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Why Do I Get Returned Mail?

returnedmailWhen we process the data, our software verifies that the address is valid and deliverable, but if the addressee does not fill out a change of address form to have their mail forwarded, we have no way of knowing.

One of the most common reasons we see mail returned is that the addressee on the mailpiece no longer lives at that address. The USPS will attempt to forward it and if they cannot, it will be returned to the return address listed on the mailpiece. If there is no return address on a mailpiece, the USPS will discard it.

This typically happens because they did not fill out a change of address form to forward mail to their new home or their forwarding order has expired (Not Deliverable as Addressed—Unable to Forward would be the notation on the yellow endorsement sticker).

USPS places yellow endorsement stickers on the mailpiece that are very helpful at finding out why the mail was returned. Below is a list of endorsements from USPS regarding reasons for mail is returned. Source USPS 507 Mailer Services.

  • Attempted—Not Known – Delivery attempted, addressee not known at place of address.
  • Box Closed—No Order* – Post office box closed for nonpayment of rent.
  • Deceased – Used only when known that addressee is deceased and mail is not properly deliverable to another person. This endorsement must be made personally by delivery employee and under no circumstance may it be rubber-stamped. Mail addressed in care of another is marked to show which person is deceased.
  • Delivery Suspended to Commercial Mail Receiving Agency – Failure to comply with 508.1.8.1 through 508.1.8.3.
  • Illegible* – Address not readable.
  • In Dispute* – Mail returned to sender by order of chief field counsel (or under 508.1.0 and 508.2.0) because of dispute about right to delivery of mail and cannot be determined which disputing party has better right to mail.
  • Insufficient Address* – Mail without number, street, box number, route number, or geographical section of city or city and state omitted and correct address not known.
  • Moved, Left No Address – Addressee moved and filed no change-of-address order.
  • No Mail Receptacle* – Addressee failed to provide a receptacle for receipt of mail.
  • No Such Number* – Addressed to nonexistent number and correct number not known.
  • No Such Office in State* – Addressed to nonexistent Post Office.
  • No Such Street* – Addressed to nonexistent street and correct street not known.
  • Not Deliverable as Addressed—Unable to Forward – Mail undeliverable at address given; no change-of-address order on file; forwarding order expired.
  • Outside Delivery Limits* – Addressed to location outside delivery limits of Post Office of address. Hold mail for out-of-bounds customers in general delivery for specified period unless addressee filed order.
  • Refused* – Addressee refused to accept mail or pay postage charges on it.
  • Returned for Better Address* – Mail of local origin incompletely addressed for distribution or delivery.
  • Returned for Postage – Mail without postage or indication that postage fell off.
  • Returned to Sender, Mailpiece Contains Nonmailable Contents – Mail returned to sender due to contents that are nonmailable.
  • Returned to Sender Due to Addressee’s Violation of Postal False Representation and Lottery Law* – Mail returned to sender under false representation order and lottery order.
  • Returned to Sender Due to Addressee’s Violation of Postal False Representation Law* – Mail returned to sender under false representation order.
  • Returned to Sender Due to Addressee’s Violation of Postal Lottery Law* – Mail returned to sender under lottery order
  • Temporarily Away* – Addressee temporarily away and period for holding mail expired.
  • Unclaimed* – Addressee abandoned or failed to call for mail.
  • Undeliverable as Addressed, Missing PMB or # Sign – Failure to comply with 508.1.8.2e..
  • Vacant* – House, apartment, office, or building not occupied. (Use only if mail addressed “Occupant.”)

* Alternative addressing formats may not be used on the following: Priority Mail Express pieces; mail with any extra service listed in 602.3.1.2e.; mail sent with any ancillary service endorsement, except as allowed in 1.5.1b..b.; and mail sent to any overseas military Post Office. When an alternative addressing format is used on Periodicals pieces, the publisher is notified of nondelivery only for those reasons marked with an asterisk (*).

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About the Author: Jeremy Crosslin

Jeremy manages the operational and customer implementation direction of Influence Direct. Jeremy is a seasoned marketing strategist spending the past 10 years in the direct marketing industry consulting hundreds of clients across multiple industries. Through his direct marketing expertise, Jeremy has increased client acquisition and retention ROI for hundreds of clients via multiple direct marketing channels. 

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