Priority Mail from the United States Postal Service has always been a popular option, especially for those that need a speedier solution than First Class mail from the USPS.
According the USPS internal down, more than a billion pieces of mail are sent throughout the United States via Priority Mail each and every year – and the volume has been going up for the last decade.
People in United States are looking to take advantage of faster mail delivery services than ever before, especially with so many other shipping companies (like FedEx and UPS, for example) offering lightning fast solutions themselves.
The advantage in choosing Priority Mail is leveraging the logistical system that the post office has pioneered and perfected over its long and illustrious history.
At the same time, there are plenty of folks out there more than a little bit hesitant about moving forward with Priority Mail compared to First Class – in large part because they aren’t sure just how much more it’s going to cost.
Below we dig a little bit deeper into the ins and outs of Priority Mail as a service, how much you can expect to pay for Priority Mail delivery at a number of different levels, and a whole bunch of other important bits and pieces of information you’ll want to know before you move forward.
Shall we jump right in?
Great. Let’s get right to it!
What is Priority Mail?
As we highlighted above, the main difference between Priority Mail (and all of the variations of this expedited mail delivery service) and First Class mail in the US is delivery speed.
First Class mail generally has a deliverability rate of between 3 to 5 business days whereas Priority Mail guarantees that you’ll get your mail delivered within three business days in almost all circumstances.
Priority Mail also gives you an opportunity to send much larger packages and parcels through the mail with this fast service compared to First Class mail.
First Class is limited primarily to standardized, single piece envelopes and postcards. Priority Mail can handle those same kind of envelopes and postcards but can also give you an opportunity to send packages and parcels up to 70 pounds in weight and in a variety of different size dimensions – all at a significantly lower price point than what you’d expect to pay elsewhere.
The bottom line regarding Priority Mail is pretty straightforward. If you’re looking to send packages or parcels (or even just envelopes and documents) quickly throughout the United States – or abroad with Priority Mail International – this is definitely the option you want to choose from the USPS.
Differences Between Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express
Of course, there are different versions of Priority Mail that you’ll be able to pick and choose from as well.
Priority Mail (the “flagship” service for expedited delivery from the USPS) is pretty standard and hasn’t really changed all that much throughout the USPS history.
Special Delivery was created back in March 1885 by the USPS to provide for expedited delivery services before transforming into Express Mail from the USPS in 1977. Special Delivery/Express Mail were then “morphed” into Priority Mail in June 1997 – but all of the services have had the exact same foundational principles in common with one another.
Priority Mail aims to get you your envelopes, packages, and parcels to their ultimate domestic destination inside of two business days or less. Sometimes it takes a third business day for your Priority Mail to reach its destination, but according to the USPS the overwhelming majority of these deliveries take 48 hours or less to get where they are going.
Another huge advantage of Priority Mail is that it’s available on a 365 day a year basis. Priority Mail will move through the logistical system on the USPS every day of the year – across the weekends and federal holidays – though it may not be able to be delivered until the next business day (traditionally Monday through Saturday for the USPS).
This means there are going to be significantly fewer delays for your packages, parcels, and envelopes when you send them via Priority Mail compared to First Class for sure.
Then, of course, you have Priority Mail Express.
This is an even faster delivery system than traditional Priority Mail, guaranteeing – guaranteeing – that your mail will arrive at its ultimate destination overnight.
Similar to the service that helped make Federal Express the major shipping company that it is today, overnight delivery is something that the USPS really shied away from for a decent amount of time.
Today, however, Priority Mail Express is offered as one of the most popular options for expedited shipping provided by the USPS – in large part because it even less expensive for guaranteed overnight delivery than FedEx or UPS.
The only wrinkle with Priority Mail Express is that your overnight deliveries have to be scheduled by 10:30 AM the day before. Anytime after that and the package becomes guaranteed two day delivery, something you want to know about before you go in and pay for this premium service.
Some of the coolest advantages of Priority Mail Express, though are that you get 100% free package pickup service at your home or office. This allows you to schedule your overnight deliveries in advance, have them picked up by USPS postal officials before the 10:30 AM cut off, and have your packages guaranteed to be delivered overnight every time you want to use the service.
Priority Mail Express also includes 100% free USPS tracking data as part of the premium upgrade. You’ll even get $100 worth of free insurance on (almost) all of the shipments you make using this premium solution from the USPS.
