In Transit Arriving On Time

What does this tracking notification mean for your USPS package? Read more below.

Waiting for a parcel can be a long and unsatisfying task, and you might find yourself constantly checking the tracking information for a clue as to where your parcel is and how soon it might arrive. If so, you may sometimes see “In transit arriving on time” as a message, and wonder what that means.


The great news is that “In transit, arriving on time” means your parcel has been dropped off by the sender, picked up by the carrier, and it’s on its way to you. It should arrive in the expected amount of time given by the shipping method, and the anticipated delivery date is correct.


usps tracking


What Does “In Transit, Arriving On Time” Mean?


So, you’re seeing the “In transit, arriving on time” message, and wondering what that means exactly. Like many shipping messages, it isn’t as clear as it could be. The good news is, it does mean that the parcel is on its way.


The parcel sender has purchased a shipping label, passed the parcel on to the courier, and the courier has accepted it and logged it in their system. Furthermore, it has been collected by the first carrier, and is on at least the first stage of its journey.


However, you might see this message appear and disappear at points, so let’s look in more detail at when it might come up and what it might mean when it does.


question mark


What Do The Various “In Transit” Messages Mean?


There are a few different “in transit” messages you can get when you look at the shipping information for a parcel, and confusingly, they can appear more than once during a parcel’s traveling time.


For example, you might see:


“In transit – arrived at sort facility.” This message indicates that the parcel has reached one of the courier’s sorting facilities, but it is not yet at its destination, and is currently stationary while it is being sorted and processed. Sort facilities narrow down the area and put parcels destined for the same sort of place in one pile.


For example, parcels addressed to Oklahoma might go in one pile if your parcel is a long way away from your state. Equally, parcels addressed for your street and the surrounding streets might go in a pile if it is getting close to home. A sort facility streamlines parcels into the right areas.


You might also see “In transit, processed.” This means that the sort facility has the parcel and they have handled it and put it in the correct pile, but it hasn’t yet been picked up. It still needs to be loaded onto a truck before it can leave the facility.


You might also see “In transit, departed sort facility.” This shows that your parcel has left or is about to leave the facility because it has been loaded onto a truck. It will then be on the next stage of its journey and will be updated accordingly.


So, what about “In transit, arriving on time”? This message usually shows that the package is in between facilities. That means it isn’t waiting to be sorted, or waiting to be loaded onto a truck, or waiting on the truck – it is moving.


Usually, this message is what you get when the truck (or other vehicle) is traveling between centers. It won’t be updated until the next time it hits a sorting center or other significant place, where it may then be scanned and logged with updated information.


So, with any luck, your parcel is just moving, and the lack of information is because the courier can’t keep updating you until it hits a new milestone in its journey, at which point it will be scanned again, and the tracking updated.


clock melting


Will My Parcel Arrive On Time?


The great news about the “in transit, arriving on time” message is that it means the parcel is likely to arrive on time. However, this is not a guarantee.


All that the “arriving on time” message indicates is that so far, the parcel is traveling as quickly as they expect it to. It has reached the anticipated places on time, and there have been no delays.


It is possible that the parcel will be delayed later in its journey, of course. “In transit” simply means that it is still moving, and it may have a long way to travel still. If so, it could be quite some time before it reaches you, and there is the possibility of delays at every step of the journey.


So, the “arriving on time” part of the message is a reassurance that so far, the parcel will reach you at the expected time, but this is not a guarantee that it will. It simply has not yet been delayed. Hopefully, you will get your parcel when you should, but it certainly isn’t a given.


In case you were wondering, the “on time” refers to the estimated delivery that you were given (or the sender was given) when the parcel was dropped off, and it will be determined by the delivery method. If fast shipping has been paid for, the anticipated arrival time will be much sooner than if the mail has been shipped with one of the cheaper options.


What Happens If My Parcel Is Delayed?


If a delay does happen, you should see the tracking information update to “In transit, arriving late.” This lets you know that there has been a hold up of some sort (e.g. your mail may have been missed by a courier making a collection, and have to wait for the next one, or the courier may be ill).


Your parcel is still traveling if you see this message, so don’t worry too much, but yes, unfortunately, the “arriving on time” message will sometimes switch to “arriving late” and you experience a delay in when your parcel gets to you when this happens.


map of the usa


Can I Tell Where My Parcel Is?


