How Long Does First-Class Mail Take? 


January 6, 2023

First-Class Mail service is the most popular choice among various United States Postal Service (USPS) services. This service is an affordable and easy way of mailing postcards, letters, and lightweight packages.

Knowing how long first-class mail takes to deliver is essential to set your recipient’s expectations and avoid them getting frustrated. 

How long is the delivery time of first-class mail? What are the benefits and reasons why businesses and individuals use first-class mail?

This article discusses how long first-class mail takes to deliver. This article also examines the benefits and reasons why businesses and individuals use first-class mail.

Check post offices near you at This website provides information and points you to the location of all 31,330 post offices in the United States.  

How Long Does the First-Class Mail Take to Arrive?

It takes approximately one to five days from the postmarked date for first-class mail and packages to arrive. However, the delivery may occur the next day if the distance between the sender and receiver is short. 

Bear in mind that these are estimates, not guarantees. 

How Long Does a Stamped Letter Take to Arrive?

A stamped letter’s standard delivery time is one to three business days. USPS business days include Saturdays but not Sundays. 

How Long Does It Take for First-Class Mail to Travel From City to City?

The expected delivery time is one to three business days for first-class mail to travel from one city to another. 

The delivery time estimate is the same for first-class mail or flat-rate services. 

How Long Does First Class Mail Take From State to State?

Uncontrollable circumstances may cause delays in delivery, but the standard state-to-state delivery time for first-class mail is one to five business days. 

USPS First-Class Delivery Time Delays

Delivery time can change depending on the type of mail service you use. Uncontrollable circumstances can also cause delivery delays. 

Here are various reasons why your first-class mail delivery may not arrive within the expected delivery window:

Adverse Weather Conditions

USPS still delivers packages despite bad weather conditions. However, for instances wherein the weather is too harsh, it will not be safe for drivers to continue deliveries. 

Moreover, natural disasters can affect delivery routes and the courier’s general operations. For example, heavy snow and flooding may affect the path of delivery trucks. 

Freezing temperatures and intense heat waves can make it difficult for truck drivers to travel in these conditions. Severe weather may also cause power outages, disrupting the delivery service’s flow. 

Incorrect Address

Another reason for delays in USPS deliveries is incorrect addresses.  

Writing the correct and complete addresses in your first-class mail is vital to avoid delivery issues. Check if you included all the necessary details of your recipient. Moreover, make sure that you have written the correct zip code of your receiver. 

Damages incurred in transit may also cause incorrect addresses. For instance, your package’s label containing the address details can get smudged by the rain. Using clear tape to pack your mail may prevent the label from smudging.

Backlogs at the Sorting Facility or Post Office

Another reason for your parcel’s delayed delivery is a backlog at the sorting facility or post office. High volumes of parcels, especially during holiday periods, can cause significant delays in USPS delivery. 

Federal Holidays

USPS does not deliver during federal holidays. The company allows its mail carriers to take a break. 

If you need to ship an urgent mail, it will help to be aware of federal holidays. 

First Class Mail Delivery Time Map

Delivery time maps are popular since first-class services, such as letters and large envelopes, do not include tracking in their feature. 

Delivery Map for First Class Mail

USPS created delivery time maps for individuals and businesses since tracking is not necessarily a staple first-class service.

Each Sectional Center Facility (SCF) has its delivery map that shows the standard mail delivery time across the United States. 

However, the information from these maps, like the USPS delivery time calculator, is not a guarantee but an estimate. This map provides the service standards for standard delivery. 

Delivery Map for First Class Package

You may think that delivering mail takes a very long time regardless of your chosen service. However, the average delivery time for first-class mail services is one to three days. 

You can use the map above to check your parcel’s estimated delivery time. 

What Is First-Class Mail?

USPS lets you ship and receive mail or packages from anywhere in the United States. Among various USPS services, First-Class Mail is the most popular choice for personal and business deliveries. 

First-Class Mail offers a variety of additional features, such as return mail and insurance. The postage rate for mailing through this service differs on your parcel’s size and weight. 

Mandatory First-Class Mails

It is mandatory to ship important documents, such as financial statements or legal documents, via first-class mail.

