What Does In Transit Mean? Everything You Need To Know

“In Transit” is a shipment status commonly used by the postal service, shipment companies, and retailers like Amazon.

Waiting on a shipment can be a worrying time for both the sender and the receiver. Senders want their parcel to reach its destination safely, and receivers need to know that their shipment will arrive safely in their hands as soon as possible.

So, it is no surprise that many people turn to the package status updates provided by the shipping company. This way, they get an idea of exactly when the parcel will arrive at its destination address. 

It is critical to know what the status updates mean to make a correct assessment of the delivery.

A particularly ambiguous shipping status that often confuses customers is “in transit.” Receiving this notification might leave you asking, “What does ‘in transit’ mean? Where is my package?”

Additionally, you will find some information about the valuable SMS tracking systems that the United States Postal Service (USPS) and FedEx provide for your convenience.

Keep reading to become an expert on the “In Transit” shipment status.

What Does The Status “In Transit” Mean?

A shipment update that tells you that your package is “in transit” might not tell you everything you need to know about exactly where your package is.

So, what does this really mean?

The shipping status “In Transit” indicates that the courier company has picked up the package and your shipment is now on its way to arriving at the shipping address. 

This does not mean the shipment is en route to its final destination in a plane or delivery truck. If the shipment is at a USPS, FedEx facility, or warehouse, In transit applies as well.

In Transit Vs. Out for Delivery

The meaning of the status notifications “In Transit” and “Out for Delivery” can be easily conflated, especially when neither definition is abundantly clear just from reading the phrase.

However, these two labels do not refer to the same point in the shipping process, as they do mark different points in the journey.

While “In Transit” means that a package is en route to the final destination, it still might be at the facility waiting to be picked up for delivery. “Out for Delivery,” however, indicates that the parcel has been picked up from your local distribution center, was loaded onto a delivery truck, and is now on its way to the shipping address.

So, an “In Transit” notification will come before your “Out for Delivery” notification, which should be the last status update before your shipment arrives at its journey’s end and the parcel is marked as delivered.

USPS Tracking Messages

With a process as critical as shipping, companies must communicate at all times with their customers. 

If you are waiting for a package to arrive, you should not only be able to track your package accurately, but you should be able to ask specific questions about the delivery of your shipment and be met with quick responses.

The United States Postal Service capitalizes on the importance of communication about shipping by making specific parcel updates accessible. Upon request, it offers its customers the option of tracking their shipment status and expected delivery dates via text message

You can opt for the text tracking system via the USPS website.

Text messaging updates can include expected delivery dates, notifications that the package has been delivered, updates on the day of delivery, delivery exceptions, notifications that the parcel is now available to be picked up, or information on all of the above.

You can also receive the status of your shipment by sending a text message to 28777 with your tracking number.

You may feel inclined to send a keyword alongside your tracking number to 28777, which will result in answer to any specific questions that you would like answered.

The keywords and their meanings for USPS tracking texts are listed below:

  • Help: Send this if you need more information about the text tracking system itself
  • Pick-Up/Pickup/UP: You want to know if the package is available for you to pick it up at your local facility.
  • Alerts/Alert/AL: You want information on any exceptions to delivery, such as delays due to weather. You will also receive options to reschedule your package’s delivery. 
  • AP: You will receive all of the past activities concerning the package.
  • AF: You will receive all of the future activities concerning the package.
  • AA: You will receive a review of both the past and future activity concerning your package.
  • DND: You will receive notifications regarding delivery as well as any failed attempts at delivery.
  • Delivery/Date/Update/When/FD/TD/Today: You want to know the expected date of delivery or the guaranteed date of delivery.
  • Stop: You no longer wish to receive messages from the text tracking system.
  • All (without an accompanying tracking number): You will receive updates for all shipments past, present, and future.

Standard text messaging rates with no additional charge will apply for USPS tracking messages.

FedEx Tracking Messages

FedEx also offers status updates via its SMS messaging system. 

To receive your shipment status, simply text “TRACK” to 9880971225. To set up automatic messaging regarding your shipment status, text “FOLLOW” to the same number and respond “YES” to the prompt that you receive. 

Standard text messaging rates with no additional charge will apply for FedEx SMS tracking messages.

Does Out For Delivery Mean I Get it Today?

Since an “out for delivery” notification means that your package is aboard a delivery truck on the way to its final destination at that exact moment, this typically means that you can expect your shipment to arrive at your address on that same day. 

While this usually is the case, this does not necessarily mean that the package’s arrival is guaranteed on that day.

Many things could still happen while the package is out for delivery, and many circumstances might result in a delay, including climate and weather issues with the delivery truck.

Yes, “out for delivery” likely indicates that your package will arrive today

However, if your package doesn’t arrive on the same day that it is out for delivery, then there is no reason to be worried. It might simply call for some communication with the shipping company or your local post office.

Why is My Parcel Stuck In Transit?

