Processed Through Sort Facility: Meaning?

Here’s what the message “Processed through sort facility” means:

This means that the package is in the right country and has been processed.

From there, it simply needs to be shipped to your local package facility—such as a local post office—and then delivered to you.

All of this can still take multiple days, but at this point, the package is closer than not to being delivered.

So if you want to learn all about the meaning of the message “Processed through sort facility,” then you’re in the right place.

Let’s jump right into it!

Processed Through Sort Facility: Meaning? (All the Info)

Where Will You See the Message “Processed Through Sort Facility”?

“Processed through sort facility” is an update that you are likely to see on tracking websites.

If you’re watching a shipment that is run through a carrier like USPS or DHL, you might see this message in your list of tracking updates.

As with any other message you can see through package tracking, it’s aiming to give you an update as to the status of your package.

What Does the Message “Processed Through Sort Facility” Mean?

Specifically, this message is telling you about a specific part of the overall journey that the package has to take to get from sender to receiver.

Not all packages will actually need to go through a sort facility, but any package that is going through major shipping hubs will likely have this update at some point along the way.

This message is telling you that the package was received at a sorting facility.

It went through standard processing procedures, and it is ready to board a vehicle and move along to the next stop on its journey.

This is not telling you that the package will soon be delivered.

Rather, this is an intermediate step along the way (usually), and you’re seeing this update so that you know that progress is being made, even if final delivery is not imminent.

Why Are You Seeing the Message “Processed Through Sort Facility”?

Apart from just being another update that you might see when you track a package, you’re seeing this because the carrier wants to give you a clearer idea as to where the package is on its journey.

You see, most packages will have to go through multiple shipping facilities before reaching their final destinations.

If you’re just sending something locally, that might not be the case.

But, for any package that journeys to another state—much less another country—this update is common.

The carrier is using this update to tell you that your package is at a sort facility, which usually means that it’s in the country of destination.

From there, it might have a few more stops along the way, but usually, when you see this message, the biggest shipping hurdles have already been cleared.

What Happens During Sort Facility Processing? (2 Things)

This all might make more sense if you have a stronger understanding of what soft facilities do and what the processing looks like.

There are multiple stages to the process, but we can hone in on two of them to really clarify what is happening.

#1 Reception

When a package gets to a sort facility, it is formally received at the facility.

What this really means is that the package is scanned by someone at the facility, and that scan updates the system.

At this point, the carrier knows that the package is at this specific facility, and that means it’s ready for processing.

Reception is relatively simple, but it’s important because the scan is when you might see an update along the lines of “received at sort facility.”

You’ll notice how that differs from the update that says the package has been processed through the facility.

#2 Sorting

As the name implies, the purpose of a sort facility is to sort through mail and packages.

Depending on the size of the facility and the number of packages, each item will go through a system of automated and/or manned stations.

The point of all of this is to group the packages in ways that make shipping more efficient.

As an example, a sorting facility might receive a ton of packages from a cargo ship.

Those packages are then going to be routed to many different final destinations, and the sort facility is going to ensure that they get where they are headed efficiently.

So, if the sort facility is in, say, Long Beach California, it might receive a bunch of packages from the shipping port.

When the facility sorts all of the packages, it will group all of the packages that need to go to New England in one spot.

It might group packages headed to Florida in another spot.

And so on and so on…

This grouping makes it easy for the carrier to assign delivery methods.

Priority packages that still have a lot of ground to cover will be loaded onto aircraft for rapid shipping.

Packages that are staying in Southern California will usually be placed on trucks.

They’ll still probably head to local shipping hubs (like your local post office) before final delivery, but hopefully, you’re getting the idea.

The sorting facility is there to take a very large volume of packages and organize them so that the next stage of shipping makes sense.

How Long Does Processing Take? (3 Factors)

Since we’re talking about processing items through a sort facility, it makes sense to wonder how long it all takes?

As you might imagine, the time involved depends on a few regulations.

I’ll take you through the ones that tend to matter the most.

As a short answer, a package can stay in a sort facility for any period of time ranging from hours to weeks.

On average, the package won’t stay in the facility for more than a few days, but there are exceptions that can pop up, and major delays do sometimes happen.

Conversely, the only packages that are going to get through a sort facility in a few hours are either at a very small sort facility or have very high shipping priority.

#1 Volume

This is a very easy concept to understand.

It takes longer to sort more packages.

So, if a facility is handling tens of thousands of packages a day, then it’s probably going to have a longer average sort time than a facility that only processes a few hundred packages each day.

Ideally, sort facilities will work at large volumes.

By processing very large numbers of packages, the sort facility becomes more valuable to the shipping company that runs it.

It’s another example of the idea of economy of scale.

#2 Regulations

Regulations can also impact processing times.

Now, a sort facility should only be receiving packages that have already been through customs or any other required government inspection.

The sort facility is distinct from those other facilities (such as a customs inspection depot).

That said, there are still plenty of regulations in place depending on what is being shipped, where the shipment originated, and where it is headed.

There are times when a package might have to go through multiple countries before it gets to the intended destination.

In that case, you might see the package go through a sort facility in an intermediate country on this journey.

What that means is that the packages that are passing through the middle country have to follow special regulations to ensure that they don’t violate any trade laws or regulations.

On a completely different note, some types of packages require special handling.

In general, you’re not allowed to ship hazardous materials, but there are ways to get exceptions to that.

So, if your package does have special handling requirements, those requirements might add time to sort processing.

#3 Priority

There’s also the issue of priority.

Whenever you ship something, you get to choose various priorities.

Higher priorities are supposed to reach their destinations sooner, but they cost more.

Lower priority packages take longer to get through facilities.

A sort facility is a potential bottleneck along the overall shipping route, so priority matters a lot here.

If your package is of a lower priority, it’s going to have to wait its turn before it gets sorted.

Even after it is sorted, it still might wait awhile before it gets loaded onto the next stage of transportation.

And, there are special circumstances that can further complicate priorities.

If your sort facility is in Florida and part of the state was just hit by a hurricane, there might be disaster orders in place that demand the facility prioritize certain items over others.

It’s just one example, but you can imagine how circumstances really can impact priority.

How Far Away Is Your Package When You See the Message “Processed Through Sort Facility”?

Here’s the last real question of the day.

You see the message.

Your package has been processed through a sort facility.

How long until you get it?

Unfortunately, that answer depends on a few things.

First, it depends on how far away the sort facility is.

If the sort facility is in Long Beach, and you’re in Phoenix, you could conceivably receive your package in one to three days, depending on priority.

If you’re in Nashville, you might have to wait longer.

It’s a simple matter of distance.

Here’s what you can take away from the sort facility message.

Usually, this message means that your package is in the country of destination.

It means that it has cleared customs and other legal hurdles.

It also means that the package has already been sorted.

From there, it simply needs to make a few stops to get to your local station.

Once there, it can get on a truck and make it to your house.

There aren’t that many stages left, so usually, this message means that the package is past the halfway point in its journey.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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