First-class mail is mandatory for these types of documents for a variety of reasons. If USPS cannot find the delivery address, then the courier will forward it to the secondary address you provided or have it returned to you. 

Documents such as invoices, taxes, financial statements, and legal notices are usually shipped through first-class mail. 

How Does First-Class Mail Work?

Knowing the steps involved in the mail delivery process is essential to understand why your parcels take several days to deliver. Listed below are the steps in the first-class mail delivery process. 

The first step begins with writing down the recipient’s address and sticking a first-class stamp in front of the envelope. 

The second step is to find a U.S. postal service mailbox and drop your mail. If you want to ship a letter or a parcel, you may visit to search for post offices near you. 

The sender’s role in the delivery process ends here. 

A USPS letter carrier will pick up the parcel and deliver it to the SCF of the sender’s chosen mailbox. The sorting of packages happens in the SCF. 

USPS receives a lot of parcels every day, making the sorting process a vital part of its operative procedures. 

The mail or package goes to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) once it goes through the sorting process. Then the parcel travels by air from the LAX to its respective SCF destination.

USPS ships their mail by air to minimize the causes of delays and to deliver mail within the estimated delivery time. 

Once the parcel reaches the SCF destination, it goes through the final sorting process. 

The last step of the delivery process ends with the mail carrier delivering the package to the recipient’s doorstep or mailbox. 

Benefits of Using First-Class Mail

One advantage of first mail delivery is the option for mail-forwarding or the returning of mail for parcels with undeliverable addresses.

Businesses benefit from this service because it lets them know who among their recipients is genuine and who is not. Companies can also know which of their clients are interested or refuse to accept the mail. 

Another advantage of this service is that recipients perceive and treat this mail with more level of importance. 

The chances of the receivers opening this mail are higher compared to them throwing it in the bin. 

First-class mail is ideal for urgent or time-sensitive deliveries as it is given more priority over regular mail. 

This service is a good option during peak delivery times, such as on holidays, when there are more shipments than usual.

Why Do Businesses and Individuals Use First-Class Mail?

 First-class mail is a low-cost shipping option compared to other USPS bulk mailing services for individuals and businesses. There is no minimum number of shipments required to use this service. 

One benefit of first mail class is it automatically forwards or returns mail to the sender if the recipient’s address is undeliverable. 

Businesses can update their customer database with correct addresses based on forwarded and returned mail. Moreover, recipients are more likely to open mail delivered through this service as it has higher regard than other mail.

First-class mail is given more priority over standard mail, which is essential during peak delivery times, especially for urgent shipments. 

First-Class Mail Features and Prices

First-class mail is affordable and hassle-free for shipping envelopes and small packages. Listed below are features of first-class mail. 

The Features

It is essential to know the service’s features to know if it is the right choice for your shipment.

Delivery Time

First-class mail estimated delivery time is one to five business days for mail and two to five days for small packages.

Affordable Solution

First-class mail is the most affordable shipping option among USPS services for items up to 13oz.

Insurance for Damages

One lesser-known feature of using first-class mail is its insurance for damages. The insurance covers merchandise shipment, and it covers up to $5,000. 

The insurance applies not only to damaged parcels but also to lost ones. 

Model of Pricing

Another feature of first-class mail is that the rate of your mail depends on its shape and weight. 

Standard Pricing for Commercial Mailers

With first-class mail’s standard pricing for commercial mailers, all letters and postcards have the exact shipping rate if your mail does not exceed 3.5oz in weight.

The Prices

The pricing of first-class mail depends on your item’s shape and weight. Below are the pricing specifications of first-class mail service.

Standard Size Envelopes

Stamps for standard-sized letter envelopes costs start at $0.60. 

Oddly-Shaped Envelopes

Oddly shaped letter envelopes cost $0.99 and up. This includes oversized, square, or unusually shaped envelopes. 

Standard Postcards

Sending standard rectangular postcards is inexpensive, making them perfect for marketing campaigns. Stamps for standard postcards cost starts from $0.44.

