About USPS (United States Postal Service)
The United States Postal Service (USPS), as known as the U.S. Post Office or U.S. Mail Service is an autonomous executive branch agency of the federal government with the mandate to facilitate postal services in every part of the United States.
US Postal Service Types
USPS provides a wide range of services, including:
Mail & Shipping Services: includes all mail and shipping options for domestic delivery. Customers can choose from a variety of services such as First-Class Mail, Marketing Mail, Periodicals, Media Mail, Package Services, Priority Mail, and USPS Retail Ground.
International Shipping Services: specialized services designed specifically for international shipping, including Global Express Guaranteed, Priority Mail Express International, Priority Mail International, First-Class Package International Service, and Airmail M-Bags. These services offer fast and reliable delivery to destinations around the world.
Business Shipping Services: offers several services geared towards businesses, including Premium Forwarding Service, Every Door Direct Mail, PO Box and Street Addressing, and Click-N-Ship. These services enable businesses to manage their mailing and shipping needs more efficiently.
Tracking Services: United States Postal Service tracking provides customers with real-time updates on the status of their packages, including information on when a package is shipped, delivered, and if there are any exceptions or delays during transit.
Insurance & Extra Services: provides additional services that customers can purchase for added security and protection when sending items through the mail. These services include Certified Mail, Collect on Delivery (COD), Insured Mail, Registered Mail, Signature Confirmation, Adult Signature Required, Return Receipt, and Restricted Delivery.
These categories provide a comprehensive overview of the different types of services offered by USPS and help customers choose the most appropriate service based on their specific needs.
USPS Shipping Methods
USPS Mail & Shipping Services
USPS Mail & Shipping Services offer a range of mailing options to customers, depending on the specific needs of their shipment, including:
First-Class Mail®: This service is ideal for sending lightweight envelopes, postcards, and packages weighing up to 15.99 ounces. It offers affordable pricing and fast delivery times ranging from 1-5 days.
Priority Mail®: This service provides fast, reliable, and affordable delivery in 1-3 business days, depending on the destination. It is ideal for shipping packages up to 70 pounds with included insurance up to $100.
USPS Retail Ground®: This service provides economical prices for shipping large and heavy packages. The delivery time ranges from 2-8 business days, depending on the destination.
Priority Mail Express®: This service provides guaranteed overnight delivery across the United States with options for both retail and commercial pricing. It includes free tracking and up to $100 insurance coverage.
Media Mail®: designed for shipping books, printed music, and other educational materials that weigh less than 70 pounds. It offers lower rates than other classes of mail, but delivery times can be longer.
USPS International Shipping Services
USPS International Mail & Shipping Services provide customers with a range of options to meet their international shipping needs, including:
Fastest Delivery Speed Options: This service is designed for urgent items that must arrive in a few days with a guaranteed date-certain delivery and money-back guarantee.
Global Express Guaranteed® (GXG®): This service is designed for urgent items that must arrive in a few days with a guaranteed date-certain delivery and money-back guarantee. The service is called Global Express Guaranteed (GXG), with prices starting from $71.10. The delivery time ranges from 1-3 business days, and the maximum weight allowed is 70 lbs. The service includes tracking to all destinations and up to $100 insurance coverage. Additional insurance can be purchased up to $2,499.
Priority Mail Express International®: This service is ideal for sending important items that need to arrive in under a week. It includes a money-back guaranteed date-certain delivery for select locations, with prices starting from $54.75. The delivery time ranges from 3-5 business days, and the maximum weight allowed depends on whether a flat rate envelope or mailing box is used. The service also includes USPS Tracking and up to $200 insurance coverage for merchandise (depending on contents). Additional insurance can be purchased up to $5,000.
Affordable Options: These services offer value-priced shipping with options for flat rate pricing or pricing based on weight.
Priority Mail International®: This service is designed for packages weighing over 4 lbs, with delivery times ranging from 6-10 business days. Prices start from $30.35, and the maximum weight allowed depends on whether a flat rate envelope, flat rate box, or pricing by weight is selected. The service includes USPS Tracking and up to $200 insurance coverage for merchandise (depending on contents).
First-Class Package International Service®: This service is for packages or large envelopes over 1 lb that contain items worth less than $400 and weigh less than 4 lbs. Prices start from $15.75, and the delivery time varies by destination. The service includes E-USPS DELCON INTL® service to select destinations only, but tracking is not available. Insurance coverage is not included.
Best for Documents or Printed Materials Only: These services are best suited for envelopes of only documents or a large sack of books or other printed material.