If your shipment status appears to be stuck “in transit” for a considerable amount of time, then there are a few different things that may have happened to result in the stagnation.

Firstly, it is important to note the type of delivery service that you are receiving, as some services take up to three months to deliver a shipment to the final destination.

Packages shipped internationally will have a longer estimated delivery time than packages shipped domestically. So, the parcel will spend more time in transit before it goes out for delivery. 

This is especially true if the package has to clear customs first.

If your package seems stuck in transit, it might just be because it is experiencing a hold-up at customs due to its contents or simply due to an excessive amount of paperwork.

A less fortunate possibility is that your package may have been lost or even that it has been damaged. This is not an ideal case scenario, especially when crunched for time, but there is still hope that your package will reach you in good shape.

The situation could also simply be the result of malfunctioning tracking labels. 

Before you consider the worst-case scenario, make sure that your shipment has actually been stuck in transit for an unusual amount of time. It may simply still be in transit rather than lost or delayed.

How Long Does a Package Typically Take in Transit?

Your shipment status was likely changed to “in transit” within a day or two of actually being in transit. However, the time spent in transit will vary depending on the service.

For example: When it comes to the USPS, the delivery standard varies depending on what class the package is being delivered with.

While these delivery times are not entirely guaranteed, the standards are as follows:

  • First Class Mail: 1 to 5 business days
  • First Class Package Services: 1 to 3 business days
  • Priority Mail: 1, 2, or 3 business days
  • Priority Mail Express: 1 to 2 calendar days (this delivery standard is guaranteed for Priority Mail Express)
  • USPS Retail Ground: 2 to 8 business days
  • Package Services (including Media Mail, Bound Printed Matter, and Library Mail): 2 to 8 business days
  • Parcel Select (including Parcel Select Lightweight): 2 to 9 business days
  • Periodicals: 3 to 9 business days
  • USPS Marketing Mail: 3 to 10 business days

For First Class Mail, First Class Package Service, and Priority Mail, it is best to contact USPS customer care to check on the status of your package five days after the date that it was shipped. Alternatively, read more about USPS first class delivery times here.

For USPS Retail Ground, Package Services (including Media Mail, Bound Printed Matter, and Library Mail), Parcel Select (including Parcel Select Lightweight), Periodicals, and USPS Marketing Mail, it is best to contact USPS customer care fourteen days after the date that it was shipped.

What Do I Do If My Package is Stuck in Transit?

If your package seems to be stuck in transit, communicating with the people that are helping your package on its way is key.

It is always a good idea to call the courier or shipping company to ask about your parcel’s location or status to make sure that the shipping process is going to plan.

Finding a solution can be as simple as calling your local post office, which will likely be able to address your concerns or at least point you in the right direction to get help. 

Oftentimes, there is a reasonable explanation for your package’s delay.

The employees at the courier facility might have simply overlooked or mislabelled your package, and this can easily be resolved with a phone call that encourages the staff to sort through the facility for your package.

It is also worth contacting the shipper or seller to ask when the estimated delivery date is. They may have the information that you need regarding the class that they shipped the parcel out with.

If you are unable to directly track your package because you do not have the tracking number, then you should contact the sender so that they may provide you with the tracking number.

You may also just ask them to track the parcel for you. 

Can I Pick Up My Package While it is In Transit?

You may find yourself wondering if you can simply go pick up your package from its position in transit so that you can avoid waiting any longer for it to arrive at your destination.

This depends on where exactly the package is, and you will have to call your local post office or the shipping company beforehand to see if your package is in a position to be picked up or intercepted. 

Suppose your parcel is at its last checkpoint before it is loaded onto the delivery truck, which is usually your local distribution center. In that case you may be able to call in advance and request a pickup for your package. In the case of the United States Postal Service, other options include USPS Package Hold and USPS Pack Interception Services.

Takeaways: Final Destination

While shipping companies do their best to be abundantly clear with their customers, it is not unusual for the shipping process to warrant a few questions regarding where your package is and what the various delivery status updates mean.

It is natural to want to know where your package is, especially if the shipment that you are expecting is important or time-sensitive. 

Understanding what the different statuses and notifications mean can take a lot of the stress away from waiting for a package to arrive. Additionally, knowing that SMS tracking systems are available for your use, allowing you to receive these status notifications as soon as they happen, is definitely a huge comfort in the waiting game.

Seeing a package “in transit” and knowing that it is on its way can be exciting, but when it seems to be taking too long to change to “out for delivery,” that might mean that it is time to make a call to your shipping company to ensure that everything is alright with your package.

If you are the sender, knowing the location of the mail that you shipped out is equally important for you to make sure that your items are getting to the right place. This is especially the case for mail marketing campaigns, which are a crucial component of marketing for businesses. 

For a simplified process and detailed analytics regarding a direct mail marketing campaign in addition to necessary tracking information, Postalytics can help you save time in this process.