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USPS delivered to a wrong address

USPS delivered to a wrong address

USPS delivered to a wrong address

What to do when mail is undeliverable or misdelivered. Information and additional resources regarding endorsements that may prevent delivery, picking up mail early before it is delivered, postage due and mail sent to an individual at a business address.

When you receive a mistaken delivery, call customer service for the delivery company and explain the situation. Give them the tracking number on the package, as well as the name and address on the package if it’s different from yours.

If the USPS mail is delivered to the wrong address

To correct the mistake, you have two options: Deliver it yourself: If the letter is clearly intended for a nearby neighbor, and you can physically open their mailbox, feel free to deliver the letter to the correct address yourself.

By law, you may keep the merchandise and consider it a gift. Of course, if the merchandise is delivered to you by mistake, instead of to the person named on the address, you cannot keep it.

This seems to say that it comes down to whom it is addressed to. As long as the merchandise is addressed to you, you may keep it.

USPS delivered to the wrong address in 2023

Article Number: 000003373

First, you should take a look around your property to be sure that the package wasn’t dropped somewhere that you didn’t expect.

Check all doors, including side doors or back doors. Make sure it didn’t fall or get pushed to the side. You can also stop by the neighbors to see if it’s been left there instead. 

If you still can’t find the package, check online to confirm that you entered the correct address when placing the order. Any typos in your name or address could lead to a delivery mixup. 

Sometimes, an order might be marked as “delivered” through the electronic delivery confirmation when it hasn’t yet been dropped off. Unless the order is time-sensitive, it might be best to wait a day or two to confirm that the carrier hasn’t delivered your package.

Table of Content

  1. Undeliverable as Addressed Mail and other endorsements
  2. How is ‘Postage Due’ mail handled?
  3. Can I pick up mail before it is delivered?
  4. Mail sent to an individual at a business
  5. How is undeliverable USPS Marketing Mail® handled?

1. Undeliverable as Addressed Mail

In order to be delivered by the United States Postal Service®, mailpieces must be addressed correctly, the address must be readable, and proper postage must be affixed

  1. If we are not able to deliver the mail as addressed, we will use the return address on the mailpiece and try to return it to the sender.
  2. If the mailpiece is addressed incorrectly and has no return address, the mailpiece will either be handled by the local Post Office™ or sent to the Mail Recovery Center.
    • Friends, If your mailpiece has not arrived within 7 days from its date of mailing, you can:
      • Submit a search request in the Missing Mail application, OR
      • Call your Consumer Affairs representative via 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) and they can complete a search request on your behalf, OR
      • Visit your local USPS Post Office and have a search request submitted.

Please note that with the filing of a search request, the United States Postal Service has guidelines on items or merchandise that can be returned or recovered. If the item(s) is located and it meets guidelines for recovery, it will be returned to you.

Where can I find information on Endorsements?

Information on the use of Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) endorsements can be found at Ancillary Service Endorsements on®. For information on the definitions of endorsements that are applied to an undeliverable mailpiece by the letter carrier, go to the Domestic Mail Manual. 

2. How is ‘Postage Due’ mail handled?

Throughout its journey, mail may be periodically checked to ensure it has proper postage. If a mailpiece does not have proper postage, it may be returned or delivered according to the following scenarios: 

  1. If the item is without postage, or it appears postage fell off; it is endorsed “Returned for Postage Mail” and sent to the return address on the mailpiece.
  2. If the item is short paid, it will be delivered postage due and the letter carrier will endorse it to show the amount of the postage due.
    • The recipient must pay in cash for postage due mail before the mail is delivered
    • Depending on location, letter carriers may or may not be able to collect Postage Due directly from a customer or a customer’s mailbox. For further information on how to pay for the Postage Due, please contact your local Post Office™ facility.
    • Rural carriers are not required to go to the door with a postage due letter. The policy stipulates that rural carriers go only as far as the mailbox and blow the horn. The recipient must come out to the mailbox to pay and receive the letter.
      • Note: If the short-paid item cannot be delivered as addressed (including if the recipient refuses to pay for and accept it), it is endorsed “Returned for Additional Postage” and sent to the return address on the mailpiece.

USPS delivered to a wrong address

A returned shortpaid mailpiece can have the necessary additional postage affixed (leaving the “postage due” message intact) to the original piece and does not have to be placed in a new envelope or wrapper.If an item is returned because of no postage or insufficient postage and one of the following is the case:

  • No return address is shown; or
  • The delivery and return addresses are identical; or
  • The delivery and return addresses are different, but for the same person or organization;

then the mailpiece is treated as dead mail and goes to the Mail Recovery Center. The mailpiece can be recovered through the Missing Mail application.

Please Note: The USPS® makes a special effort when the mail piece has the appearance of a greeting card. Rather than being routed to the Mail Recovery Center because of no postage or below the minimum size, greeting cards without a return address will generally be delivered with postage due during the month of December. (This is for domestic First-Class Mail® only. Foreign greeting cards without postage go back to the mailer for proper postage.)

Note: Automated Package Verification (APV) streamlines how we check postage on certain packages with labels generated from Click-N-Ship® and PC Postage applications (PC Postage applications include Click-N-Ship, Endicia,, eBay, PayPal, EasyPost, and Pitney Bowes® & e-Postage). Please see “Automated Package Verification Program” for more information.

3. Can I pick up the mail before it is delivered?

Unfortunately mail cannot be picked up before it’s delivered. The United States Postal Service system is set up to deliver mail, it is not able to retain mail so that you can come in and pick it up.

