How to Return Mail to Sender

Need to return mail that you do not want, back? Here is a step by step guide on how to return mail back to the sender. If this was of help, let us know in the comments.

You’ve probably pondered the “how to return mail to sender” question more than once. Well, luckily for you, we’re here to answer it!


Return Mail To Sender: Someone Who Doesn’t Live At Your Address


If you have recently moved house, you will likely receive mail addressed to the previous residents. There is a way to fix it! Although, we understand how frustrating it can be (especially if the tenants before you haven’t completed their change of address order).


Anyway, let’s get into the step-by-step guide, shall we?



Step One: Write “Not At This Address” On The Envelope


This does also work with parcels! You need to ensure that you write “Not at this address” on the packaging. You might be tempted to write “Return to sender” in this instance but this isn’t the proper wording here.


Alongside this, there are some other considerations at this stage.


You must ensure that any barcodes are defaced. Otherwise, you will find that the parcel or envelope will come back to your address. However, be careful to not cross the address. The mail carrier needs to understand that the person no longer lives there.


If the problem persists (i.e. you keep getting mail addressed to the previous resident), you need to let your mail carrier know. Alternatively, you can contact your local Post Office. Either way, this should help stop the issue.


Step Two: Give The Mail Item Back To Your Carrier


If you are at home when your mail carrier delivers your items, you need to hand the envelope or parcel back to them. Make sure you explain that the addressee does not live at your address anymore. Of course, you need to write on it before you give it to the delivery person.


If you are not at home when your mail carrier typically delivers, you can put the pieces back into your mailbox. Make sure you erect the red flag when you do so. This signifies that there is something for the mail carrier to collect the next time they do their rounds.


Step Three: Use An United States Postal Service Mail Collection Box


If you do not have a mail carrier to give the piece back to nor a mailbox to place it in, you can utilize the USPS mail collection boxes.


An employee from your local Post Office will come and collect it. Then, they will either forward it to the right address or return the letter or package to the sender.


These boxes aren’t too hard to find. Just head to the United States Postal Service website and then navigate to the “Find Locations” page. From there, it’s as easy as pie.



Return Mail To Sender: Mail Delivered to The Wrong Address


If you receive a mail item that displays a different address, your mail carrier has placed it inside your mailbox (or through your door) by mistake. Everybody makes them, so try not to be too frustrated about this. Just follow the steps below and everything will be sorted in no time.


Step One: Put It Back In Your Mailbox


As soon as you notice that the address is wrong, put the mail piece back inside your mailbox. Make sure to put the red flag up too. This tells your carrier that there is outgoing mail waiting for them to pick up when they next come to your door.


We should mention here that this changes if it is a Priority Mail Express item that has been misdelivered, you need to call 1-800-275-8777. Then, ask for the Priority Mail Express Reporting Unit. Whoever answers will let you know what to do next.


Step Two: Alternatively, Hand It To Your Mail Carrier


If you do not want to leave the item in your mailbox, make sure you are at home when the mail carrier comes the following day. Then, you can hand the misdelivered item back to them in person. Ensure that you explain it has been deposited at the wrong address. The USPS personnel can then sort it out.


You can also take the parcel, package, or envelop directly to your local post office too. It just depends on which method is the most convenient for you.


Step Three: Do Not Write On The Envelope or Parcel


In this scenario, you do not need to write anything on the packaging. This will only prevent your mail carrier from giving it to the right location so try not to impede the process!


If the item does need to be returned to the sender, your nearest Post Office will sort this out. You do not need to write a “Return to sender” message on the packaging.


Remember, you should not cover or cross out the address either. However, it might be helpful to your mail carrier if you paste a sticky note onto your mailbox stating the items you’ve left inside and the person’s name, along with the fact that they do not live at your address.



Return Mail To Sender: Mail That You Do Not Want


Finally, if a mail item is addressed to you and has been sent to the correct place but you do not want it, you can return it. Follow our step-by-step guide to make sure you do it correctly.


Step One: Write The Word “Refused” On The Packaging


You can refuse pretty much all types of mail and ask them to be returned to the sender. All you have to do is write the word “Refused” on the envelope or parcel and give it back to your mail carrier as soon as humanly possible.


It is important to note that you will not be able to do this if you have opened it. Yes, even if you carefully reseal the item. So, decide whether you actually want it before you start tearing into it!


