USPS Questions Answered: What Does ‘Available For Pickup’ Mean?

8 mins read

What is ‘Available For Pickup’ On USPS Tracking?

If you’re a PO box holder like me, then you’re probably very used to seeing “available for pickup” on your USPS tracking info. That’s because PO box holders receive all mail, including packages, at the post office.

But if you receive standard mail delivery at your home address, it can be surprising to receive this particular tracking update. You might even receive a physical notification* on your door, doorknob, or doorstep alerting you that your package is being held at the post office.

Available For Pickup USPS

(*If you find a “sorry we missed you note” on your front door from USPS, this could mean one of two things–either your package is being held at the post office, or the delivery will be reattempted the following day. Read the notice carefully to find out which is true in your situation.)

If you ever see “available for pickup” on your USPS tracking information, this means that your package is being held at your local post office either behind the counter or in a parcel locker. You can pick it up at any time within 14 days of receiving this tracking update. If more than 14 days pass, your package might be returned to the sender.

But why does this happen? Let’s find out…

4 Common Reasons For The USPS ‘Available For Pickup’ Tracking Update

Your package requires Signature Confirmation (and you weren’t around to sign for it)

The single most common reason why packages end up being marked as “available for pickup” is because they require Signature Confirmation, but no one was home when the delivery was attempted. This is especially likely if someone sent you a package without letting you know that they paid for Signature Confirmation.

In some cases, USPS will reattempt a delivery, but much of the time the package will simply be returned to the post office and marked as “available for pickup.”

Your address was illegible or printed wrong on your package

Another very common reason why packages end up with this tracking update is because the address listed on the package was either illegible or printed incorrectly.

It’s important to make sure that anyone who sends you a package has your most recent address and that they print it legibly and in its entirety.

An unexpected traffic or weather incident prevented delivery

While this is less common, it’s certainly not unheard of that a traffic or weather incident can interfere with the delivery of your mail.

If you can’t think of another reason why your package wouldn’t have been delivered to your home, it’s possible that an extenuating circumstance could be to blame.

Your package was left off the mail truck in the morning

Another uncommon but altogether possible explanation for why you’re being asked to pick up your package at the post office is that it could have been forgotten when the delivery worker loaded up the mail truck.

This shouldn’t happen, but it sometimes does. If your package was unintentionally left behind in the morning, it’s possible that the post office will decide to simply label it as “available for pickup” so that you can grab it at your convenience instead of waiting for it to be delivered late.

How Does USPS Pick Up Work?

Even though finding out that you have to pick up your package in person could seem inconvenient and annoying, picking up a USPS package is actually super simple.

All you have to do is head to your local post office during their opening hours to pick it up. If there are multiple post offices in your area, your tracking information will list the specific location. 

Next, visit the counter inside the post office and let an employee know that you have a package to pick up. They will ask for your name and/or address. You do not need your tracking number or confirmation number to pick up a package. However, if there are any issues with your package (for example, if the postal worker is unable to find it), you may need to provide your tracking information.

If the package is being held behind the counter, the postal worker will retrieve it, scan it, and hand it to you to take home. If your package requires Signature Confirmation, you will also be asked to sign for it at this time. Without a line, this whole process should take less than five minutes.

If your package is being held in a parcel locker, the postal worker will provide you with a key that you can use to retrieve your package from the lobby.

Pickup Times

Unless you are a PO box holder, packages usually have to be picked up during the post office’s opening hours.

Although opening hours vary by location, most US Post Offices are open from 9AM to 5PM on weekdays. While some post offices are open for limited hours on Saturdays, most are not open during the weekends.

In most cases, your package must be picked up within 14 days of arriving at the post office. If you do not pick it up within this timeframe, it will likely be returned to the sender.


Will USPS deliver a package that says available for pickup?

No. Once a package has been marked “available for pickup,” it will need to be picked up at the designated post office.

Why did my USPS package go from ‘out for delivery’ to ‘available for pickup’?

In most cases, this is because your mail carrier attempted to deliver your package to your address and was unable to. This can happen for a few different reasons–maybe your package requires signature confirmation but you weren’t home to receive it at the time of delivery. Or maybe there was a traffic incident or road block that prevented the delivery worker from delivering to your address. Either way, once a package has been marked as “available for pickup,” you will need to pick it up at the post office.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.