What Does “USPS in Possession of Item” Mean?

Navigating the maze of postal tracking statuses can sometimes feel like deciphering a secret code. Among the various updates you might encounter is the enigmatic “USPS in possession of item.” This status, while straightforward, often raises questions about what exactly it implies about the journey of a package.

Understanding this key status is crucial for both senders and recipients eagerly awaiting the delivery of their mail or package.

When you see “USPS in possession of item” as a tracking update, it signifies a significant moment in the parcel’s journey – the point at which the United States Postal Service (USPS) officially takes charge of the item. This moment marks the transition of responsibility from the sender or a third-party carrier to USPS, a crucial step in the item’s journey from sender to recipient.

But what does this status truly mean in the context of your package’s journey, and what should you expect next?

What Does “USPS in Possession of Item” Mean

What Does “USPS in Possession of Item” Mean?

The “USPS in possession of item” status is an indication that USPS has physically received the item and it is now under their care. This status is usually updated when the item is scanned at a USPS facility, whether it’s a local post office, a sorting facility, or during a pick-up from a mailbox or a business.

This initial scan is an essential part of the tracking process, as it ensures that the item has officially entered the USPS system and is on its way to its destination.

See also: How to Deal with Lost Tracking Numbers USPS?

What Happens After This Status?

After the item is in the possession of USPS, it will go through several stages of processing. These include sorting, potential transportation to different facilities (depending on the item’s destination), and eventual preparation for final delivery.

Throughout this process, the tracking status will be updated to reflect these various stages, providing both sender and recipient with a detailed view of the item’s journey.

Next Steps in the Tracking Process

Following the “USPS in possession of item” status, you can expect to see updates like “Processed through facility,” “Out for delivery,” or “Delivered.” These statuses provide more specific information about where the package is in the delivery process.

For instance, “Out for delivery” means the item has been loaded onto a delivery vehicle and is en route to its final destination.

Delivery Timeline

The timeline from when USPS takes possession of the item to when it is delivered can vary. Factors affecting this include the shipping method (First-Class, Priority Mail, etc.), the origin and destination of the package, and external factors such as weather conditions or operational delays.

What Happens After the “USPS in Possession of Item” Alert?

After receiving the “USPS in Possession of Item” alert, your package enters the next stages of the postal process, which includes sorting, transit, and preparation for delivery.

Here’s what typically happens:

  1. Sorting at a Postal Facility: Once USPS has possession of your item, it’s taken to a postal facility where it’s sorted based on the destination. This process is automated and streamlined for efficiency.
  2. Transit to Destination: Depending on the distance, the package may go through multiple postal facilities. During transit, it’s moved via trucks, airplanes, or other transportation means, depending on the shipping method and destination.
  3. Preparation for Final Delivery: Once the package reaches the postal facility nearest to the destination, it’s sorted for final delivery. At this point, the tracking status often updates to “Out for delivery,” indicating that a postal worker will soon deliver it.
  4. Delivery to Recipient: The final step is the delivery of the package to your address. Upon successful delivery, the tracking status will update to “Delivered.”

Tracking Stuck on “USPS in Possession of Item”

If your tracking status is stuck on “USPS in Possession of Item” for an extended period, it can be a cause for concern.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Understand Potential Delays: Delays can happen due to various reasons like operational backlogs, weather conditions, or technical issues. It’s possible that the package is moving, but the tracking updates are delayed.
  2. Wait for a Few Days: Sometimes, the next update may take a bit longer than expected. Give it a few days, especially if it’s during busy seasons like holidays.
  3. Contact USPS: If there’s no update for an extended period (e.g., more than a week), contact USPS. Provide them with your tracking number so they can give you more information about the status of your package.
  4. Visit the Local Post Office: Sometimes, visiting your local post office can provide more direct and immediate information, especially if they have local insights into any delays or issues.
  5. File a Claim if Necessary: If your package is lost or significantly delayed, consider filing a claim with USPS, particularly if your shipment is insured or valuable.

How Long Does USPS Hold an Item?

Understanding the holding policies of the United States Postal Service (USPS) is crucial, especially if you’re unable to receive a package immediately. USPS holds items under certain circumstances, and the duration of the hold can vary based on the specific situation:

1. Hold for Pickup:

  • When a package is sent with the “Hold for Pickup” option, USPS will hold the item at the local Post Office.
  • Duration: Typically, USPS will hold these packages for 15 days.

2. Missed Delivery/Notice Left:

  • If USPS attempts to deliver a package but you’re not available to receive it, they will usually leave a notice and take the package back to the Post Office.
  • Duration: The package will generally be held for 15 days. During this period, you can arrange for redelivery or pick it up from the Post Office.

3. Vacation Hold / Mail Hold Service:

  • If you’re going away for a while and you’ve requested a “Hold Mail” service, USPS can hold all your mail.
  • Duration: This service can be requested for a minimum of 3 days and a maximum of 30 days. If you need mail held longer, you can opt for the Premium Forwarding Service.

4. General Mail Holding:

  • For undeliverable mail or if a delivery issue arises, USPS may hold your mail at the local Post Office.
  • Duration: The holding period is typically 15 days, after which the mail could be returned to the sender.

Tips for Using USPS Tracking

  • Regularly Check Tracking Updates: USPS tracking is a dynamic process with frequent updates. Regularly checking these can give you a good idea of when to expect your package.
  • Understanding Delays: Sometimes, there might be a delay between the “USPS in possession of item” status and the next update. This could be due to a variety of logistical reasons. Patience is key here.
  • Contacting USPS for Queries: If your package seems to be stuck on this status for an unusually long time, or if you have other concerns, don’t hesitate to contact USPS for clarification.

See also: Is USPS open on Sunday For Pickup and delivery?


The “USPS in possession of item” status is a standard, yet crucial part of the USPS tracking process. It signifies the beginning of your package’s journey within the USPS network. By understanding what this status means and what to expect next, senders and recipients can have a better grasp of the shipping process and manage their expectations accordingly.

Remember, the journey of a package is subject to various factors, and tracking updates are your best tool to stay informed every step of the way.