USPS Return To Sender: Step by Step Guide

Have you recently received a wrong package which does not belong to you? If yes, then we can fix your problem in just no time. We understand your situation, and we are here to show you a way out by using the USPS ‘return to sender’ services. But what is the reason behind this wrong delivery? Let’s find out!

There may be some error in the entire delivery process, which can ultimately cause its landing at the wrong address. Another probable reason may be that the address previously belonged to someone supposed to receive the parcel, which can again lead to an incorrect delivery.

Whatever may be the reason, you can easily return the parcel using the “Return to sender” services provided by the USPS. However, you have to follow certain steps to complete the process effectively. What are those steps? Let us quickly take a look at them.

Usps return to sender


Steps to follow for returning the parcel to the sender

1. Gather the items in one place

Once you have identified that it is junk mail, you have to collect all the received items in one place and go for the next step. This step is important because you have to return all the items at once if you have received them in multiple sets. However, if there is a single parcel, then this step is not so significant. After collecting the items now, we can move on to our next step.

2. Write “return to sender” on the cover

Undoubtedly, it is one of the most important steps. But before writing this, make sure that you do not open the envelope as it can further complicate the process of returning it to the sender. You can easily make out whether it belongs to you or not by simply looking at the address of the sender or receiver on the mail cover. Also, make sure that you do not make any changes in the actual return address so that the parcel can be smoothly returned to the sender.

3. Write “wrong address” on the cover

Okay, so this is not a compulsory step. You can skip this if you want. However, suppose you know that the parcel belongs to someone who previously resided at your address. In that case, you can add a note saying that the recipient no longer stays at this address, thus making the process a bit easier and more directional. Or you can write ‘wrong address’ on it in a clear font which will solve the purpose equally well.

4. Cancel or Change your address

This is again a very important yet easy step as it can help avoid any kind of confusion during its delivery to the right address. If you miss out on this step, there are chances that the parcel may come back to you. You don’t want that, right? So, after this, we can finally move on to our next step, which is the final step of this process.

Check: USPS Movers Guide: The complete guide

5. Drop at the mailbox

After completing all the steps now, you can comfortably drop down the mail at the mailbox. This mail will be collected by the post office and redirected to the sender. However, if the carrier fails to carry the mail to the post office, you have to take the package to the post office to ensure that it reaches the sender as soon as possible.

FAQs on USPS Return to sender

1. Is there any additional cost of returning the package?

Nobody wants to pay for something which they are not supposed to. Isn’t it? 
USPS generally does not charge any additional amount for the services like ‘return to sender’, provided you do not exceed the time limit. 

Moreover, you need to be very careful while handling the parcel. For example, if you open the envelope or put your signature on the mail, then you have to pay for another envelope beside the other applicable postage charges. 

2. .How to report the changed address?

If you constantly receive many parcels from the previous resident, you can simply inform the shipper or write an application to the post office about this. First, you need to tell the people at the post office to send mail to your address only if it has your name in the mailbox. But even after this, if you continue to face this issue, you have to visit your nearest post office and request an address change form.

3. What happens to the parcel if it does not reach the sender?

The parcel is kept on hold by the USPS for a maximum period of 15 days. After this, it is generally forwarded to the dead mail office, which may further send it back to the sender. However, if this also fails to locate the address, the parcel is either destroyed or sold out in the auction.

4. Can You track a package that has been returned to the sender?

Once you have returned the parcel to the sender, USPS will not provide any more information related to it as you are not the right owner. Hence you can no longer track the product.

5. How long does an item take to return to the sender?

This usually depends on multiple factors and cannot be estimated easily. However, it usually ranges between 5-10 days depending upon the efficiency of the postal offices and their workload.


So that’s all about the USPS ‘return to sender’ services. You need not worry about the wrong parcel and can easily return them to the sender by following these easy steps. However, suppose this problem persists, and you continuously receive mails of the previously residing person. In that case, you can write a letter to the post office or simply tell the shipper about this. Moreover, you can also directly contact the sender and ask him to stop sending emails to your address.

This article does not contain any information about the tracking of parcels. But you can simply refer to other articles on our website to get a clear idea about everything. Hope this article helps. Thank you for reading!

Shipping guy at USPS, previously at Fedex.

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