When using shipping services, there are numerous factors to consider and be aware of, including what to do when a package gets lost.

Companies may not always be able to prevent road accidents, but they can control how they are dealt with. Several accidents can happen to your shipments while in transit: damage, theft, and loss. Losing packages is frustrating and stressful for all parties: companies sending out shipments, couriers, and customers.

Here are some quick tips for handling shipments getting lost in transit.

The Most Common Reasons Packages Get Lost During Transit

Packages can often get lost in transit, meaning the courier service cannot access them after doing all procedural background checks. Loss of packages is frequently caused by the following:

  • Misdeliveries: This can occur due to incorrect information, such as misspelled words, flipped numbers, incomplete addresses, or similarly-named streets in different zip codes. Details are especially important when delivering to a remote location. 
  • The label detaching from the package: for the label to stick to the packet, the surface of the package must have a high adherence; a way to ensure the adhesion is to wrap the package in plastic foil.
  • Different customs: Some items need special transportation documents to reach specific countries. You must have all the necessary documentation for the shipment to go through all customs successfully. 
  • Stollen packages: During the holidays, thefts become more common, especially when large shipments are made and the recipient cannot sign for the packages.
  • Bad weather: From heavy rains and snow to natural disasters like blizzards or earthquakes, lousy weather often affects shipments and deliveries.

How to Deal With Lost Shipments

Few things are more infuriating than dealing with lost shipments in transit. You can shout “Off with their heads!” in frustration all you want, but ultimately it is up to you to track down where your shipment might be and get it back on course.

The best way to get through it is by shrinking that elephant of a problem down into smaller, more manageable steps. Don’t worry – there are plenty of resources out there to help you find that precious cargo. 

Let’s get right to it!

  1. Make Sure the Package is Really Lost

Sometimes, package receivers aren’t responsible enough and are unaware of their package’s whereabouts. Their delivery might be in the hands of their family members, roommates, or neighbors. Also, the courier might have placed the package in an unusual part of the porch to protect it from potential theft.

Before proceeding to all other steps, ensure that the shipment is lost and not just misplaced.

  1. Contact The Shipping Company

There is a chance that your cargo is delayed and not lost. Transportation delays are to be expected and can happen for various reasons. To make sure, the shipping company should be your first point of contact.

When you report a missing package, your carrier will start searching from the last depo where the package was scanned. The process can take weeks because the carrier must go through thousands of packages and often identify them based on size and weight. If the package is not found within a specific time frame, it will be considered lost.

The courier company will ask you to describe the cargo in question. Usually, they’ll ask you for:

  • Size and color of the package,
  • Contents of the package,
  • Any other outside and inside characteristics that could help

Depending on the courier company that performed the delivery, it can take up to 2 months until a package is declared lost.

3. Fill out a Refund Claim

To file a claim, you need to know the process for each carrier since each company has different turnaround times and documentation requirements. 

If you are sure your shipment is lost, you have the option of filing a cargo claim – a legal request to a carrier for the missing shipment. When a claim is filed, carriers can accept, settle, or deny it.

To report a claim, you usually need to:

  • Provide all necessary details about the package. Package’s tracking number, weight, quantity, the contact information of the recipient, etc. You’ll most likely need to have all these at hand to file a claim.
  • Explain your relationship to the package: are you sending it,  receiving it, or are you an appointed third-party representative?
  • Use additional documentation to back up your claim: Receipts, invoices, and purchase orders can all aid in the identification of lost shipments. Providing photos of damaged packages is also very helpful and often necessary for filing claims. 


4.  Track Deliveries

Most courier companies have tracking software tools that help customers track the progress of their shipments. For this purpose, each package is assigned a unique tracking number.

The status is usually updated every time it reaches a depot and gets scanned, so customers know where the package is at a given time. Additionally, the system will show relevant information if difficulties occur on the route.

However, the tracking system doesn’t show any statuses that specify the loss of packages. Some indicators of a lost package or problems during transit are

  • Any statuses out of the usual;
  • No status update for more than 48 hours,
  • Delay in package delivery compared to the anticipated transit time.

Note that some updates are written just for internal communication of the courier company, and they don’t affect you in any shape or form. It does not always imply that something has gone wrong. However, if you notice anything suspicious, contact the carrier and ask them for more information.

5. Consider Shipping Insurance

Shipping insurance is a great way to get a full refund for any damaged or lost items. While some services offer limited coverage, you can purchase additional insurance to cover high-value items.  

Shipping providers usually cover theft and lost packages with their insurance but make sure to know all about their terms and conditions to protect yourself in risky situations.

6. Opt For Signature Confirmation

Signature confirmation is an additional service that carriers provide and can be somewhat costly,  but it is a great way to ensure that packages are delivered correctly. 

With this method, there is virtually no chance of theft, and it allows for all parties’ safety. If you ship expensive items such as technology gadgets or jewelry, signature confirmation is vital to ensure that items get into the right hands safely.

7. Help Customers with Lost or Damaged Merchandise

Most consumers believe retailers should bear the consequences when products get lost in transit. So, if you are a business sending out packages and they get lost, you’ll have to provide excellent customer service to customers who suffered the damage. This means replacing the item, offering store credit, or giving a refund.

Handle Lost Shipments With Patience and Professionalism

No matter the damage, keeping a calm and reasonable approach is always helpful. Accidents happen all the time to anyone. Knowing what your options are in such a scenario is key.

Now that you’re aware of all the necessary steps you can take when dealing with shipments lost in transit, you can take care of this unfortunate situation and ensure it doesn’t happen again.