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What Are the Different Types of Mail? Understanding Mail

The United States Postal Service delivers about 472.1 million pieces of mail each year. With this many pieces of mail, a system to organize and prioritize is necessary to ensure each one gets delivered. 

When choosing your method, you’ll need to choose from several different types of mail. The type that you choose will influence the overall cost, shipping time, and tracking information. 

This guide will explain the different types and help you choose the best method. 

What Type of Mail Service Should I Use?

The types of mail service that you use should fit your budget and timeline needs. The item you’re mailing also needs to fit within certain size and weight restrictions. 

First Class 

This is a fast and low-cost option that is perfect for mailing letters. The price is the same, no matter the distance. The drawback is that packages must weigh 3.5 ounces or less. 

Priority 

If you need your package to arrive in 1-3 days, then this is the service for you. It’s more expensive, but there are several flat rate box options to compensate. This service comes with free USPS tracking and packaging. 

The downside is that you’re limited to a weight of 70 pounds. 

Priority Express 

This type of mail gets delivered overnight, no matter what day of the year you ship it on. The USPS offers free tracking and packaging. This is the only method that you can get a guaranteed delivery date with. 

Similar to priority mail, you’re limited to 70 pounds. It’s also the most expensive service available. 

Retail Ground (Formerly Standard) 

This is the slowest mail service, but you’ll save on shipping costs. Your rate changes based solely on weight, with distance not being a factor. You can ship packages up to 70 pounds with this type. 

Media Mail 

This type of mail is the cheapest method if your package weighs over 13 ounces. It’s incredibly slow, though. You’ll pay based on weight and not distance, with a limit of 70 pounds. 

The downside of this type is that you’re limited by what you can ship with this method. Only these items are allowed to be shipped this way:

  • Books
  • Sound recordings
  • Recorded videotapes
  • Printed music
  • Recorded computer-readable media

Additional Services 

There are several services that you can purchase in conjunction with the type of mail you choose. 

  • Insurance 
  • Tracking 
  • Certified 
  • Return receipt 
  • Certificate of mailing 
  • Signature confirmation 
  • Premium tracking 

If you’re asking, how does certified mail work or any of these other services, there are several guides online to help. These additional services help you to ensure and confirm your mail gets to the intended recipient. 

What Type of Mail Service Should You Use?

When choosing from the different types of mail service, you need to consider your budget, what you’re shipping, and how soon you need it to get there. As you can see, you can save on shipping costs, but it will lengthen the amount of time it’ll take to get there. 

Browse our other life articles to help you gain valuable skills and knowledge. 

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