Have you ever been anxiously tracking a FedEx package, only to see that dreaded message: “Shipment Exception, Barcode Label Unreadable and Replaced“? It’s a frustrating experience when your FedEx delivery gets derailed by something seemingly simple like a damaged barcode label.

Don’t worry, though! In this article, we’ll break down this common FedEx shipping exception. We’ll explain why barcode labels are so important, how they can get damaged, and reassure you that your package is likely still on the way.

Plus, we’ll give you some tips to help minimize the chances of barcode label issues messing with your future FedEx deliveries. Let’s dive in and get your package back on track!

FedEx Barcode Label Unreadable and Replaced Meaning

What does the Barcode Label Unreadable And Replaced Mean?

When a barcode label is unreadable, it means that the automated scanners at FedEx are unable to decipher it due to issues such as being covered, scratched, or damaged. In such cases, a FedEx representative will print a new label to replace the unreadable one. This action results in a ‘shipment exception’ appearing on the tracking page, but it does not hinder the package’s journey. The package continues to its destination with the new, readable label.

To elaborate, when FedEx’s automated scanners encounter difficulties reading the original barcode due to issues like ink spots, smudges, or accidental label damage caused by conveyor belts, they opt to replace it. 

This swift action aims to ensure that your package can be seamlessly scanned as it continues its journey through FedEx’s distribution network, minimizing disruptions to its delivery schedule.

Will my Package be Delayed due to “Barcode Label Unreadable and Replaced”?

In most cases, the answer is yes. A short delay can be expected. When FedEx detects that part of the barcode or address on your package is damaged or unreadable, they will temporarily hold it at the next distribution facility along its journey. There, a new label will be printed and attached to the package.

While this process typically doesn’t cause substantial delays, it can alter the original FedEx delivery schedule by a day or perhaps two. So, it’s not uncommon for a package to arrive slightly later than initially anticipated when the label needs replacement.

What Causes a Barcode Label Unreadable and Replaced Update?

This update primarily occurs when the original barcode label on a package becomes unreadable during its journey. While the root cause is the unreadable barcode, several factors can contribute to this issue:

Incorrect Label Placement: If the shipper didn’t affix the label and barcode correctly, such as placing it near package corners or across seams, it can become prone to damage and unreadability during transit.

Environmental Factors: Environmental conditions like moisture or rain can damage labels, causing the barcode to smudge or become illegible at any stage of the package’s journey.

Oddly Shaped Packages: Bulky or irregularly shaped packages, such as bicycles, dumbbells, or large furniture items, can easily sustain label damage due to their shape and size, making the barcode susceptible to issues.

Also, Read: FedEx Tendered To Authorized Agent For Final Delivery

What happens when a barcode is unreadable?

When a barcode on a package becomes unreadable, it poses a challenge for FedEx’s automated scanning systems. These systems rely on barcodes for efficient tracking and sorting of packages. When a barcode is compromised, it disrupts this automated process.

In response to an unreadable barcode, FedEx takes swift action. They remove the damaged or illegible barcode label and replace it with a new one. 

This new label contains the necessary information for proper tracking and delivery, ensuring that the package can continue its journey through the FedEx network.

It’s important to note that replacing the barcode label doesn’t necessarily imply that the package itself is damaged. Instead, it addresses the issue of tracking and ensures that the package can be accurately scanned and processed as it moves toward its destination.

How long will delivering the package after Barcode Label Unreadable And Replaced take?

Following the replacement of a barcode label, you might be wondering how long it will take for your package to be delivered.

The duration of the delay can vary based on several factors:

Speed of FedEx Facility: The efficiency and workload of the specific FedEx facility where the barcode label replacement occurs play a significant role. In some fortunate cases, the label can be replaced quickly, and the package returns to its intended route the same day.

Potential Delays: However, it’s more common for a damaged label to delay 1-2 days. FedEx strives to expedite the process, but some additional time may be needed to ensure the package’s correct handling and accurate tracking.

Estimated Delivery Date: To stay informed about the expected delivery time frame, keep an eye on FedEx’s estimated delivery date. It offers the most accurate estimate based on all available information about your shipment.

In instances where shipment exceptions can cause tracking to display ‘Pending,’ anticipate your package to arrive 1-2 days after the original estimated delivery date if label replacement is necessary. While FedEx aims for prompt delivery, these delays are a precaution to ensure your package reaches you accurately and intact.

Does Fedex Open The Package When Replacing The Barcode?

One common concern when a barcode is replaced is whether FedEx opens the package during this process. Let’s address that.

The good news is that FedEx does not open your package when replacing the barcode label. The barcode is always affixed to the exterior of the package, typically on the shipping label. As a result, there is no need for FedEx to open the package during the label replacement procedure.

FedEx’s primary goal when replacing the barcode label is to ensure the package can be correctly scanned and tracked throughout its journey without compromising its contents. 

Therefore, they focus solely on updating the label itself, making the necessary adjustments to facilitate accurate tracking without interfering with the package’s contents. Your package remains sealed and secure during this process.

Also, Read: What Does Tendered at FedEx OnSite Mean?

How To Prevent A ‘Barcode Label Unreadable And Replaced’ Shipment Exception In The Future

Here are some practical steps you can take:

Proper Label Placement: Ensure that the label is securely affixed to one side of the package, avoiding bubbles or wrinkles around the barcode area. The entire barcode should be visible and scannable horizontally.

Weather Considerations: If you’re sending a package during rainy or adverse weather conditions, take extra precautions to protect the label from moisture and smudging. Use waterproof packaging or cover the label area if necessary.

Be Mindful of Package Shape: If you’re shipping oddly shaped or oversized items, be aware that they may be more susceptible to label damage during transit. Consider additional padding or protection for labels on such packages.

It is possible to significantly reduce the chance of experiencing a Barcode Label Unreadable and Replaced shipment exception in the future by taking these proactive measures, which will guarantee that your packages are delivered faster and more reliably in the future.


Is my Package Damaged if I Receive a Barcode Label Unreadable and Replaced Update?

No, your package is not necessarily damaged if you receive a “Barcode Label Unreadable and Replaced” update. The most common reason for an unreadable barcode is that it has become damaged or smudged during shipping. FedEx will replace the barcode so that they can continue tracking the package. In most cases, this will only cause a short delay in the delivery of your package.

What does the Barcode Label Unreadable And Replaced Mean?

The “Barcode Label Unreadable and Replaced” message means that the original barcode on your package has become unreadable by FedEx’s scanners. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as the barcode becoming damaged, smudged, or torn. FedEx will print a new barcode label and attach it to your package when this happens. 


Alexandra Navara

Alexandra Navara is a seasoned logistics expert with over 7 years of industry experience. Holding a degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, she excels in writing insightful, engaging content on courier services. Certified as a Supply Chain Professional, Alexandra brings depth and clarity to complex logistics topics.

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