Does the Post Office Sell Envelopes?

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March 23, 2024

The United States Postal Service (USPS), also referred to as the Postal Service, is one of the shipping giants in the United States. Millions of people use the services provided by USPS, which means a considerable use of boxes and envelopes. 

Do the USPS post offices sell envelopes, or are they free? How can customers order these packaging materials, and are all of these available at a local post office?  

This article answers whether post offices sell envelopes. It also tackles the different types of shipping materials provided by USPS. 

Furthermore, this write-up provides information on how USPS earns revenue and the different services and materials that this shipping company offers. 

USPS provides courier services to millions of addresses in the United States, including P.O. (post office) boxes and military post offices in different locations worldwide. 

If you need access to contact information for over 31,330 post offices in the country, visit FindPostOffice.org. You can access and order shipping materials you need for deliveries. 

Does the Post Office Sell Envelopes?

The U.S. Postal Service or the Post Office does sell envelopes. It’s one of the main revenue sources of this independent establishment under the executive branch of the U.S. government. 

Many may not know, but your tax dollars don’t fund the Postal Service. Instead, USPS revenue comes from the sales of stamps, products like envelopes, and services.  

USPS needs revenue to pay the salaries of over 705,000 career employees effectively. The Postal Service does a tremendous job of keeping the mail flowing despite the problems encountered during the recent pandemic. 

Annually, USPS delivers 212 billion mailpieces to millions of people in the United States and abroad. 

What Types of Envelopes Does the Post Office Sell?

Post offices sell many kinds of envelopes in various shapes, sizes, and forms. USPS sells standard white envelopes suitable for mailing letters or documents. Some envelopes have see-through windows, which are ideal for specific kinds of documents like Social Security checks. 

Aside from paper envelopes, post offices and online stores sell cardboard envelopes, bubble mailers, and padded envelopes. USPS provides the ReadyPost service, a line of packaging products sold to customers using any shipping service provided by a post office. 

USPS ReadyPost is a small supplies area where you can buy all the shipping materials you need to send mailpieces via the Postal Service. 

What Size Envelopes Does the Post Office Sell?

The post office, including the Postal Store, the main USPS store, sells different-sized envelopes to handle varying letter and document sizes. 

The first type is letter-sized envelopes. These are envelope sizes that are usually sent via First-Class Mail. Envelopes that fit the dimensions shown in the table below are considered letters by USPS. 

DimensionMinimumMaximum
Height3 1/2 inches6 1/8 inches
Length5 inches11 1/2 inches
Thickness0.007 inch1/4 inch

Aside from letters, USPS also has large envelopes called “flats.” These envelopes can contain legal documents and larger paper sizes than ordinary letter mail. 

DimensionMinimumMaximum
Height6 1/8 inches12 inches
Length11 1/2 inches15 inches
Thickness1/4 inch3/4 inch

Are Envelopes Free at the Post Office?

Your local post office provides free packaging materials for customers shipping packages via USPS. You can choose letter envelopes, large flats, and boxes to fit most items sent through the mail network. 

The free envelopes and packaging materials are incentives from USPS to convince customers to use their services. Businesses needing ready packaging supplies for their deliveries may use these materials. 

Aside from your local post office, you can visit the Postal Store, an online store operated by USPS, to search for free envelopes and those you can order. In most cases, Priority Mail and Express Mail envelopes are entirely free, including other packaging materials. 

How Much Do Envelopes Cost at the Post Office?

As mentioned, you don’t have to pay anything when ordering envelopes, boxes, or packaging materials from your local post office or the Postal Store. However, you may ask why USPS is giving away free shipping materials. 

The answer is that USPS sees that most customers using these free packaging materials eventually use Priority Mail or Express Mail services. USPS earns money when customers go through with the delivery and purchase these mailing options. 

For instance, a person orders a Priority Mail envelope. Customers who bought a Priority Mail envelope can’t use it in any other shipping method except Priority Mail. So, by providing a free Priority Mail envelope, USPS ensures that a customer will use that package for that specific shipping service only, ensuring revenue. 

What Other Shipping Supplies Can You Buy at the Post Office?

Aside from envelopes of different types and sizes, USPS provides the following free shipping supplies. Remember that customers can order these items online or get them from the post office nearest their location.

If you need the address and contact information of the post office nearest you, visit FindPostOffice.org. Our site provides access to over 31,330 post offices nationwide. 

Packing Tape and Adhesives

You can purchase packing tapes and adhesives at the Postal Store. Likewise, your local post office can provide tapes to prepare your package or envelope for delivery. However, these packing tapes are not readily available. 

