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What is priority mail? How long does it take?

Joanna Heep

October 6, 2021

When mailing a flat envelope or package with the United States Postal Office (USPS), you have multiple options. USPS offers a wide range of shipping services that fit various needs. Which option you need to choose when shipping depends on when you want the item to arrive. Their bestselling service option is Priority Mail. What is it? And how does it differ from USPS’s regular mail shipping service?

What is USPS Priority Mail? 

Priority Mail, a delivery service by USPS, offers fast delivery times and includes USPS tracking to know where your package is at all times. Essentially, the name gives it away: this delivery service is USPS’s top priority to ship out. This service also includes free package pickup from your home or office if you don’t have the time to make it to a post office location.

It includes mail delivery service six days a week, but does not include Sunday delivery service. 

How long does USPS Priority Mail take?

USPS offers several different options for Priority Mail. Standard Priority Mail promises delivery within 1 to 3 business days for domestic shipments. Transit times will probably vary depending on the originating and final package locations. However, if you want your package to arrive faster, you have options to expedite delivery even further with the Priority Mail Express option. 

What is Priority Mail Express?

Priority Mail Express is USPS’s fastest delivery offering. Items arrive either the next day or within 2 days by 6 PM if traveling a long distance. This service option includes a money-back guarantee of delivery time and $50 of insurance on the package. With Priority Mail Express, customers can pay an additional fee for Sunday or holiday delivery. This is the only service option within the USPS that offers Sunday delivery options. 

Proof of delivery signature record and package pickup (from home or office) is also available at no cost—just be sure to request it when checking out. 

How much does USPS Priority Mail cost?

The cost of sending a letter, package, or item via USPS priority mail varies depending on its size. However, Priority Mail is easier to estimate because the USPS provides standard envelopes and boxes for Priority Mail items.  If it fits - it ships for that rate. 

Priority Mail prices for envelopes (12.5” x 9.5”) start at $7.70 and packages start at $8.45 (8 11/16″ x 5 7/16″ x 1 3/4″). Both increase based on size. With Priority Mail’s Flat Rate pricing, all items under 70 pounds ship at the same price. Package’s maximum combined length and girth is 108” and Flat Rate envelopes or boxes' flaps must be able to close. 

If you prefer to use your own packaging, you can purchase shipping labels online with USPS’s “Click-N-Ship” service or in person at your local post office. 

Priority Mail Express prices start at $26.35 and also increase based on mail item’s weight.

Is Priority Mail guaranteed to arrive within 3 days?

Priority Mail does not provide a money-back guarantee if a mail item doesn’t get delivered within three business days. If a money-back guarantee is something you want, then sending via Priority Mail Express is the best option as it provides money back if an item doesn’t arrive within two days. 

Does USPS Priority Mail deliver on Sundays?

Priority Mail does not deliver on Sundays, but includes Saturdays. If you need a package to arrive on a Sunday or holiday, Priority Mail Express offers this service for an additional cost.

USPS Priority Mail Tracking 

Through USPS Priority Mail tracking, customers receive a tracking number and have access to the status of their mail item. Details such as when it shipped, where it’s currently temporarily housed, and when it’s out for delivery. It also gives customers point-to-point tracking information, such as a live map. 

What are some of the advantages of USPS Priority Mail? 

Customers enjoy using priority mail because it is administered by the US Postal Service and fast shipping is offered at a lower price point than some competitors, such as FedEx or UPS. 

Additionally, Priority Mail offers:

  1. Convenience. When you send an item through USPS Priority Mail, you can do so at a post office or give the package to your mail carrier.

  2. Tracking. USPS offers Priority Mail tracking, so you can see where your items are at any point at time, at no additional cost.

  3. Forwarding and return. Priority Mail can be forwarded and returned to sender at no additional cost. 

Get your mail delivered digitally with virtual mail

Priority Mail shipping is a bestseller for good reason. It gives customers a quick and relatively inexpensive way to ship their items. What’s better than that? Having someone else do the heavy lifting for you. 

With an Earth Class Mail virtual mailbox account, our HIPAA-compliant staff handles all incoming mail and packages. Items are scanned and uploaded to your account. Physical mail becomes digital mail - and now, you have all your mail as searchable PDFs on any device. Bonus, it all lives in your preferred cloud storage forever. Need a package forwarded? Simply choose what type of shipping you want on your account’s dashboard. It’s never been easier. Intrigued? Learn more.

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