How Do I Ship a Package Through USPS? (Full Guide)

If you’ve got a special birthday present to send or just made a big sale on eBay, then the next thing you’ll need to do is get your package in the mail.

But if you’re using USPS to ship your package and have never used the service before, you may wonder how it works? If you’d like to find out, keep reading to see what I discovered!

How Do I Ship a Package Through USPS In [currentyear]?

USPS recommends shipping using a sturdy box big enough to hold your items and some cushioning in [currentyear]. Use tape to reinforce the flaps and cross out any old labels or addresses. Next, address the package, making sure to write legibly using a permanent marker. Choose a mail service, purchase postage and ship.

If you’d like more information about USPS’ shipping policies, then keep reading for more useful facts!

How Do I Ship a USPS Package?

This question sounds rather straightforward, but there’s actually a lot to think about when shipping a USPS package.

Here, we’ll take you through everything you’ll need to think about when it comes to shipping with this postal service:

Step 1: Pick a Box

Choose a sturdy box that’s big enough to hold whatever you’re shipping, meaning you should leave enough room for cushioning so that items are protected and not moving around.

You can use any box of your choice, but try to stick to standard sizes so you’re not hit with fees for nonmachinable packages.

Step 2: Pack Your Box

Pack your item(s), making sure to protect the contents and the exterior of the box. USPS recommends including a packing slip or piece of paper with the destination address inside the box in case the outside of the box gets damaged. 

Tape your box so that it closes flat on all sides without bulging and reinforce the flaps with packing tape. If you’re reusing a box, make sure to cover or black out old logos, shipping labels or addresses.

Do not wrap your parcel with cord, string or twine, as those materials can get caught in the mail processing equipment.

Step 3: Address Your Package

Use the same address format for a package as you would for an envelope. This means writing the “return” or “sender” address in the top left corner and the “delivery” or “recipient” address in the bottom center.

Put both addresses on the same side of the box and write the address clearly, using a permanent marker that doesn’t smear.

Alternatively, you can print the address labels instead of handwriting them.

Step 4: Choose a Mail Service

Which mail service you choose will depend on how quickly you want your package to arrive, as well as its size and weight.

USPS’ mail services include: Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, First-Class Package Service-Retail, USPS Retail Ground and Media Mail.

These services differ in their delivery speeds, maximum package sizes and the extras they include (e.g. tracking or insurance).

Do some research on your own or ask a USPS employee for advice if you’re not sure which service will work best for you.

Step 5: Calculate and Apply Postage

Attaching the correct postage to the top right corner of your package will help make sure it arrives on time.

Without enough postage, your package may be returned to you, or the person receiving it may have to pay the difference.

You can use the USPS Postage Calculator tool to get prices for different services, or you can ask when you go to the post office.

In terms of buying postage, check out The Postal Store, Click-N-Ship (for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express), or any post office location.

Step 6: Ship Your Package

When you can mail your package will depend on its size and where you live.

You can request a home pickup, visit a post office, leave it with an approved postal provider or drop small packages in a blue collection box.

What Size Package Can I Ship Through USPS?

What Size Package Can I Ship Through USPS?

USPS charges based on the size and weight of your box, and the company has restrictions on both.

In terms of package minimums, all mailpieces must be at least 0.007 inches thick. If a mailpiece is ¼ inch or less thick, it must be rectangular and at least 3-½ inches high by 5 inches long.

Maximum sizes are determined by mail class. For example, First-Class packages have maximum dimensions of 22 inches x 18 inches x 15 inches.

Priority Mail may not be more than 108 inches in total length and girth, and all packages have a 70-lb weight limit.

What Items Can I Ship Through USPS?

USPS allows customers to ship pretty much anything, provided the items fit in a standard size box, conform to the weight limit and don’t contain any prohibited items.

Prohibited items include the following:

  • Air Bags
  • Ammunition
  • Explosives
  • Gasoline
  • Marijuana (medical or otherwise); hemp/CBD is allowed, but restricted

In addition to these prohibited items, USPS restricts a number of other items. Some common items that are restricted include the following:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Cigarettes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lithium batteries
  • Perfume
  • Perishable items

For a complete list of restricted items and more information about shipping them, visit the USPS website.

Which USPS Shipping Service Should I Use?

Which shipping service you choose will come down to the package shape, the shipping speed and the mailing cost.

Below is a table comparing these factors to help you make a more informed decision:

Service Shape Speed Cost
Priority Mail Express Letters, large or thick envelopes, tubes, and packages


(70 lbs or less)

1 or 2 days (includes a money-back guarantee) $$$


(based on weight and distance)

Priority Mail Letters, large or thick envelopes, tubes, and packages 1-3 days on average $$


(based on weight, shape and distance)

First-Class Mail




First-Class Package

Postcards, letters, large envelopes, and small packages




1-3 days $


(based on weight and shape)

USPS Retail Ground* Small and large packages, thick envelopes, and tubes containing gifts and merchandise 2-8 days $


(based on weight, shape and distance)

Media Mail* Small and large packages and thick envelopes.


Contents are limited to books, manuscripts, sound recordings, and certain other educational materials

2-8 days $


(based on weight)

* Not available for international shipping

To know more, you can also see our posts on whether or not USPS ships to the Philippines, what are USPS shipping zones, and if USPS ships to Hong Kong.


Shipping with USPS is an easy and reliable process as long as you follow the instructions listed above. Overall, you can have peace of mind knowing your package will arrive quickly and safely.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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