USPS General Delivery: Meaning, How It Works, Pros And Cons & Alternatives

USPS general delivery aims to service RVers (recreation vehicle occupants) or individuals who are constantly on the move (or with no permanent address). In other words, it is one of the easiest and budget-friendly ways to receive packages irrespective of your location within the U.S.

Aside from these perks, there are a few downsides you need to know about USPS general delivery. For example, there is a big chance FedEx or UPS packages will be rejected under this process because only USPS packages are eligible.

This guide goes into more detail by explaining what USPS general delivery is about, how it works, and how long the post office will hold your mail. You will also discover its pros and cons, and alternatives worth considering.

What is General Delivery?


General delivery is a USPS service that allows RVs or people with no permanent address to receive mail or parcels at almost any post office near them in the U.S.

Picking up a general delivery parcel is also very simple. You only need to do is provide the necessary identification. However, you should note that while every town and city has specific general delivery locations, not all post offices accept general delivery. 

How Does General Delivery Work: 5 Steps You Must Take

To use USPS general delivery, ensure the recipient’s address follows this format:

  • Your Name 
  • General Delivery 
  • City, State Zip Code (of the post office nearest to your location)

As simple as this sounds, there are technicalities you must understand. For example, you need to:

  1. Confirm if the post office you will be using accepts general delivery. You can check via the USPS website.
  2. Sort your results by location and review the services that enlist general delivery. Once you are sure, you can send the mail and expect it to be delivered within days.
  3. Confirm how long the post office will hold your mail. Ideally, it should not exceed two weeks, but some postal offices may hold on to it longer.
  4. Obey size recommendations. Some post offices do not accept large boxes for general delivery.
  5. Some locations also attract extra fees for general delivery services. It is your responsibility to find out what works for a particular location.

Attempting general delivery is quite achievable if you execute proper research. A hack that can solve most inquiry issues is to speak with the postmaster responsible for a station.

They are the right personnel to answer questions regarding handling fees, the best time to register to receive mail promptly, and additional postage. 

How Long Will USPS Hold a General Delivery?

Unless the sender requests for a shorter or longer period, each piece of mail will be held at the post office for 30 days. Mail without an address or specific from the sender will only be held for 10 days (at a post office with carrier service) to 15 days at those without one.

Also, weekend or holiday deliveries do not apply to General Delivery.

Pros & Cons of USPS General Delivery 


  • Privacy – it allows you to receive a parcel without needing to share your home address. 
  • Flexibility – it also allows RVers or individual who travel frequently to enjoy postal services regardless of their location. 
  • You do not need a mailbox to receive mail via General Delivery. 
  • It is the perfect temporary solution, especially when you are traveling for an extended period. 


  • Not all locations with a post office offer General Delivery,
  • You have to pick up your package within operation hours, which may not be very convenient. 
  • Security – your package may get stolen or damaged if you do not pick it up early. 
  • Slow turnaround is very common, especially if the post office offers General Delivery nearby.

5 Alternatives to USPS General Delivery

Virtual mailbox 

The best alternative and way to stay connected with all your mail is via a Virtual mailbox. This service scans and forwards your mail to you. Companies that offer this service include Earth Class Mail and Anytime Mailbox.  

While this option might be slightly expensive, it offers numerous features lacking in others. 

Private pickup locations

Private carriers such as UPS and FedEx have locations or stores that offer mailbox services. You can rent a mailbox at these locations and redirect your mail there. They are slightly safer than the USPS General Delivery service. 

Package locker services 

Amazon, UPS, and FedEx offer package locker services. Unlike mailboxes, package lockers can be found on the street and in-store. They also house larger packages than mailboxes. 

Friends or family 

You can have your mail sent to a family or friend if the post office in your new location does not support General Delivery. They can scan and forward the content to you if you need them urgently. 

Mail forwarding services 

Mail forwarding is a service that receives your mail at a designated address and redirects it to your current (temporary or permanent) location. UPS and FedEx offer this service at an affordable rate. 


Does general delivery still exist?

Yes, general delivery exists even though its demand has dipped in the U.S.

How can you get a package without an address?

You can receive a package without an address via a package receiving service, a PO Box, delivery to a friend or office, or a package locker model.

What does general delivery mean in address?

General delivery in the address section of a mail implies the address is temporary. In other words, the mail goes to a post office without a city carrier delivery service.


General delivery is a mailing model offered by USPS for people with constantly changing locations within the U.S. While it may not be the most modern system for sending mail, it remains very effective. 

Complications only arise when you fail to make adequate inquiries. Before using a general delivery, it is essential to consult the postmaster a week or two weeks ahead of time. 

This gives you the leverage to know when to send a letter, delay it, or find an alternative without panicking. You should also not forget that you can only use the service for 30 days within a particular location.

I hope you found this guide helpful. While the USPS General Delivery is effective, delivery exceptions can extend how long it takes you to receive a letter. To better understand how exceptions work, please see the meaning and categories of a delivery exception.

Thanks for reading.