You need to call or request these tapes from the post office. Also, you may be given a packing tape called “Priority tape,” which can only be used for parcels sent via Priority Mail. Furthermore, you can only use this tape on plain boxes, not USPS Priority Boxes. 

If you need information about packing tapes, adhesives, and other free shipping supplies available at the Postal Store or your local post office, call the following hotline numbers:

  • USPS customer support: 1–800–275–8777
  • Free shipping supplies: 1-800-610-8734

Boxes and Shipping Tubes

USPS provides not only envelopes but also boxes and shipping tubes. However, like other free packaging provided by the local post office, these boxes can only be used for the service they’re intended for. 

For instance, a Priority Mail Express box can only be used for packages sent via USPS Priority Mail Express. The customer can’t repurpose the box by taping over the Priority Mail markings to use it for other USPS shipping services. 

Other Packing Materials

USPS provides packing materials like bubble wrap to protect packages from damage. Customers can purchase the wraps at the Postal Store online or at the local post office. 

However, USPS doesn’t provide free packaging materials like poly mailers or sealable plastic envelopes to protect packages. Instead, customers can get similar padded envelopes as alternatives.

Shipping Labels

It’s crucial to remember that shipping labels are essential for package delivery because indicated in these labels are the sender’s return address and the recipient’s address. 

USPS provides free shipping labels for all types of mailing options. Customers can order these labels for free online or at any local post office. Just ensure that everything is labeled correctly to ensure speedy deliveries without any hassle.  

Customers can also create shipping labels online via Click-N-Ship. This USPS service allows the creation of postage or shipping labels online and printing at home or the local post office. 

Online stores and eCommerce businesses can conveniently use Click-N-Ship to create and print the necessary delivery labels. 

Postage and Scales

Postage is the payment made for the services USPS provides. Customers need to purchase postage whenever they want to send something via mail. They can pay for postage by buying stamps, which both the Postal Store and any local post office sell.

A postal or postage scale is a sensitive scale used to weigh parcels intended to be shipped via the Postal Service. This scale helps determine the amount of postage needed for a particular package. 

You can buy these scales at USPS’ Postal Store, which may be an essential tool for small businesses with regular deliveries. 

Miscellaneous Shipping Supplies

USPS also sells other items like greeting cards, note cards, notebooks, and other things one can use to add “flair” to their letters or packages. 

Aside from shipping supplies, you can buy shirts, costumes, and even decorative ornaments made with the Postal Service motif in mind. 

USPS Will No Longer Let You Do This, Effective Immediately

USPS continually improves its courier services to cater to the shipping needs of millions of its customers. USPS provides mail delivery service to over 165 million addresses in the country alone. 

Because of this, USPS regularly adopts some changes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of every shipping option the company provides. 

For instance, USPS had discontinued a particular item that sold well during the past few years, especially amidst COVID-19. 

USPS Has Gotten Rid of One of Its Flat Rate Envelopes

USPS announced that they no longer continue producing and selling the Priority Mail prepaid flat-rate stamped envelopes. USPS introduced this type of stamped envelope in 2003. 

However, because of the recent rise in production cost and decreasing demand for this kind of envelope, USPS management decided to discontinue the production of this item.

The latest Priority Mail prepaid flat-rate stamped envelope featured the Castillo de San Marcos stamp. This stamp shows the old Spanish fort in St. Augustine, Florida, built to protect the area’s trade route. The old fort is now a national park and was first featured on a USPS stamp in 2021. 

The aforementioned stamped envelope was only available online via the Postal Store. However, because of the downtrend in demand, this stamped envelope will no longer be available. 

USPS now redirects people to purchase Priority Mail Forever prepaid flat-rate envelopes. Instead of having a regular stamp, this envelope has a Forever stamp and includes USPS tracking services. 

The Agency Says Demand for This Shipping Option Has Declined

As USPS tries to provide services in line with their customers’ needs, the shipping giant creates services like prepaid flat-rate stamped envelopes to make shipping mail more convenient. 

USPS introduced the Priority Mail prepaid flat-rate stamped envelope in 2003 because it saw possible demand. Many customers saw the convenience of using stamped envelopes. Thus, the market demand was enough to continue producing this item. 

However, the demand for these stamped envelopes has decreased significantly in recent years. Additionally, the production and fulfillment costs shot up, so USPS decided to discontinue this USPS stamp product after almost 19 years of use. 

Certain USPS Products Have Recently Gotten Smaller As Well

The rising production costs didn’t just end the use of the Priority Mail prepaid flat-rate stamped envelope. It also affected the manufacture of other items, such as the sizes of boxes and envelopes. 