Step Two: If It’s Accountable Mail, Mark The “Refused” Box


What is accountable mail, we hear you ask? It is mail items that you have to sign for. Depending on the contents of the accountable mail, you will be able to refuse it. If you do want to do so, just place a checkmark into the “Refused” box on the notice given to you by your mail carrier.


The kinds of accountable mail you are likely to receive include the following:


  • Certified Mail
  • Registered Mail
  • Collect on Delivery
  • Priority Mail Express
  • Pieces that are insured for over $200


It is vital to remember that you usually can’t refuse mail that you have already received and signed for. For those of you who find that you want to refuse it after this fact, then you need to place it into new packaging and pay for postage to send it back.


Step Three: Repackage If You have Opened The Item


If you got a bit carried away and have already opened the parcel, package, or letter, you need to pop it in a fresh envelope or mailer before you can return the item.


Of course, you will have to pay for fresh postage. Having said that, you might be able to get it for free if you’re returning unwanted or damaged merchandise. In these cases, sellers usually give you a prepaid shipping label or pay you back for the postage.


Now that you are well-informed of the process, let’s get to answering some of your frequently asked questions!



Your Frequently Asked Questions, Answered


How Much Does It Cost To Return A Letter, Parcel, or Package?


As we have already mentioned, returning a letter is free unless you have opened the item. In the latter case, you need to purchase fresh packaging and/or pay for postage. The specific price will depend on the size, weight, and type of item you are returning.


How To Report The Change of Address For Someone Else


While you can keep returning the mail that is sent to your address for the previous residents, it is easier in the long run if you report that they no longer live there.


To do this, write a note to your local Post Office that says who doesn’t live there. That should stem the flow of mail meant for the previous tenants. If the problem continues, your best option is to leave a note on your mailbox that says “Leave Mail Only for *Your Name Here*”.


If you know the address of the previous residents, you should head down to your local Post Office and file a change of address form for them. Yes, it is largely irresponsible that they haven’t done it for themselves. But, it will take a lot of pressure off you after you’ve submitted the paperwork. Remember, you have to change the address for each person you are receiving mail for.


What If The Return To Sender Message Doesn’t Work?


Sometimes, your “Return to sender” message just won’t work. Yes, this is frustrating but it’s time to do something about it.


The best thing to do is to issue the same request with the United States Postal Service. They will work extremely hard to resolve the issue.


Make sure you write a forthright and seriously toned letter to your Post Office stating that you would like them to stop sending unnecessary parcels, packages, and letters. The problem should be completely prevented after this.


Will You Get a Notification If Your Item Is Returned to Sender?


Unfortunately not. The United States Postal Service does not give you a notification if your mailpiece has been returned.


How Long Will It Take For Your Returned to Sender Mailpiece to Arrive Back?


This depends on the services that were originally purchased for the mail item. If the intended recipient needs to be home at the time of delivery, it will take a long time for the item to arrive back to the sender. In these cases, the mail person will leave a note and the envelope or parcel will be kept at the Post Office for 15 days for the recipient to collect.



Is There A Better Alternative?


Figuring out the best way to return your mail to the sender can be a pretty stressful and daunting task. But there is a much better alternative that you will definitely benefit from.


Are you ready to find out what this is? We bet you are! So, let’s not waste your time and get right into it, shall we?


This solution is called a virtual mailbox! What is a virtual mailbox? We are about to tell you everything you need to know and more.


A digital mailbox lets you preview all of your mail before it arrives at your door. From the dashboard or app (they are both easy to navigate, don’t worry) you will be able to read the mail scans, save them if necessary, print them out, and have them shipped to your door. This gives you the very special opportunity to make the postal service work for you, instead of the other way around. You never have to wait around for mail to reach you ever again!


How Does It Work?


Thankfully, the digital mailbox system at US Global Mail is incredibly easy to use. The design is elegant yet simple enough for anyone to use, regardless of your IT literacy level. It’s as simple as shopping on Amazon or scrolling through your Instagram feed!


When you sign up, you are given a physical mailing address in the United States of America. Once your mail items arrive at the facility, our expert handlers will scan them. These images are then uploaded to your dashboard (i.e. your virtual mailbox) for you to sort through.


This system allows you to have full control over the items you receive. Whether you want them recycled, opened, shipped to you, or shredded, the choice is yours. Your wish is the mail handler’s command!


Oh, and you don’t need to worry too much about the price either. There are multiple plans to choose so you will never be overspending for services you won’t use. Our virtual mailboxes are made to work for you.


So, what are you waiting for? With a digital box, you never have to worry about returning mail to its sender ever again!

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