Ever wonder where parcels go if the labels fall off? Or what happens if a package is undeliverable?

The U.S. Postal Service’s Mail Recovery Center (MRC) serves as the “lost and found” center for the Postal Service, receiving items determined to be undeliverable for a number of reasons. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, the MRC received 67 million items from post offices and other facilities around the country. While that’s a large number, it’s a small fraction of a percent of the 142 billion mailpieces the Postal Service delivered that same year.

Once items are received, the MRC determines what to do with them. If possible, they are returned to the sender, and if not, they are inventoried, held until claimed, and eventually sold, or otherwise disposed of.

OIG auditors evaluated the effectiveness of MRC operations and identified opportunities for improvement. The report, U.S. Postal Service Mail Recovery Center, found that operations weren’t always efficient, and items weren’t always processed in a timely manner. The report also noted that postal facilities were sending marketing mail and other items that should not be handled by the MRC.

Additionally, the report found that there were problems involving effective disposal of certain items, such as batteries and gift cards. The MRC also must strengthen inventory controls over cash or items being stored.

Have you been waiting for a piece of mail, but believe it might be lost? If so, start off by filing a missing mail search request on the USPS.com Find Missing Mail page.

Have you had items returned from the Mail Recovery Center? Tell us what happened below.

Comments (241)

IMPORTANT – PLEASE NOTE: Complaints about the Postal Service – including lost, stolen, or mishandled mail – that are unrelated to the content on this page will not be posted. Please visit the Contact Us page for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service.

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  • anon

    Angela, You don't need to look for them. This is the digital world. I am sure he has copies right on his computer, or camera, to be able to send or email them again to you.

    Jan 11, 2021
  • anon

    Where can I buy lost mail?

    Jan 01, 2021
  • anon

    Been trying to track 2 packages mailed from Goshen CT to Havertown PA. I do have tracking numbers as well as case #s. These 2 packages were mailed on December 7th Nobody can tell me what the status on my packages(Xmas gifts to my grandchildren) Are they lost? Which hub there are sitting at?

    Dec 31, 2020
  • anon

    This is not the place to put this information. Refer to the link in the article or contact directly. They don’t respond to comments lol

    Jan 05, 2021
  • anon

    Call the Post Office. I had one fall off the radar for close to a month. If you CALL (even though you filed a claim), they will escalate your case. My package was located the NEXT DAY after I called and scheduled to be delivered today! Go figure!

    Jan 05, 2021
  • anon

    where can i buy lost mail??

    Dec 29, 2020
  • anon

    I would like to know as well!!

    Jan 02, 2021
  • anon

    Why would someone let you buy someone else's mail! Talk about privileges! yet here you are again with your ridiculousness!

    Jan 11, 2021
  • anon

    can you buy lost mail ? and if so, how would i and where would i go ?

    Dec 28, 2020
  • anon

    The usps has really went down the drain lately. I mailed out a package over a month in advance so it could be where it needs to be before christmas and my package was lost from the very first scan into my post office in port huron michigan(only going to indiana). You guys are bad for business I pay extra for shipping and its lost for 38 CONSECUTIVE DAYS WITH 4 OPEN CASES AND ABSOLUTELY NO HELP AT ALL. Get you act together.

    Dec 26, 2020
  • anon

    Rpbert, You had 4 open cases to ONE item? You are not suppose to do that & they even say do not do this. (obviously it would slow the process down)

    Jan 11, 2021
  • anon

    You do realize that federal funding got cut severely for USPS, don’t you? Of course it’s slow and of course service isn’t as good as it was when they had the money to run the operation. Check your privilege.

    Jan 05, 2021
  • anon

    You sound RIDICULOUS & ABSURD. What does "privilege's" have to do with complaining about a package LOST for 38 days??? When she said it out a MONTH prior & PAID for it??? What privlege's does it state someone should pay for something & NOT get their package???

    Jan 11, 2021
  • anon

    Apparently, my box of books and documents was lost. If there's anything under the name of Phillip Bode, please let me know. Most of the books should have my name inside the cover as well.

    Dec 16, 2020
  • anon

    My insured package was mailed 12/4 according to the tracking it never left the possession of the post office that I dropped it off at on 12/4. I spoke to the post master Bethel Ct twice over phone and in person and all he could say is there is nothing I can do ? I filed a missing package request and as of 12/14 I have heard nothing. So I will need to file a claims and get a refund. Very poor communication and inefficient.

