Guide To Shipping Via The United States Postal Service USPS

If you are about to start your online store, your first investment would be Shipping. Everyone wants to reduce their shipping costs and USPS comes first in place for reliable shipping partner at cheaper price. Here is the Guide To Shipping Via The United States Postal Service USPS. In this article, i am going to show you the complete details about usps delivery times , types of usps mails, usps tracking service details and many more.

Mostly new business owners wanted to to ship their products through USPS, because FedEx and DHL will seem expensive. Since, their business is just starting, no one wants to spend much money on shipping, instead they would choose something economy. At this point, USPS plays a key role because, it offers low rates and speed delivery but not so reliable shipping partner when considered with private shipping companies.


Do you know?

Do you know how many types of USPS mails available for your use? what kind of packaging you need to use for your products in order to ship through USPS? what tag you should affix for your parcel? The difference between express mail, priority mail or first class or parcel post? can you insure your package?

I am going to explain all these details in this blog post, continue reading further.

Types of USPS mails:

  • First Class Mail

First Class Mail

For lower weight packages, there is no shipping service that can beat USPS First Class Mail service. Their rate is very cheap when compared with other shipping providers. USPS First class mail is the cheapest and fastest way to deliver your parcels.

USPS website claims that their delivery time is between 1 to 3 days of time. But i have some cases where the package is delivered after 3 days of time. But ofcourse, there are some packages which were delivered overnight and some took many days of time. It all depends on the suburb you live in. Remote areas will take a bit of time while metro cities take very less time for delivery by USPS. On overall USPS delivery time is around 1 – 3 days.

When you ship your product through USPS First Class, you will be provided with tracking details with which you can track your package online and also its delivery status. If you are using some drop shipping company, then they will send you all the tracking details and delivery information to your email otherwise you have to track all by yourself.

There are some restrictions for USPS First Class Mail. If you wanted to ship your package through USPS First Class, then you have to follow the following restrictions.

– Your package dimensions should not exceed 15 x 12 inches (width x height)

– The thickness of your package should be at least 1/4 inch.

– The minimum length and breadth of your package must be around 11 1/2 x 6 1/8 inch (length x height) .

USPS is very strict about the thickness thing, if your package does not meet the required package thickness criteria, then USPS will automatically return your shipment back to the sender or will automatically upgrade your package to Priority mail and charge the end customer. So, make sure, your packages meet the thickness criteria for your shipments.

  • Priority Mail

USPS Priority Mail

If your package weight is more than 13 oz, then you must choose USPS priority mail service as described by USPS website. If your package is more than 13 OZ, then you cannot go for First Class Mail as it is only limited to packages under 13 OZ. The delivery time of priority mail is 1 to 2 days which is same as First Class mail service. However it was observed that priority mails are bit faster than first class mails. And also, this priority mail is bit reliable than First class mail service by USPS.

The benefits in using priority mail is that you can get all the shipping supplies for free.

For to order your free shipping supplies, just go to website and order your shipping supplies and they will delivered to your door step free of charge. There are lot of options available to choose from different delivery boxes.

Here are the different types of deliver boxes available with USPS.

Deliver Choices for USPS

  • Priority Regional Box 

With this box, your shipping cost is calculated basing on the weight of the package and also the distance of your shipment. This is the default way to calculate your shipping costs. Even if you use your own packing box also, this is the default way to calculate your shipping costs.

  • Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box

With Priority mail small flat rate box, you will be charged a flat rate regardless of weight of the package. In order to use this facility, you need to pack your product in a special box provided by USPS. This box’s dimensions will be 8 11/16″ x 5 7/16″ x 1 3/4″ (length x breadth x height). This size of box is usually enough for packing small electronics and other herbal products.

  • Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box

For a bit larger shipments you can choose USPS priority mail medium flat rate boxes. These medium flat rate boxes comes in two different sizes. one is 1/4″ x 8 3/4″ x 6″ (length x breadth x height) and the other one is 14″ x 12″ x 3 1/2″ (length x breadth x height)

  • Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box

If you have even more larger packages which needs to be shipped, then you can use USPS priority mail large flat rate box. All the above boxes comes with a flat rate.


  • Express Mail

Express mail

Just like UPS and Fed Ex’s next day delivery services, USPS also offers next day delivery service in the name of USPS Express mail service. But many customers have reported that it is not that reliable when compared with UPS and Fedex. Even though USPS guarantee next day delivery, many people have reported that it will take around 1 to 2 days in order to deliver your package to the customer.

