Where is your stimulus check? Track it in the US mail two ways

The deadline for direct deposit has passed, so if you're reading this, chances are the IRS is mailing your stimulus check to you. Don't panic. We're here to show you how to use a United States Postal Service app to find out when exactly your payment is coming in the mail. The USPS calls this mail-tracking tool Informed Delivery. After you sign up for the free service, it'll notify you when your check is about to arrive, and even show you a photo of your envelope.

There are some limitations to the USPS Informed Delivery service, so you might prefer to start by tracking your payment through the online IRS tool. This should give you a ballpark estimate for when your check will come out. The separate USPS tool verifies that the check has in fact been processed by the postal service and is in transit. Moreover, it will actually notify you on the day of expected delivery.

A word before you begin. If you're first checking on your tracking status through the IRS' online tracking tool, which is called Get My Payment (remember, this is separate from the USPS service), there's a chance you could run into trouble, like an error message that's hard to discern, or issues identifying who you are. If you do, here are 12 possible explanations for what's going on and how you might be able to work around them. And if you're hearing chatter about another economic relief bill, here's what we know about the possibility of a second round of stimulus checks.

Make sure you're eligible for Informed Delivery

When the USPS runs mail through its automated mail sorting equipment, it creates a digital image of the front of all letter-size mail, and that includes your stimulus check. The Informed Delivery program uses this digitally captured information to notify you when each piece of mail is on the way.

The service is available to many residential and personal PO box addresses but not businesses. It also won't work for some multiunit buildings where the postal service hasn't yet identified each unit.

Here's how to check whether it's available in your area:

1. Head to the Postal Service's Informed Delivery page and tap the Sign Up for Free button.

2. Enter your mailing address, and tap Continue.

If the service is available, you can continue to set up an account.

Set up the Informed Delivery service

If you're eligible, here's how to set up your account.

1. On the Postal Service's Informed Delivery page, if you haven't yet, tap Sign Up for Free.

2. After you enter your mailing address and confirm it's in the service, accept the terms and conditions and tap Continue.

3. On the next page, choose your username, password and security questions; enter your contact information; and then 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 postal service to mail a code to you. If neither method works for you, may also be given the option to visit a post office to verify your identity in person.

How to see what's coming in the mail

The IRS said it can take three business days to activate your account after you set it up. Once it's live, you will receive an email each morning Monday through Saturday if mail is scheduled to arrive, notifying you of mail that will be delivered, along with a grayscale image of the front of the letter.

You can also use the free Android and iPhone Informed Delivery app to be notified.

For more on ordering and receiving packages during the coronavirus pandemic, here's how to find household goods when Amazon and other online stores are out of stock, how to order beer and wine online, and how long the virus can survive on packages.