USPS Overnight Cutoff Time

What is the cutoff time for USPS overnight shipping? Read more below.

If you want to send something using USPS’s overnight service, you might be wondering just how late in the day you can ship your package. Obviously, if you ship it too late, there is no point in sending it using the overnight service, because it will not arrive by the next morning. So, how long do you have?


The cutoff time for Overnight Shipping will depend on your local post office, but it usually aligns with the office’s closing time. In many cases, the truck will leave at 6 PM, but you should aim to take your package at least fifteen minutes before the cutoff time. Ask a clerk when the last delivery is accepted in that particular post office.


usps truck shipping a package


How Late Can I Ship A Package With Overnight Shipping?


You must make sure that your package is in the post office before it closes for the night. What time your local post office closes will depend upon where you are, and this can be quite varied. Some close as early as 3 PM, although you may have another local post office that is open later.


You should always check with your local post office about their cutoff times. Some might have a cutoff time before closing, although most will wait until their closing time before they stop accepting overnight parcels.


Always make sure you know in advance how early you need to send the package, as this can vary between post offices and if your package is urgent, you do not want to miss the mail.


Most post offices stay open until 5:30 or even 6:00 PM. However, the truck will usually leave at 6:00, so make sure you are there beforehand, even if your post office stays open this late.


It is not a good idea to arrive at the office after 5:45, even if the office does not close until 6:00. Being this close to the deadline is frustrating and tense, and even a tiny delay could result in you missing the cutoff time.


Even something as simple as a machine going wrong, an issue with your card, a long queue, or a slow employee could result in your package missing the overnight shipping. If you are sending something this fast, it is probably urgent, so make sure you do not leave it until the last minute before taking your package to the post office.


As long as your package is accepted by the clerk at the post office and they confirm that the truck has not left, it should be loaded onto the truck. However, where at all possible, give yourself more time to remove any risk of the package being delayed.


usps package being collected


What If I Ask For My Package To Be Collected?


You can request that your package be collected when you purchase your labels online, and a mail carrier will pick it up from your house. This should always happen well before the cutoff time, as the worker should be aware of this deadline.


Make sure that you have the package ready to go, or you may have problems. A mail carrier will not wait around while you finish wrapping and addressing a package; they have a lot to do. Get your package ready well in advance of their arrival.


What’s The Difference Between USPS Overnight Shipping And USPS Priority Mail Express?


There is no difference between these two services. USPS Overnight Shipping is officially known as USPS Priority Mail Express.


You may have noticed that Priority Mail Express has both one day and two day shipping. However, this is the same thing; the two day shipping is only for zip codes that are outside of the one day shipping areas.


It is not possible to ship to these locations in one day, and therefore you will get a two day shipping guarantee. This is treated as the same as one day shipping, even though it takes two days. It does not cost any less, despite the time difference.


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How Soon Will It Arrive?


As long as it is accepted by the post office before the cutoff time, your item should arrive the following business day (in one day shipping areas).


Although the mail service can sometimes be slow, this particular shipping option tends to be very reliable, so it is highly likely that your mail will get there on time.


It is rare for mail shipped using this service to get lost or delayed. Of course, no service is perfect, so this can happen, but on the whole, it shouldn’t. If you pay for overnight shipping, it should be with the intended recipient the following business day.


You should note that Sunday does not count as a business day, but Saturday does. USPS will deliver overnight mail sent on a Friday on the Saturday. However, if you send the mail on a Saturday, it will not arrive until Monday.


Public holidays are also exempt from the overnight guarantee; this service works year round, but national holidays are not business days, and therefore USPS does not deliver normal mail on them.


What Time Will It Arrive By?


It will vary depending on your area, but most Overnight services will arrive by either 12 PM or 3 PM on the following business day. In some areas, it may be earlier, but this is the standard.


Can I Make It Arrive More Quickly?


Yes, you can pay a $5 fee to guarantee that it will arrive by 10:30 AM on the following business day. You can do the same for the two day shipping option; paying $5 will ensure that the package is delivered by 10:30 on the second business day.


What Happens If I Miss The Cutoff Time?


If you do not get your package in at your local post office on time, you unfortunately cannot do anything. The truck carrying that day’s mail will have left, and you are therefore unable to get your package onto it.


There is nothing that the workers can do either. If there is still a worker at your post office, they may agree to take the package and send it by Overnight delivery, but this will only result in it going the following day. There will not be any further trucks that day, and the package will not be sent out until the next business day.