First-Class Mail International®: This service is designed for envelopes of documents weighing under 1 lb, with prices starting from $2.90. The delivery time varies by destination, and the maximum weight allowed is up to 1 lb (documents only). Tracking and insurance coverage are not available.
Airmail M-Bags®: This service is ideal for international students in the U.S. who need to send lots of books home. Prices start from $55.00, and the delivery time varies by destination. The maximum weight allowed is up to 66 lbs (printed material only), with USPS Tracking included. Insurance coverage is not available.
USPS Business Shipping Services
USPS does offer business shipping services for small to large volume mailers. Some of the postage options available include Click-N-Ship, Click-N-Ship Business Pro, and the Business Customer Gateway.
Click-N-Ship® allows users to pay for postage and print shipping labels online, with options to pay using a credit card, Visa Checkout, or PayPal. Users can also ship domestically or internationally and create batch shipments of up to 20 identical packages. Additionally, customers can earn USPS Loyalty Program credits when they purchase Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express labels.
Click-N-Ship Business Pro™ is another option that allows users to download desktop software for shipments of at least 10 pieces or more. This service allows you to pay postage via electronic manifest files, ship domestically or internationally, and manage your shipping with integration and reporting features.
The Business Customer Gateway serves as a hub for managing volume mailing and shipping for businesses of all sizes. With this service, users can access online tools for business mailers, customer package return services, and promotions and incentives.
USPS Tracking Services
USPS tracking is a service offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that allows users to track packages and letters as they are in transit. With USPS tracking, customers can get real-time updates on the status of their package or letter, including when it is shipped, where it is at any given moment, and when it will be delivered.
USPS Informed Delivery
USPS Informed Delivery is a service provided by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that allows users to preview their mail before it arrives. This service provides a digital preview of the exterior of letter-sized mailpieces and some flat-sized mailpieces, which are scanned by USPS as they go through the processing facility.
To sign up for Informed Delivery, users must create an account on the USPS website and verify their identity. Once signed up, users can access their dashboard to see a daily email or mobile app digest with images of the mail pieces that are scheduled to be delivered to their address. If there are any issues with mail delivery, such as a delayed or missing package, users can report them through the Informed Delivery platform.
USPS Package Intercept
USPS Package Intercept is a service provided by the United States Postal Service that allows customers to stop delivery or redirect packages, letters, or flats before they are delivered. This service is available for most domestic mailings with a tracking or extra services barcode that are not yet out for delivery or already delivered.
Customers who want to use this service will need to submit an online request through the USPS website and pay a non-refundable intercept fee of $17.00 plus any applicable postage if the shipment is successfully intercepted. Customers can choose to have the shipment held at the destination Post Office or returned to the sender.
USPS Tracking Number
USPS tracking numbers typically consist of 22 digits or characters and may include letters and numbers. The tracking number is usually provided by the sender and can be used to track the package’s status throughout its journey to the recipient. Customers can enter the tracking number on the USPS website, mobile app, or by calling USPS customer service to receive updates on the package’s delivery status.
What does my USPS tracking number look like?
Here are some examples of USPS tracking number formats:
- USPS Tracking Number: 9400 1000 0000 0000 0000 00
- Priority Mail Tracking Number: 9205 5000 0000 0000 0000 00
- Certified Mail Tracking Number: 9407 3000 0000 0000 0000 00
- Collect On Delivery Hold For Pickup Tracking Number: 9303 3000 0000 0000 0000 00
- Global Express Guaranteed Tracking Number: 82 000 000 00
- Priority Mail Express International Tracking Number: EC 000 000 000 US
- Priority Mail Express Tracking Number: 9270 1000 0000 0000 0000 00 or EA 000 000 000 US
- Priority Mail International Tracking Number: CP 000 000 000 US
- Registered Mail Tracking Number: 9208 8000 0000 0000 0000 00
- Signature Confirmation Tracking Number: 9202 1000 0000 0000 0000 00
Where do I find my tracking number?
Here are different places where you can find your tracking number:
- Post Office™ shipping receipt;
- Sales receipt from the Post Office™ if you purchased insurance;
- Email confirmation from USPS.com if you shipped through their website;
- Shipping confirmation email from an online retailer;
- The bottom peel-off section of your USPS Tracking® label.
Can I track my USPS parcels with tracking numbers?
The answer is NO. The Postal Service cannot track or locate an item without the tracking number.
To find a misplaced or forgotten tracking number, try these resources:
- Check your mailing receipt.
- Look for the online label record if you bought postage online.
- Refer to your sales receipt.
- Locate the barcode on the mailed item (refer to “USPS Tracking® – The Basics” section on what it looks like).
- Ask the recipient if they have Informed Delivery subscription, as they may see the tracking number on their dashboard.
