How Late Does UPS Deliver? (2024)

We all know that feeling of anxiously waiting for a package to arrive. Whether you’ve just ordered the latest product release, or shipped out your first order to a customer, you’re probably relying on a courier like UPS.

This can be frustrating. Let’s say you got a message in the morning saying your package is out for delivery — great! But now 5pm has rolled around, the package still hasn’t arrived and you’re left wondering: Is it lost? Will it still arrive today? Where IS it?

Some of the factors that affect your delivery time include weekends, the time of day, and package size. In this article, we’ll outline the basics of UPS delivery, how to decipher UPS status tracking methods, and other delivery options for business owners.

UPS delivery times

So, how late does UPS deliver?

  • For residential addresses, the standard delivery times are 9am-7pm. But most UPS workers are scheduled through 9 pm, so there’s still a chance your package can arrive after the 7pm cut-off time. This is common during the holiday season when delivery drivers are working overtime.
  • For business addresses, deliveries run from the start of business hours to the end of the business day, generally 8am-5pm during normal business days.

UPS makes residential and commercial deliveries from Monday through Saturday (if a business is open on a Saturday). Sunday deliveries are reserved for residential deliveries only.

UPS often uses the term “end of day” when updating you on delivery options. Exactly what this means varies, depending on whether the package is going to a residential or a commercial address. The end of the day is 9pm for residential addresses, and business closing time (usually 5pm) for commercial addresses.

If you are expecting a package and have not received it, check your tracking information to see if there was a delay.

What do different UPS tracking messages mean?

Tracking alerts can be hard to decipher, especially as they can vary between shipping services. Here’s a list of common tracking messages you might encounter with UPS shipping, and what they mean:

  • Label Created: The company you ordered from has printed a shipping label with UPS.
  • On the Way: The package has either been picked up by the UPS or dropped off at a UPS store.
  • Transferred to Post Office for Delivery: Your package has moved from a UPS facility to your local post office.
  • Out for Delivery: A delivery driver has your package on the truck. Your package should be arriving on the day you receive this message.
  • Delivered: Your package was delivered to the designated location. This could be a residential or commercial address.
  • Delivered to UPS Access Point: This message tells you your package is in holding at a UPS facility. This is common if you weren’t there to sign for the package.

These are the most common notifications; however, there are others you may receive outside of this list. Occasionally, you might get a notification that your shipment has experienced a “delivery exception.” This means that there was a delay in route planning and you might need to select another shipment option or accept a new delivery date.

Weekday vs. weekend deliveries

While UPS does make deliveries 7 days a week, weekday deliveries are more common than weekend deliveries. One of the major reasons is that most UPS drivers will have both commercial and residential packages on their delivery route. Since commercial addresses have a smaller delivery window, UPS drivers will adhere to that timeframe when delivering residential packages. This means that your packages will most likely arrive between Monday and Saturday.

In addition, UPS may only deliver packages on the weekend if you have weekend deliveries set up in your profile. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Login to your UPS account.
  2. Navigate to “Accounts and Payment” in the right-hand corner.
  3. Select “Actions."
  4. Click “View Account Details.”
  5. Expand the “Pickup Options” section.
  6. Modify when you want your delivery driver to come.

There may be extra fees involved with Saturday and Sunday deliveries.

If you’re the one doing the shipping, UPS currently supports Saturday delivery options through the following shipping systems: Enhanced Web Shipping, Internet Shipping, UPS CampusShip tool, Ship API, and WorldShip tool. If your business is looking to have packages delivered on Saturday, be sure you are using one of these tools.

How accurate are UPS delivery times?

One of the benefits of working with UPS is fairly accurate delivery times. Most ground deliveries come with tracking numbers that alert you when your package moves locations. For example, you might be notified when your package is dropped off at the UPS store, when your package is loaded onto the UPS truck, and when it’s in transit to your address.

You can expect most packages to arrive on the initial delivery date. However, delays can happen. UPS has a customer service line that you can call if your notifications aren’t properly updating.

