The process for mailing a package with the USPS doesn’t look all that difficult on the surface.
And, truth be told, it’s really not that hard even for folks who haven’t ever sent a package – so long as you know take advantage of the inside information below.
We will walk you through everything you need to know about how to mail a package safely and efficiently, how to get it to your post office ready to rock and roll, and even how to choose the right shipping method to get your package to its ultimate destination quickly without spending a mountain of money along the way.
Let’s jump right into it!
What Are You Sending?
The first piece of this puzzle is actually figuring out what you are going to be sending in the first place.
If you’re going to be sending something relatively small – like something that could fit inside of a flat rate box or envelope – the whole process is going to be a lot easier than it might be otherwise.
If, on the other hand, you are sending something a little larger, little bulkier, or a little heavier then you’re probably going to have following more careful approach to get your package where you need it to be truly USPS.
Get whatever it is you are going to be sending through the mail and set it down on the kitchen table for a kitchen countertop.
Grab a handy tape measure and do a couple of quick measurements (you don’t have to be precise, you can ballpark things, overestimating) just to get a feel for the kind of box and packaging you’re going to need.
If you have a kitchen scale now be the time to put your item on it. Most of the time you won’t have anything to worry about, as shipping through the USPS really only start to get expensive when you start pushing 70 pounds or more in your package.
If you have something that weighs 70 pounds or more the odds are pretty good you’re not going to stick it on the kitchen scale.
No, you’ll know right away that you have a chunky package that’s going to go through the post office!
After you have had a good eyeball of your item and figured out how big it is you’ll want to get your hands on some quality packing supplies if it won’t fit in a flat rate box.
If it will, no worries, your good to go to the next phase of this guide.
Choose Your Shipping Method
Now is the time to figure out how you are actually going to ship your USPS package through the mail.
Like all other shipping companies, USPS has a variety of different services you’ll be able to take advantage of.
Retail Ground is one of the most popular options, for example, particularly because it is such an inexpensive option – especially when you’re sending things that weigh less than 70 pounds.
On the flipside, Retail Ground also happens to be the slowest way to ship your packages. You can expect it to take anywhere between two and eight business days and sometimes even longer than that for your items to reach their ultimate destination.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for Retail Ground to take up to 14 days for your package to hit the doorstep of your intended recipient!
Priority Mail is another option, especially if you have something to ship that will fit inside of flat rate boxes and envelopes.
There are a bunch of different advantages to moving forward with Priority Mail, not the least of which is the flat rate of shipping that you’ll spend.
This takes all the guesswork out of wondering how much your package weighs (the normal way that USPS packages are priced for shipping). “If it fits, it ships” is the motto of these flat rate services from the USPS – and they really mean it!
Priority Mail is also pretty quick, giving you expected delivery times of between one and three days. Free tracking information is thrown in on top of shipping with this service.
Priority Mail Express works just the same way that traditional Priority Mail works, with one major exception – it’s guaranteed to get your mail where it needs to go within one or two business days, without exception.
Obviously, this option is a little more expensive, though.
First Class Mail can be used to ship packages that weigh less than 13 ounces, which may be a way to go if the items that you are sending are particularly small or weigh just a little.
Delivery speed is pretty solid with First Class Mail as well, getting your package to its ultimate destination within 1 to 3 business days. You also get up to $5000 in mail insurance or new use this shipping method.
Lastly, you can go with Media Mail if you’re sending items that fit under that specific umbrella.
Just know that there are certain restrictions you have to meet if you are going to be sending things through this USPS services, with US postal inspectors pretty serious about enforcing those restrictions as well.
Pack Your Items
The next part of this puzzle that you’ll need to get right is actually packing your items appropriately.
The first thing you’ll want to do is drop a bit of packing materials into the bottom of your empty box or envelope, giving a cushion for your item to sit on top of.
Some people end up sticking their items directly into the box, not realizing that they are leaving an entire side of their items totally exposed to all kinds of bumps and bruises that happen throughout the mailing process.
A handful or two of packing peanuts or crumpled up newspaper works wonders to add a bit of a buffer zone there.
