Parcel tracking number

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A unique parcel code, a tracking number (postal identifier) or a track number is used by both postal operators and delivery services in order to identify the parcel. This number is given automatically, at a point of the postal registration. Let's find out why a tracking number is so important, discovering all the information about it.

What is a tracking number?

A tracking number is a unique number or numbers', letters', or symbols' combination, identifying a package. One can easily recognize who sent the parcel, from which country it was sent, country of destination, information about the recipient, using this number. The tracking number is given at the point of the parcel registration, being not changed all the way through one mail operator.

Types & Formats of Tracking Numbers

The tracking number may consist of numbers, letters, and combinations thereof. There are four types of number formats:

  • Simple;
  • Complex;
  • Informational;
  • Combining.

Simple tracking numbers are consecutive numbers' or letters' combinations, not containing any additional information. Generally, this is a sequence of digits, where a new number discrepant from the previous one is assigned to a new parcel. 1. For instance: # 00001 it will be followed by the number # 00002, # 00003, and so on. A simple format is not secure.

Complex tracking numbers are not consecutive numbers' or letters' combinations being set according to the algorithm. Numbers do not contain any additional information. Such a format does not allow you to find out the next package number without being aware of the specific algorithm for generating tracking numbers. This format is more secure than a simple format. It’s more difficult for scammers to pick up a tracking number to simulate sending fake goods. For instance, there is a format depending on the parcel registration time, it can also be attributed to varieties of complex formats of tracking numbers. Example of complex numbers: # 10000 following # 10010, # 10021, # 10033, etc.

Tracking information numbers are tracking numbers containing an information component. For instance, the number may indicate the package type, destination country, registration time, abbreviation or name of the postal operator. For example: #2019-09-27-00001, # TNT12345678

Combining tracking numbers are numbers combining several formats' types. Generally, combining tracking numbers are used by all postal operators. For example: UR651776700CN (CN - country of departure China), EE509691436US (US - country of departure USA, E - express delivery).

How to find out the parcel tracking number?

The sender is the first one to know the data on the parcel number, since the tracking number is formed when the parcel is sent. Full information about is must be indicated on the receipt or check:

  • Receipt number;
  • Tracking number (can be a QR/Barcode for quick scanning);
  • Sender (surname, address, country, phone number);
  • Recipient (surname, address, country, phone number);
  • Overall size & weight;
  • Description of the package contents;
  • The estimated cost of goods forwarded;
  • Contact details of the postal operator;
  • Additional requirements for the package.

Each postal operator is entitled to supplement the receipt with data at its discretion. An assembled receipt view is shown in the picture below:

Example of a postal receipt with a tracking number

The parcel sender must inform the recipient of the parcel tracking number. It is desirable to ask the sender for a scan of the receipt in order to make sure all the parcel data are correct.

The tracking number will appear automatically in your account after the goods are sent, if the product was purchased at the trading platform (like AliExpress, eBay, Amazon, etc.). For instance, go to the "My AliExpress" > "Order List" section for AliExpress. Each of your purchases has an Order ID, a unique number for your purchase. There is a "View Detail" link next to the number, clicking on which all the complete information about the parcel will be available. The tracking number can be viewed in the "Logistics Information" section.

Generally, online stores track packages, notifying about changes in the corresponding status. But we advise tracking packages on our PostTrack website. You are able to add/import all your parcels from various online stores to the Parcel Manager. It is a guarantee your parcels will not be lost, being keeping in one place. You will not have to remember where and in which online store you ordered the goods.

Why it may be difficult to track the parcel by tracking number?

In order to determine the reason why it is impossible to track the package, you need to know:

  • Precise tracking number;
  • The postal operator to whom the package has been sent.

Common reasons why it is impossible to track the package:

  • The parcel has not yet been registered in the operator’s database (registration may take several days from the moment of its sending);
  • Error in entering tracking number (typos, excess or missing characters);
  • The parcel was deleted from the database after the term expiration;
  • An order number was mistaken with a tracking number;
  • Non-existent tracking number (scammers sending fake packages).

The parcel cannot be found if the tracking number is entered incorrectly. Check the correctness of the entered data for both missing and extra characters. Typos are also often possible - the O letter can be written instead of zero. The T9 prompt system can replace characters, when entering data, which will also lead to the tracking number incorrect spelling.

