How Fast Is USPS First-Class? (Your Full Guide)

USPS First-Class Mail is an affordable and hassle-free way to send envelopes and lightweight packages. It’s also the service that handles envelopes mailed with Forever stamps.

But with a service so easy, you might be wondering if there’s a catch. Read on to find out just how fast USPS First-Class Mail is and what you can expect with this service!

How Fast Is USPS First-Class In 2023?

Letters and small envelopes sent through USPS First-Class Mail have a standard delivery time of one to five business days as of 2023. First-Class packages have an average delivery time of one to three business days. Periodicals and marketing mail can take eight or more days to arrive.

Keep reading to get even more information about how long your First-Class items will take to arrive!

How Fast Is USPS First-Class Mail?

On average, USPS First-Class Mail weighing 3.5 ounces or less arrives in one to five business days.

Here, mail refers to letters and “flats.” Furthermore, “flats” is the term USPS uses to describe large envelopes, newsletters, and magazines.

How Fast Is USPS First-Class Package Service?

USPS First-Class Package service, also referred to as First-Class Parcel service, promises a one to three business day delivery service.

With that, First-Class Parcels must weigh 13 ounces or less.

Which Is Faster, USPS First-Class, Or Priority?

As the name suggests, Priority Mail is USPS’ top shipping priority.

For example, USPS delivers parcels sent via Priority Mail service more quickly than those sent through First-Class Parcel service.

That said, you’re more likely to notice the difference in shipping times if your package has a long way to travel.

Further, the difference in shipping times between First-Class and Priority based on distance is as follows:

  • USPS Zone One (1-50 miles): Two days for First-Class Mail and one to two days for Priority Mail
  • USPS Zone Three (151-300 miles): Three days for First-Class Mail and two days for Priority Mail
  • USPS Zone Five (601-1000 miles): Three days for First-Class Mail and two days for Priority Mail
  • USPS Zone Eight (1801 or more miles): Three to five days for Priority Mail and three days for Priority Mail

As you can see, First-Class Mail and Priority Mail have comparable delivery times for packages that have a short distance to travel.

However, once your package crosses state lines, you’ll notice a difference in delivery time.

For packages sent internationally, there’s no competition. That said, Priority Mail will get your package to its destination in six to ten days.

On the other hand, First-Class Mail has no guaranteed time frame, meaning you could be waiting weeks for your item to arrive.

Can USPS First-Class Mail Take Longer Than Five Days?

Can USPS First-Class Mail Take Longer Than Five Days?

In some cases, yes, First-Class Mail could take longer than five days to arrive.

Following the 2021 Delivering for America plan, the postal service extended standard delivery times for several First-Class Mail services to reduce budget deficits. 

As a result, expect to see slower delivery times for all First-Class items, especially periodicals and marketing mail. Further, here are the expected delivery times going forward:

  • First-Class Mail: Standard delivery time of one to five days
  • Periodicals: Standard delivery time of three to nine days
  • USPS Marketing Mail: Standard delivery time of three to ten days
  • Package Services: Standard delivery time of two to eight days

Moreover, these changes will have the most significant impact on items that have a long way to travel.

In other words, you’ll likely remark that your magazines take longer to arrive but probably won’t notice a difference in delivery time for a thank-you card sent to a friend in the next town over.

Is The USPS First-Class Package Service Fast?

Of the USPS First-Class Mail services, the First-Class Parcel service is the fastest.

While letters, envelopes, and flats may take three or more days to arrive, packages sent through the First-Class Parcel service should arrive in one to three business days.

What’s more, it’s fair to say that in some cases, the delivery time of First-Class packages is equivalent to that of Priority Mail.

How Fast Is USPS First-Class International?

Delivery time for USPS First-Class Package International service is between one to four weeks, depending on the destination, making it one of the slower international shipping options.

That said, shipping times are slower because USPS doesn’t handle end-to-end delivery with its First-Class Package International Service.

Instead, it passes off packages to the local postal service of the destination country.

As a result, packages sent to remote countries or those less developed can take up to four weeks to arrive.

For comparison purposes, USPS Priority Mail Express International takes three to five days, while USPS Priority Mail International takes six to ten days.

Therefore, First-Class International may not be the best bet if your package needs to arrive at its destination quickly.

To know more, you can also read our posts on USPS priority mail vs. first-class, if USPS first-class has tracking, and if USPS delivers on Sundays.


USPS First-Class mail is one of the most affordable services offered by the postal service.

While it’s cost-effective, you will notice slower delivery times than other mail services like Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express.

Additionally, First-Class packages have the quickest delivery time, while periodicals and marketing mail may take a week or more to arrive.

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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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