Factors that affect UPS delivery times

Exactly how quickly you can expect a delivery depends on multiple factors. Some of the most significant are:

  • Time and date of order: If you place an order outside of normal business hours, it may not be packed and shipped until the business is open again. For example, if you order a handmade item from a small business at 9am on a Sunday, it’s reasonable to wait until Monday morning for the item to be packed.
  • Where the order is being shipped from (origin): If your package originates close to a major UPS facility, it has less distance to travel and can move faster. There are large facilities in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco; and a major global hub and access point at UPS Worldport in Louisville, Kentucky. If your order is being shipped from a small town in, say, Montana, it will probably take a bit longer to arrive than one from Chicago or another large metro area.
  • Where the order is being shipped to (destination): In the same way as a remote origin affects delivery time, so does a remote destination. The further away you live from a major center, the longer delivery will take. For example, if you live in a small town without an airport, next day air shipping may not be an option for you, and you will have to wait for UPS ground delivery.
  • Driver availability: If there are no drivers, there can be no deliveries! The staffing levels of your UPS location will dictate how late they can deliver. For example, if an employee calls in sick or there’s high turnover, you might not have a driver on the second shift.
  • Special delivery requirements: Does someone have to sign for the delivery in person? That person needs to be available at the specific time the driver arrives, or the delivery will have to be rescheduled.

In short, even if you pay for upgraded shipping options, such as overnight, there’s no guarantee that the package will arrive on time. Choosing an overnight Sunday delivery, for example, might not work out.

Do holiday seasons affect delivery hours?

Like most other couriers, holidays can impact UPS delivery services. Specifically, New Year’s Day, Christmas, and Easter can push back your UPS delivery date. Generally, delivery dates that fall on a holiday will be pushed to the next business day.

For example, if Christmas falls on a Saturday, you should expect your package by Monday. Most e-commerce sellers and post offices will be able to notify you in real time when the holiday season interrupts normal delivery windows.

What happens if UPS doesn’t deliver on time?

Although UPS has a great track record with on-time deliveries, mistakes and delays can happen. If you were expecting a package and it never arrived, first check your tracking information. Most UPS package delays are updated in real-time; however, it can take a few hours until the details are available.

Sometimes, UPS drivers are running a few minutes behind. If the clock hits 9 pm, wait a few extra minutes before you start searching for your package. Traffic and influxes in demand can cause delivery drivers to run behind.

Keep in mind that the holiday season will come with more delays as more packages are being delivered. Furthermore, staff shortages and overbooked routes can also delay your packages. This makes it important to always plan a few extra days for package delivery.

If you need to sign for a package and miss the delivery window, you have a few options. First, check your tracking information to see when the updated delivery window is. Usually, this is the next day. If you aren’t able to meet that delivery timeframe, consider having your package re-routed to a local UPS store. You can pick up the package from the UPS store at your earliest convenience.

Alternatives to UPS

There are other courier options besides UPS services that can handle your package delivery. These include USPS, FedEx, and DHL. Certain ecommerce platforms, like Amazon, may also have their own delivery options. Here are the different delivery hours for these couriers:

Courier Delivery Timeframe Delivery Days
FedEx 8 am to 8 pm Monday - Sunday
USPS 8 am to 5 pm Monday - Saturday
UPS 9 am to 7 pm (Residential)
Business open - close (Commercial)
Monday - Saturday
Sunday (Residential Only)
DHL 8 am to 6 pm Monday - Friday

Taking deliveries in-house as an alternative to UPS

For businesses who mainly make local deliveries, handling deliveries in-house is a viable alternative to UPS and other couriers. Delivery management software, like Routific, makes it simple to schedule and manage efficient, profitable deliveries. This can results in lower last mile delivery costs and increased customer satisfaction.

Amber Young

Amber Young is a fictional character we use at Routific when our writers don't want a byline. Her photo is AI-generated but the copy is real!

How Late Does UPS Deliver? (2024)


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