How To Return To Sender USPS?

If you want to refuse any package or return it to the sender through USPS you need to follow some simple steps. Here I have explained a step-by-step process regarding “How to return to sender USPS?”


What does return to sender mean in USPS? 

The USPS ‘return to sender’ notification can either occur through the tracking feature or a postal worker by putting a yellow sticker on the package. Besides, the return to sender notification means that the mail was not delivered. This can happen due to incorrect address, missing information, two failed delivery attempts, or the receiver’s refusal to accept the package. 

How to Return to Sender USPS? 

The USPS gives you the option to return your package to the sender. The following process sheds light on it. 

USPS Return to Sender Process:

Item collection: Collect the mail(s) that must be returned to the sender. Sometimes multiple things need to be sent out. 

Don’t open the package: Returning to the sender can get tricky if any of the envelopes or packages are open. 

Mention ‘Return to Sender on the package: This must be mentioned on the package in the bold and clear alphabet. Additionally, the original return address must be visible. The process also applies to unsolicited mails. 

Though many people choose to throw away such mail, it’s a criminal offense in many countries. If the mail is sent to someone who does not stay at a given address, you can mention ‘ No longer at this address, Return to sender’ on the mail. 

Now, if done within the given period, the process is free. But if the time limit is exceeded or the package was signed at delivery, a new envelope will be required, and the postage will be paid. 

Addressee moved or wrong address: You can either write a small note with the item or the reason for which the package is being returned. 

Cancel the address: It’s advisable to cross out the address so that the postal worker understands that the package is not yours and thus should not be delivered to your address again. 

Drop the mail in the mailbox: Once all the above process is complete, you can drop the mail item in the mailbox. The mail carrier will then take it back to the post office. Following this, they will again process it and return it to the sender. However, if the mail carrier does not pick up the item, you will have to drop it off at the post office. 

What happens when mail is returned to the sender? 

Once you drop a mail to the post office that is marked ‘return to sender,’ the postal worker separates it from the rest of the mail and stamps it. They can also place a big yellow sticker on the package that mentions return to sender. Depending on the type of package, the mail will either be held at the facility for 15 days or will be returned to the sender immediately to the return address. 

When is the return to sender option used? 

A mail can be returned to the sender for many reasons, the most common being the way the address is written. 

If the address is incorrectly written or if there is any missing information such as a zip code, the post office will not deliver the mail since they will not be able to locate the address correctly. Thus, instead of delivering it to the wrong address, the postal worker will write “return to sender” on that mail and begin processing it. 

The following common reason for returning the mail to the sender is two failed delivery efforts. 

For instance, if a mail requires a delivery signature, it is delivered only when someone from the written address signs it. In this case, if the postal worker makes two delivery attempts and is unable to get a signature on both times, the mail will be returned to the post office and made as ‘return to sender. From then on, the process of returning the package to the sender begins. 

Finally, the return to sender process begins if the recipient refuses to accept the package. This usually happens if the mail is sent to the wrong address. The homeowner returns the package to the post office to be sent to the correct person in most cases. 

How many days does the return to sender process take? 

The time required for returning the mail to the sender depends on the reason for the return. For instance, if the mail was returned due to an incorrect address or missing information, it’s returned quickly. This happens as postal workers quickly catch incorrect addresses even before transportation. 

On the other hand, if the return to sender process occurs due to failed delivery attempts or if the homeowner refuses to accept the package. 

As a standard policy for returned mail, the mail will be left at the facility for 15 days so that the sender can claim the package. 

However, if the package is not claimed within the time frame, it is sent back to the sender, which takes around 2-5 days, depending on the service type. 

This requires no additional charges; however, USPS might charge extra if more than one return attempt is made. 

Is there a refund when the mail is returned to the sender? 

USPS does not provide any refunds for mails that are returned to the sender. However, if your package was returned to the sender, you can get a refund from the merchant from whom you got the package. 

In case the package is returned to you, you simply need to repack it and resend it with the correct information. 

In some cases, you need not repack your mail if you can simply remove the ‘return to sender sticker, saving the extra shipping cost. 


Return to sender takes place for a few reasons, and in this piece, we have covered all that you need to know to avail of this service, along with a few additional queries that you might have. 

Shipping guy at USPS, previously at Fedex.

Leave a Comment