Delivery Truck Driving Down A Snowy Residential Street

Inclement weather conditions, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding, can impact the delivery of USPS packages and cause delays, resulting in the delivery status “Arriving Late” appearing while tracking.

In such cases, the shipping company may temporarily suspend mail delivery to affected areas until it is safe to resume operations to ensure their delivery drivers and parcel safety.

6. Heavy Road Traffic

Small Usps Van Truck Delivering Packages

Roadblocks and traffic accidents are also potential reasons a USPS package may experience delays during transit and show the shipment status “Arriving Late” while tracking.

For example, if you have chosen Priority Mail Express, but there is a massive roadblock on the delivery day, the USPS may be unable to deliver your item on time.

Sometimes, the shipping company may need to reroute packages to alternative paths, which may cause further delivery delays.

These blockages can be frustrating for both the sender and the recipient of the package. However, it’s essential to understand that roadblocks and traffic accidents are primarily outside of the USPS’s control.

7. Custom Delays

Usps United States Post Office

Customs clearance delays are a common cause of late package delivery, and it’s a factor beyond USPS’s authority.

Customs clearance is necessary, especially in shipping packages internationally which involve inspections, duties, taxes, and other formalities the parcel must fulfill before being delivered to the recipient.

The inspection procedures vary from country to country, and the time it takes for your package to clear customs differs too.

Some states may have a more streamlined customs clearance process, while others may have a more complex procedure that takes longer to complete.


The USPS cannot guarantee the exact time it takes for your package to clear customs and be delivered, meaning Customs officials may hold your shipment for several days or weeks.

To avoid customs clearance delays, ensure all necessary legal paperwork and documentation are accurately completed and included with the package before shipping.

What To Do if You Receive an “In Transit Arriving Late” Tracking Alert?

Search For The Mail By Entering The Tracking Number Concept

If the USPS delay continues, and your package remains “In Transit, Arriving Late” for an extended period, you may wish to take further action to resolve the matter.

One option is to contact USPS customer service. They may be able to provide more information about the delay and when you can expect to receive your package.

Alternatively, reach out to the sender of the package and ask them to investigate the delay or take other steps to help you receive your parcel sooner.

Overall, it’s essential to remain patient when dealing with USPS package delays and to keep an eye on tracking updates for any new information.


In this article, we’ve discussed in detail what “Arriving Late” means at USPS, what causes this delivery exception to appear, and the possible ways to deal with these delays.

We hope you now understand that delays in your USPS parcel’s delivery can arise due to technical and logistical challenges, including Customs issues, unfavorable weather conditions, etc.

However, these problems typically resolve by the company over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Accurate Is USPS Tracking?

USPS tracking is generally considered reliable and accurate, but it is not perfect.

Various factors can impact the accuracy of the tracking system, such as technical glitches, delays in scanning packages, or human errors.

Does U.S. Customs Open Every USPS Package?

No, U.S. Customs does not open every USPS package. However, they have the authority to inspect any shipment that enters the country, including those shipped through USPS.

Customs officials use various methods to check shipments, including x-ray machines and sniffer dogs, to detect prohibited or restricted items.

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