Ultimate Guide to Shipping with USPS

  • Written by Martha Kendall Custard
Ultimate Guide to Shipping with USPS

Whether you’re looking to brush up on USPS shipping services or are just getting started, we hope you will use this blog as a helpful handbook you can revisit for all your USPS shipping needs. 

What is USPS?

When it comes to shipping, whether you’re a large or small business, USPS is the OG. Here’s a quick recap for those unfamiliar:

USPS stands for United States Postal Services. As a permanent fixture of the United States federal government, USPS is responsible for delivering mail to every residential and business address in the country 6 days a week. 

They uphold the government’s universal service obligation (USO), which outlines the postal courier’s obligation to deliver trusted, affordable service to the American people, no matter how rural their geographic location. 

The proof is in the numbers– USPS delivered a whopping 127.3 billion pieces of mail last year. They’re one of the country’s leading shipping couriers, processing an average of 23.8 million packages every single day. 

Benefits of shipping with USPS

There are quite a few reasons why businesses of all sizes choose to ship with USPS over other popular shipping services. 

  • Affordable shipping rates: Thanks to its many shipping methods and flat rate options, USPS shipping is often the most affordable domestic shipping option. 

  • Reliable delivery nationwide: Because USPS couriers already visit every address in the nation on a near-daily basis, you can confidently ship to rural addresses (including PO boxes and military base addresses). 

  • Reliable international shipping: USPS offers an affordable route to international shipping. With a delivery network encompassing over 180 countries, USPS offers options such as Priority Mail Express International, Priority Mail International, and USPS First Class Mail International. 

  • No fuel surcharges: USPS does not charge a fuel surcharge, unlike competitors like FedEx and UPS. 

  • Free supplies: USPS offers Priority Mail packaging supplies free of charge. Just order online and be sure to use any Priority shipping method. 

Additional services that simplify shipping for businesses:

  • USPS Connect Local delivery: Same-day and next-day delivery for select zip codes.

  • Pickup program: Submit a pickup request and your USPS letter courier can collect pre-packaged, labeled orders from your pickup location of choice at no additional charge. 

  • Schedule pick-ups in advance: You can schedule your pickups up to three months in advance. This is handy for businesses that like to designate a weekly order dispatch day.

  • On-demand pickups: While regular pickups occur whenever your letter courier is near your preferred pickup location, USPS has a paid Pickup On Demand service for your urgent dispatch needs. 

  • USPS Marketing Mail: Distribute physical marketing and advertising materials for a lower rate. 

  • Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM): Deliver advertisements to neighborhoods without knowing recipients' names or addresses. 

  • Click-N-Ship: Faster label printing.

  • Guidance and starter kit: Talk with a Business Solutions Associate about your shipping needs and get a free starter kit.

How to ship with USPS

Review prohibited and restricted lists

Check the prohibited and restricted lists to confirm your item is mailable. 

Weigh and measure

First things first, you need to weigh and measure your item. Each USPS shipping service has size limitations.

The weight and dimensions of your item will play a role in which shipping service you choose.

You’ll want your measurements to be accurate. If you don’t have a dedicated shipping/postal scale, use a kitchen scale instead. Kitchen scales are more accurate and precise than your typical bathroom scale. 

Choose your shipping service

The hardest part about shipping with USPS is picking the right service.

They offer a bunch of shipping options with varying price points and timelines, most of which fall under the following shipping classes:

  • First-Class Mail: The best value for speedy delivery of lightweight items in poly mailers. Packages can weigh up to 13 ounces and arrive between 1 and 5 days.

  • Priority Mail: The best delivery for speedy delivery of heavier items. Packages can weigh up to 70 pounds and arrive in 1-3 days. 

  • Priority Mail Express: The fastest delivery option available. This service offers guaranteed Next-Day to 2-day expedited service by 3 p.m. 24/7, 365 days a year. 

