Standard shipping is just what it sounds like—the most basic mail services offered by USPS. But don’t let the name fool you! USPS standard shipping is affordable, fast, and reliable.
So whether you’re sure standard shipping is right for you or still have some questions, keep reading this article to learn more of what I discovered about USPS standard shipping!
USPS Standard Shipping In 2023
USPS standard shipping includes both First-Class Mail and Priority Mail services as of 2023. First-Class mail includes postcards, letters and small packages weighing up to 13 ounces, and Priority Mail includes large envelopes and packages up to 70 pounds. Both First-Class and Priority Mail packages arrive in 1-3 business days, while First-Class letters arrive in 1-5 business days.
If you’re interested in learning more about standard USPS shipping, including costs, extra services, how long USPS shipping takes and so on, keep reading for more useful information!
What Is Standard Shipping for USPS?
In the most general sense, standard shipping is the cheapest (and slowest) shipping method offered by a mail carrier.
Standard shipping doesn’t include shipping overnight or any special provisions to deliver products fast. Rather, it is usually done via truck rather than by airplane.
Standard shipping goes by many names depending on the carrier. You may see it referred to as any of the following titles:
- Economy shipping
- Budget shipping
- Regular shipping
- Ground shipping
- Basic shipping
USPS offers two standard shipping services: First-Class Mail and Priority Mail, both of which share slight differentiations from the other.
First-Class Mail is most often used for mailing standard-sized letters and postcards up to 3.5 ounces, or for larger envelopes weighing up to 13 ounces.
Of the two services USPS offers, First-Cass is the cheapest USPS service for mailing small items.
Priority Mail, however, is used for larger envelopes and packages weighing up to 70 pounds and is also one of the cheaper mailing options to use.
How Long Does Standard Shipping Take USPS?
USPS shipping times vary depending on several factors. Among these factors are the following:
- How far the items need to travel
- How busy USPS is
- How popular a route is
With all of the above in mind, First-Class Mail (i.e. letters, cards, postcards) takes between 1-5 business days to arrive, while First-Class packages arrive in 1-3 business days.
Additionally, Priority Mail envelopes and packages arrive in 1-3 business days on average.
How Much Does USPS Standard Shipping Cost?
Here are the shipping rates for items eligible for First-Class shipping:
Postcard stamps are $0.40, making them the most inexpensive shipping method covered by USPS standard shipping
Standard-sized rectangular First-Class envelope stamps start at $0.58, which covers letters and greeting cards under 3.5 ounces, while pricing for First-Class envelopes that are oversized, square or otherwise unusually shaped starts at $0.88.
Additionally, large envelopes (also called flats) start at $1.16, and small packages start at $4.30.
Priority Mail can be priced using one of three methods:
- Priority Mail Flat Rate
- Priority Mail weight-based
- Priority Mail cubic
To take advantage of Priority Mail Flat Rate pricing, you’ll need to use USPS-branded Priority Mail boxes and/or envelopes, which are completely free. You can either have these boxes/envelopes delivered to your home or you can pick them up from your local post office.
In almost all cases, Flat Rate envelopes are the cheapest option, while Flat Rate boxes are the cheapest for mailing heavy items long distances. However, weight-based pricing usually offers the best rates for lighter items traveling shorter distances.
Keeping that in mind, here is a price breakdown of the different types of Flat Rate mailing products offered by USPS:
|Flat Rate Envelope||12 ½” x 9 ½”||$7.95|
|Legal Flat Rate Envelope||15” x 9 ½”||$8.25|
|Padded Flat Rate Envelope||12 ½” x 9 ½”||$8.55|
|Small Flat Rate Box||8 11/16” x 5 7/16” x 1 ¾”||$8.45|
|Medium Flat Rate Box (top-loading)||11 ¼” x 8 ¾” x 6”||$15.50|
|Medium Flat Rate Box (side-loading)||14” x 12” x 3 ½”||$15.50|
|Large Flat Rate Box||12 ¼” x 12 ¼” x 6”||$21.90|
Cubic pricing is the last option for calculating Priority Mail shipping costs, and is available for packages with a volume of less than 0.5 cubic feet that weigh less than 20 pounds.
Customers pay based on the size of the package and the shipping distance, rather than package weight.
This method is used by high-volume shipping customers mailing small, heavy packages, therefore, the average USPS customer need not concern themselves with this method.
Is USPS Standard Shipping Trackable?
Both First-Class and Priority Mail offer tracking options for all packages and letters, and tracking is included at no additional cost on First-Class packages and all Priority Mail items.
However, First-Class Mail products that are not packages (think postcards, letters and flats) are not eligible for USPS tracking.
Still, you can purchase add-on services that will help you verify that an item was received.
Put another way, you won’t know where your letter or postcard is on its journey, but you can confirm its delivery.
There are a few options available, as outlined below:
- Certified Mail – Mail that’s sent certified comes with a green form attached to the envelope. When the recipient gets the item, they sign the form (which the sender receives as proof of delivery), and it costs $3.75.
- Signature Confirmation – A recipient has to show ID and sign in order to receive mail sent with this service. USPS has a delivery record with the signature that they send you via email, and it costs $3.45 in a post office or $2.90 when purchased online.
- Informed Delivery – As opposed to the two previous methods (which benefit the sender), Informed Delivery gives the recipient some peace of mind. By signing up for Informed Delivery, a recipient can view incoming mail for a given day.
While these options are not exactly tracking, it is a way for recipients to get some idea of which mail is going to be delivered.
Does USPS Standard Shipping Come With Insurance?
While First-Class letters and packages do not come with insurance, you can purchase up to $5000 of insurance to protect against loss or damage.
Insurance fees are based on the item’s declared value, and here is the breakdown of these fees:
|Amount for Merchandise Insurance Coverage Desired||Fee|
|$0.01 – $50.00||$2.45|
|$50.01 – $100.00||$3.15|
|$100.01 – $200.00||$3.85|
|$200.01 – $300.00||$5.05|
|$300.01 – $400.00||$6.40|
|$400.01 – $500.00||$7.65|
Priority Mail includes up to $50 of insurance with purchase. If you’re mailing a valuable item, you can elect to purchase additional insurance coverage worth up to $5000. This will cover your items in case they’re lost, damaged or have missing contents.
If you want to know more, you can also see our related posts on USPS priority mail vs. first-class, how fast is USPS ground shipping, and what are USPS shipping zones.
First-Class Mail and Priority Mail make up USPS’ two standard shipping options. First-Class mail is designed for letters, cards and small packages, while Priority Mail is used more often for larger envelopes and packages.
Both services offer fast shipping (1-5 business days depending on the item and the shipping distance) at an affordable price. Priority Mail comes with more services like tracking and insurance, but both of these can be added to First-Class items for an additional fee.