    Dec 14, 2020
  • anon

    I WANT MY PACKAGES TO SURFACE - I HAVE HAD 9 "LOST" PACKAGES FROM THE USPS IN JUST 12 MONTHS. I CAN'T FIND A SINGLE PERSON WITH THE USPS TO HELP ME. THEY INFORM ME I CAN OPEN A SEARCH, FOR THEM JUST TO CLOSE IT 3 DAYS LATER. WHERE IS MY MAIL? I WILL NOT STOP UNTIL I FIND WHAT IS MISSING. I JUST WANT WHAT IS MINE. I AM A VERY SMALL BUSINESS AND CANNOT AFFORD TO TAKE THIS MUCH LOSS.

    Dec 09, 2020
  • anon

    I sent a package for my nephew it weighed 12 lbs it had several things of Value and included was a pair of eye glasses that he can't see without the package went from Arvin CA to Philadelphia it was lost for a week finally it was delivered but he had his eyeglasses missing worth almost $500 and now 8 get a letter that basically says I have no way of proving he didn't get them the box looked like it had been tampered with... And don't they take pictures?? Please help me I just 2 want the glasses back

    Dec 02, 2020
  • anon

    Hello Elvira. Thank you for your message. Regarding your concern, please contact Postal Service Consumer Affairs Office at https://postalpro.usps.com/ppro-tools/consumer-affairs

    Apr 21, 2021
  • anon

    I recently sold some of my knife collections on EBay. Two of the 3 boxes I sent out were delivered with the items missing. I’m having to pay back for the items and shipping plus the fact of my collection of knives being missing by the postal service. I’m very devastated and upset at the postal service for not properly handling my packages. They were all checked in from Winchester Ky. To Louisville Ky. From there they were missing. I sold those items to have money for Christmas now I’m 25.00 in the hole plus someone or something has my knives. Never using the Postal Service again for shipping

    Dec 02, 2020
  • anon

    I have had 3 packages lost in Louisville in less than a month. I have never had any issues until recently so something is definitely going on at this location. This has cost me hundreds of dollars in losses due to refunds and losing items.

    Dec 05, 2020
  • anon

    I sent a big package of personal items of my sons deceased Father to my son. When he received the package it had several missing items. The most important thing that was missing was a red bull beanie baby. ( Like a stuffed animal) It was with my sons father during his months in the hospital and even in his casket at his funeral. There were 2 beanie babies in a plastic case in the box. The lamb was still in there but the bull was gone. Please, please, please!!! Help me find this bull. I am an employee of the Postal Service. I packaged the box well. I am devastated.

    Nov 30, 2020
  • anon

    Jennifer, Why would someone want to steal a beanie baby??? That makes NO sense, sorry. You could buy the bull right on Ebay. They cost pennies these days. yes, it may not be the exact one but it could still be as a memory. & I am surprised you are asking questions where to find etc, when you say you're a postal employee??? Also, it was IN his casket at the funeral??? so maybe it STAYED in the casket??? This makes no sense. Did your son find the box RIPPED in order for this "bull" beanie baby to fall out???? No-one would open a package to steal a beanie baby. They are worthless. ??????

    Jan 11, 2021
  • anon

    I’m sure the price of the beanie baby isn’t what she’s worried about, it seems to be something sentimental. I’d be really upset about it too! I hope you lost a piece of mail too, otherwise , why are you here?

    Jan 11, 2021
  • anon

    (In the recovery center) "they are inventoried, held until claimed, and eventually sold, or otherwise disposed of". How to I claim an item in the recovery center? If you have the tracking number, why couldn't you find my address to deliver the item? You had enough info to mark the item as "dead mail" and put in on the tracking info page.

    Oct 19, 2020
  • anon

    I received Premium Forwarding Mail each week when we are at our second home out of state. When our package did not come as usual, after much tracing with the tracking number, we found the package was scanned incorrectly (?) and sent directly to the Dead Mail center in Atlanta, GA. I have filled out a missing mail form and went to my local post office who said they no longer file these complaints it has to come from the customer. Since I have all the Scanner ID #'s on this package is there someway to find out who screwed up? Thank you

    Oct 19, 2020
  • anon

    Hello Janet. Thank you for your message. Regarding your concern, please contact Postal Service Consumer Affairs Office at https://postalpro.usps.com/ppro-tools/consumer-affairs

    Mar 17, 2021
  • anon

    The tracking number for my package says "Delivered," but my package came open and empty. The PO phone operator said I had file a missing mail report. Despite my doubts, she assured me that the claim will go to Atlanta's Lost & Found. Sure enough, after a few days my claim came back with "your item was delivered and your case is close" message! *** HOW DO I CONTACT / FILE A CLAIM with LOST & FOUND? *** I want to try and recover my item before it is destroyed, sold, or discarded. Thank you.

