What Does “In Transit” Mean? | [Complete] Package Tracking Guide



Tracking a package is easier than ever. When you get ready to track a package, all you need to do is enter your tracking number on your carrier’s website and you will be presented with detailed tracking information that shows where your package is and when it is expected to arrive. Well, that is what you expect to happen at least. Sometimes, you might be presented with a tracking message that is confusing. A common status that you might see when tracking your package is “in transit.” So, what does in transit mean? The meaning varies slightly depending on which carrier you used for shipping. Keep reading below as we explain what this means for your package as well as other common tracking messages that you might see.


Package Tracking Basics

Package tracking is available today from almost every parcel carrier including USPS, FedEx, DHL, and UPS. When you ship your package, you will typically receive an expected delivery date along with your tracking number. This is the number that will be used when you want to see updates on the whereabouts of your package. It can usually be found on your shipping label or your receipt from the carrier.


There are a few ways to obtain your tracking information, but the easiest way is online. Simply open the carrier’s website and enter your tracking number. This should return detailed tracking information like the current status of the package, any issues encountered with delivery, and the current expected delivery date. You will likely see the status updated every day or two as the package travels to its final destination.


If you don’t have access to online tracking, you can typically get a current tracking status by calling your carrier or visiting your local post office if you sent the package via USPS. This method will require a little more time but will still get you the information you need. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that package tracking is generally not in real time. While updates to the tracking system usually happen very quickly when scans are performed, it is possible to see periods of a few days without any updates. This often happens when your package is traveling between facilities. You will simply know that your package is en route to the next facility, but you will not know exactly where it is or when it will arrive there.


What Does “In Transit” Mean On Package Tracking?

This is one of the more common status messages that you will see on your package. The “In Transit” message is fairly self-explanatory, though the meaning differs slightly from one carrier to the next. In general, In Transit means that your package is moving from one facility to the next and that there are currently no issues with delivery. This message also implies that your carrier expects your package to arrive safely, though it does not usually take into account whether the package will arrive on time or late.

When it comes to USPS tracking, the “In Transit” message means that your USPS package is moving through the postal service infrastructure. It is probably on the move between facilities and will be scanned upon arrival at the next sorting facility. For FedEx tracking, this message is a little different. The FedEx In Transit message is more generic and simply means that the package is on its way to its destination. It could be on a plane or truck between facilities or it could even be sitting at a FedEx facility waiting to be moved. UPS Tracking is similar. When you see this message on your UPS package, then you should know that the package is making its way to its destination and is expected to arrive by the scheduled delivery date. If you have any questions about the specific message that you see on your tracking status, then you can always contact your shipper for additional details.


How Long Does A Package Stay “In Transit”?

This can vary by carrier, service type, and the distance between the origin and destination of your package. You might see the status of your shipment unchanged for several days in some cases. For instance, suppose you ship a package from New York to Los Angeles using standard USPS first-class shipping. It might take a week or more for the package to make it to the recipient. During this time, you might see the In Transit to destination message last for several days as the package travels from a sorting facility on the East coast to one on the West coast. Also remember that this service does not include USPS Sunday delivery.


By contrast, suppose you choose Priority Mail Express as your shipping method. You might see the “In Transit” message for only a few hours on that same package while the package is traveling via plane from New York to L.A. This is likely to be the case even if you opted for USPS Saturday delivery. Different shipping companies offer different services when it comes to express delivery, and that has a big effect on how long you can expect to see this status. However, do not fret if the message remains unchanged for several days. This is normal and does not usually signal a problem.


What Does “Out For Delivery” Mean?

This is the status that everyone loves to see! This means that your package is on a vehicle and is out for final delivery. The package has made it through the final distribution center and has been placed on a vehicle on its way to your location. You can expect that your package will be delivered that day, although the specific timing depends on the current package volume and your specific delivery address. If the package is coming through the United States Postal Service, then you can expect the delivery time to be about the same as your regular mail service. If the package is arriving from Amazon or another carrier, then the timing could vary. However, keep checking that status as you should see the “Delivered” message soon!


Additional USPS Tracking Messages

Obviously, “In Transit” is not the only message that you will see when tracking your USPS package. There are many other messages that might pop up as well. Here are some of the more common messages that you will see from USPS and what each means.


— Electronic Shipping Info Received

This is often referred to as a pre-shipment message. When you see this status, it generally means that the shipping label has been created by a third-party, but the postal service has not actually received the package yet. This is common with online retailers who may print many labels in a single day and drop all the packages at once. It is not uncommon to see this message for a day or two before it changes.


