Tracking Number and Order Number Difference

Mar 15, 2023

6 minutes

What is a tracking number?

A tracking number is a specific number assigned to each parcel just before being shipped. This number works as a unique ID code and allows people to follow and track their package from the departure (warehouse, storage center…) to the final destination it is supposed to reach.
The tracking number is usually printed as a barcode that can be scanned thanks to a barcode reader or even thanks to smartphones. There are international tracking numbers and also tracking numbers only detectable within the country where the sender stays. Whatever the type of tracking number, Ship24 is able to track your parcel and give you information about its status and current location.

Where can I find my tracking number?

Usually, once you have made a purchase on a marketplace or other website, an email is sent to your mailbox to confirm the purchase. In this email, you’ll normally find summary information about the product you just bought, the price and other characteristics, but above all, you will find the tracking number in this confirmation.
If you can’t find this email anymore or if you didn’t receive it, you can still contact the sender of the parcel. As it is the sender who is assigning a tracking number to the package, this one will have for sure the information you are looking for.

How many digits is a tracking number?

The tracking number format is different for each courier company. Indeed, the companies have their own code system, consisting in a mix of letters and numbers. It is possible to find spaces or hyphens between the letters and numbers but it happens rarely. Every character has a specific meaning, for example, the first digits can represent the courier company, other digits the location etc. Usually, the tracking numbers can be composed from 8 to 40 characters long.
Here are several examples of tracking numbers format for different international courier companies:

  • UPS

Usually, the UPS tracking numbers are composed of 18 characters starting most of the time by “1Z”. The UPS tracking numbers that don’t start like this are tracking numbers for Air Shipping Documents and International Air Waybills.

  • FedEx

FedEx Express tracking numbers are usually composed of 12 tracking number digits and FedEx Ground tracking numbers are composed of 15 digits. In both cases, there are no letters.

  • DHL

DHL tracking numbers don't have any letters, they are usually composed of 10 or 11 digits. DHL Express tracking numbers are composed of 10 digits only (eg: 1234567890) or starting by “000”, by “JJD01”, by “JJD00”, or by “JVGL” (eg: JD0166666666).

  • USPS

USPS tracking numbers are generally longer and typically formed of 20-22 digits without any letters. The USPS Express Mail tracking numbers are composed of 13 characters beginning with 2 capital letters and ending with the 2 capital letters “US”.

Postal services also attribute tracking numbers to packages. Some of them have very recognizable tracking numbers. For example:

  • The tracking numbers of PostNL always end with the capital letters “NL”.
  • For Singapore Post, the tracking numbers end up with the two capital letters “SG”.
  • For China Post, the end of the tracking numbers is recognizable thanks to the two letters “CN”.

What is an order number?

An order number also called purchase number or ID order is a number that identifies a purchase or order placed by a buyer. Marketplaces and e-commerce websites assign an order number to every order to keep track of it. This number is also useful for the seller if he needs to find details such as the shipment date, the payment terms or again for example the shipment status. The order numbers are also a way to ensure confidentiality, where the buyer’s real name isn’t used but instead a number working as an identifying agent.

How many digits is an order number?

As for the tracking numbers, the order numbers are different for every courier company. Sometimes people confuse tracking numbers and order numbers because both are composed of digits. Meanwhile, you must know that it is pretty rare to find spaces or hyphens in a tracking number. If you find these characters, most of the time it means it’s an order number but there are some exceptions. An order number from Amazon US can be as the following format: 111-9244735-1237858. Here, we can observe 17 order number digits separated with two hyphens.
If you are not sure about which number is the tracking number Amazon, you can copy-paste both of them in the search bar on the Ship24 homepage. For the tracking number, you will receive tracking details about your parcel. If it is written “Not found”, it is not the tracking number.

Can I track a package with the order number?

Usually, no. The tracking number and order number are two different numbers. The buyers can only track their package thanks to a tracking number, it is not possible to track a parcel with the order number. When you copy and paste a number in the search bar on the Ship24 homepage, make sure it is the tracking number and not the order number. Most of the time, after putting the number and clicking on the blue and white arrow on Ship24, if it says “Not found”, it might be because you put the order number instead of the tracking number. Ship24 and even other tracking platforms or the courier companies’ tracking pages can’t track a parcel with an order number, the tracking number is necessary.
If you think you put the correct tracking number but it is written “Not found”, you can contact the seller or online retail where you made your purchase for a double-check. Sometimes, it is possible that you may have to wait 1 or 2 days after the parcel has been sent to have available tracking details on Ship24.
Order numbers of parcels from the marketplace Asos are an exception. Indeed, for your parcels coming from this website, it is possible to track them by using both the tracking number and the order number. The Asos order numbers are composed of 9 digits (eg: 123456789).

What is the difference between tracking number, order number, consignment number and reference number?

Sometimes, between the different names, people can get confused. We can basically separate these words in 3 different groups:

  • Tracking number and consignment number:

Tracking number and consignment numbers are the same, they allow the buyer to track the package.

  • Order number, purchase number and ID order:

These three words are the same, they identify a purchase placed by the buyer and allow the seller to find details about the shipment (date, payment terms, status…).

  • Reference number:

It’s a number assigned to a financial transaction. This number helps the seller to identify the transactions.

Consignment number & Tracking number Order number, Purchase number and ID order Reference number
Allow buyers to track their package Allow the seller to find info about the shipment (date, payment terms, status…) Help the seller to identify financial transactions

Can I track my order on Alibaba?

Once you have selected the option “ parcels” or “ Air Express”, you can visit the web to track your shipment. There are few options you can choose for your Alibaba order tracking. Track your order on Alibaba may not be the easiest solution, there are few options you can choose for your Alibaba order tracking and one of the best is with Ship24. You just need to put your Alibaba tracking number in the search bar on the homepage and you will get all the needed information about your package status, its current location and the next steps of the delivery.

How do I find my tracking number on AliExpress?

You need to go on your profile and go in the “My orders'' section. Then, you just need to select the order you want to track, you will see a button “track order” just next to the concerned order. By putting the cursor on it, you will see the pop-up window with the AliExpress tracking number in it, not the AliExpress order number. Once you will have your AliExpress tracking number, it will be easy to track your AliExpress parcel.

Why can’t I track my Amazon package?

Sometimes, when you try to track your Amazon package on the Amazon website, it may happen that for some reasons the tracking information about your Amazon order won’t be available:

  • Sometimes it can be because the sellers forgot to provide Amazon with the tracking information for the orders.
  • Maybe because the first package scan won’t be done until delivery.
  • When the shipping volume is high and packages are processed in bulk, the first package scan might be upon arrival at a regional warehouse near the final destination. Until the first scan, the courier might not acknowledge receipt of the parcel.
  • Sometimes, some shipments such as Standard International shipments are not trackable.
  • If the tracking number starts with “TBA”, you have to check the section “About deliveries shipped with Amazon”.
    For a double check, you can still try to track your Amazon package on Ship24.

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