    Sep 19, 2020
  • anon

    Sorry, but why would it be in lost & found. Sounds like someone stole the item

    Jan 11, 2021
  • anon

    One of my lost items was sold on the govdeals auction page. I submitted a lost mail claim and weeks before it was auctioned off. I would like to be contacted by somebody as I still missing 3 of the 4 wheels i purchased.

    Sep 02, 2020
  • anon

    Govdeals auction ?! Well, Well, Well... Isn't that an easy way to make money for USPS?! I am currently so angry, this is not what I needed to see. With the outrageous fees we have to pay to send packages, employees should be expected to deliver the utmost care and attention to all packages they process. That includes timely and diligent investigation of problems they may see for delivery. Keeping track of each employee transactions may help. There should be no excuse for so many problems in a government position. Evaluate!!! We are in desperate need of changes at the Greensboro NC Postal Facility!!! I NEVER want to receive dead trees and have to constantly have to apologize to family and friends for very late gifts again! It is wrong in so many ways!!! Move further up the line with complaints? My next step.

    Oct 07, 2020
  • anon

    Good luck! In the last 5 yrs., I have had packages delivered to the wrong address, left out by the main road on the shoulder, "lost" and damaged and have yet to receive any acceptable answer or payment for items the USPS damaged beyond repair or delivered to someone else who said they didn't have it. Too many dishonest, uncaring people in the USA today.

    Oct 19, 2020
  • anon

    My email was sent to the mail recovery center due to address problems show, I hope they can help me contact the USPS customer service personnel to deal with, but in the end they told me email was sent to the mail recovery center email they can't deal with, so I don't know what to do now, how to just can contact to the mail recovery center, let them send me my package again, this package is very important to me! I hope you can help me find it!

    Sep 02, 2020
  • anon

    I have received all my packages to the best of my knowledge. I have had my mail go to the wrong address. I found other people mail in my box. My parents and mother in law look forward to seeing the mail lady everyday.

    Sep 02, 2020
  • anon

    So much more to this response (retired). And, I lived at an apartment who started using numerous computerized lockers located in one area. One locker held oversized parcels. This locker contained more than one parcel in it! Giving several people access to your mail. A great option for stealing! Couldn’t believe the USPS Inspection Service approved this. Mail is supposed to be secure. Obviously this is NOT securing mail!

    Sep 01, 2020
  • anon

    Hello, can you please inform me how would I find the items that are for sale that inventoried but are never claimed. Can you provide a link? Thank you!

    Aug 31, 2020
  • anon

    What makes you think these items are for sale????

    Sep 01, 2020
  • anon

    Go to http://govdeals.com. I am working with our federal government to expose the illegal practices by the USPS of reselling merchandise they deem undeliverable. I was able to find my items for sale on Amazon and I contacted the reseller asking how he obtained the items. I was told that 40% of items shipped via Media Mail never go to their destination, even though address are checked and there are tracking numbers. Instead they are immediately sent to the USPS Mail Recovery Center for resale. This has been going on for years.

    Sep 25, 2020
  • anon

    I recently just had a package that was supposed to be delivered to north carolina, and it was sent immeadiately to the dead mail/recovery center. How is this possible when i opened a case, the image of the package was fine, no address was wrong on it, it was readable, basically the north carolina post office had no idea why it was sent to dead mail immediately.

    Oct 05, 2020
  • anon

    Hi I would like to share my thoughts on this I've had mail come up missing important mail such as social security and attorney information, I'm 39 yrs old and been a resident in my city for 39 yrs also and have never had a issue with missing mail until 2yrs ago. I've learned that usps isn't responsible for the mail being processed or scanned into the system the mail comes to mail trucks from a process center and i also learned to talk with your mail man when stuff like this happens because sometimes your mail can easily be mistakenly placed in your neighbors mailbox. I'm one to expect everything to arrive when said but not everything is perfect things do happen accidents and mistakes are natural, when I reported it they contacted me immediately to help me with my finding my mail, use the missing mail tool it helps

    Aug 31, 2020
  • anon

    well then it would SHOW it being DELIVERED. However these LOST packages are NOT shown it being delivered! That's the problem. hence them being lost. ( not sent to a neighbor) They are stuck in "in transit" mode!

    Jan 11, 2021
  • anon

    I just remember how much fun it was to be a part of the “lost and found” process during the years that the USPS had a seller account on eBay. I was able to buy some of the most interesting merchandise.

    Aug 31, 2020

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