USPS confirmed they’ve “trimmed” down their packaging sizes (boxes and envelopes) because of rising costs. The Postal Service reduced the  Priority Mail flat rate box size from 12 1/4 inches to 12 inches. On the other hand, the Priority Mail Express Tyvek envelopes were reduced from 15 1/8 inches to 15 inches.  

Tyvek is a durable, moisture-resistant material made from durable polyethylene fibers. This material has many uses, including protective clothing, weather barriers for houses or buildings, and mailing supplies.

The Postal Service Also Recently Updated Its Prices for Several Products

USPS has announced an increase in the prices of mailing options across the board. The following is a list of some popular services and their current prices. 

USPS Domestic Prices

ServicePrice
Priority Mail ExpressPost office price: from $28.75Commercial base pricing: from $24.90
Priority Mail Express Flat Rate EnvelopePost office price: from $28.75Commercial base pricing: from $24.90
Priority Mail Express ReturnPost office base pricing: from $24.90
Priority MailPost office price: from $9.35Commercial base pricing: from $7.64
Priority Mail Flat Rate EnvelopePost office price: from $9.65Commercial base pricing: from $8.05
First-Class MailPost office price: from $0.66Commercial base pricing: from $0.498
USPS Ground AdvantagePost office price: from $4.75Commercial base pricing: from $3.59
USPS Ground Advantage ReturnPost office price: from $4.75Commercial base pricing: from $3.59
USPS Marketing MailCommercial base pricing: from $0.193
Every Door Direct Mail – RetailFrom $0.198 for Flats (large envelopes) up to 3.3oz
Parcel SelectCommercial base pricing: from $3.78
Parcel Select LightweightCommercial base pricing: from $2.46
Media MailPost office price: from $3.92Commercial base pricing: from $2.59

USPS International Prices

ServicesPrices
Global Express GuaranteedPost office price: from $71.10Commercial base pricing: from $67.55Commercial Plus: from $67.55
Priority Mail Express InternationalPost office price: from $56Commercial base pricing: from $53.07Commercial Plus: from $53.07
Priority Mail Express International Flat RateFor envelopesPost office price: from $54.75Commercial base pricing: from $51.98Commercial Plus: from $51.98
Priority Mail InternationalPostal office price: from $42.10Commercial base pricing: from $39.53Commercial Plus: from $39.53
First-Class Mail InternationalLetters and postcards from $1.50 for all countries
Large Envelopes (flats) from $3 for all countries
First-Class Package International ServicePost office price: from $15.75Commercial base pricing: from $14.96Commercial Plus: from $14.96
Priority Mail International Flat RateEnvelopesPost office price: from $30.35Commercial base pricing: from $28.57Commercial Plus: from $28.57
Small Flat Rate BoxesPost office price: from $31.45Commercial base pricing: from $29.64Commercial Plus: from $29.64
Medium Flat Rate BoxesPost office price: from $60.55Commercial base pricing: from $56.10Commercial Plus: from $56.10
Large Flat Rate BoxesPost office price: from $74Commercial base pricing: from $69.10Commercial Plus: from $69.10

Commercial Plus is a USPS pricing model that offers discounts to high-volume eCommerce companies. Meanwhile, a commercial base is a USPS pricing that provides discounts for purchases made online via a postage service provider like stamps.com.  

Military Installations

USPS also offers postal service to military installations or bases. You can send mail or packages to the three types of military post offices with domestic prices. The three military post offices are the following:

  • Army or Air Force post office
  • Fleet Post Office
  • Diplomatic Post Office 

If you need a handy post office locator, visit FindPostOffice.org. You can access thousands of post offices in the country, including military installations. (APO, FPO, and DPO). You only need to enter the city or state to get a list of post offices near your area. 

References

  1. Postal Service
    https://www.federalregister.gov/agencies/postal-service
  2. Do my tax dollars pay for the Postal Service?
    https://www.uspsoig.gov/our-work/did-you-know/do-my-tax-dollars-pay-postal-service
  3. Sizes for Letters
    https://pe.usps.com/businessmail101?ViewName=Letters
  4. USPS Priority Mail Express Flat Rate
    https://www.stamps.com/usps/express-mail-flat-rate/
  5. Postal Facts – United States Postal Service
    https://facts.usps.com/size-and-scope/
  6. Mailing & Shipping Prices
    https://www.usps.com/business/prices.htm
  7. Military & Diplomatic Mail
    https://www.usps.com/ship/apo-fpo-dpo.htm

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