There are services (which charge additional fees) that would allow you to pickup your mail on a regular basis at the Post Office. These are:

  • Purchase a Post Office Box – Mail is considered delivered when it reaches the box.
    How do I apply for a Post Office Box?
  • Caller services – Businesses can have their employees pick up their mail. 
    What are Caller and Reserve Box Services?

4. Mail sent to an individual at a business

Mail is delivered to an organization (either governmental or nongovernmental) if it is addressed to:

  • The organization itself (i.e. business, government agency, etc…).
  • An individual (by name or title) at the address of the organization.
  • A former official, employee, agent, etc… at the address of the organization.

Mail that is addressed to a company is delivered to the company, including mail endorsed “Personal and Confidential” for a specific individual. Postal Service™ responsibility for the mail ends at that point and disposition of such mail is in accordance with each company’s policy. This also applies to mail addressed in this manner to former employees.

If there are disputes, the mail is delivered in accordance with the wishes of the company’s president, chief executive officer, or equivalent officer. Mr. Smith had four daughters

5. How is undeliverable USPS Marketing Mail® handled?

USPS Marketing Mail items are not automatically forwarded or returned if they cannot be delivered (including cases where an intended recipient has moved). USPS Marketing Mail items may include catalogs, flyers, circulars, and advertising mail.

Undeliverable USPS Marketing Mail items are handled according to the endorsements on the item (endorsements are placed on the mailpiece in advance by the sender).  If the USPS Marketing Mail item does not have an endorsement, the mailpiece is disposed of by USPS.

For more information, visit the

6. Reporting / returning misdelivered mail

Despite our best efforts, occasionally mail is misdelivered, or is delivered to an old location for an individual. If you are receiving mail for the previous resident and do not know their address, simply return the mail piece back to the mailstream (by leaving in a Collection Box® or other mail receptacle) with the notation “Not at this address” marked on the envelope. 

For Priority Mail Express® items only, you can obtain the number of the Priority Mail Express Reporting Unit by calling: 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777)

For other misdelivered mail items (such as letters):

  • If the mailpiece is delivered to the wrong location:
    • Don’t erase or mark over the information, or write any type of endorsement on the mailpiece.
    • Place the item back in the mailbox or hand the item back to your mailperson.
  • If the mailpiece is delivered to the correct location but the recipient on the mailpiece does not reside at the address:
    • Write “Not at this address” on mailpiece.
    • Don’t erase or mark over the address.
    • Provide the mailpiece to your mailperson or drop into a Collection Box receptacle. 

Destroying mail that was not intended for you may be prohibited by US laws.

  • Willfully destroying mail is an act that may be punishable by the Federal Government.

If you have any questions about the legality of doing this, please contact your local law enforcement.

USPS delivered to a wrong address

What does the phrase ‘subject to change’ mean

Find Missing Mail

Whether you are sending it or receiving it, your mail is important to you and the U.S. Postal Service®. When mail is lost or delayed, we want to find it. If you think your package or mail is lost or delayed, follow these steps to help us find your mail.

How to Start Your Search

USPS delivered to a wrong address
USPS delivered to a wrong address

1. Check the Current Status

Before you begin your search, if your package or mail has tracking, check USPS Tracking® to see its current status.

Go to Tracking

Informed Delivery® Users
Informed Delivery provides a digital preview of your incoming mail. There may be occasions where a mail item may be delayed in reaching its destination. For additional information, please visit Informed Delivery FAQs.

2. Complete a Help Request Form

We recommend that you complete our online help request form before you start a missing mail search. Please use a desktop computer to submit your form.

We’ll forward your request to your local Post Office facility to help locate any missing items.

Start Your Form

3. Submit a Missing Mail Search Request

If after 7 business days from when you submitted your online help request form your mail or package hasn’t arrived, submit a Missing Mail search request with the following information:

  • Sender mailing address
  • Recipient mailing address
  • Size and type of container or envelope you used
  • Identifying information such as your USPS Tracking number(s), the mailing date from your mailing receipt, or Click-N-Ship® label receipt
  • Description of the contents such as what it is and the brand, model, color, or size, if applicable
  • Pictures that could help us recognize your item

We’ll forward your request to your local Post Office to help locate any missing items.

Start Your Missing Mail Search

What to Expect Next: USPS® Mail Search

When we receive your Missing Mail search request, we will send you a confirmation email. We will also send you periodic updates about the search.

If we find your package or mail, we will send it to the address you provided. Please note, sometimes we cannot find missing mail items. It is also possible that your package or mail will not be recovered because it was not safe to forward.

Missing Mail Recovery Restrictions

Requesting a Refund

If you used a service with a money-back guarantee such as Priority Mail Express®, you may be able to request a refund.

Learn about Refunds

File a Claim

If your mail or package included insurance, you may be able to file an insurance claim. For damaged or missing contents, we recommend filing a claim immediately, but you must file no later than 60 days from the date of mailing.

Learn about Claims


If your mail is arriving late, being misdelivered, or you are having a problem with an attempted delivery, please contact your local post office, your local Postal Service Consumer & Industry Contact office or you may file a complaint online.

If you notice an address and name on the package that is different from your own, this means that the package was meant for somebody else. In many cases, there will be similarities between the two–but there should be a clear difference. 

When you receive a mistaken delivery, call customer service for the delivery company and explain the situation. Give them the tracking number on the package, as well as the name and address on the package if it’s different from yours.

The company will come and pick up the product within a reasonable time frame. You shouldn’t be inconvenienced in any way–and you definitely shouldn’t be paying anything. 

Above all, just be sure you don’t hang on to mistaken deliveries without contacting the company. These companies will likely be alerted by either the sender or their tracking system that the package was misdelivered. If you don’t take the initiative and contact them, they might show up at your door or call your number asking about the package.

USPS delivered to a wrong address