The ability to track a box is a modern convenience that is often taken for granted. We can track each individual package by using its tracking number.
So, does UPS reuse its tracking numbers? If so, what does this mean for your UPS packages? Read on if you want to find out.
Does UPS Reuse Tracking Numbers In 2023?
UPS uses some tracking numbers more than once to keep up with the huge number of goods it has to handle in 2023. Before a new package goes out, these numbers sometimes show a date from the past for tracking information.
The new information then replaces the old information. Most tracking numbers work for 120 days and are reused after 18 to 24 months, based on how many packages are sent.
There’s much more to learn about how and why UPS tracking numbers get reused, so keep reading to learn more about this process.
How Long Do UPS Tracking Numbers Stay Active?
How long a tracking number works depends on what you mean by “active.” The easiest way to think about what makes a tracking number current is to think about whether or not it still gives tracking information.
In this situation, tracking numbers are only good for about 120 days.
After 120 days, when you type your tracking number into the UPS tracking page, you won’t get the full tracking number. Instead, you’ll get this message:
“UPS couldn’t find the information of this shipment with this tracking number. Information is only available for transfers that have happened in the last 120 days. Please check what you’ve said.”
This message can also show up when you’re trying to track a brand-new package, like something you just bought or for which you just got a tracking number.
If you’re trying to track a new package and see this message, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with your box or tracking information. This message has come up often, especially in the last few years.
What Happens to Old UPS Tracking Numbers?
UPS sends about 21 million packages every day, so the company couldn’t come up with billions of unique tracking numbers to keep up with demand.
With this in mind, it makes sense that UPS must do something with its old tracking numbers. What the company does is return them.
It means that any tracking number you got from UPS is likely not a unique number that was only used for your package and then thrown away.
Instead, tracking numbers are recycled and used for other packages after they haven’t been used for 18 months to 2 years, based on how many packages UPS handles at the time.
To explain this method mathematically, each UPS shipper has a unique code that takes up 6 of the 16-digit tracking number.
Three more digits of the 16-digit tracking number are set aside by UPS for the service code and check digit. It means that any shipper who uses UPS is left with 7 of the original 16 numbers that can be used to make a unique tracking number.
With 7 unique numbers, this shipper can have a million packages in the UPS system. So, once a shipper has used UPS to send more than a million items, the tracking numbers for those packages start to be reused.
UPS sends about 21 million packages every day, so it makes sense that tracking numbers would have to be reused at some point to keep up with the number of packages.
When a tracking number is reused, there are times when the old package and the new one have the same number.
If you put in your tracking number before your new package’s tracking has been changed, you’d likely get a message saying the number is more than 120 days old.
Once your new package is scanned in at a new location, the tracking number will start to automatically fill in details about the new package.
Do UPS Tracking Numbers Change?
Tracking numbers do change, but only in a few situations.
Here are some reasons why a package’s tracking number might change while it’s in transit:
- When a package is returned to the sender, it can’t be delivered due to missed delivery tries, not being picked up after 5 business days, etc. When a package goes from UPS Next Day Air to UPS Next Day Air, for example, the service level changes.
- Early in the journey, If a package passes an international border and is given to a different shipping company, like that country’s postal service, to deliver, it is said to have crossed an international border.
If you’re worried your package’s tracking number might change while travelling, contact the person who sent it. Also, ask that any new information be sent to you or call 1-800-PICK-UPS.
Are tracking numbers unique?
Yes, each tracking number is different. A tracking number is a unique number given to each package or product so that it can be kept track of. Each tracking number is different, and it can be used to follow the progress of a package or shipment as it goes through the delivery system.
When a package is shipped, the courier or other delivery service usually gives it a tracking number. This number is usually written on the shipping card, manifest, or bill of lading.
USPS uses a tracking number with 22 digits, while UPS uses one with 18 digits. Some delivery services use symbols and numbers together, while others use numbers. Depending on the courier, the tracking number may look different, but each box or shipment will always have a unique number.
Conclusion – UPS Reuse Tracking Numbers
UPS does use tracking numbers more than once, which helps it keep up with demand. It helps the business keep up with demand since the company sends nearly 21 million packages every day.
After the last tracking update, UPS tracking numbers are “active,” which means they can be used to track goods for 120 days.
If you try to use the tracking number on the UPS website after 120 days, you will get a message that the tracking number is no longer valid.
We hope you liked this article and the information we gave you. If you still have questions, let us know in the comments section below and check back on our site for more information. Thanks for reading to the end!