How to find lost mail from the U.S. Postal Service

Written by willie jones
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How to find lost mail from the U.S. Postal Service
Lost mail recovery (isolated envelope image by Karin Lau from

Tracking lost mail can be difficult and inconvenient, especially when the mail contains time-sensitive documents. Since mail often contains personal information, it can be worrisome to think that someone could have access to that information. Locating lost mail can often be a time-consuming process.

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Things you need

  • USPS claim forms

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  1. 1

    Wait about one week longer than the usual time for the letter to get to its intended destination. If your mail had an incorrect address or was undeliverable for any other reason, it will more than likely turn up at one of the three Mail Recovery Centers in Atlanta, San Francisco or St. Paul, Minnesota.

  2. 2

    Check your mailbox daily if you haven't received your awaited mail or if the recipient has not received the mail you have sent. Mail that can't be delivered is often returned to the sending address. Mail that has no return address and is not considered important will usually be shredded for security reasons. Mail is considered important when it contains legal documents such as car titles, birth certificates, checks, money orders or other such documents. Important documents will be sorted and gone through to attempt to identify the sender or receiver. Packages are also treated as priority items. If you have insurance on your package, file an insurance-claim form, PS 1000, or a PS Form 1510, Mail Loss/Rifling report.

  3. 3

    File the claim as soon as possible, because packages and items of value are held for 90 days before they are auctioned off. Significantly valuable items will be held up to one year. After waiting one week from the date of expected delivery or receipt, fill out the necessary form and submit to your local post office.

Tips and warnings

  • If the address was incorrect but exists as an address, it will be probably be delivered and not returned.
  • If your mail is not considered an important document or a package, you will not need to fill out a claim but wait to see if it is returned. The claim process does not cover this type of mail.

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