Skip to content

Why Is My UPS Tracking Number Not Working? Reasons and Solutions


In today’s fast-paced world, package tracking has become an essential aspect of our lives. Whether you’re eagerly awaiting a new gadget, a vital component for your business, or a special gift for a loved one, knowing where your shipment is and when it will arrive brings peace of mind. However, the frustration of encountering a non-working UPS tracking number can be a real downer, leaving you feeling lost and unsure about your package’s whereabouts.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide clarity and actionable solutions to help you resolve those pesky UPS tracking number issues. We’ll explore the common reasons behind these problems and equip you with the necessary troubleshooting steps to get your tracking information back on track.

Table of Contents

Common Reasons for Tracking Number Issues

Let’s delve into the most common reasons why your UPS tracking number might not be working. Understanding these underlying factors will help you approach troubleshooting more effectively.

Typographical Errors

It’s amazing how a single misplaced digit or a stray character can render your tracking number useless. We’ve all been there – a quick glance at the number, a hasty copy-paste, or a simple typo can lead to an invalid tracking result.

Tips for Preventing Typographical Errors:

  • Double-Check the Number Meticulously: Carefully review the tracking number, digit by digit. Compare it to the original source, like your order confirmation email or the shipping label.
  • Copy and Paste with Caution: When copying and pasting, ensure that the entire number is copied and pasted correctly, without any extra spaces or characters.
  • Verify with Automatic Tracking Tools: Be aware that some automated tracking tools might introduce errors during the data entry process. Double-check the number they provide before using it.

Incorrect Tracking Number Format

UPS tracking numbers can come in different formats, depending on the type of shipment. Standard UPS tracking numbers usually include 18 digits, while international numbers may have a different format.

Important Points:

  • Standard Format: The standard format typically includes a string of 18 digits, separated by hyphens. For example, 1Z123456789012345678.
  • International Format: International tracking numbers may use a different format, often starting with a country code. Refer to the shipping documentation for the specific format.

Key Takeaway: Ensure you are using the correct format, including all the digits and hyphens in their correct order.

Early Tracking Attempts

Sometimes, we get impatient and try to track a package too soon after it has been shipped. Remember that it takes time for UPS to process and register a shipment into their system. Tracking information may not be available immediately.

How Long to Wait:

  • Allow Sufficient Time: Give the package a reasonable amount of time to be processed and enter the UPS system. Usually, tracking information becomes available within a day or two after shipment.
  • Check Later: If your tracking number is not working immediately, try again a few hours or the next day.

Delayed Package Updates

Even if your package is on its way, tracking updates might not reflect its exact location in real-time. Delays in updating tracking information can occur due to various factors, including:

  • Weather: Inclement weather conditions can cause delays in deliveries and affect tracking updates.
  • Traffic: Heavy traffic congestion in urban areas can lead to slower delivery times and delayed tracking information.
  • High Shipment Volume: During peak seasons or holidays, the volume of shipments can overwhelm UPS’s system, resulting in temporary delays in tracking updates.

Understanding Delays:

  • Expect Occasional Variations: Tracking updates are not always instantaneous. It’s normal to see occasional gaps in the tracking information.
  • Stay Informed: For critical shipments, consider opting for services like UPS Next Day Air or UPS Worldwide Express, which provide more frequent tracking updates.
  • Contact Customer Support: If you’re concerned about significant delays or lack of updates, reach out to UPS customer support for clarification.

Package Mishaps

In rare cases, tracking number issues might indicate a problem with the package itself. This could involve:

  • Lost Package: Unfortunately, packages can sometimes get lost during transit.
  • Damaged Package: The package might have been damaged, making it difficult to track.
  • Stolen Package: The package may have been stolen during delivery, causing issues with tracking.

What to Do:

  • Report the Issue: Contact UPS customer support immediately if you suspect a package is lost, damaged, or stolen. They can help investigate and provide potential solutions.
  • Keep Track of Documentation: Retain all relevant documentation, including the shipping confirmation, tracking number, and any communication with UPS, to support your claim.

Technical Issues with UPS Website/App

Sometimes, the culprit behind non-working tracking numbers lies with UPS’s website or mobile app. Technical glitches, system maintenance, or server outages can temporarily disrupt tracking functionality.

How to Handle Technical Issues:

  • Check for Service Updates: Look for updates on UPS’s social media pages or status pages to see if there are any reported technical issues.
  • Try Later: If you suspect a technical problem, try tracking your package again later when the issue might be resolved.
  • Alternative Browsers: If you’re experiencing issues with a specific browser, try using a different one to access the UPS website or app.

Troubleshooting Steps

Now that we’ve explored the common reasons behind tracking issues, let’s move on to the practical solutions. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get your UPS tracking number working again:

Re-enter the Tracking Number Carefully

This might seem obvious, but double-checking the tracking number is the first step. Ensure you’ve entered all 18 digits (or the appropriate format for international tracking numbers) correctly, including any hyphens. Even a single misplaced digit can lead to an invalid tracking result.

Check for Updates Later

If you’re confident that the tracking number is accurate, give the system some time. As we discussed earlier, tracking information might not be available immediately, especially if the package was recently shipped. Wait a few hours, or even a day, and try checking again.

Contact UPS Customer Support

If re-entering the tracking number and waiting doesn’t yield results, it’s time to contact UPS customer support. They have access to the most up-to-date information and can help you investigate the issue. Here’s how to reach them:

  • Phone: You can find their phone number on the UPS website or by searching online.
  • Email: UPS provides an online form for sending email inquiries.
  • Online Chat: Many websites and apps offer live chat support, which can be a convenient way to get quick assistance.

Be prepared to provide the following information when you contact them:

  • The tracking number
  • The date and time of shipment
  • The sender’s and recipient’s details
  • Any relevant order information

Utilize Third-Party Tracking Tools

Sometimes, independent tracking tools can provide additional insights into your package’s journey. These tools often aggregate data from different carriers, including UPS, and might display more information than the official UPS website or app.

Popular Third-Party Tracking Options:

  • ParcelTrack: This website tracks packages from multiple carriers, including UPS.
  • Ship24: Another popular platform that tracks shipments from various carriers.
  • 17Track: This platform offers comprehensive tracking services for international shipments.

While these tools can be helpful, remember to always verify information with the official UPS website or app to ensure accuracy.

Contact the Sender

If all else fails, reach out to the sender of the package. They may have additional information about the shipment, such as the package’s estimated delivery date or potential shipping delays. They can also confirm whether the package was properly labeled and shipped with the correct tracking number.


  • How do I find my UPS tracking number? You can usually find your UPS tracking number in your order confirmation email, on the shipping label, or through the online account you used to purchase the item.

  • What if my tracking number is still not working? If you’ve tried all the troubleshooting steps and the tracking number is still not working, contact UPS customer support for further assistance.

  • Is there a way to track my package without a tracking number? In some cases, you might be able to track a package using the recipient’s name or delivery address. However, this is not always possible.

  • How long does it take for UPS to update tracking information? Tracking information is typically updated within a day or two of shipment. However, updates can be delayed due to weather, traffic, high shipment volume, or other unforeseen circumstances.

  • What happens if my package is lost or damaged? If you believe your package is lost or damaged, contact UPS customer support immediately. They can help you investigate the situation and determine the next steps.


In conclusion, encountering a non-working UPS tracking number can be frustrating, but with a little patience and the right approach, you can usually get to the bottom of the issue. Remember to double-check the tracking number, allow sufficient time for updates, and contact UPS customer support if necessary. By following the troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to track your packages with confidence.