What Does “USPS Awaiting Item” Mean – Waiting Period, Reasons For Unusual Delay & What To Do

USPS is known for providing reliable and affordable mail services. Before delivery is complete, the service provides different tracking updates. One of them is the “USPS awaiting item.” What does it mean? 

“USPS awaiting item” means the package has not been received at a USPS facility or scanned into the system. It is one of the earliest tracking messages for mail.

In this guide, I will explain (extensively) what “USPS awaiting item” means and how long USPS usually waits for an item. You will also discover why the update may take longer than usual and what to do in such situations. 

What Does USPS Awaiting Item Mean? 

USPS awaiting item means your mail or parcel is yet to arrive at the facility or is yet to be scanned into the package tracking system. Usually, the update typically occurs after the sender has generated a shipping label. 

This is why the status fully reads “shipping label created, USPS awaiting item”. In addition, this can be the case for a package still in transit, yet to be scanned to update the status of your package. 

How Long Does USPS Wait For a Package? 

  • Priority Mail Express – Up to 2 calendar days 
  • Priority Mail – Up to 3 business days 
  • First-Class Mail – Up to 5 business days 
  • First-Class Package Services – Up to 5 business days 
  • USPS Retail Ground – Up to 5 business days. 8 business days for packages with malicious or hazardous content. 
  • Parcel Select Ground – Up to 5 business days 
  • Parcel Select Lightweight – Up to 8 business days 
  • Package Services (Media Mail, Library Mail, and Bound Printed) – Up to 8 business days 
  • Periodicals – Up to 9 business days 
  • USPS Marketing Mail – Up to 10 business days 

Why This Update May Last Longer than Usual 

1. Incomplete address 

If the sender of a parcel provides a wrong or incomplete address, USPS may experience difficulty processing the package. In such cases, the package may take longer to be scanned and updated in their system. 

2. Weekend or holidays 

Ideally, USPS does not operate on some Federal holidays, such as Christmas Day, Independence Day, and New Year’s Day, to name a few. If your package is in transit or “awaiting item” during the holiday, there may be a delay or a longer waiting period. 

You must be patient and see what happens once the holiday or weekend ends. 

3. USPS system errors 

The USPS system is also not immune to errors and glitches, which may cause tracking updates to slow down. In fact, technical glitches can delay the scanning and updating of packages in USPS’s system. 

What to Do if the “USPS awaiting item” Update Lasts Longer than Usual? 

Contact the sender 

Feel free to contact the parcel’s sender and request an update. This helps you find out the package’s whereabouts and confirm if the delay is from their end. 

USPS customer service 

You can also contact USPS customer support to find out about the status of your mail or know why it is still saying “awaiting item”.

File a package inquiry 

While it is rare not to get a helpful response from the sender or USPS customer service, it is not impossible. In such situations, you need to file a package inquiry. 

USPS package inquiry allows you to request information on the status of your package or possible reason for delay. You must complete an online form or visit a local post office near you. 

Other Significant Takeaways 

  1. Packages in remote locations or areas with poor internet access may also exhibit slow or delayed tracking updates. 
  2. Delivery confirmation is only available for specific parcels and services. This confirmation lets you track mail and know when it arrives at a USPS facility. Ensure you check with the sender to know if your mail is eligible. 


Does USPS deliver without updating tracking?

No, USPS updates the tracking information for every package eligible for it. However, updates mostly reflect every time your package reaches a new facility or is loaded into a truck. 

What time does USPS deliver?

Delivery hours are usually between 9 am and 5 pm, regardless of your preferred delivery service. However, during peak seasons (with a lot of mail to deliver), closing hours may extend to 6:30 pm. 

Does USPS give money for lost packages?

If such a package or mail is insured, you will get a refund for a lost package or one that did not arrive eventually. You need to file a claim via the USPS claim service.


When you see the “USPS awaiting item” tracking, your package is yet to be scanned or registered into the USPS system, irrespective of location. 

In other words, your package may be in the post office or not and still display this notification. However, once your package is scanned, the update will change to “in transit” or “out for delivery”.

The ideal waiting period before contacting USPS customer support or filing a package inquiry is 15 days. In most cases, such parcels are either lost or missing. 

I hope you found this guide helpful. You should also see what it means when USPS says delivered, but there is no package. 

Thanks for reading.