In Transit vs. Out for Delivery | What Do They Mean?


In today’s convenience-themed world, it seems you can get anything delivered from groceries to furniture. Luckily, distributors provide tracking numbers for shipments so customers can stay up-to-date on the status of their delivery. These updates give you an idea of when you expect your package to reach its final destination-your doorstep. Two of the most common phrases used in the delivery process are “in transit” and “out for delivery.”  

When a package is “in transit,” it means that your package is on the way. When your update says “out for delivery,” that indicates that the item was received by your local distributing center and is in the process of being shipped out by the delivery truck that will bring you the package.

Although the terminology might be confusing, “in transit” and “out for delivery” have distinct meanings. Keep reading if you are waiting on a package and want a better understanding of these terms and what they mean for your delivery date.

In Transit Vs. Out for Delivery

Even with continuous updates, it can be hard to know where your package is and when you can expect it to be delivered. 

Stage of DeliveryPossible Location of PackageExpected Delivery
In TransitYour package is between different locations. This can be between the warehouse and a distributing facility, different shipping facilities, or a facility and the final destination- you. Your package is still two or more days away from reaching you. The time spent in transit depends on how many facilities the package must go through
Out for DeliveryYour package is on its way to its final destination.You can usually expect your package to be delivered the same day your status was updated.

Typically, a package will remain in transit until it reaches your local facility and is sorted onto a truck for delivery. Once it is on the truck, you will be notified that your item is out for delivery.

A package that is still in transit will take a few more days to get to you. Items that are out for delivery can usually be expected that day.

If your package is in transit, there may not be a confirmed delivery date, as there are still more steps it must go through in the delivery process. However, if it is out for delivery, an estimated delivery date will be provided, and that date should be relatively accurate. 

Does Out for Delivery Mean I Get it Today? 

If your package is out for delivery, then your package should arrive by the end of today.

Understanding what “out for delivery means” in relation to shipment terminology is important: look through the various definitions for packages below under different couriers such as USPS and FedEx.  In transit and out for delivery could indicate different wait times depending on the courier your package is being delivered by.

CourierIn TransitOut for Delivery
USPSWhen the United States Postal Service states that your package is in transit, that indicates that it is being processed and moving between different USPS shipping facilities.Out for delivery means that your package is in its last stage of being delivered, on the truck on its way to your doorstep by the end of the day
UPSSimilar to USPS, an in transit status for UPS indicates that your package is traveling from one location to the next.When you are updated that your package is out for delivery, your shipment is on a UPS delivery truck on its way to its final destination. That means that you should have your package by 7 pm the day your status is changed. You will be updated once your item is delivered. 
FedExWhen a FedEx delivery states that the package is in transit, that can indicate that your package is on the move or sitting in one of the shipping facilities waiting to get picked up by a truck.FedEx does not use “out for delivery” as part of its shipping notifications. Your package will stay in transit until it is dropped off, at which point you will be notified that your item was delivered.
DHLIf you are waiting for a package to be delivered by DHL and it states that the package is in transit, it can be in one of the many stages of delivery on its way to its final destination. If you receive an out for delivery status, your package should already be waiting for you at your door or is about to be dropped off to you.

To get a better idea of what stage your package may be in, it is best to look at previous updates for hints. 

What If My Package Been Out for Delivery for More than One Day?

If your package has been out for delivery for more than one day, then there may have been complications with your delivery. Some of the complications could include: 

  • The package was delivered to the wrong address
  • The address provided was incorrect
  • Logistics delivery problems 

These are potential complications that can impact the delivery times of your package. In cases like these, contacting customer service and getting an update on your delivery is necessary. Customer service will inform you about why your delivery has not arrived. 

How Long Does a Package Typically Take in transit?

Two FedEx Boxes

The length of time a package remains in transit depends on which shipping option you chose.

The transit period for a package shipped within the United States can range from 2 to 10 business days, depending on your location. Deliveries to rural areas will take longer, and unforeseen delays can also impact delivery times. Delays can be caused by:

  • Manufacturing issues
  • High demand for deliveries
  • Inclement weather 
  • Incomplete or incorrect Address
  • Issues with customs (International deliveries)

Unfortunately, if there is a delay, you must wait for the carrier to update the delivery status. Otherwise, you can reach out to the customer service department of your courier service.

If the status says that your package is out for delivery, you can generally expect your package that same day or by the following day at the latest. The estimated delivery date provided by the carrier is usually much more accurate at this point in the delivery process.

What Do I Do If My Package is Stuck in Transit? 

If your package is stuck in transit, you should give it a few days for your status to be updated. While the location of your package may have changed, updates will not show up until your item is scanned at its new location.

However, if it has been more than three days and the status of delivery has not changed, you should reach out to the courier for an updated status. This can be done by calling the customer service line or on the company’s website.

The company shipping your item should be able to tell you where your item is and what is causing the delay. Depending on where in transit your parcel is, you may want to reach out to your local shipping facility to see if they have received your item.

Most of the time, when a package is out for delivery, you can expect to receive it by the end of the day. However, it can take up to 24 hours for your package to reach its destination after receiving this update status. 

If more than two days have passed since the status changed to out for delivery, you may want to call the customer service line of the shipping courier that was used. In most cases, your package is still on a truck waiting to be dropped off.

Final Thoughts

While having everything delivered right to your doorstep saves a lot of time and effort, it can be frustrating waiting for your package to arrive. Luckily, the major shipping couriers provide tracking numbers to keep you up-to-date on the status of your delivery. 

Although seeing that your package is in transit for a couple of days can be irritating, nothing is better than the anticipation you feel after receiving an out for delivery notice.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

For more, check out Can You Use a PO Box as a Physical Address?

Jim James

Hey, I'm Jim and the author of this website. I have always been interested in survival, fishing, camping, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!

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