Next you’ll want to carefully wrap your items with foam or bubblewrap and add a bit of tape to the mix just to secure it in place. This is going to guarantee that your item is totally protected during shipping in a way that wouldn’t have been possible with just loose packing materials floating around the box.
After that has been taking care of it’s time to fill the rest of your box with packing materials, making sure that everything is nice and secure without being overly tight. You want there to be a little bit of cushion on all sides for your items to prevent damage but also to prevent the pressure inside the box from busting up your stuff, too.
Carefully address or label your box, either by hand (writing on a piece of paper and then taping it to the top side of the box) or by printing out labels from your computer.
The important thing to do here is to write your address very clearly – print, no cursive – and to have your return address information prominently displayed on the box as well.
Just make sure that you don’t take up the entirety of the box surface area. There still has to be room for the USPS labels to be applied to the box, too. Those labels that the USPS infrastructure is going to be relying on most to get your box to its final destination.
Remember, permanent marker or pen is always the way to go!
Finally, you’ll want to weigh your box one more time just to be sure that you are under any of the weight limits that might require you to either pay a little more or use a different USPS shipping services.
Drop Off or Pick Up?
You have a couple of different options available to you after your package has been secured, taped up, and appropriately labeled.
First, you can grab your package and toss it (gently) into the back of your vehicle and then head down to your local post office to go through the rest of the shipping procedure.
A lot of people choose to go in this direction, not only because it is really simple and straightforward but also because the USPS workers are going to know exactly how to get your box into the shipping manifest and through the USPS infrastructure as quickly as possible.
Secondly, though, you can also choose to print out your own shipping labels order take advantage of any of the “pickup” shipping services available directly from the USPS today.
Believe it or not, in a lot of places throughout the country the USPS will come out to your doorstep and pickup your package for delivery – handling all of the heavy lifting for you without you even having to pop down to the post office to take care of anything in person.
You’ll have to do a little bit of extra work online and print out your own labels if you go in this direction (paying for your shipping online, too), but it’s not a bad choice for those that don’t want to run down to the post office every time they have to send a box out.
Confirm Tracking Information!
The last thing that you’ll want to do is double check and confirm that the tracking information you’ve been provided – either online or from the USPS worker at the post office – is 100% legit and good to go.
Nobody wants to get tracking information from the USPS, head home and punch it in just to confirm that your packages moving through the system, only to later discovered that their tracking details are incorrect or invalid and their package is twisting somewhere in the wind.
Just make sure that you first receive tracking information before you send your package out and then check (or even triple check) the information before you leave the post office yourself.
Tracking information is available 100% free of charge on a lot of different USPS shipping services.
But it isn’t available totally free on every USPS shipping services.
Before you sign on the dotted line and pay for your shipping you’re going to want to make sure that tracking information is included in the first place. If it isn’t included with your specific shipping choice do ask about adding it on, and pony up the extra dollar or two to get shipping – it’s always going to be worth it.
You may or may not want to take advantage of signature confirmation upon delivery with your package as well (or extra things like insurance), but these are all things to discuss at this point in time as well.
US Global Mail – A Smarter, Modern Mailbox
If you are looking for a smarter and more modern option to manage your mailbox it’s not a bad idea to take a closer look at everything US Global Mail has to offer.
The industry leader when it comes to modern virtual mailbox services, US Global Mail has been making the lives of their customers easier when it comes to managing their mail for more than 20+ years.
Innovative, future forward thinking, and always looking for new ways to improve their service (which already gets fantastic reviews), you are in the best of hands when you choose US Global Mail.
The virtual mailbox provides you with a street address that you can have all of your mail, all of your packages, and all of your parcels routed to – something that’s impossible to pull off when you use a USPS PO Box.
On top of that, every single piece of mail sent to your US Global Mail address is scanned upon delivery.
We’re not just talking about tracking scans, either.
No, your US Global Mail account is going to be updated with photographs or digital scans of the mail, packages, and parcels you have received in real time. And you’re going to get notifications in real time, too.
This guarantees that you always know what’s in your mailbox and when, but it also gives you an opportunity to better manage your mail flow as well. The included mail forwarding options with US Global Mail accounts lets you decide when you get everything from your mailbox, 100% on your terms.
For more information about this service and everything they offer, check out the US Global Mail website or contact their customer service department today.