2 December 20226 minute read

What Does Dispatched From Sorting Center Mean?


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Are you keeping track of your package’s whereabouts? If so, you might find the message “Dispatched from sorting center.” 

This means that your package has left the central sorting facility and is now on its way to you or your nearest pickup location. 

Whether you’ll get your package directly after it’s dispatched from the sorting center depends on the kind of sorting center it was dispatched from and when your package is expected to arrive at your doorstep. 

Depending on the delivery distance, a package may have to go through one or several sorting facilities.
But what is a sorting center, and what happens there? How long do packages stay there? What are the next steps after the sorting center? 

I answer these questions and more.

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What is a sorting center?

A sorting center is any package delivery facility where packages are sorted into different batches for delivery. 

The packages may then be sent to another sorting center or a local post office (like the United States Postal Service). 

There, they’re sorted again. 

For instance, a pan-US delivery will likely be sent to a national sorting facility where East and West Coast packages are separated. These will then be sent to the coastal centers where they’re separated by state and finally by city or town.
Whereas one from China will probably go through China Post and then be shipped by air or sea to the destination country. Once it’s passed customs clearance, it might follow the same route as the pan-US package.

Estimated time of arrival (ETA) is usually the best metric for knowing when your package will be delivered. 

A late ETA suggests your package has yet to pass through more sorting centers, whereas a shorter ETA usually means that it is on your way or it will be very soon. 

Some services might need workers to recheck package details like delivery address and order reference number at each sorting center for safe delivery. 

Packages are first separated into regional clusters. 

For example, a package traveling from Washington to New York might be put into a Northeastern cluster. It’ll then be sent to the regional sorting center, where it’ll be checked, stamped, and put into a New York cluster. 

Urgent delivery packages are usually marked and set aside in a sorting center. These packages then go through a unique sorting process, at the end of which they’re sent to customers through specialized fast-delivery services, like Amazon Prime’s one-day delivery. 

These might be road vehicles with specially designated routes (which have fewer stops and take less time to cover) or even mail planes depending on the delivery distance. 


What happens in a sorting center? 

The purpose of a sorting center is to sort through and mark delivery packages. This is initially done based on the delivery area code written or posted by the sender.

Packages ordered over the internet usually have the area code entered by the customers.

Once sorted, these packages are stamped with barcodes, QR codes, or any other digital identification numbers to help both the delivery service and customer track them en route

These are usually the delivery numbers or order numbers given to customers to help them track their packages. 

The packages at a sorting center are also digitally or manually checked for any special delivery instructions. 

For instance, fragile items might be separated and put together in a special-care cluster delivered by specialized services. 

These don’t always have to be fragile items. Things that need to be in cold storage or any other special conditions can also be classified as fragile and separated for special delivery. 

Urgent delivery items might also be marked and separated based on the given instructions. 

A good example of this is Amazon’s Prime delivery packages, which are sealed using a signature blue tape, signifying a higher priority delivery.



How long is a package usually in a sorting center? 

Sometimes, your package may stay in a sorting center for only a few hours; at other times, it may stay there for a couple of days.

How long your package stays in a processing center depends on several things. This includes what kind of shipping method you paid for, how many packages the center has, and when the workers get to your package. 

What typically happens after a package is dispatched from a sorting center?

That depends on what stage of the journey your package has reached. 

Sorting centers can be both at the final destination or at one of several midway points en route to it. 

For instance, a package being shipped from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, might first reach a midway sorting center in St. Louis, Missouri. 

There, it’ll be sorted for onward shipping to another midway sorting center or to the postal service in Washington, DC, or nearby. 

Your package then gets loaded onto a delivery truck or van driven by a driver who will make deliveries based on a pre-arranged route. Carriers refer to this stage as “out for delivery,” which just means the package is on its way to be delivered. 

This is when you can start looking out the window for your package to arrive.


What to do if your package is stuck in a sorting center

Ideally, it shouldn’t happen, but even the most efficient shipping systems have a margin of error and weak points along the way. 

If you’re not in too much of a hurry to receive the package, the best thing to do in this situation is to just wait it out — for a while at least. 

“Stuck at a sorting center” might simply mean a cart ending up in the wrong bay or a package being overlooked. These and other similar circumstances will probably resolve on their own eventually.    

However, you might need to take action if you’re in a hurry or if the package status stays unchanged for days.

The best thing to do is to try and reach out to the shipping center.  

Sometimes, however, it’s because of a tracking error that a package shows up as stuck in a sorting center. 

It’s exactly for circumstances like these that make it a good idea to use a package tracker that can locate your shipment in seconds, wherever in the world it may be. 

Universal package trackers like Circuit Package Tracker help you get on-demand updates and raise requests or complaints immediately once you’re sure your package is stuck at a sorting center.

Should you contact the sorting center directly? 

If you think your package is lost, damaged, or stuck, you might think you should contact the sorting center. 

But that’s probably not the best idea.

As sorting centers are waypoints along a shipping route, they’re notoriously hard to get in touch with. Even if you manage to reach one, you may not have an answer about the delay. 

Sorting centers are huge places — the bigger ones handling hundreds of thousands of packages each day. 

Locating a missing package may not be the easiest thing for them to do. 

And carriers often have solutions for this kind of scenario, which means chances are that your package will eventually be found and put back on route. 

Instead of contacting the sorting center directly, it’s best to get in touch with the shipper or shipping service. 

They can give you an update on the tracking status and the next steps you need to take.

How can you get detailed tracking information for your package?

Instead of hoping for the best when it comes to your package, use Circuit Package Tracker to know when your package leaves the sorting center or distribution center and gets closer to you.  

With Circuit, you can find your package in seconds, no matter where in the world it is. Just add your tracking number and pick your carrier to track your package up until its final delivery. 

Our tracker works for most delivery companies and courier services — including DHL, FedEx, UPS, and USPS.

The Circuit Package Tracker app lets you follow packages, get customized alerts, and know delivery times more easily.

Track any package in the world, in seconds, with Circuit Package Tracker. Click here to start tracking.

About the author

Heather Reinblatt
Heather ReinblattContributor

Heather Reinblatt is a managing editor currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. She spends her free time reading, trying new recipes, and cuddling her cat Paisley. You can find Heather on LinkedIn.


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