  • Ground Advantage- Retail: A service for all single-piece mailings that don’t fall under First-Class Mail. Packages can weigh up to 70 pounds and arrive in 2-5 days. 

  • Media Mail: A service for educational media like books, sheet music, and manuscripts. Packages can weigh up to 70 pounds and arrive in 2-8 days. 

USPS isn’t just for domestic shipments. Options for USPS international shipments are listed below:

  • Global Express Guaranteed (GXG): International shipping service for packages less than 70 pounds. Delivery in 1-3 business days. 

  • Priority Mail Express International: International shipping service. Packages can weigh up to 70 pounds and arrive in 3-5 days.

  • Priority Mail International: International shipping service. Packages can weigh up to 70 pounds and arrive in 6-10 days. 

  • First-Class Package International Service: Packages can weigh up to 4 pounds. Delivery speed varies by destination. 

  • Airmail M-Bags: International shipping service for newspapers, magazines, journals, books, sheet music, catalogs, directories, commercial advertising, and promotional materials. Packages can weigh up to 66 pounds. Delivery speed varies by destination.

Further reading: 11 Things to Consider When Expanding Internationally

So, how do you choose a USPS shipping service?

Step 1: Use your package weight and desired delivery speed to narrow down the options,

Step 2: Figure out if you need additional services like insurance, tracking, or holiday delivery. 

Step 3: Compare pricing for all shipping methods that meet your criteria. 

Pack your item

Now, it’s time to choose your box and pack your item. If you choose a flat rate shipping method, you have to use a USPS Flat Rate box. If you choose a Priority shipping service, you can order your packaging at no cost.

Otherwise, the world is your oyster. You can use any box, so long as your item is securely packed and your shipping label is clearly visible. 

Create your shipping label

When your item is safely packed, weigh and measure it one more time. These are the numbers you’ll include on your shipping label. Make sure they’re accurate to avoid paying additional fees. 

Some USPS products round up to the nearest ounce, while others round to the nearest pound. Review the requirements for your shipping service to find the appropriate rounding method.

Remember to measure your poly mailer dimensions pre-folded.

While you can write out the address on your package, you won’t be able to utilize the pickup service unless you print out a shipping label that includes postage. 

How to print a USPS shipping label using Click-N-Ship

Click-N-Ship is USPS’s system for purchasing and printing labels at home.  It’s available for the following shipping services:

  • Priority Mail Express

  • Priority Mail

  • USPS Ground Advantage

  • Global Express Guaranteed

  • Priority Mail Express International

  • Priority Mail International 

  • First-Class Package International Service

It’s not available for:

  • First-Class Mail

  • Package Services

  • First Class Mail International 

All you need to use this service is a free residential or business account, internet access, and a printer.

When you’re ready to ship your package, log in to the Click-N-Ship home page and choose how you want to create your label from these options:

  • Create a single label

  • Create a shipment

  • Import labels

  • Start from an address book

Follow the prompts to input your sender, recipient, and package information, then print your label and you’re done! 

How to print a USPS shipping label on Veeqo

When you use Veeqo’s free order management and shipping software, all you have to do is click on your order, pick your shipping method from the system’s rate shopping recommendations, then purchase and print your label in one click.

If you have a lot of orders coming in, you can create rules that automatically assign a shipping service according to specifications like package dimensions, weight, or SKU. Doing so allows you to bulk-print all your labels for the day in just one click. 

Ship your package

If you printed your shipping label, you can schedule a pickup online or use any method to drop off your packages. 

If you choose to use stamps rather than print your label, your shipping options are slightly more limited.

For packages that weigh less than 10 oz and are less than one-half inch thick, you can use postage stamps and drop them in your mailbox for courier pickup, drop them in a blue collection box or Post Office lobby drop-off box, or request a free pickup.

Packages that exceed these maximums must be taken to the Post Office counter. 

