What on earth does this mean? Track and Trace explained.

I have been busy sewing special orders for customers at my Etsy shop, RainbowShed. I sent a parcel Special Delivery yesterday, safe and secure in the knowledge that it would be tracked all the way to the new owner of a snuggly scarf.  As my second scarf sold, the event carried a festival like atmosphere.  Pictures were taken of the parcel at every stage.

Irish Flag scarf by RainbowShed

The Irish Flag scarf – just in time for St Patrick’s Day

Due to an attack of cramp in the foot that left me strutting around my bedroom at 3.30am this morning like a constipated pigeon, I was downstairs on the laptop at stupid o’clock and decided to find out where my parcel was – I love tracking parcels – it shows why the postage you pay is such good value, with many hands scanning in my Special Delivery parcel as it travelled from Oop North to Down South.

I logged into Etsy and clicked on the tracking number on the order screen for my customer, and came to a rather delightful window that said:

Shipped From RainbowShed, Huddersfield, United Kingdom


All ready to pack and send…

next to a map!  There was the big orange teardrop thingy (technical term) pointing down at Huddersfield.  The customers post town and postcode was also there, a lovely touch, and a link to track the parcel with the Royal Mail.

So I clicked on the link.  So far so good.  It took me to a page on the Royal Mail website, where I found the following encouraging message:

Status: It’s on its way.

But what is this?  A button with Full Tracking Details on it.  Now we are Alice in Wonderland territory here.  A button just wanting to be clicked.  Just like a bottle with a label swinging off it reading “Drink Me”.  A button that led straight down the rabbit hole and into “Oh my God what the bleep happened to my parcel!!?!”

I clicked the button…

A tracking event appeared that put ice into my soul.



What happened to my parcel?  What?  What did this tracking event even mean?

My parcel - was the bubble mailer too fancy?

The parcel – was the bubble mailer too fancy?

Did I tape that delivery note envelope on securely enough?  Why did I buy those fancy bubble mailers?  Why?  Why???  Why?????  My mind was racing, filled with thoughts of Royal Mail employees standing around the offending parcel, marvelling at the stupidity of the person who packed it.  I could hear their jaded voices ringing through my head “will they never learn?”

I knew that the parcel would get there eventually, but when?  I always place another delivery note inside parcels,  with full details of where the parcel is going, and in this one had put in my business mobile number in case there were any issues.  I securely taped on my sender’s address label, so I knew if anything went wrong it would find its way back to me.

There was only one thing for it.  I snapped into action.  I cut another scarf out.  Sewing would be out of the question at what was now approaching 4am, but if I cut the scarf out I could sew it and mail it out again when the Post Office opened, and it would still get there for Monday.

One scarf cut out later, ready to sew I still wondered what the heck that tracking event meant, so I did what I should have done first – if in doubt, Google it.

I found a page on the Royal Mail website that very helpfully explained all the tracking terms used.

So now I know:

Received Unknown Bag – Missing DUN is:

An internal message for the Royal Mail that the label from the mail bag the item is travelling in has come away has been replaced. Don’t worry, this doesn’t impact your item.

Panic over.

For those of you that are like me eternally curious here is the low down on what all these tracking events mean:

Term What it means
Accepted at POL The sender has posted the item at a Post Office®
Collected from POL The recipient has collected the item from a Post Office®
Delivered The item has either been delivered as addressed or to a neighbour. Please note Special Delivery Guaranteed™ items cannot be delivered to a neighbour.
DC  Distribution centre
Held at PDO We’ve let the recipient know we’re holding the item at our enquiry office.
Inward RDC Volumetric Acceptance The item is halfway through its journey.
Not delivered – returned to NRC The Royal Mail have been unable to deliver the item and there’s no return address so it has been sent to the National Return Centre.
OE Office of exchange – there’s at least one in every country. This is where items are sent before they’re passed to another country.
Outward RDC Volumetric Acceptance The item has been collected from the sender.
PDO This means a delivery office, and will usually include a location.
POL Post Office®
Pre-advice Received The sender has informed the Royal Mail that there is an item to post, but it is not yet with the Royal Mail.
RDC Regional distribution centre
Received at DO The item has reached the recipient’s delivery office
Received at OE The item has reached the country of destination and will be sent on for delivery.
Received at Overseas OE The item has reached the country of destination and will be sent on for delivery.
Received Unknown Bag – Missing DUN An internal message for Royal Mail that the label from the mail bag your item is travelling in has come away and we’ve replaced it. Don’t worry, this doesn’t impact your item.

So now you know. I am off to bed.

7 thoughts on “What on earth does this mean? Track and Trace explained.

  1. Jason

    Thank you so much for posting this.. I too have been tracking a parcel all night while at work and saw that dreaded ” RECEIVEDUNKNOWNBAG – MISSINGDUN” and quite literally had a heart attack and thought its now lost forever lol. I was so relieved to see this post pop up when I did a frantic Google search.

    Many thanks 🙂

    1. Allie Post author

      Glad to be of help – I am still recovering from the trauma of cutting another scarf out at 4am!! On the plus side I now have a handy reference to help me if it happens again! Allie

  2. Rebecca

    I have too received the same message, however 3 days later and there are still no updates online of the tracking of this parcel, its going to Ireland but still says its in Heathrow. Did your items get sent ok?

    1. Allie Post author

      Yes the parcel did get there, and to the guaranteed delivery time – I used Special Delivery. What service was your parcel sent by?

  3. Chris

    Fantastic. Thanks for the panic relief – Have a very valuable antique travelling to Germany and thought the wurst…:)


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