Package and parcel requirements for Priority Mail Express are identical to the ones you’ll have to contend with when using traditional Priority Mail, too.
The maximum weight of your package or parcel cannot exceed 70 pounds and the maximum combined length and girth of your packages cannot exceed 108 inches. A lot of people choose to use flat rate envelopes or flat rate mailing boxes available for free from the USPS to guarantee that they are within these parameters.
That might not be a bad option for you, either.
What About Priority Mail International?
Though the overwhelming majority of Priority Mail customers are going to be sending their packages, parcels, and envelopes domestically across the United States there are also Priority Mail International options available to pick and choose from, too.
Currently the USPS allows Priority Mail International deliveries to be made to more than 190+ countries around the world, including Canada and Australia as well as a number of nations throughout Europe and Asia.
These expedited delivery services guarantee delivery to be made between six and 10 business days after you have shipped out your packages or parcels to destinations all over the world.
The services may (though not always) also include free package pickup from your home or office to guarantee that your packages are sent out as soon as possible, getting them to your intended recipients ASAP.
USPS tracking is available 100% free of charge with Priority Mail International services, too. You’ll get $100 of free insurance for document reconstruction and upwards of $200 of insurance or merchandise protected against both loss and damage with international orders as well.
The wrinkle here, though, is that Priority Mail International orders are going to be priced dependent almost entirely on weight and the final destination of the package itself. You can avoid these variable pricing structures by using Priority Mail International Flat Rate boxes, though the final destination of the package will still influence your total bill.
How Much is Priority Mail?
As we have highlighted a number of times throughout this Priority Mail guide, you really have two different options to pick from when you choose to send your packages via the different Priority Mail options.
On the one hand, you can use your own packaging and boxes to send up to 70 pounds of items through the Priority Mail system. You’ll pay dependent on the weight and dimensions of your Priority Mail delivery, with prices for this service beginning at $7.50 when you visit a local post office.
If you bump those same packages up to Priority Mail Express prices begin at $26.35 from your local post office. Priority Mail International packages are going to be priced depending on a variety of different factors that you’ll be able to better calculate by visiting a post office in person before you make your shipment.
At the same time, you can use Priority Mail flat services to get your packages, parcels, and envelopes where you want to go.
Flat rate services for traditional Priority Mail begin at $7.75 at the post office. Priority Mail Express flat rate envelopes are priced at $26.35 to start, too.
Are There Any Special Priority Mail Requirements I Need to Know About?
The most important things to keep in mind when you want to send something via Priority Mail (or any of the other expedited options from USPS) is that much of what you pay is determined based out of how big and how heavy what you’re trying to mail is.
The maximum weight limit for ALL Priority Mail options – including Express and International – is hard capped at 70 pounds per box. You will not be able to send anything via Priority Mail if it ends up being any heavier than 70 pounds.
On top of that, the maximum combined length and girth of the boxes or packages you are sending cannot be any higher than 108 inches. The girth is determined by the USPS as the thickest part of your package, and most office workers will pull out a tape measure to confirm that everything is going to fit under the Priority Mail regulations if it’s even close.
You also need to be sure that you seal your packages and parcels using the “normal folds” that the boxes, envelopes, and other packing materials have.
Oddly shaped packages and parcels may disqualify you from being able to ship via Priority Mail, if only because the post office will “overestimate” how long or how thick the boxes are and you might go over the 108 inch combination limit.
All of these are important things to think about before you choose to move forward with Priority Mail.
If what you want to send will not meet these requirements you may have to look at other shipping options from the USPS or other shipping companies.
US Global Mail – A Modern Mail Alternative
If you’ve been looking for a modern mailing alternative and are unhappy with solutions available from the USPS – especially on the PO Box side of things – it’s worth taking a closer look at all that US Global Mail has to offer.
One of the most reputable Virtual Mailbox alternatives on the market today, US Global Mail have been providing high-end modern mail solutions to thousands of people throughout the US (as well as those living abroad for number of years now.
Even better than that, though, is that you’ll get a 100% legitimate physical street address with your US Global Mail account.
This is going to allow you to have packages and parcels delivered to your US Global Mail address from companies like FedEx and UPS as well as other companies that will not delivered to traditional PO Box addresses.
Combine that with the digitization and scanning up your mail, the record-keeping you’ll have access to, and the easy to use administrative dashboard on the backend and it’s not hard to see why so many people love all that US Global Mail brings to the table.
You can learn more about the services and solutions they provide here.