In case of any late delivery, you will have to check  their website for tracking of USPS express mail. Even though this is a guaranteed service, getting a refund from them involves lengthy process.

When it comes to pricing, USPS express mail is much more cheaper than Fedex and UPS. They also offer flat rate boxes where you can get flat rates for your shipments. This flat rate varies with size of the box.

One of the bad thing with USPS is that, for express mail, the pick up time is very early. The pick up needs to be done before 3 PM and sometimes 1 PM only which is way too early. If this is the case, you cannot offer next day deliveries to your customers who ordered your product in the after noon. Where as with Fedex and UPS, their pick up time is 6 PM, so that, you can fulfill all your order in the same day itself.

Another bad thing with USPS express mail is that, even though your post man picks up your shipments before 1 PM, it does not mean that your packages will scheduled for delivery tomorrow. Sometimes, the postman might scan your shipments tomorrow, and therefore, your shipment will be delivered day after tomorrow to your customer.

So, if you are looking for next day delivery, have them scanned directly at the office, in this way, you will know that your shipments are going out today itself.

For example, if a customer pays extra for express delivery, that means, he wants his order the next day and USPS express delivery is not that reliable, if you really adore your customers, try other providers for next day delivery.

You can also get the following perks with USPS express mail

– Insurance coverage upto $100 for your package

– USPS tracking

– Signature confirmation for your package delivery

  • Standard Post

Standard Post

USPS standard post is one of the cheapest way to send your parcels. If your customer pays for normal shipping and you don’t want to pay much for shipping, then this is the one to use, because it is the cheapest way to send your parcels. According to USPS the delivery time for standard mail takes around 2 – 8 days. But, in practice, it takes forever for delivery to the customer.

Normally, people opt for this service is because, if their package is more than 70 lbs, then they would choose this method of shipping. The only pro for this service is that is very cheap. If your package is more than 70 lbs, try other options also like Fedex and UPS who offer quicker delivery than USPS.

  • Media Mail

Media Mail

USPS media mail is just like USPS standard mail except that it should be used only to deliver printed materials, CDs and DVD’s kinda educational materials. The following materials are allowed to send using media mail.

– Printed materials, should contain atleast 8 printed pages.

– Film Catalogues – should be of 24 pages or more.

– Audio recordings – CD’s & DVD’s

– Educational materials

– Computer readable data

The trend of CD’s & DVD’s have gone long ago, no one is shipping them now a days, instead they are using services like dropbox to transfer their files.

  • Addon Services from USPS

Insurance Coverage:

USPS offers insurance coverage to your shipments upto $5000. But very few people purchase this insurance thing for their products. Unless your products too fragile, i don’t think it is really necessary to buy insurance for your shipments. And moreover, claiming an insurance is never been easy for anyone and it involves lot of pain. Its upto you, if you think you can do all those hectic procedures in claiming an insurance, go for it.

Registered mail:

Shipping your packages through registered mail offers good security for your package, since the name itself tells that registered mail means, it will deliver your product to the person who you registered your package to. This is very helpful in sending high valued products using this registered mail service. It also offers loss or damage protection upto $25000. So you no need to worry about your package.

Delivery confirmation: 

Delivery confirmation is free with every First class mail, express mail and priority mail. But you need to print your own shipping labels online if you want this service to be free.

Signature Confirmation:

For low valued packages i don’t recommend getting this service, as this is not free. But if you are shipping high valued services, you should definitely get this signature confirmation service, as this will be helpful in defending your charge backs from your payment processing company when a dispute is raised by the customer.

Certificate of Mailing:

You can use this service if you want to prove the customer that you have shipped the product on exact date and time. But this certificate doesn’t show you the delivery status. But this will be helpful in the process of claiming the insurance.

Certified mail: 

This service is only limited to letters and cannot be used for big packages. This USPS certified mail requires signature of the person during the delivery of the letter and also it helps in allowing to see whether a package is delivered or not.

Return receipt: 

You must attach a post card along with the package, when the person received your package, the post card attached along with the package will be returned to you, this helps in making sure whether the shipment is delivered to the person or not. This service is similar to certified mail except it is used for big packages.

Collect on Delivery (COD): 

This is service can also be called as Cash on delivery. The package will be delivered to the person only when he pays the money at the time of the delivery.

  • Conclusion

Finally, almost all booking of shipments can be done online with USPS. Or if you think this is too much to handle, you can handle this job to fulfillment companies who handle your orders and ship your products directly to the customer. I will write another article on fulfillment companies in a while. Until then, stay tuned.

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