You might be wondering if the “in transit, arriving on time” message offers any information about how far along its journey your parcel has got. Has it reached a sorting center? Is it nearly at your door? When should you expect it?


Unfortunately, the most frustrating thing about this message is it doesn’t offer any of this sort of information. You only know that the parcel is moving and that the arrival time is expected to be the estimated one given at the time of sending.


From the “in transit, arriving on time” message, you can’t glean anything about where your parcel is or how long it will be before you get it. You don’t even know which sorting facilities it has been to, although you may be able to see this elsewhere on the page.


Why Isn’t The Information More Specific?


The reason this message is quite vague is that it is designed to cover a wide range of circumstances – any time that your parcel is not at a facility but is traveling as expected. That means your parcel could theoretically be on a boat or a plane, or in the back of a truck or a car, and the delivery company does not have a unique message for each situation.


It would be very difficult for delivery companies to provide estimates of exactly where your parcel is at all times. They would need constant GPS updates from the courier, and this would be problematic – and also probably inaccurate. It might be possible in the future, but at present, we have to content ourselves with a vague update.


What Should I See After This Message?


You might be curious about what the next likely update to the “In transit, arriving on time” message is. It does depend on how far your parcel has come from, because this could change to a range of other updates.


For example, it may switch to something like “arrived at sort facility,” which lets you know that it has once again reached one of their sorting centers. This means it has completed another leg of its journey and it’s getting closer to you, but it still has a little way to go before it gets there.


You will have to wait for the sort facility to process it and dispatch it, at which point it will probably swap back to “In transit, arriving on time” again.


That might seem frustrating and confusing – why should your parcel repeatedly be set to this category? Unfortunately, that is just how it works for any in-between moments when the parcel isn’t at a distinctive location.


If your parcel is not traveling far, you will probably only see this message once or twice, but if it has a long way to go, it may appear multiple times.


Another alternative after this message is that you will see “Arrival at unit,” which is a much more exciting update. This means that the parcel has arrived at the final postal unit that it needs to get to before it can be dispatched.


From this point, it will be collected by your local courier, who will bring it to your door. There should be no further “in transit” messages, as it will change to “Out for delivery,” and then at long last, “Delivered.”


Hopefully, your parcel won’t spend too long on “in transit” messages and their variations (e.g. “at sort facility,” etc.). If it does, you may wish to call the company for an update.


How Long Will My Parcel Be “In Transit, Arriving On Time” For?


One of the most frustrating things about this message is that it doesn’t give you any updates except that the company still believes they will be able to deliver it within their given estimate. So, how do you know when something has gone wrong?


If the expected delivery date has passed and your parcel is still showing this information, there is definitely something wrong. The parcel should usually be at a unit at least a day before the expected delivery date, so that a courier can pick it up in the morning and get it out to you.


However, if the expected arrival time is still some way off, you don’t really have any way of knowing how long your parcel will stay as “in transit” for because you don’t know where it is or where it is heading next.


If you are concerned, you may wish to contact the courier for an update. It is possible that they will be able to give you some information, but in general, it is best just to wait and see.


Often, couriers can’t provide you with any further information than that which is available on the tracking, so you will waste valuable time calling them to try and get an update.


If you think that your parcel has got lost, check how soon you can file a claim form. It is usually seven days, but some of the slower shipping methods might require you to wait about fourteen days before filing one.


In such cases, you will probably be very sure that your parcel is no longer “in transit,” no matter what the shipping says, so claim it as lost mail and get the courier to sort it out for you as soon as they will do so.


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While tracking messages do need to be simple, sometimes they are unclear enough to be frustrating. The “In transit, arriving on time” message does give you some information, but it is pretty limited and might leave you feeling annoyed about the lack of details you get.


If in doubt, the best thing to do is wait patiently for a few days and see if the shipping information updates. However, if you are having problems because a delivery is being vague about its timing, it is possible a virtual mailbox could be a great solution for you.


This takes all the worry out of deliveries because it ensures that you do not need to be at home; your virtual mailbox can receive mail for you and hold it until it is convenient for you to collect it.

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