Oddly Shaped Postcards

Oddly shaped postcards, such as oversized postcards, need letter stamps that cost a minimum of $0.60.

First-Class Mail: Special Cases

There is an additional fee if your mail does not fit the USPS standard regulation. Below are first-class mail special cases and the extra fee for each case. 

Non-machineable Pieces

Machines sort the pieces of mail. However, some packages have an unusual shape, making it impossible for machines to sort them. Some parcels with odd shapes include square and vertical postcards. 

When it comes to machine sorting, the weight of your package does not matter. What matters is the dimensions of your mail. 

Similarly, machines cannot sort packages with odd textures, like rigid or lumpy envelopes. Mailpieces with buttons, extra strings, and clasps also fall under non-machineable mail. 

Parcels that the machines cannot sort have a nonmachinable surcharge.

Large Envelopes

The standard measurement accounts for even the slightest size deviation. 

There is an additional fee if your first-class envelope exceeds the specified dimensions limit. You also have to pay extra if your mailpiece has a rigid non-rectangular shape or has varied thickness.

Standard Size for First-Class Mail

Knowing the standard sizes for first-class mail is best to avoid unnecessary delivery delays. 

Here are the standard dimensions for various USPS mailpieces via first-class mail. 

Postcards5 to 6 inches3.5 to 4.25 inchesUp to 0.016 inches
Letters5 to 11.5 inches3.5 to 6.125 inchesUp to 0.25 inches
Large Envelopes11.5 to 15 inches6.125 to 12 inchesUp to 0.75 inches
PackagesUp to 108 inches in length plus girth

What Is the Difference Between First Class and Standard?

First-class Mail is a faster yet more expensive option than standard mail. First-class mail delivery takes around one to three days for local shipments and between three to five days for national mail. 

Standard mail is the usual option when sending mail for marketing or advertisement purposes. 

Businesses can use standard mail to ship flyers, catalogs, brochures, pamphlets, circulars, newsletters, and other similar mailpieces. Local mail delivery takes about two to five days and up to one to four weeks for national packages.

First-class mail is given more priority than standard mail, making it an excellent choice when sending time-sensitive documents like financial statements or business documents.  

The standard mail process is on a time-availability basis. Therefore, it is best to send personal and non-confidential mail through this service.

Bulk mail is another word used to refer to standard mail. Many individuals and businesses choose this service over first-class mail as it is very cost-effective. 

When Does USPS Deliver?

There is no specific delivery time when a mail carrier will arrive at the recipient’s address. The courier’s delivery volume fluctuates daily, so delivery times are an estimate, not a guarantee. 

The usual delivery schedule is between 7 AM to 8 PM (local time) from Monday to Saturday. 

However, unexpected circumstances can cause delays, including traffic, adverse weather conditions, changes in a carrier route, staffing fluctuations, or natural disasters. 

Zip Code to Zip Code Standard Mail Delivery Time

Shipment through standard mail usually takes between three to four days. Your mail may arrive earlier if your recipient is within the same zip code.

USPS Domestic Delivery Times

Delivery times for U.S. deliveries can vary depending on your chosen shipping service. 

One option is the Priority Mail Express, which only takes overnight to deliver to most locations across the United States. 

Other USPS Priority Mail services’ delivery window is anywhere from one to three business days, including Priority Mail, Priority Mail Flat Rate, and Priority Mail Regional Rate. 

First Class Mail (letters and large envelopes) and First Class Package Service take about one to three days to deliver your mail. 

Other services, like Parcel Select, USPS Retail Ground, and Media Mail, usually take two to eight business days.

These USPS services let you track your parcel except for First Class Mail letters and large envelopes. 

USPS International Delivery Times

USPS international delivery times, the same as the domestic shipment, can also vary depending on the shipping service you use. 

Global Express Guaranteed delivery speed is from one to three business days, while Priority Mail Express International is three to five business days. 

Estimated delivery for USPS Priority Mail International is 6 to 10 business days.

  Your parcel delivery can take around 6 to 20 business days for First Class Package International Service and First Class Mail International (letters). 

All USPS international services except First-Class Mail International (letters) offer tracking services.

