Available For Pickup

Got a tracking notification like this from the USPS? What does it mean for your package? Read more below.

Have you ever gotten the tracking update “available for pickup” when you’re waiting for a delivery, and wondered what it means and what you have to do next? Delivery messages can often be obtuse and difficult to understand, so it’s no surprise if you aren’t totally sure what this means or what the procedure is.


What Does “Available For Pickup” Mean?


“Available for pickup” means that your parcel is at the post office near you and is waiting for you to come and pick it up. This might confuse you if it was meant to be brought to your house and you know no delivery has been attempted, so we’re going to explore why this might happen, and how you can get your parcel. If you head to the post office and ask at the counter, the staff should be able to give you your parcel.


If your parcel is “available for pickup,” that means that it’s not going to move any further until you take action. There is no point in waiting for this to change to “out for delivery” or anything similar; the parcel is now as far as the courier company is going to take it, and you will have to collect it in person.


You might have a “schedule new delivery” option and if so, you can ask them to schedule a delivery to bring the parcel to you. Often, however, “available for pickup” simply means that you have to go and collect the item yourself.


usps truck


Why Is My Parcel Available For Pickup?


There are two potential explanations for this scenario, and the first one is the most common.


Their Delivery Attempt Failed


Usually, you will get this message when USPS has attempted to deliver your parcel and failed. This can happen for quite a few different reasons, including that the address was written incorrectly, there was nobody at home, or there was no safe spot for the parcel if there was no one home.


A couple of further explanations are that something was blocking the driver’s access to your home, or the wrong amount of shipping has been paid and you must settle the difference before you can collect your parcel.


This is frustrating when it occurs, because you have missed your parcel delivery and now you have to go and collect it. Unfortunately, deliveries do get missed and while it may not be your fault, you don’t have much choice but to make the trip to go and pick it up.


Usually, a failure to deliver will be accompanied by a slip with information telling you why they couldn’t deliver and which post office you can collect your item from.


Obviously, if the delivery failure was because your driver could not gain access to your property for some reason or the address was incorrect, they will not leave a slip, but usually, you will receive some indication that they attempted it.


They Did Not Attempt To Deliver


You may be thinking “but they didn’t even try; I’ve been in all day and the doorbell hasn’t rung once!”


It is very annoying when this happens, especially if you have waited in just because you were expecting a delivery. You know that no delivery attempt was made, and you have no slip that indicates the driver came anywhere near your house, so why has your parcel changed to “available for pickup” instead of something like “out for delivery”?


Unfortunately, it has changed because the company is not going to deliver the parcel, and is expecting you to pick it up instead. This usually happens when the employee delivering mail missed your parcel when they collected their parcels in the morning.


They have large amounts of mail to gather up and transfer to their vehicle, and if yours was unluckily missed, then it is quite likely to get swapped to “available for pickup.”


This is the much more annoying explanation, but it does happen occasionally, and if it occurs, you won’t get a delivery slip or anything, because the driver has not attempted to deliver the parcel at all. It has remained at the post office and has not been moved.


You also won’t see your tracking information show “out for delivery” or anything similar in most cases.


This second scenario is a very frustrating one to have happen, because it’s the fault of USPS (or at least one driver/the parcel sorters), and yet you are the one who has to drive out and get the parcel yourself.


However, you will still need to fetch the parcel, as it will otherwise sit at the post office until they return it to the sender after two weeks. If you complain to USPS, it is possible that they will send it out on another delivery run, but usually, you will just have to pick it up on your own. This is annoying, but it does happen from time to time.


Unfortunately, with large amounts of mail and drivers prone to human error, parcels get missed. They fall under tables, get hidden at the bottom of bags, or fall from carts, and when this occurs, it is down to you to go and get your parcel, unfair as this seems.


media mail being inspected


What Should I Do?


USPS often will not attempt redelivery, so you will need to pick your parcel up yourself. This might be annoying, especially as you paid for shipping, but it is unfortunately the case when you see this message.


Remember, if your delivery has been missed, you will usually get a delivery slip notifying you of their failure to deliver. If you receive one of these, or if you think you have missed a delivery but have no slip (e.g. because the driver couldn’t access your property), you should check the online tracking information. This should tell you which post office your parcel has been delivered to.