If you miss the mail on a Saturday, the package will not move until Monday.


usps truck delivering packages


What Happens If USPS Does Not Deliver On Time?


USPS does occasionally make mistakes, and even guaranteed mail is unlikely to get there a hundred percent of the time. Where does that leave you?


Fortunately, these are guaranteed delivery times, so if the slot is missed, you can request a full refund for all your mailing costs related to that item. This must be done within 30 days of mailing it.


This is true of both the one day and the two day shipping, and of the fee you can pay to speed the package up. If any of these deadlines are missed, you can reclaim all of your shipping costs.


Make sure that you check the item arrives by 10:30 AM if you have paid for expedited shipping. If not, make sure it arrives by 3 PM. You should be eligible for your mailing costs back if not. Keep your receipt safe.


Is Overnight Shipping Insured?


Yes, Overnight Shipping is insured up to $100. You may wish to take out higher insurance if the item is valuable.


You will also enjoy the following features


  • Free packaging from USPS.
  • Free collection of the package from your door so you don’t miss the post office times. This can be arranged online.
  • Ability to track your package.
  • Signature confirmation to prove when your package has arrived.
  • Money-back guarantee if your package does not arrive as advertised.


These are all useful features, especially if you are sending something important that really needs to arrive on time. The tracking may help to give you peace of mind.




What If I Need The Item Delivered On A Non-Business Day?


Sometimes, you need a parcel to arrive on a very specific day and you can’t afford to have it delayed at all. This is problematic, because most of the courier services don’t do Sunday delivery or deliveries on national holidays.


USPS does not in normal circumstances, but you do have the option of paying an additional fee of $12.50 if you want to have it delivered on a Sunday/holiday. That might seem like a lot, but bear in mind that a mail carrier will probably have to make a specific trip for your package.


This kind of delivery will carry all the same guarantees and benefits as normal Overnight Shipping. Simply select the option when buying your labels online, or ask the shipping clerk to add Sunday delivery to your package.


This will ensure it gets to the recipient with no delay, regardless of the day of the week.


How Much Does Overnight Shipping Cost?


Overnight Shipping is, unsurprisingly, expensive. It is USPS’s fastest service, so you will pay the top price for it. The rates vary depending on how large/heavy your package is, and how far it has to travel.


You can choose whether you want to ship the package using:


  • Flat rate – one flat price for all domestic items under 70 lb. This method is best for heavy items.
  • Weight and zone – a price based on how much your package weighs and where it needs to go. This price is best for a small item traveling to somewhere nearby.
  • Dimensional weight – this is based on either the weight or size of your package, and whichever is larger. Compact, light packages will travel most cheaply by this method, but it can be tricky to calculate.


Talk to a shipping clerk if you aren’t sure which option will be the cheapest for you, or use an online shipping calculator. Some areas may not permit you to add the $5 fee to get delivery by 10:30, but remember to account for this cost if you want to include it.


Overnight Shipping rates can be as much as $26.35 for a flat rate normal envelope. A non-flat rate package that weighs less than 0.5 lb. will cost $53.10 to send to Zone 9. You could be paying an incredible $649.85 to send a 70 lb. package to Zone 9 using Overnight Shipping.


Overnight Shipping certainly is not a cheap option, but it is your only choice if you need an item to arrive very quickly.


Can I Use Overnight Shipping To International Locations?


Priority Mail Express (the same service) can be used to ship international packages, but it will not achieve overnight times – unsurprisingly. If you ship to an international location, it will arrive within 3-5 business days, guaranteed.


If it doesn’t, you have the option to request your money back, as above. You will enjoy the same protections in terms of insurance, etc. Priority Mail Express is a good way to get things dispatched abroad quickly.


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Mailing packages is a frustrating and complicated process at times, so make sure you are aware of cutoff times in your local post office, and give yourself plenty of leeway in meeting these.


However, you don’t want to go to all that trouble and expense and then find that your recipient is not at home to accept the package.


Because packages are delivered during the workday, this could be a problem, and may result in delays in spite of the expedited shipping. The mail carrier can’t drop the package off if nobody is there, so you will have wasted your money because the recipient will not get the package that day.


A great solution to this is for the recipient to use a Virtual Mailbox. These are secure and mail can be delivered at any time at all, regardless of where your recipient is. If you are regularly shipping items that your recipient needs to be there to receive, it is an excellent solution to the issue.

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