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How to Ensure Your Holiday Packages Arrive on Time with the New USPS Delivery Timeframes

You may have recently heard that the U.S. Postal Service (or USPS) will take longer to deliver certain mail. This isn’t exactly welcome news, with the holidays just over two months away. It’s understandable if this leaves you with questions, and we’re happy to answer them.

New USPS Timeframes

Standard Distance
1 Day Local (pre-sorted mail)
2 Days 139 miles
3 Days 140 to 930 miles
4 Days 931 to 1,907 miles
5 Days Over 1,908 miles

This change results from new delivery timetables by the USPS that reflect how long it takes to deliver some mail. The timetables estimate how long delivery of different mail pieces takes. According to the new tables, small, lightweight First-Class packages such as those containing medication or from online retailers will now take 4 to 5 days to receive.

Aside from packages, some letters will also take longer to arrive at their destinations. Fortunately, this only equals 32% of all packages delivered by USPS. More than two-thirds of all parcels sent via First-Class Mail will still only take 1 to 3 days to deliver. These new timetables don’t impact Priority Mail, either.

Plan Ahead So Packages Arrive On Time

The impact is pretty straightforward for those who plan to mail cards or gifts this Christmas: send them early. It’s certainly better to be safe than sorry, and you know how regular mail becomes backed up because of the influx of holiday mail every year. So it’s likely that box of cookies or a Christmas card will take at least a few extra days to get to your recipient. And if you’re mailing to U.S. states or territories outside the contiguous states or to rural areas, plan for your deliveries to take even longer as packages to these destinations require more time in transit.

However, there’s no need to panic. All you need to ensure your loved ones receive their holiday gifts and cards is to plan ahead. Give yourself an extra week for shipping. This means you may need to do your shopping earlier than usual. Fortunately, doing so might help you avoid the crowds! Savvy shippers will likely do the same, so it doesn’t hurt to mail packages now. Keep in mind that if you buy items online, they may take longer to get to you, too. If there’s no flexibility in your schedule, expedited shipping is the way to go.

You can always use a shipping service other than USPS. You may even find that these services are more affordable or option better options than the Post Office. For example, some companies will pack and ship your packages. This is a great option if you can’t mail items early; however, the USPS may be the only company that services some addresses. In those instances, Priority Mail offers quicker delivery than First-Class Mail for a fee.

Note that USPS also announced a temporary price increase for holiday mail, so you’ll pay more to ship goods regardless. This makes priority mail even more appealing because USPS offers Priority Mailboxes in assorted sizes. So long as your items fit inside the box, they will ship for a flat fee regardless of weight.

Thinking Toward the Future

A little forethought can save a lot of hassle when it comes to shipping packages this holiday season. However, this announcement isn’t all dire. These new mail delivery timetables may offer some advantages. Namely, shipping estimates may be more accurate now that they reflect how long mail actually takes to arrive. The USPS believes this will make standard First-Class Mail more consistent overall, and those rural residents and those outside of the continental U.S. will likely have more accurate tracking. Of course, there may be a few bumps in the road as you adjust to the new schedule, but no company that services the entire country can do so without a hiccup here and there.


Parcel Pending by Quadient provides safe, secure, and contact-free deliveries for more than 3 million users across the United States and Canada. Are you a resident looking for additional support? Contact us here.

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