USPS payment options 

Click-N-Ship accepts the following forms of payment:

  • Apple Pay

  • PayPal 

  • Click to Pay

  • Debit Cards 

If you’re at a retail location, you can also pay with cash, checks, money orders, and Traveler’s/Cashier’s checks. 

How much does it cost to ship with USPS?: USPS Zones and Rates

Unless you opt for a flat rate box, the cost of your shipment will depend on its weight, USPS shipping zone, and shipping service class.

There are eight USPS shipping zones in the United States:

  • Zone 1: 1-50 miles from the shipping origin

  • Zone 2: 51-150 miles

  • Zone 3: 151-300 miles

  • Zone 4: 301-600 miles

  • Zone 5: 601-1000 miles

  • Zone 6: 1001-1400 miles

  • Zone 7: 1401-1800 miles

  • Zone 8: 1801 miles or more

  • Zone 9: US territories

For example, USPS Ground Advantage – Retail rates range from $5.40 for an 8oz Zone 1 package to $161.75 for a 70lb Zone 9 package.

The most expensive domestic mail class –Priority Mail Express– ranges from $28.75 for an 8oz Zone 1 package all the way to $688.20 for a 70lb Zone 9 package. 

If your item fits in a flat rate box, you’ll pay the price of the box regardless of the zone you’re shipping to. This is why flat rate is a smart move for small yet heavy items and long-distance shipments. 

USPS has a postage calculator that helps you calculate how much you’ll need to pay.

To estimate how much your package will cost to ship with USPS, head to the postage price calculator and input your origin zip code, destination zip code, departure date, and details about your package.

The system will populate potential shipping methods and associated rates.

Pro tip: Veeqo’s order management system does the heavy lifting by automatically populating the best shipping services and live prices for each order. All you have to do is compare and choose. 

USPS + Veeqo = Business Success

Purchasing your USPS ecommerce shipping labels through Veeqo isn’t just faster and more convenient than Click-N-Ship. It lowers your shipping expenses while helping you streamline your operations and conquer all your business goals. 

Here are some key benefits of using Veeqo for your USPS business shipping needs:

  • Amazon-owned: Veeqo is owned by Amazon, which means you'll get access to Amazon-negotiated shipping rates, and integrations with Amazon FBA and Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF).

  • Discounted rates for everyone: Veeqo provides access to discounted shipping rates with no order minimums, and you can also connect your own carrier rates for no charge.

  • Veeqo Credits: Earn up to 5% back on eligible shipments applied to your next billing cycle.

  • Multi-channel inventory and order management: Automatically sync with ecommerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Shopify. Easily filter and track orders by warehouse, ecommerce channel, or shipping status. 

  • Automatic address validation: Veeqo automatically verifies all US customer addresses and flags orders with shipping address errors so you can address them before they become costly shipping errors. 

  • Analytics and forecasting: Understand what products are selling best, which sales channels are earning the most, and how you can optimize your inventory and improve performance according to forecasted demand. 

  • Inventory control: Automatically update inventory across all sales channels as you receive orders so you can see what inventory is available, what’s sold, and what channels and products are your top performers. Use inventory rules to automate repetitive tasks like setting aside units for walk-in customers, meeting eBay listing limits, and maintaining an inventory buffer to prevent stockouts. 

  • Digital picking: Use our mobile app or scanner to digitally pick, pack, and ship orders.

  • Multi-channel price updates: Update your prices in Veeqo and push them to sales channels like Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Magento, Bigcommerce, Etsy, Walmart, and more, in one easy click. 

Combining USPS’s affordability, reliability, and multitude of service options with Veeqo’s discounted shipping rates and convenient order management features is a no-brainer.

Create your free Veeqo account to get started, and get up to 5% back in Veeqo Credits on eligible shipments.

About the author


Written by Martha Kendall Custard


Martha is a B2B SaaS writer who loves writing strategic blogs, petting fluffy cats, and good books.

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