Private investigators may have to track a package as part of an investigation case, or retrace the shipping path of a package already shipped. Most of the major shipping companies provide a tracking number that can be used on a package tracking website to obtain the delivery status of a package.
In many cases, the carrier will also provide the shipping history, so you can trace the steps along the way. Packages are usually scanned at every major point during the mail stream. For example, the package is scanned when it is accepted at the mail facility, then when it arrives at the next facility (say, via flight to Memphis hub). Then it is scanned again when it arrives at the local mail facility, and scanned again when the package is delivered. The number of transfer or check-in points along the way varies depending on the item, the carrier, the mode of transportation and the destination.
Tracking Packages Shipped Via Major Carriers
The United States Postal Service (USPS) provides an easy to use end-to-end tracking online lookup tool. The site allows you to obtain shipping status for services such as: USPS Tracking, Priority Mail, Certified Mail, Global Express Guaranteed, Priority Mail Express and international, Registered Mail and Signature Confirmation services. The website provides guidance regarding the format of the number to be entered. Simply enter the number in the search box and click on the Find button. The website will
DHL – Track packages sent via DHL using the tracking number.
Federal Express / FedEx – Trace shipments sent by FedEx.
United Parcel Service (UPS) – Allows you to trace package delivery via your UPS tracking number.
Many of the same services are also available via text messaging, telephone and smart phone apps. For example, the United States Post Office allows you to send a text to 28777 (2USPS), along with the your tracking number as the content of the message. The details will be provided in a return text messages. The USPS can also send text updates for future activity on any tracking numbers that you have previously submitted or will submit in the future. Text the word ALL to 28777 (2USPS) to activate the feature. Text the word STOP to turn it off.
To obtain the information via a smart phone, simply download and install the USPS Mobile App.
Tracking status and information can also be obtained via phone by calling 1-800-222-1811.
Other Tracking Services
A number of websites provide tracking capabilities that search across multiple carriers at once. We recommend using the lookup tools provided by the major carriers (i.e. FedEx, UPS, etc.). They provide more accurate and more detailed information.
Following are a few options for searching multiple companies:
PackageMapping.com allows you to search across 16 carriers worldwide. The site will displays matching carriers based on tracking number. It also allows you to watch the package as it travels on an interactive map. Use it to track UPS, United States Postal Service, FedEx, DHL, DHL Global Mail, Canada Post, Landmark Global, LaserShip, Lone Star Overnight, OnTrac, Purolator, PuroPost, RR Donnelley International Services, Singapore Post, Spee-Dee, UPS Mail Innovations.
iShip.com – Track your package in one easy step. Enter the package tracking number and click Submit. If it has been delivered and a signature has been received, the site will tell you who signed and accepted. View anything shipped by DHL, FedEex, UPS and USPS.
All of the services mentioned are available for free. Advanced services, especially for commercial enterprises are available for a fee. For the average user, everything you need is available online at no cost.