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What Does Insufficient Address Mean At USPS (2023 Updated)


Honestly, there’s nothing worse than getting a piece of mail returned to you. 

You’re probably kicking yourself and asking how did this happen? Where did it go wrong? Why on earth has this been returned to me and not delivered to the recipient? Well, you’d be surprised at how often this happens, and to be honest. It’s usually always an error from the original shipper (aka you) and not the courier company.

 So what does insufficient address mean at USPS? Let’s find out how to prevent this from happening to you! (Again…)

The Meaning Of The Term

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The phrase “Insufficient Address” means that your mail could not be delivered. It also means that this happened somewhere along the delivery line, due to a fundamental error. In most cases, it will be making its way back to you, the sender.

What Does Insufficient Address Mean At USPS – Possible Reasons 

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This could be due to many reasons. Usually, it’s an issue with the address information or labels you’ve provided. It might be because you’ve left off an important detail, like the house or apartment number. Or wrote down the name of the street or apartment building incorrectly, or even the zip code. 

Perhaps it was raining the day you posted it, and the label got wet, and a tiny but important detail smudged. If this happened, then it might have made the label unscannable and, in turn, the delivery unable to be completed. It might be because you’ve copied the wrong address on the label, and this address and zip code combo just doesn’t exist… 

Did you put enough postage on?

It is also a possibility that the postage paid was insufficient. That’s another reason mail gets returned to the sender. But more on that later.

Whatever the reason, if you see this “Insufficient Address” message when you are checking the tracking information. It means that it’s not going to be delivered. If this is the case, then hopefully, you filled out the “Return Address” information and provided the correct details! That way, when the item makes its way back to you, you’ll be able to relabel and send it out again.

How To Avoid The Issue Happening Again

How To Avoid The Issue Happening Again

The best way to avoid your mail being returned is to ensure you have the correct details before you send it. Firstly, I always recommend double-checking the details with the recipient. Ensuring you have copied the name and address down correctly, from the zip code to the correct spelling of unusual street or surnames.

Next, always check that the label is legible and unsmudged or watermarked. After attaching it, a neat trick to sustain its longevity is to cover it with clear tape. This will give it another layer of protection against damage and protect it from the elements. It’s preferable to print your address label, although this isn’t always convenient or even an option for some. 


If your handwriting isn’t the neatest, spend time carefully writing the label in clear lettering that can be easily understood. I recommend writing in capitals as this can be clearer to read in most cases. Sometimes taking the extra few minutes to do this makes all the difference in having your mail arrive. 

How To Fix The Issue 

If you are notified that your mail is unable to be delivered due to an insufficient address. You may be able to rectify the situation and get it delivered. Catching the notification quickly enough means you can get the address of the parcel updated if there is a mistake. 

Contact a USPS team member by phone or email:

  • Call USPS Customer Care Center at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) 
  • Contact a customer representative in the Tracking Department at 1-800-222-1811
  • Email the team via this USPS® Customer Service link

The Customer Care Center hours:

  • Monday to Friday – 8 a.m – 8.30 p.m 
  • Saturday 8 a.m – 6 p.m
  • Closed on Sundays

What If The Item Is Returned, but the Address is Correct?

What If The Item Is Returned, but the Address is Correct?

If this is the case, and you are sure that the address provided is correct and valid. Then we recommend getting in touch with a member of the USPS customer service team. Either by the phone or email links provided or in person at one of the many USPS locations to rectify the issue.

Could There be Another Reason Why?

Yes, your item might be returned with the label “Insufficient Postage.” This means you have not paid enough postage to get the item to its final destination.

It’s very important to make sure you have paid the correct postage for your item. It is crucial to have enough stamps on your letter or business-sized mail when you put it in the letterbox. Or if you’ve opted for drop shipping or the parcel collection service, triple check your item is in the correct weight bracket and that you’ve paid sufficient postage.

Take it to USPS yourself!

