Letter of Apology for Delay

Delays of all types are a part of modern day society so crafting a letter of apology for any type of delay is a pretty common practice.

Regardless if the cause for the delay is our fault or out of our control, the resulting effect is the same.

A stopwatch with the word deadline on it in orange.


So whether the infraction was beyond your control or clearly your fault, apologizing for the delay is simple courtesy and good business practice.

Obviously, some delays have more serious consequences than others. Being late in submitting a report to your boss which was needed for an important meeting can be detrimental for the company, the meeting, or even your job, while missing a deadline for submitting a paper to your professor may simple result in your getting a poor grade. Although the actions are the same, the consequences can be vastly different.

So it's not only the delay itself that should be considered in your apology but equally important to your letter are the resulting consequences especially when they are felt solely by the injured party or even shared with them.

The most common delays in modern day society are in response, delivery, work or sevice. Each one of these types of delays can have very minor consequences or major consequences depending on the specifics and situation. It is important to evaluate and understand the severity of those consequences in your particular case so that you can craft the appropriate apology.

The table below provides a sample letter of apology for a typical delay in missing a deadline. We provide a series of 'Notes' to explain each statement so that you can easily tailor this letter to your own situation.

  Notes      Example: Letter of Apology for a Delay

If you're on a first name basis with the recipient it is often appropriate to use their first name. However, depending on the relationship and seriousness of the delay, you may consider addressing them as Mr. or Ms. to add formality and underscore how seriously you are taking the matter.

Dear _______________,

Apologize with a detailed account of the situation and specifics.

Start with a general term for the infraction along with time and place specifics e.g. delay in delivery, service, response etc..

Please accept my sincere apology for missing my deadline. I know that I promised to have the article on your desk first thing monday morning and it was not delivered to your offices until end of day.

Acknowledge the hurt, damage done and implications of the events that took place.

There may be lots or little damage done. The most important element is to acknowledge the hurt caused to the other person.

I understand your disappointment. I let myself down, and more importantly I let you and the entire organization down.

I can only hope that the rescheduling that took place as a result of my actions was not costly financially or in terms of resources. I also appreciate how disruptive the shift in schedule was for all involved.

Take full responsibility.

I made a promise, and I broke that promise. I take full responsibility for the delay.

Recognize your role in the situation with a detailed account of what happened without making excuses.

There really are no excuses. To be frank, I just didn't allot the necessary time to complete the task. The gathering of documents to finish the article took longer than anticipated and I simply didn't allow for any unexpected delays which I should have done, as a professional.

Promise that it won't happen again and why it's important that it doesn't.

I promise that this will be the last time I ever put myself or you in this position. Moving forward I will always handle matters professionally, which includes allowing extra time for unforeseen events when important deadlines need to be met.

Include a statement of regret.

I take pride in the work that I do and it's very important to me I regain your trust and respect. I truly regret this whole incident.

Provide some way of easing the pain caused.

I've let all parties involved know that any delays that were caused were my fault and no one elses, so that everyone understands that you are in no way to blame.

End with a willingness to do whatever is necessary to correct the situation.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to remedy things.



Tailoring this sample letter to your own situation is easy with the 'Notes' we provide. By breaking down each individual statement with an explanation of what needs to be included, writing your own letter of apology for a delay will be almost as simple as filling in a form.

Use the 'Notes' to guide you and replace the specifics with your own situation.

The order of things is not important so write your letter as you see fit. What is important however, for the apology to be effective, is that all of the elements listed in the 'notes' column are included.


Consider the format of your apology letter and how it plays a role in how effective your letter can be. Or, view some of our other business apology letters.

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