Delivery Time Calculation Using USPS Delivery Time Calculator

You can use the USPS Delivery Time Calculator to determine the arrival of the mail you send. Below are the steps for using the USPS delivery time calculator,

First, open your browser and open the USPS delivery time calculator. Enter your ZIP code in the ‘Origin Zip Code’ box. 

Next is to enter your receiver’s ZIP code in the ‘Destination Zip Code’ box. In the drop-down menu under the heading ‘Select Service,’ choose your mail type. 

You will see an estimated delivery time for your chosen delivery origin and destination. 

Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that your mail will arrive within the estimated time.

What Are the New Changes Coming Into Effect?

To transport more packages across the country, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced that USPS first-class mail would have a longer delivery time. 

First-class mail delivery service standards increased to one to five days, and there is also a price increase for first-class mail services.

What Is the Impact of the Policy Change?

It may seem like bad news for most USPS users, but rest assured that 70% of the first-class services will have a standard delivery window. 

For the other services, the standard delivery time will change by one or two days. 

Most USPS deliveries rely heavily on air transportation with a combination of air cargo transportation carriers and commercial passenger services. 

The changes in service standards allow more land transportation usage, reducing delays due to bad weather, network congestion, and ground stops for air traffic. 

Will the Change Affect USPS First-Class Mail International?

The extension of the delivery window or the peak season surcharge will not affect USPS first-class mail international services. 

Unlike domestic services, first-class mail international does not need to meet the standard delivery time.

What Is the Delivery Time in My Zip Code?

You can use the Service Commitment form on the USPS website to get an accurate time of your mail’s arrival at its destination. 

The USPS service commitment page will let you know when your receiver will likely receive your mail. 

You need to know the shipping details of your item, including the ZIP codes of the item’s origin and destination. You also must know the date and time you plan to mail the item.

Delivery Time From Zip Code to Zip Code

Standard mail generally takes around three to four days to deliver. Priority mail takes about one to three days, and the priority express mail delivery window is one to two days. 

The delivery time for your packages depends on the sender’s and recipient’s ZIP codes. 

Does First Class Mail Have Real-Time Tracking?

First-class package services allow you to track your parcels. You can expect your mail to arrive in one to three days. 

Meanwhile, first-class mail letters and large envelope services do not have a tracking option. The standard delivery window for these services is one to three days. 

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

The U.S. postal services decided to extend the standard delivery time to reduce budget deficits, resulting in slower delivery times.

Your first-class mail may take more than five days to arrive. 

Does First-Class Mail Go Faster?

It is best for individuals and businesses looking to send personal or time-sensitive information to use first-class mail. 

First-Class Mail is an excellent way of shipping invoices, personalized correspondence, and credit cards, as it is given more priority than standard or marketing mail.

Is the USPS First-Class Package Service Fast?

First-Class Mail is the fastest delivery option among all USPS services. It is the most consistent delivery time, even in peak mailing seasons. 

First-class package delivery takes one to three business days, while first-class letters, envelopes, and flats take more than three days to arrive.

How Fast Is USPS First-Class International?

Depending on the destination, first-class international shipping time can take approximately one to four weeks. 

USPS does not handle the end-to-end delivery of first-class package international services making its shipping times slower. 

USPS passes the parcels to the local post offices of the destination country. 

Which Is Faster, USPS First-Class or Priority?

USPS prioritizes the delivery of parcels sent via Priority Mail service. The difference in delivery time between first-class and priority mail depends on the recipient’s distance. 

For USPS Zone One, with up to 50 miles of distance between the origin and the destination of your parcel, the delivery time for first-class mail is two days and two days for priority mail. 

For USPS Zone Three, with 151 to 300 miles of distance between the origin and the parcel destination, first class mail takes three days, and priority mail takes two days. 

Suppose the delivery distance of the origin and destination of the parcel is 601 to 1,000 miles or USPS Zone Five. It takes three days for first-class mail and two days for priority mail to deliver. 

For USPS Zone Eight, where the distance between the sender and the receiver’s zip code is 1,801 miles or more, first-class mail takes three to five days, while priority mail takes three days.