Both postal operators and courier services are introducing new transportation services, your parcel can be sent and registered under a new tracking number format that has not yet been used en masse. For such cases, you need to select the postal operator or delivery service in the Carriers section, tracking the parcel specifically for this postal operator.

If you encounter a fraudulent scheme when purchasing a product on the trading platform (AliExpress, Amazon, eBay, etc.) and received a fake tracking number from the seller, you need to contact the trading platform support with a complaint about the seller, requesting a refund.

How to track the parcel by tracking number without being aware of the delivery service?

If you are not aware of the delivery service to which the package has been sent, you can use the PostTrack service - an online package tracking system. PostTrack will automatically detect carriers by tracking number, determining both package location and status. The system allows you to save up to 40 items in the Parcel Manager for registered users. You will receive information about the parcel location via e-mail automatically, receiving an opportunity to control the process from the purchase to the parcel receipt.

Why does my parcel have multiple tracking numbers?

Several delivery services can both agree and conclude a cooperation agreement on mutually beneficial conditions. Various logistics routes are created by them according to their infrastructures as part of this cooperation, saving both money and time during goods' transportation.

When sending a parcel by one postal operator, the recipient will receive it by another operator as part of this cooperation. In this case, the parcel is transferred from one delivery service to another, the number can be saved or another one is registered in the system of the second operator (intermediary). The second tracking number comes from here. There are many cases when the country's national mail trusts the address delivery of international correspondence to local delivery services, which leads to the parcel registration with the second operator and the emergence of the next tracking number.

There are complex cooperation schemes where one package can have more than two tracking numbers. PostTrack allows you to track packages with multiple tracking numbers. We identify the referring or following tracking numbers of the parcel, providing an opportunity not to lose sight of it while moving to the recipient.

Universal Postal Union (UPU) S10 standard for tracking numbers.

The Universal Postal Union is a specialized UN agency unifying state postal operators from almost all countries of the world. The Union has developed a standard for S10 tracking number formats, being compulsory for all the Union members. This standard helps both to simplify and systematize international mail.

According to the S10 standard, the tracking number is a combination tracking number consisting of 4 components:!!!

  • Prefix (2 characters);
  • Serial number (8 digits);
  • Verification number;
  • 4. Suffix (2 characters).

S10 Track Number Example: LL694649116CN.

S10 Track Number Example

The prefix (service indicator) is a combination of 2 Latin characters. Additional information can be found out about the package depending on the characters' combination. Here are some combinations for example below:

C*The package. CV - the package is insured.
E*EMS (Express Mail).
H*Sending e-commerce.
L*Trackable letters.
V*Insured letters.

A complete list of prefix notations can be found in the S10 Identification of postal items official document.

If referring to the LL694649116CN number, then L* - means a letter with the opportunity to be tracked.

A serial number is a combination of 8 digits accepting values in the range from 00000000 to 99999999. If using the LL694649116CN example, a serial number is 69464911.

A verification number is one digit being a result of the verification algorithm. The input to the algorithm is a serial number. A verification number is used to verify the tracking number while the package is moving from one post office to another. Thereby, it is possible to detect an error promptly in case of the man-rating input protractions.

The algorithm is based on the weight factor of each digit in the serial number and the 11 weighted module. The weight factor is specified as constants 8 6 4 2 3 5 9 7. The following is an example of the algorithm for the LL694649116CN tracking number, where 6 is the verification number.

Serial number:




he product of both weight and digits of the serial number according to the category:

  • Summarizing the numbers
    48 + 54 + 16 + 12 + 12 + 45 + 9 + 7 = 203
  • Dividing the resulting number 203 by the weighted module 11.
    203 : 11 = 18 and remainder is 5.
  • Subtract the remainder 5 from the weighted module.
    11 - 5 = 6

The verification number is 6, (6 = 6) the number has undergone a checkout.

The suffix or country code is a two-character country code according to the international standard ISO 3166-1 from which the parcel or letter was sent.

Postal operators should generate unique tracking numbers that must not be repeated within 12 calendar months. This period is listed as 24 calendar months, according to the standard recommendation. But there are incidents when one tracking number refers to two packages sharing less than a year. In this case, you must be careful, properly identifying your package. PostTrack will help you track packages even if there are two packages linked by the same tracking number.