One of the incredible things about the United States Postal Service, which has technically been around since Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General, is how far it’s come.
Today, you can do anything from printing postage to tracking a parcel the moment it hits the system.
But can you reroute a USPS package? It used to be that you could. What about now? Here’s the answer you seek.
Can You Reroute a USPS Package?
Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service suspended its package rerouting service for business customers, which was part of the Package Intercept program. No longer can a delivered (or Out for Delivery) package be picked up by the mail carrier and taken to a different address, though other options still exist.
To learn more about why USPS might have suspended package rerouting, what you can do if your package has ended up in the wrong place, or if USPS forwards packages to new addresses, keep reading below!
Why Can’t You Reroute a USPS Package Anymore?
I couldn’t find any formal statement from USPS about why they were no longer offering package rerouting, but I have a theory.
In 2021, the new U.S. Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, announced major changes to the agency.
These include fewer late/extra deliveries, slowed down mail service, and permanent and some temporary price increases.
All of these measures have been enacted to close the gap between the Postal Service’s operating costs and revenue.
(Remember: USPS is an independent agency that doesn’t take time in taxpayer dollars; instead, their operations are funded solely by their sales.)
Package rerouting was likely an expensive service, even if the customer was paying $15.25 for it.
My guess is that DeJoy and Co. found it costs more than operating in time and labor to offer the service. They were probably losing money from it.
What Happens If You Put the Wrong Address On a USPS Package?
If you mislabel or input the wrong address on a shipment, all hope is not lost. It can still make it to the correct destination; it’ll just take some extra steps (and dollars).
Package rerouting used to be part of Package Intercept, and while the former service is gone, the latter still exists with a few options.
Important to note: Package Intercept is part of USPS.com’s Business Customer Gateway – therefore, these options apply only to business owners who ship.
Provided the package isn’t being sorted at the Post Office and it isn’t Out for Delivery, Package Intercept’s two other services can be employed.
If you sent a parcel out to someone with the wrong address by mistake, Return to Sender might be the best option for you.
This halts the delivery process and gets USPS to send the package back to you.
If your recipient messages you and says they accidentally used an old address (the recently moved will make this mistake a few times! you can opt for Hold for Pickup for them.
This option alerts their delivering Post Office to hang onto the package so that they can come get it.
Both services cost $15.25 and can be initiated online.
If you’re not a business owner using the Business Customer Gateway, your options are even better, in my opinion.
That’s because you have access to Delivery Instructions. You can access Hold for Pickup through Delivery Instructions for free!
Delivery Instructions can be accessed through USPS Tracking – just track your package as usual and find Delivery Instructions on the page.
There you will see what services are available to you, and Hold for Pickup should be one of them.
Does USPS Forward Packages to New Addresses?
The Postal Service does forward packages to a new address via First-Class Package, Priority Mail, and Priority Express, provided you have updated your address at least a week in advance.
(Actually, USPS.com suggests you update at least two weeks in advance. Get online and make the address change early – it’s only $1.05!)
In my own experience with a recent move, however, mail forwarding wasn’t consistent.
If at all possible, don’t leave package forwarding in the hands of USPS.
If you’re going to be moving, update your address in all the places where you receive shipments (looking at you, Amazon) and delete your old address.
By deleting the old address, you remove the possibility of the site defaulting to that address, you not noticing, and then you being stuck picking up the package.
Or worse, do you want to have to go back to the old residence and drive by slowly, checking to see if it was delivered? No, you don’t.
Can You Pick Up a USPS Package Before Delivery?
If you’re a retail customer (or the recipient of a retail customer), you can very likely use USPS’s Delivery Instructions to pick up your package before it gets delivered.
If you were hoping to pick up a package while it’s at a distribution center, that service no longer appears to be available.
The ability to do this was part of USPS Package Intercept, but currently, the only services Package Intercept allows are Hold for Pickup and Return to Sender.
Further, Package Intercept is part of USPS’s Business Customer Gateway now, so even if the option did exist, it wouldn’t be available to regular retail customers.