Lob tracks your mailpieces throughout as it travels to their destination. There are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Lob tracks the mailed event and scan events. Both of these, while similar, are different. It’s important to know the difference between them both (for more, see below)
- All events are subject to USPS accurately scanning the mailpiece as it travels to its destination. Lob does not have any control over the accuracy of scans, nor can Lob go back and reconcile scan events as it is purely a USPS-owned process
- Metered mail can be a cause of not receiving any mailed events or tracking events, so it’s important to know what metered mail is and how it can impact your mailpiece as it travels to its destination
- Please note that any mailpieces sent in the Test Environment will not receive mailed, scan events, or tracking numbers
The “Mailed” tracking event is USPS’s confirmation that they have custody of the mailpiece. You can utilize this tracking event to monitor Lob’s hand-off to USPS and also provide auditable proof and time of mailing. This tracking event appears at the earliest two business days after sending your Lob API request. In some instances, it can take longer for the “Mailed” event to become visible, but when surfaced, it will accurately reflect the actual date of mail handoff to the USPS.
Please note that tracking events are not guaranteed by USPS, though we typically receive tracking events on over 99% of our mailings. Additionally, the "Mailed" tracking event is available only on Enterprise editions of Lob. For all other users, this section will be grayed out. If you do not have an Enterprise subscription, but would like to know if your mailpiece received a Mailed Event, please contact Lob support and we will be happy to look into this for you.
- In Transit - The mailpiece is being processed at the entry/origin facility.
- In Local Area - The mailpiece is being processed at the destination facility.
- Processed for Delivery - The mailpiece has been greenlit for delivery at the recipient's nearest postal facility. The mailpiece should reach the mailbox within 1 business day of this tracking event.
- Re-routed - The mailpiece is re-routed due to recipient change of address, address errors, or USPS relabeling of barcode/ID tag area. Can often occur due to the recipient filing a NCOA form.
- Returned to Sender - The mailpiece is being returned to sender due to barcode, ID tag area, or address errors. Please reach out to your intended recipient to update the address and possibly re-trigger a new mailpiece with the corrected address. Returned to Sender mailpieces will be sent back to the sender listed in the “To:” field of your mailpiece
For tracking events from USPS, expect to see your first tracking event appear within:
- 3 business days after your Send Date for First Class Mail
- 4-5 business days after your Send Date for Standard Class Mail
When looking at the time when the mailpiece was handed off or scanned by USPS, you may want to look at ‘time’ parameter within the response of the tracking events.
- As "Time" refers to the moment the USPS scans a mail piece. If your account has access to the "Mailed" event, this timestamp can be utilized to monitor Lob’s SLA adherence (this applies to Enterprise customers only)
- "Date_created" parameter is the time when Lob receives these tracking data from the USPS and makes it available in the API.
International mailings will sometimes receive an "In Transit" scan, indicating that the mailpiece has been processed at the entry/origin facility. However, because delivery occurs in a foreign country outside of the control of USPS, international mailings do not receive scans.
Return To Sender Tracking
Scans are only displayed when mail requests are processed by USPS as it makes its way through the mail stream. The Return To Sender (RTS) event scan occurs when the delivery of a mailpiece is attempted by USPS but the mail is rerouted after being deemed undeliverable or misdeliverable.
This results in a “Return to Sender” yellow sticker being affixed to the mailing by USPS, and for Lob’s tracking purposes, the mailpiece is treated as a “new” letter that is going to a new destination (the re-route location). This may be why the same mailpiece may receive new scans after receiving the RTS event.
A multi-delivery attempt is translated into scans in “Delivery Attempt 1 and 2” below, compared to a standard delivery where the mailpiece makes it to its final destination in a single attempt:
Standard Delivery Process
|Delivery Attempt 1||Re-Routed Attempt 2|
|In Production||In Production||-|
|In Transit||In Transit||-|
|Processed for Delivery||Return to Sender||In Transit [+Yellow Sticker]|
|(Delivered)||-||Processed for Delivery|
Example of a Return to Sender sticker: *Note: USPS may not consistently scan all mailpieces at every stage
Because RTS scans are not necessarily an “end-state scan”, you should not track whether it was the last scan received when trying to calculate the percentage of RTS mail, as it may have been marked as such and still received additional scan events. Instead you should try calculating the percentage based on whether the RTS scan event was ever received, regardless of its place in the sequence of scan events.
Some mail is sent out metered if that day's volume from one of Lob’s production team doesn't meet the minimum volume per mail type USPS requires. This means the mail pieces are not able to be batched with the other mail pieces and have to be mailed separately. This mailpiece can potentially be mailed without a batch ID, making it unmeasurable in our system, even though it's en route to its destination.
Ideally, with metered mail, the rest of the tracking events should populate, but this is not always guaranteed. Though we see scans for the majority of our mail, USPS does not guarantee scan events for every mail piece that goes through its sorting processes.
Registered Mail Tracking
Letters sent as Registered do not receive the same scan events as regular First or Standard class mail. Registered mail will instead receive a carrier tracking number and link, which is an add-on that will become available upon USPS receipt of the mailpiece, generally three (3) business days following the mailpiece’s send_date. This tracking number can be used to track the mailer via the carrier’s website.
Please note, that if three business days have elapsed and you still haven't received any tracking information, please reach out to Lob support.
Certified Mail Tracking
If you decide to send certified mail through Lob, you will receive a carrier tracking number and tracking link retrievable via your Lob dashboard, which can be used to track the mailpiece via USPS’s website. You can also track the mail via scan events within your Lob dashboard. Sometimes certified mail tracking will be available immediately, or as late as 3 days after sending the mail piece.
Electronic Return Receipts
An Electronic Return Receipt is available to the sender as a USPS add-on to Certified Mail. This receipt will allow you to download a digital copy of the recipient's signature used to sign for the delivery of the letter. You opt for an Electronic Return Receipt by passing certified_return_receipt in the “extra_service” parameter of creating a letter.
The return receipt shall be accessible via the certified tracking number from the USPS page. If you would like to receive the signature PDF via email, please follow the following steps:
- Visit www.usps.com
- Enter the Certified tracking number into the Track a Package box
- Click the "Return Receipt Email" dropdown and fill the required fields
- The USPS will send you an email with the signature file