Demystifying “UPS on the Way” – A Complete Guide

An image showcasing the speed and reliability of UPS Next Day Air Saver: A package, adorned with the UPS logo, soars effortlessly through a vibrant sky, leaving a trail of motion lines behind, as it approaches a recipient's doorstep

Have you ever tracked a UPS package and seen the status say “On the Way”? This often mysterious status can leave you wondering what exactly it means and when you can expect your package to arrive. This comprehensive guide will demystify “UPS on the way” and provide everything you need to know about this common tracking status.

“On the way” is one of the most common UPS tracking statuses you’ll encounter when anticipating a package delivery. It typically means your package is in transit and making progress towards its final destination. But UPS on the way can actually refer to several different stages of your package’s journey. Here’s a breakdown of what this status likely means at different points in the delivery process.

What Does “UPS on the Way” Mean at Each Stage of Delivery?

UPS on the way will generally refer to different points in your package’s route depending on when you see this status appear. Here’s what it typically indicates:


If you see on the way shortly after the shipper generates the UPS label, it likely means the package is on the way to an origin facility. This is one of the first steps as UPS gathers and prepares the package for transit.

In Transit to Origin Facility

Once the courier physically possesses your package, on the way means the parcel is making its initial journey to a UPS sorting facility. This is a major milestone showing movement.

Arrived at Origin Facility

The package has now reached the initial UPS facility. On the way in this stage means it is moving within the building to be sorted and back on the road.

In Transit to Destination

After processing, UPS on the way now indicates your package is traveling from the origin to the destination area or state. It is aboard flights or trucks to get closer to you.

Arrived at Destination Facility

When on the way appears after arriving in the delivery region, it signals the package is moving within the local facility to be dispatched.

Out for Delivery

Seeing this in the final delivery stage means the package is loaded on a vehicle and actively en route for delivery that day.

As you can see, UPS on the way can cover many points from postal handoff to final mile delivery. The key is noting when you see this status and tracking additional updates.

How Long Until Delivery After “On the Way”?

Ever wonder how long after on the way you should expect delivery? The timeframe can vary greatly depending on origin and destination. Here are some estimates:

  • Within same city: 1-2 days
  • Within same state: 1-3 days
  • Cross-country: 3-5 days
  • Across states: 5-7 days

Many factors like location, service level, and destination impact transit times. But you can use these ranges to set expectations once you see that lovely on the way update.

Why Might “On the Way” Take Longer Than Expected?

UPS on the way ultimately means your package is in motion. But even after seeing this status, you may find delivery takes longer than anticipated. Here are some reasons why:

Inclement Weather

Storms, snow, and severe weather can cause delays at any point. Safety is the priority if conditions reduce visibility or impact driving.

Volume Influxes

During peak times like holidays, more packages in the network can slow things down across facilities and vehicles.

Infrastructure Issues

Mechanical problems with aircraft or trucks can force rerouting and create backups. The same goes for sortation equipment breakdowns.

Additional Handling

If an exception like a wrong address occurs, extra handling like return to sender can add days to the delivery timeline.

Security Screening

Select packages may undergo additional security screening which adds time before clearing the on the way phase.


Arriving at a facility or destination on a weekend or holiday could pause movement until the next business day.

While on the way is a positive step, allow a buffer just in case needs arise. Tracking updates should reflect any changes.

Does “On the Way” Mean Out for Delivery?

Seeing UPS on the way does not guarantee out for delivery that same day. It means the package is in motion, but likely still needs to clear transportation and sorting processes before the final delivery leg. There are exceptions like a local same day pickup and delivery. But on the way alone does not equate to arriving that day in most cases. Out for delivery status specifically means it’s on a vehicle for delivery.

What to Do If Package Not Moving After “On the Way”

Sometimes a package will show on the way but then appear to stall without further scans for longer than expected. There are a few things you can try if your package seems stuck:

  • Allow 2-3 days – Brief pauses can occur as packages change modes of transport.
  • Check for exceptions – Make sure there are no delivery delays like weather issues.
  • Contact UPS – If it has been over 3 days, reach out to UPS customer service.
  • Have UPS investigate – They can file a tracer to locate the package in their system.
  • Request escalation – If needed, ask for a manager to become involved in your case.
  • Inspect updates – Refresh your tracking to see if new scans appear indicating movement.
  • Consider redirect – For excessive delays, you may be able to redirect the package if eligible.
  • Prepare a claim – If UPS confirms a package is lost, begin the claims process for reimbursement.

With the right tools and information, you can stay on top of your package’s progress. Knowing when and why to take action is key.

Other Common UPS Tracking Statuses and What They Mean

Beyond on the way, here are some other frequent UPS statuses you may encounter and what they signify:

  • Pickup Scan – UPS has possession of the package at the shipper location.
  • Arrival Scan – The package has arrived at a UPS facility.
  • Departure Scan – The package has departed a UPS facility to the next stop.
  • Out for Delivery – Loaded on delivery vehicle for planned delivery that day.
  • Delivered – The package has successfully reached its intended destination.
  • Return to Sender – UPS could not complete delivery and the package is returned.
  • Damaged – The package contents or box suffered damage in handling.
  • Delayed – Delivery date has changed due to a reason like weather.
  • Scheduled Delivery – A specific day is scheduled for delivery.

Tips for Decoding “On the Way”

When you see UPS on the way, keep these tips in mind to gauge timing and next steps:

  • Note the origin and destination – Local moves are faster than long distance.
  • Check when you get the scan – Weekends and holidays add delays.
  • Allow reasonable transit time – Give extra leeway around holidays.
  • Follow delivery guarantees – Weekday or weekend delivery determines pace.
  • Watch for additional updates – New scans mean your package is moving.
  • Check tracking periodically – Morning or evening checks help spot changes.
  • Have tracking alerts on – Get notifications the moment status changes.
  • Review the UPS delivery map – Visualize the route and facilities in play.
  • Contact UPS if concerned – They can investigate potential delays or issues.

Now that you know the ins and outs of UPS on the way, you can breathe easy knowing your package is in good hands when this status appears. With the support of tracking and great customer service, UPS empowers you to stay in control of deliveries from start to finish.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *