In Transit, Arriving Late: Meaning, Causes, & Solution

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is a reputable delivery service company. But like every other delivery service, they are not 100% perfect.

Most times in delivery, items are stuck “in transit,” causing the USPS to notify customers that their package will be arriving late. This message usually comes as “in transit, arriving late.”

In this article, I will be explaining what the “in transit, arriving late” message means, what causes it, and how to go about it.

What does “in transit, arriving late” mean for a USPS package?

Basically, if you see the “in transit, arriving late” message, it means that your package will be delivered later than the scheduled date. The estimated delivery date is no longer valid, and it could now take a few days or maybe a week for the package to be delivered.

Why is your package in transit and arriving late?

The delay may have been because of a number of reasons. The most common issues include the following;

1. The item was not scanned

This is the case for a majority of delayed mail. It happens when the mail is not scanned at a USPS outlet or postal facility.

Due to the high amount of mail being handled by the Post Office employees, they sometimes forget to scan some mail.

This causes the USPS online infrastructure to lose your item’s details and will have to be delayed. It is delayed until whenever they are scanned at another sorting facility before it is delivered.

2. The item is misplaced

Although it does not happen often, you still can’t eliminate the possibility. Most times, due to the numerous amount of packages handled, some items get misplaced.

This causes the USPS to send the “in transit, arriving late” message until such time when the item is found.

If this is the case, you need not worry, the USPS ensures that all missing mailpieces are tracked down proactively until they are found. After they are found, the item is rerouted back with expedited or overnight delivery.

3. The item is damaged

It could also be that the item is damaged, perhaps the envelope tore, the box popped open, or it got crushed due to an accident. Whichever the case is, the USPS has to conduct an investigation to get more clarity, therefore, the item must remain in transit.

The investigation process also involves drafting reports to be sent to the recipient to help them make claims.

4. Weather, roadblock, or traffic accident

Your item could be delayed either because of bad weather conditions, roadblocks, or traffic accidents. These are unforeseen situations and can cause the delivery to be late, leading to the “in transit, arriving late” message.

5. Customs delay

This happens for mailing to international locations. When mailing to international locations, the USPS handles various custom formalities. In most cases, the delay happens when items are held back for inspection.

The “in transit, arriving late” message appears as they are unable to predict how long it would take to clear customs.

6. Missing or incorrect details

In most cases, the “in transit, arriving late” message may occur due to missing or incorrect details, mostly the address. An incorrect or misspelt address can cause a load of misinterpretation and confusion.

You cannot expect mail to be delivered on time when the address is incorrect. In cases where they are unable to determine the location after a while, the mail is returned back to the sender.

What do you do if you get the “in transit, arriving late” message from the USPS?

1. Call the USPS office

Most times, the USPS doesn’t notice a delivery delay in the system, you can call the USPS office to get more clarity. You can contact them on 1800 275 8777, you should be linked to a representative to handle your complaint.

Provide your tracking number to them and question why your item is in transit and will be arriving late. Ensure you provide them with exact details if you are instructed to so they can track your item.

2. Visit your local post office

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the USPS office, you can try visiting your local post office. Inquire why the tracking update for your item says” in transit, arriving late.”

With any luck, the USPS employees might locate your item or give you a precise explanation of why the delivery was delayed.

3. File a missing mail search request

If your item’s tracking update for your item says” in transit arriving late” for more than a week, this is the best move for you. Simply head to the local post office and file a missing mail search request. You can also complete this process online.

You will be required to provide the following;

  • Recipient’s address
  • Sender’s address (often called return address)
  • The type and size of the box or envelope used for the mail
  • The USPS tracking number, the mailing date, the Click-N-Ship label receipt, or the mailing receipt to help identify your item
  • A description of the mail content, such as the model, brand, color, and size of the mail
  • Image of the mail (if available) to help postal workers recognize your mailpiece
  • A contact to reach out to if the mailpiece is found

After filing the request, you can then await feedback from the post office through the contact given.


What do you do if the USPS status doesn’t change for more than a month?

The best option would be to file a missing mail search request.

How long until your “in transit arriving late” package arrives?

In most cases, it takes less than a week, other occasions may take as long as a month.


The USPS handles millions of deliveries each day, so it is only normal to notify customers of the status of the delivery.

The term “in transit, arriving late” usually denotes that your order will not be delivered at the stipulated time. This could be for a number of reasons and shouldn’t cause any panic.

In normal circumstances these cases are resolved and delivered in less than a week, in severe cases, it could take up to a month. You can try contacting USPS customer care or visit a nearby post office to enquire more about your package.

I hope you found this article helpful. Learn more about a similar status – “In transit to next facility“.

Thanks for reading.