USPS Services and Packaging Requirements

USPS Services and Packaging Requirements

USPS services
Photo credit: Joel Moysuh from Unsplash


Every day the mail brings us letters and bills, magazines and catalogs, packages large and small. It's hard to believe that these items all arrive at our homes through a single, vast network. In fact, the U.S. Postal Service delivers mail to more than 141 million homes and businesses—approximately one out of every two addresses in the United States—six days a week.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the only postal service that offers customers the opportunity to track their orders and packages any time of the day. This means that not only are these shipments being tracked by USPS but also, the sender and receiver can find out about it at any time of their choosing. In this article, we will discuss USPS services and packaging Requirements for 2022.

USPS Shipping Services Available in 2022 

USPS Services allow users to choose delivery options that suit their needs. The right domestic mail service for you will depend on the items you are sending, and when you want the items to reach the recipient. The price for each service will depend on the mailing type, weight, dimensions, and service selected. There are four main shipping services.

USPS services shippingPhoto credit: Liza Summer from Pexels

First Class Mail

This is the most affordable mail service. However, it only applies to standard-sized, single-piece envelopes, large envelopes, and small packages. A first-class service letter must be 3.5oz or less. Anything between 3.6 oz to 13oz is classified as a flat/large envelope or a parcel. The delivery date is 3-5 days. Since prices for first-class mail do not depend on distance, this service is suitable for shipping lightweight items over long distances.

Priority Mail

This domestic mail service delivers your package (letter, flat/large envelope, or parcel) between 1-3 days depending on where the distance will be covered. With Priority Mail, you do not need to weigh packages under 70lbs. However, the price will vary depending on the number of zones the mail will cross before reaching the recipient. Other services available under Priority Mail include USPS tracking, signature confirmation, return receipt, and collect on delivery.

Priority Mail Express

The Priority Mail Express is the fastest USPS domestic shipping service. This service delivers all around the year, 7 days a week. Its delivery date varies between next-day to 2-day guarantee. Priority Mail Express is also applicable for packages under 70lbs. The service, however, requires insurance coverage of $100. 

Media Mail

The maximum weight for a media mail is 70lbs and delivery is about 2-8 days. Media mail is cost-effective as heavy materials can be sent with it. However, all packages sent via Media Mail must be inspected and verified. Media mail items include:

  • at least eight-paged books, 
  • printed music and test materials, 
  • printed educational reference charts,
  • video and sound recordings,
  • medical loose-leaf pages and binders, 
  • and computer-readable media.

Parcel Select Ground

Parcel Select is good for small and large packages as well as for thick envelopes and tubes. These are packages that are considered too large for Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail delivery. The maximum weight for packages is 70lbs and they can be up to 130 inches in length. However, it is only applicable for shipments that are booked online. Although quite cheap, the Parcel Select service is slow and has a delivery window that is between 2-8 days.

New service - USPS Connect Local

The delivery service, USPS Connect Local is being introduced under Parcel Select Ground. This new service will permit local small businesses to deliver products over the same day or the next day. The condition however is that the address is served by their local delivery unit. There will also be Sunday delivery for an extra charge.

To use the new USPS Connect Local, the customer must have a valid customer agreement with the USPS.

USPS Price Changes

The beginning of a new year often results in a change (increase or decrease) in postal rates and the addition or removal of some services. The price of shipping using the USPS varies based on the type of mailing service, the distance the mail will travel, the weight of the mail, and its dimensions. 

From January 9th, 2022, the USPS new price changes for postage took effect. Approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the new price change would increase Shipping Service charges by about 3 percent for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express services.

Domestic Shipping Charges

    • First Class Mail

    In August 2021, USPS announced a postage rate increase for First Class Mail letters. The price for these First Class Mail letters is proposed to increase by July 2022. But, as of January 2022, the rate will reflect no changes from that of 2021. 

    Also, from 2023, the postage price changes for First Class Mail will occur twice a year - in January and in July.

    First Class Mail Letters 2021 Price 2022 Price
    1 ounce letter $0.58 $0.58
    Flat or Large envelope $1.16 $1.16
    Postcard $0.40 $0.40
    Letters (additional oz) $0.20 $0.20
    Metered letters (1 oz) $0.53 $0.53

    • Priority Mail Flat-Rate

    The proposed prices will also mean an increase in the shipping price of flat-rate envelopes. The Priority Mail padded flat-rate envelope will increase by $1.00 compared to its 2021 rate. The rate for the medium flat rate box will increase by $0.60. Prices for the large flat-rate box will reduce by $0.40. Generally, the price of small and medium flat-rate boxes will increase by about 3.5% while that of large flat-rate boxes will reduce from its 2021 cost. These rates do not include the holiday surcharge.

    Below is a detailed proposed retail price change for Priority Mail flat-rate services. 

    Priority Mail Product 2021 Rate 2022 Price
    Small flat-rate box $8.45 $9.45
    Medium flat-rate box $15.50 $16.10
    Large flat-rate box $21.90 $21.50
    APO/FPO/DPO large flat-rate box $20.40 $20.00
    Regular flat rate envelope $7.95 $8.95
    Legal flat rate envelope $8.25 $9.25
    Padded flat-rate envelope $8.55 $9.65

    • Priority Mail Express

    By April 2022, there will be a $1.50 charge for any package that exceeds one cubic foot and also for those that are greater than 22 inches. 

