Undeliverable As Addressed USPS Meaning (Full Guide)

You open your mailbox, excited by the possibility of what’s inside. But rather than being greeted by a new magazine or a greeting card, you find a letter you sent out weeks ago. Even worse, it’s covered with a bright yellow sticker marked “Undeliverable as Addressed.”

If you’ve never seen one of these pesky yellow stickers, consider yourself lucky. Mail that’s Undeliverable as Addressed is a headache to deal with. If you’re wondering why your mail was marked undeliverable, we’ve got the answers here!

Undeliverable As Addressed USPS Meaning In 2024

Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) is the term USPS uses to describe mail that doesn’t reach its intended recipient because the address is incorrect, incomplete or illegible. UAA mail is either forwarded to the recipient’s secondary address or returned to sender. If neither is possible, mail goes to the USPS Mail Recovery Center.

If you’re still wondering why your letters or packages are getting slapped with Undeliverable as Addressed stickers, then be sure to read our article.

What Does Undeliverable As Addressed Mean?

Mail that has been classified as Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) did not get delivered to its intended recipient due to an issue with the address on the letter or package.

USPS cannot deliver mail if…

  • The address is incorrect (e.g. wrong house number or wrong building name)
  • The address is incomplete (e.g. missing a zip code digit)
  • The address is illegible (e.g. due to poor penmanship, smudged ink or a damaged shipping label)

If any of these are the case, USPS will classify a mailpiece as Undeliverable as Addressed.

Why Is My Package Marked Undeliverable As Addressed?

A package may be marked as undeliverable for a number of reasons:

  • It has an incorrect or outdated address
  • It has an illegible address. This may be due to sender error or because the address label was destroyed in transit.
  • The address written in the wrong format
  • It’s addressed to a restricted address such as a prison or correctional facility

What Happens When Mail Is Undeliverable?

If USPS is unable to deliver mail as addressed, they will use the return address on the mailpiece and try to return it to the sender.

If the mailpiece has an incorrect address and does not have a return address, the mail will either be handled by the local post office or sent to the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Undeliverable mail with no value (such as circulars or catalogs) is immediately destroyed and recycled at local post offices. 

Other types of mail (including First-Class and Priority Mail) are rerouted to the Mail Recovery Center. There, they are either destroyed or put up for auction, depending on their value. 

What Does USPS Do With Undeliverable Marketing Mail?

What Does USPS Do With Undeliverable Marketing Mail?

USPS Marketing Mail includes periodicals and mail that’s not required to be mailed as First-Class. This may include things like:

  • Printed matter, flyers, circulars, advertising
  • Newsletters, bulletins, catalogs
  • Small parcels

If these are marked as undeliverable as addressed, they are not automatically forwarded or returned.

How they are treated depends on the endorsements placed on the mailpiece in advance by the sender. If a Marketing Mail item doesn’t have an endorsement, USPS will dispose of it.

Can I Recover Mail That’s Undeliverable As Addressed?

It’s possible to recover mail that’s been labeled undeliverable as addressed. Including a return address whenever you mail something increases your chances of getting mail back.

If you don’t include a return address, your chances of recovering undeliverable mail go down sharply (especially for mail products without tracking numbers).

Still, you may be able to recover undeliverable mail. You can do this by submitting a Missing Mail Application.

You can file a Missing Mail Application online, by submitting a request with a Consumer Affairs representative at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) or by submitting a request in person at your local post office.

When USPS receives a Missing Mail search request, they will send you a confirmation email. They’ll also send periodic updates about the search.

If they find your package or mail, they will send it to the address you provided. If they’re not able to find it, it’s likely at the Mail Recovery Center.

Can I Recover An Undeliverable Package At The Post Office?

If you act quickly enough, you may be able to recover a package that’s been marked Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) from the post office.

A night clerk will sort through UAA mail and either send it back to the shipper (if there’s a return address) or forward it to the Mail Recovery Center.

If the clerk believes they, or one of their colleagues, can figure out the address, they may hold onto your package for a day or two.

This will give you a short window during which you can check if your package is being held at the post office.

Does USPS Open Undeliverable Mail?

USPS opens undeliverable mail at the Mail Recovery Center.

When USPS employees open mail, they’re looking for an address to send the mail to first and foremost. If they find an address, they’ll repackage the item and send it off.

If they don’t find an address (which is more likely the case), then they’re looking to determine an item’s value.

Items valued at less than $25 are destroyed.

Items valued at more than $25 are kept for 30 days to see if anyone will claim them. If no one does, the item is put up for auction and USPS keeps the profits.

All items over $25 are eligible for auction, with the exception of firearms and pornography.

To learn more, you can also see our posts on where is my USPS mail, how long does USPS forwards mail, and USPS priority mail vs. first class.


USPS does their best to deliver mail where it needs to go, but address issues are one of the main reasons mail doesn’t make it to its final destination. 

To avoid having your mail destroyed, returned to you or auctioned off, it’s always a good idea to double check the delivery address, print a typed shipping label (or write very neatly) and include a return address.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

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