Undeliverable mail

Find out what happens to mail sent within New Zealand and from overseas that’s undeliverable.

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When is mail considered undeliverable?

Mail is considered undeliverable if:

  • it does not display a complete and valid postal address
  • it is addressed to a non-existent postal address
  • the addressee has moved without providing a Mail redirection request or the request has expired
  • the item has insufficient postage for delivery
  • the item is prohibited by law

What happens to undeliverable mail?

Mail without a return address that can’t be delivered is dealt with in accordance with the Postal Services Act 1998.

Mail sent within New Zealand

  • Items sent within New Zealand that we can’t deliver and that have a sender’s address will be returned to the sender.
  • If the item does not have a visible sender address it is sent to the Returned Letter Office where the item is held in safe custody and opened to see if the contents identify the return address.
  • After 3 months at the Returned Letter Office, if the postal item remains unclaimed and the sender has not been identified, NZ Post may destroy or otherwise dispose of the item.
    • If the postal item contains any money or goods, these are given to a charity.
    • If the postal item contains contents that are prohibited by law, the item will be disposed of or turned over to the appropriate enforcement agency.

Mail sent from overseas

  • Undelivered letters, small parcels and all registered mail are returned to the country they were sent from. Parcels that are insured or over 2kg, and courier items, are dealt with according to the instructions on the customs declaration or consignment note.
  • Printed papers are only returned to the country they were sent from if specifically requested by the sender. This information must be marked on the item in the language of the destination country.
Terms and conditions

The standard terms and conditions of the products and services offered by New Zealand Post Limited, including information on the extent of our liability, are set out in the Public Contract and the Postal Users' Guide. They are also available for reference at PostShop stores and selected New Zealand Post retail outlets.

Delivery targets

Delivery targets are a guide only and we do not guarantee your item will reach its destination within the delivery target. Delivery to and from rural or remote areas may take longer.

Required postage

The required postage is the value of postage required for New Zealand Post to carry the item. Actual price paid may vary instore. The required postage and specifications are subject to change.

Cover for loss or damage, prohibited & restricted items

Before sending mail items, make sure your item is safe to send and will be covered if it goes missing or is damaged. Make sure you read about cover for loss or damage and prohibited & restricted items.