While the shipping market in the US is fairly monopolized by big, recognizable names, the options available to customers are reliable and competitive. Take the United States Postal Service and one of its competitors, DHL.
While not nearly as large a shipper as FedEx, DHL nonetheless has its niche and offers some similar services.
So what does it look like when you compare USPS and DHL? How do the companies line up, and how are they different? I’m going to give you all the comparisons and contrasts below!
USPS Vs. DHL In 2023
USPS and DHL are reliable shipping services but target different niches as of 2023. For example, DHL focuses on businesses that ship products overseas regularly. On the other hand, USPS provides Americans with reliable, fast domestic shipping. Regarding price, DHL’s services are usually cheaper. Still, DHL keeps most of its prices private until you make a business account.
To learn more about how USPS compares with DHL, like which company offers faster shipping times and how they’re similar, keep on reading!
Are USPS And DHL The Same?
The United States Postal Service and the shipper DHL are not the same at all. While there’s some overlap in services (and partnership), the companies remain distinctive organizations.
So, let’s break down each service individually and then go through similarities and differences.
USPS is an independently run (and funded) agency, which operates as an offshoot of the Executive branch of the United States government.
Founded at the time of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin was the first US Postmaster General; the agency is the only one to be Constitutionally guaranteed.
As a federally adjacent agency, federal law protects mail that runs through its system against tampering and theft.
Also, USPS offers a variety of services, with a suite of robust domestic shipping options, including the ubiquitous First-Class mail, as well as premium services like Priority and Priority Express.
Additionally, international shipping is available, with services like Global Express Guaranteed and Priority International.
DHL was founded in San Francisco in 1969 by Larry Hillblom, Adrian Dalsey, and Robert Lynn.
Initially, the mission was a courier service to provide faster shipping between domestic businesses, but in the 1970s, the company expanded to international operations.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Post, a German courier service, began buying up shares of the company in the late 1990s; by 2002, Deutsche Post had acquired the company entirely.
That said, this moved DHL’s official headquarters to Bonn, Germany, with a rebranding for good measure.
Further, DHL’s services are available primarily to businesses rather than individual customers, emphasizing international shipments and border crossing.
At DHL, these services include Parcel, Document & International Mail Shipping, and Freight Shipping.
Then, Parcel, Document & International Mail service is broken down into three levels; Express, Parcel, and International mail.
Moreover, Express shipping can handle packages up to about 150 pounds, and it’s designed to reach its international-only destination by the next business day.
On the other hand, Parcel shipments are for lighter parcels traveling both domestically and internationally.
Also, Parcel shipping is slower than Express, with deliveries taking anywhere from two to 14 days, depending on the destination.
Finally, the International mail service is obviously for international destinations only, and it’s not only slower than Express; it handles only a fraction of the weight (4.4 pounds or less).
Additionally, DHL offers a Same Day shipping option – yes, Same Day, even overseas!
How Are USPS And DHL Similar?
There are some similarities between USPS and DHL, despite outward appearances.
For example, customers can manage their shipments online for both, including arranging for parcel pick-up.
Also, while USPS’s international shipping capabilities look to be a bit less robust than DHL’s, USPS is still a reliable service for getting packages overseas.
How Are USPS And DHL Different?
There are certainly more differences between the two shippers, though. That said, here’s a list of the many ways these two companies diverge:
- USPS is a government agency; DHL is owned by the publicly traded Deutsche Post DHL Group.
- DHL focuses primarily on international and cross-border shipments, while USPS ships internationally but is better known for domestic mail.
- DHL serves business and commercial enterprises rather than individual customers looking to send one letter or small parcel (which USPS can handle).
- DHL can ship packages up to 150 pounds, while USPS maxes out at 70 pounds.
- When it comes to international shipping, DHL is reliably cheaper than USPS.
- DHL isn’t exactly forthcoming about their pricing; you have to sign up and have a business account to get a quote.
- USPS has a very helpful shipment calculator tool that shows all the available shipping options and its pricing.
Is USPS Or DHL Faster?
While some services are comparable, when shipping internationally, DHL comes out faster (at least in terms of estimated delivery times).
With that, EasyShip.com breaks down some of the services offered by DHL and USPS for a package going from New York to the UK.
From their graphic, DHL’s Express Worldwide only takes one to two business days, while even the USPS Priority Mail Express International service could take up to 12 days.
Even DHL’s Parcel Direct, its slower shipping option, is estimated to take a day less than USPS Priority Express International, with a max of 11 days.
Further, DHL offers a same-day shipping service, the aptly named DHL Same Day, which, when initiated, can get your shipment on the next plane out to over 220 countries.
Also, you can use DHL’s same-day shipping service domestically.
However, DHL serves primarily business and commercial customers. Unfortunately, private customers cannot take advantage of DHL Same Day.
But, the one loophole to this is that if you are an established business customer, DHL does allow private, individual shipping through their services.
Is USPS Or DHL Cheaper?
That same chart on EasyShip.com that shows the speed differences also breaks down pricing.
That said, even DHL’s fastest shipping service listed on the chart is $20 cheaper than USPS.
Also, DHL’s slower Parcel Direct service is half the price of USPS Priority Mail Express International.
Unfortunately, DHL keeps a lock on most of its pricing, reserving quotes for account holders.
But, what I can tell you is that if you’re a private customer who wants to send something domestically, USPS will likely have the cheaper (or only) option.
Is USPS Or DHL Better For International Shipping?
If your definition of “better” includes cheaper and faster, then yes, DHL is the preferable choice.
However, DHL’s services are not available to private customers; rather, the service is aimed at businesses and commercial enterprises that ship regularly.
If that’s you and your organization, then DHL is worth looking into as an affordable alternative, especially if you ship overseas a lot.
Additionally, DHL is not constrained by US international shipping embargoes or sanctions, and the company can even ship to Cuba and North Korea.
Does DHL Work With USPS?
DHL and USPS might compete in some markets, but they are also partnered for domestic deliveries.
That’s right: DHL, like both UPS and FedEx, relies on the Postal Service’s commitment to serving every address in the US.
Further, this means that some domestic parcels are handed off to USPS for final delivery.
However, the partnership might be changing, as DHL began looking in 2018 to rely on smaller, local courier services to complete delivery (in major cities).
Is USPS Or DHL More Reliable?
The site Logiwa.com reports that “DHL offers much more robust customer service and tools.”
Also, they indicate that DHL is the more reliable way to go when it comes to international shipping, as the shipper specializes in cross-border deliveries.
If you’ve ever had an international package sit for weeks, even months, in customs, you know what a hassle border-crossing can be.
But that’s not to discount USPS, especially where domestic shipments are concerned.
Despite lots of anecdotal complaints of poor reliability, USPS is one of the hardest-working agencies out there.
To know more about USPS, you can also see our posts on whether or not USPS takes FedEx, USPS vs. UPS, and USPS statistics & facts.
While USPS and DHL occupy some of the same space in the courier market, they are vastly different shippers.
That said, DHL focuses on regular shipments for business and commercial enterprises, with a heavy emphasis on international shipping.
USPS, meanwhile, continues to serve the American public as it has done since 1775, giving private, individual shippers some of the most affordable domestic options.