How to Return to Sender With USPS

With a postal service like the USPS that has to deliver a large amount of mail daily, mistakes can happen from time to time. 

You could have received mail that is at the right address but addressed to one who has previously lived at that address, or mail delivered to the wrong address. 

In this situation, the best approach is to return the mail to the sender. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to return mail to the sender. 

Returning Mail to Sender with USPS

They are several scenarios that might prompt you to want to return a mail to its sender:

  1. You’ve received a mail addressed to someone who used to live at your address.
  2. you’ve received a mail with the wrong address.
  3. you have received a mail addressed to you but you don’t want to receive it.

These reasons stated are the major reasons why a mail will be returned to its sender. However, these might not always be the reasons why one would want to return mail. 

Below we discuss the steps to take in returning such mail to its origin if you find yourself in these scenarios.

How to Return Mail to Sender

There are different situations and different ways to approach them. Here are some of them and how to go about them below:

1. Wrong Addressee

Mail Addressed to someone who no longer Lives at your address (correct address but wrong addressee)

This happens when the recipient of the mail moves to a new address and does not follow through on the change of address order. In such cases, the address on the mail is correct and deliverable, however the recipient no longer resides at that address. These 3 simple steps should stop such mail from being delivered to you.

Step 1. Write “Not At This Address” on the mail

The first thing to do is write down “Not At This Address” on the mail. Do not write “Return to Sender” as it already is a returned mail and isn’t the proper wording to use in such situations. 

You should also deface any barcode found on the item, this is to ensure that such mail stops being delivered at your house. And be careful to not cross out the address because only then can the mail carrier know that the addressee no longer resides at that address.

If you keep receiving this mail, inform your carrier about the situation or you can decide to contact your local post office to fix the issue. They will see to it that you stop receiving misdelivered mail.

Step 2. Return the mail to your carrier

Return the mail to your mail carrier in person when they make deliveries. You should explain to them that the recipient who the mail is addressed to no longer resides at that address. 

If you can’t meet with the carrier when he makes his rounds, you can drop the mail in your mail box and put a red flag up to let the carrier know that there’s something he needs to collect when he is making his rounds.

Step 3. Use a USPS mail collection box

If you cannot return the mail back to your carrier or place it in your mail box or you do not have a mail carrier to return the mail to, the next best option is to use a USPS mail collection box.

Once you’ve written the correct wording on the mail, and placed it in a mail collection box, an employee from the USPS picks up the mail and forwards it to the correct address or return it back to its sender.

USPS mail collection boxes are easy to find but you can always locate the nearest collection box to you on the “Find Location” page on the USPS website.

B. Wrong Address 

If a mail with an address that isn’t yours and a recipient that isn’t you is delivered at your doorstep, or placed in your mailbox, your mail carrier has put it there by mistake. 

Returning these kinds of mail is easy. Follow the steps below and have everything sorted out in no time. 

Step 1. Put The Mail Back in Your Mailbox

When you realise a misdelivered package, put it back inside your mailbox and pit up a red flag to alert the carrier when next he returns for another delivery that there is an outgoing mail he has to pick up in your mail box. 

This step is same for all mails under the USPS except Priority Mail Express. If a Priority Mail gets delivered to you by mistake, call 1-800-275-8777 and request to be connected to the Priority Mail Express Reporting Unit to inform them of the misdelivery. 

Step 2. Return The Mail to The Mail Carrier

If you do not wish to leave the mail in your mailbox, you can return the mail back to the carrier in person the next day. Be sure to explain that the mail was delivered at the wrong address.

Alternatively, you can take the mail directly to the local post office, as long as it is convenient for you. 

Step 3. Do Not Write On Or Tamper With The Mail

Ensure that you do not write anything on or open the mail. Do not cross out the address, name, or barcode on the mail as this will only prevent the package from being delivered to its intended recipient. 

And if the mail needs to be returned to its sender rather than its recipient, the post office has its authorized “Return to Sender” mark. You do not have to write anything in the package or envelope. 

C. Mail You Do Not Want to Receive 

Lastly, if you receive a mail that has been addressed to you and has your address written on it, but you do not wish to receive it, you can decide to return it back to its sender. 

Here’s how to send such mail back so you don’t have to receive it again. 

Step 1. Write The Word “Refused” On The Mail

You can have any mail you don’t want to receive returned to its sender. What you have to d is write “Refused” on the package or envelope and give it back to the mail carrier whenever you can.

Note that for the mail to be successfully returned you must not tear or open the mail. You cannot return it even if you seal the package carefully. Tampering with the mail means you are now responsible for it, and can no longer return the mail.   

Step 2. Mark The “Refused” Box For Accountable Mail

Accountable mails are mail items that have to be signed for when received. Accountable mails are usually important, but you can decide to recuse it depending on the content. 

If you want to return such mail, you need to place a check the “Refused” box on the delivery notice given to you by the mail carrier.

Step 3.  Repackage And Resend

It is important you know that you can’t refuse a mail that you’ve already received and signed for. 

However, if you find out you want to refuse a package after receiving and opening it, you will need to repackage it and pay for fresh postage to have it mailed back to its sender.

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