How to add tracking to items with tracking numbers?
To add tracking to your USPS item, you have two options:
At a Post Office™:
- Pay postage for your qualifying shipping product at the Post Office retail counter.
- USPS Tracking® is automatically activated.
- Keep the tracking number provided on your mailing receipt.
- Use the tracking number to access delivery information.
- Create an account on USPS.com®.
- With this account, you can print USPS Tracking® labels, purchase mailing/shipping services, buy stamps, etc.
- The tracking label includes both the label attached to the product and a receipt with the tracking number.
- Anytime you need to check the tracking information or status of your item, log in to your USPS.com account.
By combining a USPS Tracking® product with a compatible Extra Service, such as a signature requirement, you can receive proof of delivery.
Regardless of whether you choose the Post Office retail counter or online option, you’ll be able to access the same USPS Tracking® information. Just make sure to keep your retail receipt, as the tracking number is necessary for tracking or locating an item.
Insurance & Extra Services
USPS Certified Mail
USPS Certified Mail is an extra mail service offered by the United States Postal Service that provides added security and accountability for important or sensitive documents. It is a numbered service that provides the sender with a mailing receipt and electronic verification of delivery or delivery attempt, which can be retrieved through multiple channels like USPS tracking website, telephone, or electronic file transfer with your tracking number.
Collect on Delivery (COD)
Collect on Delivery (COD)is a USPS service that allows senders to collect payment from recipients for postage, fees, merchandise, or any combo upon delivery. The COD item has an ID number for delivery confirmation. This service is used by senders who want to collect payment for merchandise/postage/fees when the item is delivered. Sender pays postage/fees at mailing and guarantees to pay return postage unless specified. Maximum amount collected is $1,000. COD mail can’t be deposited in mailboxes, only presented at a Post Office facility or given to a rural carrier. Tracking of COD mail is available using USPS Tracking on USPS.com.
Insured Mail is a USPS service that protects the sender’s package contents from loss or damage during transit. The sender needs to declare the value of the contents and pay an additional fee on top of postage. If the contents are lost or damaged, the recipient can file a claim for compensation up to the declared value. Some restrictions and exclusions apply, such as prohibited items or poorly packaged items.
Registered Mail is a highly secure mail service provided by USPS. It requires the recipient to sign upon delivery and can only be presented in person. Registered Mail Restricted Delivery allows delivery only to the addressee. USPS Ground Advantage – Commercial, USPS Ground Advantage – Retail, First-Class Mail, and Priority Mail are the only mail classes that can be sent as Registered Mail. Registered Mail processing is manual, which slows down its speed, and no estimated delivery time is available. Registered Mail includes insurance up to $50,000, but the fee is not refundable after acceptance. Specific forms must be filled out, and improperly prepared items may not be registered.
Signature Confirmation is a service provided by USPS that requires the recipient or a responsible person to sign for the item. It provides information such as signature, name of the recipient, date, time, and location of delivery. It does not provide tracking of mail items and does not expedite mailing or guarantee delivery time. The cost of Signature Confirmation varies depending on whether it’s purchased retail or electronic.
USPS’ Return Receipt proves delivery & includes recipient’s signature, info on address, date & time. It can be bought for eligible domestic mail classes and services. The cost varies and refund is possible if the signature isn’t provided, but it can be requested within 90 days of purchase.
Restricted Delivery is a service provided by USPS that allows the mailer to direct delivery only to the addressee or the addressee’s authorized agent, and the recipient or agent may be required to show proof of acceptable identification. This service does not provide insurance against loss or damage, tracking or tracing, expedited delivery, guaranteed delivery time, mailing or signature receipt unless an additional service is purchased.
There are some exceptions to who can receive Restricted Delivery mail, and recipients can authorize another person to receive their Restricted Delivery Mail by sending a letter to the Postmaster or completing PS Form 3801 at the local Post Office.
USPS Customer Services
- Official website: www.usps.com
Contact USPS Customer Services (U.S. Only)
- Email: [email protected]
- Phone number: 1-800-ASK-USPS® (1-800-275-8777)
Hours of Operation
- Monday – Friday 8 AM – 8:30 PM ET
- Saturday 8 AM – 6 PM ET
Contact USPS Technical Support
- Phone number: 1-800-344-7779
Hours of Operation
- Monday – Friday 8 AM – 8:30 PM ET
- Saturday 8 AM – 6 PM ET
Contact Domestic & International USPS Tracking
- Phone number: 1-800-222-1811
Hours of Operation
- Monday – Friday 8 AM – 8:30 PM ET
- Saturday 8 AM – 6 PM ET