If you don’t have any scales to hand or aren’t sure how many stamps your mail requires. I highly recommend taking your item to a USPS store location and shipping it directly from there. That way, one of the store associates can assist you, and you’ll know for sure your mail won’t be returned to sender

How long does it take USPS To Return a Package?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Your mail might be returned to you in a few days, it might take a couple of weeks, or it might not arrive back at all! This is largely dependent on a lot of factors, including what class your mail was sent via and if you added a “Return to Sender” address. Also, the distance from its mailing point to its final destination plays a big part.

What Happens To My Undelivered Package?

What Happens To My Undelivered Package?

It is standard practice these days to add a “Return to Sender” address on the back of your envelope or parcel. That way, if something happens with the delivery of your parcel, USPS will be able to get it back to you. This is the most common scenario for undeliverable items. Plus adding the return-to-sender address to anything you post means peace of mind for you if something does happen to go wrong! 

What If I Didn’t Add a Return to Sender’s Address?

If you didn’t add a return to sender’s address (or the label gets damaged), it will be difficult to get your parcel back! If this is definitely the case, where might it end up?

Your item will likely get sent back to the local US post office from where you sent it. You will be able to check in person at your local store, or if this isn’t convenient, you can check by phone to see if it has arrived. If it isn’t here, you can ask the associate to assist you in finding it. 

What Happens if It Isn’t At My Local Post Office?

If a piece of mail cannot be delivered or returned to the sender, or even sent to the sender’s local USPS store. Then in all likelihood, it will end up in the great state of Georgia. It is here, at the USPS Mail Recovery Center in the city of Atlanta, where all “lost mail” gets sent.  

The Mail Recovery center is the place where all mail ends up when it has nowhere else to go…

To retrieve your missing mail from here is not going to be easy, but it’s also not impossible. It’s always handy to keep the receipt or have the tracking information to hand. That way, you’ll be armed with more information and have a better chance of locating the missing mail. 

You can ask for assistance from your local USPS store or on the phone with a customer services associate. Alternatively, you can go through the steps of filing a “Missing Mail Form” yourself on the USPS website.

Handy Hints For Sending Parcels

Handy Hints For Sending Parcels

When you are sending an important package, do these simple things to ensure your item will arrive at its destination on time, every time.

  • Always double-check you have the correct address – This might be the difference in your piece of mail being delivered or not. 
  • Ensure you have the correct spelling of street names, cities, and recipients – A small oversight like this might stop the item from arriving at the intended destination.
  • Always add a return address to your item – This will ensure delivery back to you if the item is undeliverable.
  • If you cannot print the label, write it in very clear letters – Take your time to carefully write it out, and use capital letters as these are easier to read.
  • Add a piece of clear tape over the labels – This will help them stay intact and legible if the mail item gets wet or damaged during transit. 

Other Terms You Might Need To Know!

Before you start posting off an expensive parcel, you might want to check out the Departed USPS Destination Facility Meaning, along with What Does Delivered To An Agent Mean USPS, and what to do when USPS Says Delivered But No Package.

Additional information you might want to know could include Does USPS Print Labels, if you don’t have a printer, or find out Can You Drop Off USPS At UPS, as well as Can I Drop A Package In A USPS Mailbox, and What Is A USPS Parcel Locker in 2023.

Or perhaps you’ve been waiting for a delivery all day? Then you’ll want to know Does USPS Deliver At NightDoes USPS Deliver On Sunday, or Does UPS Deliver On A Sunday?

What Does Insufficient Address Mean At USPS – Final Thoughts

The United States Postal Service is a well-oiled machine when it comes to shipping and has been in business for more than two centuries. They process and deliver 425.3 million mail pieces each day. Now that’s impressive! 

To ensure the post you send is a part of this, we advise you to use the information in this article! Always double check you have the correct address information and spelling. Always add a “Return to Sender” address just in case the item cannot be delivered, and label everything clearly.

Good luck, and I hope your post is never returned again!

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