Top 4th of July Sales Best 4K Projectors 7 Early Prime Day Deals Wi-Fi Range Extenders My Favorite Summer Gadgets Cheap Car Insurance Target's 4th of July Sale Best Running Earbuds, Headphones

If Your Tax Refund Check Is Coming in the Mail, Here's How to Track It

You don't have to check your mailbox every day to see if your refund check has arrived. Do this instead.

The USPS sign at a post office
USPS can scan your incoming mail and let you know when your tax refund will arrive.
James Martin/CNET

This story is part of Taxes 2022, CNET's coverage of the best tax software and everything else you need to get your return filed quickly, accurately and on-time.

With tax filing season behind us, the next step is waiting for your tax refund to arrive. And if you filed a paper tax return and didn't set up direct deposit, your refund should come as a paper check in the mail. But when should you expect it to arrive?

The US Postal Service has a tracking tool that lets you know exactly when your tax refund will land in your mailbox. It's called Informed Delivery, and the free USPS service sends you alerts for all new mail -- and transmits images of the front of letters so you know exactly what's arriving. It doesn't take pictures of your incoming packages, but it does track them and will also let you add an electronic signature to receive packages when you're not home.

The process for setting up and using USPS Informed Delivery is pretty simple -- we'll explain how to do it. For more about tax season and the post office, learn about the biggest tax changes this year, CNET's picks of the best tax software for 2022 and how to tell the IRS and USPS you've moved.

USPS Informed Delivery: Track your check directly to your mailbox

Informed Delivery is a free mail-tracking service from the USPS that automatically scans your incoming letters and can send you an image each time something with your name on it is about to be delivered.

When the USPS runs mail through its automated sorting equipment, it creates a digital image of the front of all letter-size mail. Anyone who signs up for Informed Delivery can benefit from that information by asking USPS to notify you when each piece of mail bearing your name is on the way. Note that it can take three days to activate your account.

As part of the program, you'll receive an email every morning, Monday through Saturday, to notify you about mail being delivered to you. You'll also see a grayscale image of the letter's front. Informed Delivery has free apps for Android and iOS, too. 

Just be aware that signing up means you'll see all mail that's scanned by the post office. You can cancel the service at any time. Read on for details on how to sign up for Informed Delivery.

You can also track your packages from the post office

With Informed Delivery, you can check the delivery status of your packages and when they're scheduled to arrive. The post office doesn't capture an image of your packages, however. You can use the service to create an electronic signature so you can receive packages when you're not at home.

USPS Informed Delivery: How to get notifications

Informed Delivery has some limitations. For example, it will work with many residential and personal post office box addresses -- but not businesses. It also won't work for some residential buildings where USPS hasn't yet identified each unit. 

To check whether Informed Delivery is available in your area, head to the Postal Service's Informed Delivery page.

1. Tap Sign Up for Free.

2. Enter your mailing address and confirm that it'll work with the service; then accept the terms and conditions and tap Continue

3. On the next page, choose a username, password and security questions. Enter your contact information and tap Continue.

4. On the next page, you'll need to verify your identity. Tap Verify identity online if you want to receive a verification code on your phone or tap Request invitation code by mail if you want the USPS to mail you a code. You may also have the option to visit a post office to verify your identity in person.

For more details, here are eight reasons why your tax refund might be late. Also, here's how to register on the IRS website without taking a video selfie.