USPS Lost & Stolen Package Factsheet

So, you think your USPS package has been stolen? It can happen to anyone, but don’t worry, you have some options. Filing claims with the USPS is a little complicated (you know what they say about government work), which is a major bummer, particularly considering you’ve just lost a package. With USPS, the process for filing a claim for a lost or stolen package begins the same. All the information for filing a claim can be found on USPS’ website, but let’s be honest, nobody’s got time to read all that. So we’ve put together a roadmap to get you on your way to dealing with this unfortunate situation.

The following process can be completed by either the shipper or the recipient, but good communication is key to getting any shipping issue resolved. We’d say the first step in any case where a package was lost or stolen is to open lines of communication between shipper and recipient. USPS will require a good deal of information to begin their search for the package, so make sure you have things like tracking numbers, package descriptions, and shipping dates available before anything else. Best of luck!

Missing Mail Search

  1. Hurry up and wait. USPS gets 7 days to deliver your package. If it’s still not there after 7 days, you can initiate a Missing Mail Search.
  2. Start Missing Mail Search Online
    • Visit and setup an account if you don’t have one.
    • Be prepared to enter the mailing date, tracking number (if you have one), and a description of the package and contents.
    • USPS will search for your package and determine if it was delivered.
    • If the package turns up, USPS will either return the package to the sender or deliver it to the recipient, depending on your request.
    • If USPS determines the package was delivered, you’ll have to treat it as a stolen package (we’ll get to that in a minute). See Part 3 of this fact sheet.
    • If USPS cannot find the package, you may be able to file a claim to get it refunded. See Part 2 of this fact sheet.
    • Important Note: If your package contained items that cannot be shipped like drugs, handguns, perishables, or hazardous materials, then you won’t be able to file a claim. You shouldn’t have been trying to ship those things in the first place…seriously.

Filing a Claim

    1. If your package was sent first-class and you didn’t purchase insurance, then I’m sorry, but you’re out of luck. All USPS will do for you is a Missing Mail Search.
    2. You say that your package was insured? Watch this video for USPS’ info:


    1. Before you can start filing a claim, make sure you’re within the window of opportunity. This means the earliest and latest date you can file a claim based on the day the package was shipped. You can only file a claim during this window.
Shipping Method Window of opportunity
Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and COD 15-60 days
Priority Express Mail 7-60 days
AFO/FPO/DPO Priority Mail Express 21-180 days
First-Class, Space Available, and Parcel Airlift 45 days to 1 year
Surface Mail 75 days to 1 year
  1. First, gather all the information. You’ll need:
    • A Tracking Number
    • Evidence of Insurance (keep your receipts)
    • Proof of value (again, keep your receipts)
    • Proof of damage. This isn’t exactly what we’re talking about here, but if your package showed up smashed to bits, you’d need to provide USPS with evidence (and estimates for repair costs, if possible).
  2. Ok, figured that out? Yes? Next, you can start your Online Claim. This will require you to login to your USPS account (or create one).
  3. Keep your fingers crossed. USPS will process your claim, and if they decide it’s appropriate, refund both the value of your package and the shipping. This process could take up to a month.

USPS and Stolen Mail

  1. Be aware that if USPS can prove that the package was delivered, you won’t be able to file a claim with them because they fulfilled their end of the bargain.
  2. File a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. (Think of them as the mail cops.)
  3. File a police report.
  4. While neither of these options will help you get your package back, they can help law enforcement better understand and map crime rates in your area.
  5. If you paid for third party package insurance, or your homeowner’s insurance covers it, then you’re probably looking at that option now.
  6. Get yourself a Package Guard to prevent this kind of thing in the future.


If you’re just starting, make sure you’ve been taking good records and have all the information you need in advance. This will help you through the process more smoothly. While all of the major carriers and some retailers like Amazon give you a way to recover a lost or stolen package, it’s usually a complicated process. Good luck!