How to Mail Packages Faster

Why is it that some packages take weeks for the US Postal Service to deliver, while others arrive across the country in just a few days? The place of origin and the destination make a big difference in the delivery time, but there are a few easy things you can do as a sender that will help get your packages there faster.


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    Use a sturdy box (or envelope) with packing or strapping tape on all the seams. If the envelope or box opens in transit, the Post Office will need to reassemble it, and it will take a lot longer.
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    Print your return address and the recipient's address.
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    Use the 9-digit ZIP Code. Go to ( and look up the recipient's address. The 9-digit ZIP specifies the exact address to which you are shipping, and can speed up the delivery time even if you use the less expensive mailing methods, such as Media Mail.
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    Cover the address with clear packing tape. That way, the address won't smear if it gets wet.
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    Determine shipping speed. Find out how fast the various methods are estimated to arrive. Talk to a post office clerk about the shipping speeds and choose the option that meets your time and budget needs. Depending on what you are mailing, you could have the choice of Media Mail (for books and media, but don't add any personal notes or cards); Parcel Post (generally not enough of a savings to make it worth the long delivery time); First Class; Priority Mail; or Express Mail.
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    Get a Post Office mailing label.
    • Don't use stamps alone. Ask the Post Office clerk to print a postage label. If you want to put colorful postage stamps on the package, don't put the full amount of postage needed. If you did use enough stamps, the clerk can still print a label with no value; the bar-coded label will help route the package quicker.
    • If you go to a larger Post Office, they may have an automated kiosk where you enter the information into the computer and then use your credit or debit card to pay. Follow the instructions on the screen to purchase a postage label; then put the addressed and postage-paid package into the bin.

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    What's the drop-off deadline? Find out when the mail is picked up from your Post Office and keep that time in mind when you need to mail a package; in larger towns, other Post Office outlets may have later pick-up times. If your little neighborhood post office collects the mail at 5 pm, the big Post Office downtown may pick it up as at 6 pm, and it may be worth a drive downtown depending on how soon you need the package to arrive.


  • Be friendly with all your Post Office clerks and thank them for their help. Like everybody else, they will be more helpful and forthcoming with suggestions if they feel appreciated. Don't grumble in line about long waits if you go during a week with a holiday (when they're open only 4 days instead of 5 that week), if you go during lunchtime, or before Valentine's Day, tax day, or Christmas. We all know these are busy times for the Post Office.
  • If you are shipping to another country, ask the clerk for your options. For example, did you know that you can send boxes or bags of books weighing up to 66 lbs. to another country at great savings using the "[M-Bag]"?
  • Develop an ally. Figure out which clerk at your local Post Office is most knowledgeable and helpful. If you do a lot of mailing, it is worth it to wait for that person. Just wave on the people behind you in line as each station opens (tell them, "I'm waiting for Dave," for example) until your favorite clerk is free.
  • Be prepared. Don't expect a clerk to tape up your box or help you with routine things that you should have done already, such as addressing the box. The clerk will appreciate it, as will the people behind you in line.
  • Print Postage at home. If you have a PayPal account and don't have the time to wait at the Post Office, you can easily print labels with PayPal here: You can specify service level, mail date and delivery confirmation. The only extra cost is 14 cents for a tracking number. If you do not have a PayPal account, the USPS Click-N-Ship link will get the job done.


  • A lot of the speed of delivery is not in your hands or in the control of the person sending the package. If something comes later than you expected, look at the box and the label; don't go blaming your friend or the online seller if they sent a package on time, in the way you specified, but it took longer than usual to arrive -- it's not the sender's fault.

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Categories: Postal System