— Package Acceptance Pending

This message usually goes hand in hand with the previous message. Package acceptance pending means that your package has been received by the postal service as part of a bulk of packages. However, it has not yet been scanned individually into the tracking system. This message should get updated as soon as the package is scanned at the arrival facility.


— In Transit

As we have already mentioned, this message means that your package is in transit between facilities. It is actively moving through the USPS infrastructure on its way to its destination. It could be on a plane or on a truck, but it is likely not sitting at the facility. With USPS, “In Transit” usually means that the package is actually moving between locations at that time. If you see the “In Transit Arriving Late” message, then the package has likely encountered an issue.


— Departed From USPS Facility

As the name implies, this means that your package has left the sorting facility and is moving to the next facility. You should be on the lookout for an arrival scan when it reaches the next stop along the way.


— Out For Delivery

Your package is on a vehicle on its way to your address! You will usually see this message get displayed on the morning of your delivery date. You can expect that your package will be arriving before the end of the day.


— Delivered

Finally, the status that you have been waiting for! Your package has arrived! This means that your package has been left at your address. It could be in your mailbox, at the front door, or even placed at the garage door. If you see this message but cannot find your package, look around for it at every door before contacting your carrier. There will often be a note displayed with this message that will give you a hint as to where the package was left.


FedEx and UPS Tracking Statuses

Perhaps you decided to use FedEx or UPS to ship your package instead of the USPS. You will often find that FedEx and UPS provide more frequent and detailed tracking status messages than USPS. Remember that FedEx now includes Saturday and Sunday delivery with most residential packages, and UPS offers weekend delivery as well. These carriers rarely go more than a couple of days without an update to a tracking status. So, here are some of the messages that you might see when you use these carriers along with their meaning.


— Arrival Scan

This is the scan that takes place when your package arrives at a UPS or FedEx facility. This could be the originating facility or any other facility along the way. It simply means that your package has arrived safely at that location and is currently being sorted before departing for the next part of its trip.


— Departure Scan

This should be the scan that takes place immediately after the one above. When your package leaves the facility, it will get a departure scan. This lets you know that the package is moving on to the next location in its path. You might see multiple arrival and departure scans at different locations as the package travels to its final destination.


— In Transit

This message lets you know that your package is traveling through the carrier’s infrastructure and making its way to the recipient. When it comes to FedEx, this message might mean that it is on a truck or plane traveling between locations or it could be sitting at a FedEx facility. Either way, this status tells you that there are no major issues with your package.


— Out For Delivery

Your package has been placed onto the vehicle at the last facility and is on its way to you! It should be delivered by the end of the day. You will typically not see this message until the morning of your delivery date.


— Delivery Exception

This is not a message that you want to see. It means that delivery was attempted, but the carrier was unsuccessful. This could be due to a variety of reasons. Often, it can be caused by weather delays or an equipment malfunction. For instance, the delivery vehicle may have broken down and the packages could not be delivered. Whatever the reason, it means that your delivery is going to be delayed at least until the next day.


— Delivered

This is the most popular tracking status! Everybody loves to see the “Delivered” status when they check their tracking number. This means that your package has arrived! It is often accompanied with a specific note such as “left at front door” or something similar.


The Bottom Line

There are many messages that you might encounter when tracking a package, and “In Transit” is a common one. This message simply means that your package is traveling along like normal and has no major delivery issues. The length of time that you see this message can vary from a few hours to several days, so do not be concerned if there are no updates for a day or two. Keep checking your tracking number and if more than a week passes with no updates, then contact your carrier for more information.


Frequently Asked Questions


Does in transit mean it will be delivered today?

Typically, no, your package will not be delivered today if you still see the “In Transit” message. It means that your package is traveling between facilities on its way to your location. Usually, you will see this status updated to “Out for Delivery” on delivery day.


Why is my USPS package stuck in transit?

It might feel like your package is stuck here, but it is not uncommon for this message to remain the same for several days. Especially if your package is traveling a long distance, the “In Transit” message might be displayed for up to a week. If you see the same message for over a week with no updates, then it is time to contact the USPS for a more detailed update.


How long does an in transit package take to deliver?

It varies depending on the carrier, service type, and distance the package must travel. The package could be delivered as soon as the next day or it might be 7 days or more before delivery. You can always contact your carrier to see if they can provide you with an estimated delivery date.


​When will my package stop being in transit?

With some carriers, you might see this message updated upon the arrival scan at the next facility. However, with others, you might not see an update until the package is out for delivery. Since this message can remain unchanged for up to a week, you should not be concerned if you see this message displayed for several days in a row.

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