Consumers choose US Postal Service (USPS) Certified Mail because it offers the ability to track a package while in transit and then confirm delivery. But it is easy to lose the small green certified mail form that has the tracking number on it. Unfortunately, tracking mail without the tracking number is nearly impossible. While a "lost mail" search might yield results, efforts are better spent finding the tracking number on other documents, such as the receipt.

Lost Mail Claim

The USPS performs lost mail searches when claims are appropriately filed. You need accurate information to conduct a lost mail search via the USPS website or at a local branch. At the very least, lost item searches must provide the name and complete address of both the sender and recipient. Provide the size of the envelope or dimensions of the package. If USPS Flat Rate envelopes or boxes were used, note which size. Describe the contents of the parcel. For example, if you're sending an iPad, describe the model, size and color. Any information including pictures is helpful in identifying the package.

There is no guarantee with a lost mail claim, which is really a last resort for items you suspect to be lost completely. The USPS sends email updates once the claim is made and will forward acceptable packages to the intended recipient.

Look at the Receipt

It is possible that even if the green certified mail form is lost, the receipt could still accessible. Mail receipts might be found with business expense receipts or even photographed for bookkeeping records. When the USPS scans the certified mail form to send the letter, the tracking number is printed on the receipt. If you have that receipt, you have the tracking number.

The tracking number looks a lot like a credit card number in four-number segments. The receipt should list the parcel mailed and its expected delivery date, followed by the tracking number.

Go to the USPS Branch  

If you don't have the certified mail form or a receipt with the tracking number, your last hope is to go to the branch where the parcel was mailed. Most USPS representatives will flatly say, "without a tracking number, there is nothing that can be done." While this is a true statement, the USPS has many types of reports with lots of information.

One report includes a daily list of mailed packages with shipping time and any pertinent tracking numbers. If you know the date and time the package was mailed, this might be the last hope in locating a tracking number. Of course, once the tracking number is located, the anticipated delivery location can get confirmed. To get a branch manager to run this type of report may take some cajoling since they aren't required to do so. Remain polite and appreciative for all efforts.

The Package Arrives

When no tracking number is available the only way to track a parcel is to get confirmation from the recipient that it was received. Of course, this works for parcels mailed to friends but cooperation to confirm the delivery might not be as easily disclosed in situations such as legal issues or returns.