For more than two centuries, the United States Postal Service has reliably delivered packages to its customers. Occasionally, a postal worker must deliver a package that does not fit in the addressee’s mailbox. Guidelines prevent the worker from leaving the package on the front porch or near the mailbox. Instead, an established procedure governs redelivery attempts and the length of time that the post office will hold a particular package.
When a package cannot fit into a mailbox, requires a signature or otherwise needs to be placed directly into the recipient’s hands, the postal worker knocks on the addressee’s door. If there is no response, the worker has two options. First, he may take the package back to the post office and attempt delivery the following day. Alternatively, he will leave an official PS Form 3849 which is also known as a Delivery Notice. Whether the postal worker chooses one solution or the other is up to their discretion. If they know the addressee and are aware that they are typically available to receive packages, the worker may just attempt delivery again.
If the second attempt does not work, then the postal worker leaves PS Form 3849. On this form, the customer can request redelivery by filling out appropriate information and leaving the form in their mailbox the next day. Signing the form effectively authorizes the postal worker to leave the package. Usually, the customer must add that the package may be left if there is no response. The form also provides the customer with the ability to schedule redelivery online or by calling a help center.
Packages that require a signature for delivery may not be signed for on PS Form 3849. In these cases, the customer must request redelivery and be certain to be available when the package is likely to arrive. Alternatively, they can pick up the item at the post office location where it is being held. Most packages are held for 15 days. If the addressee does not claim the package at the end of this period, then the package is returned to the sender. Packages on which the return address is missing or illegible typically go to a lost mail department.
It is important to note that the 15 day holding period typically starts on the date of the first delivery attempt. Acting quickly is usually advisable to ensure smooth redelivery or package pickup.