    Again, a non-standard charge will be imposed on packages that require manual sorting. The USPS employs manual sorting when the dimensions of the package exceed sorting requirements. Packages that exceed 22 inches will require a $4.00 charge, and those that exceed 30 inches or 2 cubic feet will need a $15.00 charge.

    Apart from the charge for exceeding a given dimension, the overall price for Priority Mail Express will increase by 4.3% depending on the package weight. For Priority Mail Express Flat-Rate, the change will be as follows:

    Priority Mail Express Product 2021 2022
    Flat rate envelope $22.75 $23.50
    Legal flat rate envelope $22.95 $23.75
    Padded flat rate envelope $23.25 $23.95

    • First Class Package Service

    There will be a rate increase of 7.4% in 2022 for First Class Package Service. The rates will start at $0.37 compared to the previous price of $0.30.

    • Media Mail

    The average increase of Media Mail rate from 2021 to 2022 will be by 12%. Based on actual weight, heavy packages will cost more (about a 12% increase), while lighter packages will cost less (10.1% increase).

    Below is the increase in Media Mail rates based on the weight of the package.

    Product Weight (lbs) 2021 Rate 2022 Rate
    1 $2.89 $3.19
    3 $4.01 $4.45
    6 $5.69 $6.34
    10 $7.93 $8.86

    • Parcel Select Ground

    The service will have a rate decrease of 12% from 2022. Parcel Select Ground rates will start at $7.22 compared to the 2021 rate of $7.01.

    Just like in Priority Mail Express, there will be a $1.50 surcharge for packages when the customer does not provide accurate dimensions. These include packages that exceed 22 inches and one cubic foot.

    International Shipping Charges

    In addition to the general increase in postal rates, there are increased insurance rates for all international packages.

    • Priority Mail

    Priority Mail International Shipping will include a 3.7% average rate increase in 2022. The online postage rates will commence at $46.36 as against its 2021 rate of $44.60.

    • Priority Mail Express

    Priority Mail Express International Shipping will include a 3.2% rate increase in 2022. The online postage rates will commence at $44.95 as against its 2021 rate of $42.85.

    • First Class Package

    First-Class Package International Shipping will include a 4.2% average rate increase in 2022. The online postage rates will commence at $14.11 as against its 2021 rate of $13.54.

    USPS Automated Package Verification (APV) System

    The USPS APV system is used by the United States Postal Services to accurately ensure that all shipments tally with the details on the label. Its intent is to deliver all shipments on time and in full. This means that the shipments will be correct based on it's labeled:

    • Weight
    • Dimension
    • Mail class
    • Packaging
    • Origin zip code
    • Destination zip code
    • Postage paid

    APV applies to all domestic packages shipped with USPS. However, it excludes international packages, letters, certified mails, and large envelopes. With APV, the USPS can deliver wrongly labeled packages, but issue a surcharge (in the case of undercharging) based on the actual cost to the sender.

    New Surcharges

    From April 2022, the United States Postal Services (USPS) is adding new surcharges for large packages. The rate will depend on the custom box dimensions. This new surcharge applies to Priority Mail Express, Parcel Select Ground, and Priority Mail services. The services not affected First Class and Media Mail.

    There will be a non-standard fee for packages that exceed sorting requirements. Such packages must be sorted manually and the fees are:

    • $4.00 fee for a package that is between 22-30 inches long.
    • A $15.00 fee for a package that is greater than 30 inches long.
    • A $15.00 fee for a package that exceeds 2 cubic feet.

    There will also be a $1.50 fee for packages with incorrect or missing dimensions, and in which the actual dimension exceeds one cubic foot or 22 inches length.

    To avoid surcharges, use proper dimensions, service, and weight when sending packages using USPS.

    USPS Certified Mail

    For years, people have trusted USPS Certified Mail to deliver important documents. When you send a letter using Certified Mail, you get a receipt showing that the letter was sent. You also receive a signature proving that the recipient received it.

    In fact, this process has been used by banks and law firms to send important letters for decades. But USPS is changing its processes in January 2022. If your business uses Certified Mail, here’s what you need to know about the upcoming changes.

    The USPS will introduce a new form of Certified Mail in January 2022. The new method will use “electronic documentation” instead of paper receipts and green cards. They plan to do this by integrating with the Intelligent Mail® barcode (IMb) system, which is used for all mailpieces sent through USPS. Using IMb for certified mail will allow documents to be delivered faster than before. For example:

    • The recipient’s signature is recorded electronically during delivery
    • Certified Mail forms can be filled out using certified mail software and printed from any printer
    • Notifications are sent via email

    The new system also makes tracking easy since information is available through the USPS website or via telephone using their automated system.


    The United States Postal Service (USPS) Services, packaging requirements, and prices may all be new and improved. To address the challenge of ensuring that mail and parcels arrive safely at their destination, the Postal Service has announced certain significant overhauls to their parcel packaging requirements. These adjustments are necessary to remain competitive amongst other postal services such as DHL, UPS, and FedEx. Despite these adjustments, USPS still has the lowest mail postage rates and is mostly the first mailing choice before others.

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