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Canada Post Return to Sender: How It Works and How to Prevent It


Imagine you carefully package a birthday gift for your friend, slap on the address label, and drop it off at the post office. Weeks pass, and you still haven’t heard from your friend. You finally get a notification from Canada Post – the package was returned to sender! Frustrating, right? This is a common scenario, and understanding “Return to Sender” is crucial for anyone sending mail or packages through Canada Post.

This blog post will guide you through the ins and outs of the return to sender process, explain why it happens, and offer practical tips to prevent your packages from getting lost in the mail. Whether you’re an online seller, a frequent mailer, or simply want to avoid the hassle of returning packages, this information will empower you to send confidently.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding “Return to Sender”
  2. How to Prevent Return to Sender
  3. FAQs
  4. Conclusion

Understanding “Return to Sender”

“Return to Sender” is a term used when a mail item or package cannot be delivered to its intended recipient and is sent back to the original sender. This can be a frustrating experience, especially when it involves valuable items or urgent shipments. Let’s explore the common reasons behind this situation and understand the process involved.

Reasons for Return

Several reasons can cause a package to be returned to sender. Here are some of the most common:

1. Incorrect Address: This is the most frequent cause of return to sender. Even a single digit or typo in the street number, postal code, or recipient’s name can lead to undeliverable mail.

2. Insufficient Address: A complete and accurate address is crucial for successful delivery. Make sure to include all elements, such as street number, street name, city, province, and postal code. If you’re unsure about an address, double-check it before mailing the package.

3. Recipient Not Found: A recipient may be unavailable, out of town, or may have moved without leaving a forwarding address. In these cases, Canada Post will attempt delivery multiple times before returning the package to the sender.

4. Refusal of Delivery: Occasionally, a recipient might refuse to accept a package. This could happen for various reasons, such as not recognizing the sender or simply not wanting the package. When this occurs, Canada Post will return the package to the sender.

5. Other Reasons: There are less common reasons for return to sender, such as insufficient postage, damage to the package, or a prohibited item being shipped.

Process of Return

Here’s how the return to sender process typically works:

1. Delivery Attempts: Canada Post will make multiple attempts to deliver the package to the recipient. The number of attempts may vary depending on the location and type of package.

2. Notice to Sender: If a package is returned to sender, the original sender will receive a notification from Canada Post. The notification usually provides the reason for return and details about how to retrieve the package.

3. Return to Sender: Once the package is returned to the sender, they can either retrieve it from their local post office or request redelivery. Additional fees may apply for redelivery depending on the package’s weight and destination.

How to Prevent Return to Sender

Now that you understand why packages get returned, let’s focus on how to prevent this from happening in the first place. Here are some practical tips and strategies:

Address Verification

  • Online Tools: Several online address verification services are available, like Canada Post’s Address Lookup tool. These tools can help you verify addresses, ensuring they are correct and up-to-date.
  • Manual Verification: If you’re unsure about an address, manually verify it by checking online maps, business directories, or contacting the recipient directly.
  • Contacting Recipient: Before mailing a package, especially if it’s going to a new address, it’s always a good idea to contact the recipient to confirm the address and ensure they will be available to receive it.

Packaging and Labeling

  • Clear and Legible: Use clear and legible labeling for your package. The recipient’s full name and address should be written in bold, easy-to-read letters. Avoid using abbreviations or handwriting that is difficult to decipher.
  • Secure Packaging: Use sturdy boxes or envelopes to protect your package during transit. Use proper packing materials to prevent damage or breakage. For fragile items, consider using extra padding and labeling the package as “Fragile.”

Tracking Your Package

  • Canada Post’s Tracking System: Canada Post provides a reliable tracking system to monitor your package’s progress. When you ship a package, you’ll receive a tracking number that you can use to track its journey.
  • Keeping an Eye on Status: Regularly check the tracking status to make sure there are no delays or issues with delivery. If you notice any problems, like a delivery delay or an address mismatch, contact Canada Post immediately to resolve the issue.

Addressing Common Concerns

  • Handling Refused Packages: If a recipient refuses a package, you can choose to have it returned to you or reschedule the delivery attempt. You may also be able to choose to have the package delivered to a different address.
  • Changing the Delivery Address: If you need to change the recipient’s address after a package has been shipped, contact Canada Post immediately to update the address information. The sooner you notify them, the higher the chance of intercepting the package and redirecting it to the correct location.
  • Insurance: For valuable packages, consider purchasing insurance from Canada Post. Insurance can protect you against loss, damage, or theft during transit.


Now that we’ve covered the basics of “Return to Sender,” let’s address some common questions that often arise regarding this process.

What Happens to a Package Returned to Sender?

When a package is returned to sender, it will typically be sent back to the original sender’s address. Canada Post will attempt to deliver the package to the sender’s address. If the package can’t be delivered, it will be held at the local post office for a certain period. The sender will then be notified and can either retrieve the package or request redelivery.

Important note: Additional fees may apply for redelivery depending on the package’s weight and destination.

Can I Resend a Returned Package?

Yes, you can resend a returned package. After you receive the package back, you can repackage it and send it again. Just make sure to double-check the address and use proper packaging. You can also choose to use a different shipping method for the second attempt, like a courier service, if you’re concerned about further delays.

What if I Need to Change the Recipient’s Address After a Package Has Been Shipped?

If you need to change the recipient’s address after a package has been shipped, contact Canada Post immediately. The sooner you notify them, the higher the chance of intercepting the package and redirecting it to the correct location.

You will need the original tracking number and the new delivery address to update the shipment information. While Canada Post will try their best to reroute the package, it’s not guaranteed, especially if the package has already reached its initial destination.

How Long Does It Take for a Returned Package to be Delivered Back to the Sender?

The delivery time for a returned package depends on the distance between the recipient’s location and the sender’s address. It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks for the package to arrive back to the sender.

You can track the return package using the original tracking number to monitor its progress and get an estimated delivery date.

Can I Track a Returned Package?

Yes, you can track a returned package using the original tracking number provided when you shipped the package. Canada Post’s tracking system will show the status of the returned package and provide estimated delivery times.


“Return to Sender” can be a frustrating experience, but with a little understanding and preparation, you can prevent it from happening. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can ensure your packages reach their intended recipients on time and without any hassle.

Remember to always verify addresses carefully, use clear and legible labels, and utilize Canada Post’s tracking system to monitor your shipments. These simple steps will help you avoid the inconvenience of returned packages and ensure a smooth delivery process for both you and your recipients.

If you have any further questions or encounter any issues with “Return to Sender,” don’t hesitate to contact Canada Post directly for assistance.

We hope this blog post has been helpful. Share your experiences and tips in the comments below!