How to Find a Lost UPS Tracking Number Without a Receipt

by Frances Katz; Updated April 09, 2018

It happens to everyone sooner or later. A very important UPS package is scheduled to arrive but you lost the tracking number or you were never given a tracking number. But there’s no need to panic – it is possible to recover your package and there are some backup plans to make sure you always know where your package is.

Double Check Confirmation Email

UPS Customer Service offers a Virtual Assistant on its web page that offers assistance locating packages without tracking numbers. The assistant's advice to customers without tracking numbers is to double check all communications from the sender. They remind users that all UPS tracking numbers have 18 digits and start with 1Z. Most senders include the tracking numbers in their emails, but some ask you to click through to their site to check order status and obtain a tracking number. If you still can't find the tracking number, email or call the sender directly.

Sign up for UPS My Choice

One of the most foolproof ways to make sure you always know the status of any packages you send or receive is to sign up for UPS My Choice. The service is free and once you are registered, UPS will automatically send updates on the status of any packages being sent to your address. The service also lets you change delivery locations if you’d rather the package go to your office or another location and for a small fee, you can even speed up delivery or specify a specific delivery window. UPS My Choice also has a mobile app available for both iOS and Android phones that will push notifications of everything from departure date to delivery.

Locating UPS Packages Transferred to the Post Office

Many UPS and FedEx packages are only shipped part of the way to their destination, the final lap to your home or office is often handled by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Even if you have a UPS tracking number, tracking will stop after the notification that your package has been delivered to your local post office. When that occurs, the solution to finding out the status of your package is to copy the tracking number from the UPS page and paste it into the “track package” page of the USPS website. From here, the post office will be able to track packages they’ve received from UPS as well as FedEx shippers.

Use the 'Track by Reference' Feature

An alternative way for senders to locate packages without a tracking number is to use the “Track By Reference” feature on the UPS tracking page. When you create a shipment you can assign a reference name or number to the package. It can be anything you choose: a purchase order number, your recipient’s email or phone number or a short description of the shipment. If you don’t have the tracking number, you can still go to the UPS main tracking page and select the “Track by Reference” field. Then you enter your reference number and the date it was shipped and UPS will be able to locate your package when you select the track button. If you are the recipient of the package, check to determine if the sender used a reference number if you can’t locate a tracking number.

About the Author

Frances Katz is a business, legal and technology reporter. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Week, Marie Claire, and others. She lives in Atlanta.

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