How Long Does it Take for USPS to Return a Package?

Learn how long your returned package might take to come back to you and what to expect from USPS when it happens
return a package back to me
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Sometimes USPS returns a package back to you, for one reason or another. Typically, USPS returns a package because of an insufficient address, insufficient postage, or—in rare cases—if a recipient refuses to accept the package when USPS tries to deliver it. That said, the time it takes for a package to come back to you ranges from a few business days to a couple of weeks, and depends on the service you paid for.

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The Time it Takes for USPS to Return a Package Typically Reflects the Service you Paid For

When we say the time a package takes to come back to you depends on the service you pay for, we’re talking about the service you paid for when you first bought the original label. For example, if you paid for Priority Mail service, then delivery typically occurs anywhere from 1-4 business days. Therefore, this is how long it might take for the package to come back to you, in most cases.

If you paid for Retail Ground/Parcel Select Ground, on the other hand, then it will take longer for the package to come back to you, since delivery for this service typically ranges from 1-2 weeks.

Pro Tip: Some returned packages may be subject to even longer delays, depending on what’s going on in the world…for example, the Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting large amount of delayed shipments when it first emerged.

USPS Won’t Charge You Double for a Package They Send Back to You

Regarding returned packages, the good news is that USPS won’t charge you for sending them back to you. Therefore, you’ll only be out for the cost of the original shipping label, and not for the journey back. We suppose Postal Service figured a “Return to Sender” tracking status was tough enough on the sender, rather than making you pay twice!

Learn more about the most common USPS tracking statuses.

You Can’t Get a Refund for a Returned Package

While USPS won’t charge you twice for a returned package, unfortunately, they won’t issue you a refund for the original label. This is because they consider their job done and the postage fully used. In fact, in the Postal Service’s eyes, they technically did their job twice: once for accepting the package (or attempting to deliver it to the destination), and twice for returning it back to you.

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9 Comments

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  1. Bob

    USPS will rip you off any chance they get. These are government employees with piss-poor attitudes

    Reply  
  2. Mark

    Well, a package was sent on January 3,refused on the 4th and here it is January 14 and the only information available about this being returned is that it was refused? nary a word about an ETA to get it back ,and I paid good money for this? time to rethink using the postal service I suspect.

    Reply  
    • Tom Tassoul

      Track number. 9410811206213288489508. I dropped it off return to sender I tracked it nothing comes up it said last was dropped off in mailbox

      Reply  
  3. AC

    Unfortunately, your info is not correct. USPS WILL charge the sender any undeliverable ground package that was returned to sender. You will not be able to pick up the package you sent until you pay for the return postage (and then pay to have it resent!) – https://pe.usps.com/BusinessMail101?ViewName=PackageServices

    Reply  
    • info

      Nope, we get plenty of packages sent back to our business and do not pay to have them sent back to us.

      Reply  
      • AC

        Hello info,
        Since you are a business, you must get special treatment. We went to the post office 3 times to retrieve our package that had been returned a month after we sent it since we got a number wrong on the address line. The manager came out to speak to us only once. She said that since we had only paid one way, we would have to pay the return part ($50) to be able to take possession of our own box – even though we never authorized the return and just wanted to correct the address if we had been given that chance. Then we would have to pay another $50 to resend the box. If we didn’t pay, the post office would send our things to the “unclaimed goods” graveyard. In short, they held our possessions hostage. We ended up paying the $50 to get our box back (a total of $100 for nothing), then found someone with a private courier account and paid only $20 to quickly and safely get our box where it needed to be. Sigh.

        Reply  
        • M

          Oh no.. I just received the notice from usps, my package is returned to me because of I got prepaid shipping level but used wrong box( express box) now I have to pay $50! To pick it up from usps office… the item is not worth the price so I probably just ignore… do you know what happens next if I don’t pick it up?

          Reply  
          • AC

            Hello,
            So sorry to hear this. I was told any unclaimed packages will to go a central facility (the postal graveyard, in essence). I’m not sure what happens to them after that. Maybe if your post master is nice, (s)he will still hand it over to you, but who knows…? Ours certainly was in no such mood, quite rude in behavior, actually. Good luck!!

        • Shaniero Dougal

          My mail was returned to the sender on Friday September 8,2023

          Reply  

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