Maybe you forgot your mom’s birthday and are sending a gift last-minute, or maybe you worked right up to the deadline on a project and need to mail it ASAP. Whatever the reason, you’re counting on USPS’ overnight shipping service to make sure your package arrives in time.
Therefore, one of the best ways to make sure your shipment gets where it needs to go on time is to respect USPS’ overnight cutoff time. To find out what time it is and why it’s so important, keep reading!
What Is USPS’ Overnight Cutoff Time In 2023?
In most cases, USPS recommends dropping off overnight (also known as Priority Mail Express) packages between 5:30 PM to 5:45 PM at the latest in 2023. Most post offices close at 6:00, so this slightly earlier cutoff time gives postal employees time to scan, sort, and load outgoing trucks with overnight packages.
Read the rest of this article to learn more about why cutoff times are important, and what to do if you miss a cutoff time!
What Is the Cutoff Time for USPS Overnight?
Cutoff time refers to the latest time you can drop off packages at the Post Office to ensure they’ll be sent out in that day’s mail.
Packages sent through USPS’ overnight service, Priority Mail Express, have a cutoff time between 5:30 PM to 5:45 PM.
Priority Mail Express shipments go out every night of the week (with the exception of Sunday) when the Post Office closes.
Most Post Offices close at 6:00 PM, so dropping your package off a bit before then ensures that it will go out with that day’s overnight packages.
Although 5:30 PM to 5:45 PM is a good rule of thumb to follow, we recommend checking the business hours at your local Post Office, as some close earlier than others.
You should also ask about the cutoff time for accepting overnight packages, as this may be earlier than you expect.
In fact, the cut-off time for a package could be as early as 3:00 PM, depending on how far it needs to travel.
Why Is the USPS Cutoff Time Important?
Arriving a bit before closing is essential when mailing Priority Mail Express packages, because it’s a guaranteed service.
That means that if USPS fails to deliver your package within the 1- to 2-day timeframe, you get a refund.
Therefore, USPS imposes a cutoff time for Priority Mail Express shipments, so that the service commitment can be respected.
What’s more, this cutoff time gives post office employees enough time to sort, scan, and get the mail loaded onto outgoing trucks.
How Does USPS Determine Overnight Cutoff Times?
Overnight mail cutoff times are determined by the Post Office’s closing time.
For many locations, this means that the cutoff time ends up being a bit before 6:00 PM.
Still, this 6:00 PM cutoff time is not a hard and fast rule.
In certain locations, cutoff times are determined by USPS’ transportation schedules and delivery commitments.
They may also be based on the receiving Post Office’s location. If a location is in a rural area far from a mail processing center or an airport, the cutoff time may be earlier.
What Happens If I Miss the Overnight Cutoff Time at USPS?
If you miss the cutoff time for overnight packages, there’s unfortunately not much you can do.
In most cases, the mail has already been scanned, sorted, and loaded into delivery trucks. If that’s the case, your shipment will go out in the next day’s mail.
If you’re especially unlucky, and miss a cutoff time on a Saturday, your package won’t start moving until Monday.
To avoid scenarios like these, it’s important to get to the Post Office as soon as you realize you need to send an overnight package.
To know more about USPS, you can also read our posts on how long does USPS overnight shipping take, what does “tendered to USPS” mean, and if you can track a USPS package without a tracking number.
When you’re mailing something through USPS’ overnight shipping service Priority Mail Express, there’s a good chance that you’re crunched for time, and need your package to arrive as quickly as possible.
If that’s the case, then make sure to find out when your local Post Office stops accepting mail. Usually, it’s around 5:30 PM or 5:45 PM, but try to get there as early as possible to avoid any last-minute hiccups or stress.