You will need to go to the correct post office, as your parcel won’t be delivered between them. Make sure you check the tracking information carefully to avoid a mix up that could lead to you going to the wrong post office (especially if there are several nearby). If you have a delivery slip, take it with you.


If in doubt about what to do or if you are unable to locate your parcel via the tracking information for any reason, contact USPS directly and ask their advice about the problem. They should be able to tell you why the delivery was missed and where the parcel is now so that you can fetch it.


If you do have the option to schedule a redelivery, you can take this instead of picking the parcel up yourself. You may only be allowed one re-attempt (depending on the circumstances) so make sure you are available this time.


clock melting


How Soon Should I Fetch My Parcel?


You can collect your parcel as soon as it suits you when this message is displaying. It means the parcel is ready, so if you head to the correct post office as soon as it is convenient, they should be able to hand it to you.


If the parcel is not urgent, you don’t need to rush over there, as they will hold onto it for a while for you. However, you do need to pick it up within a couple of weeks, so make sure you plan a trip there before too long, because they won’t keep it waiting forever! They don’t have enough storage space.


What Happens If I Don’t Pick It Up?


If you don’t collect your parcel within fifteen days, it will be returned to the sender. Getting it sent back out to you will incur new delivery charges, costing whoever sent it the same again in postage. If the parcel came from a company, you may have to pay for them to redeliver it.


You will probably get a notice about five days before the package is returned to the sender, reminding you to pick it up. Don’t rely on this definitely happening (it’s best to set yourself reminders too if you’re likely to forget) but you should get something.


Make sure you do collect it, or you will lose the parcel. Once it has been marked as return to sender, there is nothing you can do to change this or get it redirected back to you.


If you have decided you don’t want the parcel for some reason, you can tell them that you refuse it at a post office, and it will be returned to the sender.


How Do I Know Where My Parcel Is?


If you have received a delivery slip, this may contain information about where the parcel will be by the time you see “available for pickup” on your tracking information. However, if you didn’t receive a slip but you were expecting a delivery that hasn’t come, how do you know where to go to get your mail?


You need to go to the USPS tracking platform and put your tracking number into the box there. This should tell you that the parcel is “available for pickup” and where to go in order to pick it up.


priority mail being delivered to the front counter


Who Can Collect The Parcel?


You might be wondering if you can get someone else to collect your “available for pickup” parcel for you. There are many reasons that this might be more convenient, especially if you don’t drive or you live some distance from the post office. Can someone else get your parcel and drop it off with you?


Yes, in certain situations, they can. However, mail is – necessarily – handled in a secure environment, so not just anyone can grab your parcel. Even someone who shares your address and surname will not be allowed to pick it up without authorization, so don’t just send your partner or one of your children; the post office will not hand it over to them.


To allow someone else to collect your parcel, you need to go online and provide their details in the redelivery application.


To do this, go into the Schedule a Redelivery application, and select “Customer pickup.” Fill in the information required, and bear in mind that you will need to sign the PS Form 3849 on the front, and print the name of the person you wish to pick up the package on the back.


This will ensure the post office has enough information and authorization to hand the parcel over.


Alternatively, you can issue a standing delivery order, which tells USPS about another person who you authorize to receive mail in your place. All mail can then be directed to and handled by this recipient when possible.


Make sure you are perfectly happy for this person to be able to handle your mail before filling out one of these forms. They will need to fill it in too.


As a third option, you can create a written authorization. This can be added to the delivery notice or written on a separate sheet of paper. Write something like “[Name] has permission to collect mail for [my name]” and then sign and date the paper.


That might seem surprisingly formal for a parcel you bought from e-Bay, but bear in mind that the US mail service providers have a responsibility to protect your possessions and your identity.


Given that sensitive documents and valuable items may sometimes be shipped around the country, it is important that they make sure whoever is collecting the mail is actually allowed to collect it. Don’t just ask your friend to pop by with no documentation or signature, because they won’t be given the parcel!


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The “available for pickup” status is a very frustrating one because it requires you to go into a post office and collect the item yourself. You might want to consider getting yourself a Virtual Mailbox instead; this will allow your item to be delivered anytime, without the hassle of you having to wait at home only to experience a failed delivery.


A virtual mailbox handles all the issues associated with standard deliveries, making it easier to get your stuff when it suits you, rather than having to wait in or chase your parcel around.

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