USPS First-Class Package Time


November 17, 2022

In 2021, the USPS (United States Postal Service) delivered a total of 128.86 billion mail pieces. Out of this number, 50.695 billion were First-Class Mail.

According to the USPS postmaster general and board chairman, the COVID-19 pandemic caused First-Class Mail volumes to decline sharply.

This situation may have contributed to the postal service agency adjusting its mail delivery processes, including delivery times.

How long does the USPS First-Class Mail take to deliver? What are the possible reasons a First-Class Mail gets delayed? Is there a difference between First-Class Mail and Priority Mail regarding transit times? What is the impact of the policy changes on delivery times?

This article explains in detail the USPS First-Class package transit times, including how fast First-Class Mail travels between cities and the reasons for the delays in First-Class Mail delivery.

We also briefly explain what First-Class Mail is, how it works, and why customers use this service.

Are you planning to send a First-Class Mail and cannot find the nearest post office? is your go-to website to conveniently and quickly search for a USPS post office within your vicinity.

Is the USPS First-Class Package Service Fast?

In terms of speed, the USPS First-Class Package Service is as fast as USPS Retail Ground and faster than USPS Media Mail.

First-Class Package Service has a ship time of two to five business days. In comparison, Retail Ground delivers in two to five days, while Media Mail takes two to eight days.

When Does USPS Deliver?

USPS generally delivers from Monday to Saturday, between 7:00 AM and 8:00 PM. However, First-Class does not deliver on a Sunday. 

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

Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, certain USPS deliveries may take longer to arrive than usual.

However, the USPS First-Class Mail service generally delivers mail and small packages at the following times:

How Fast Is USPS First-Class Mail?

First-Class Mail usually arrives in one to five business days.

How Fast Is USPS First-Class Package Service?

The USPS First-Class Package Service takes about two to five business days.

How Long Does Mail Take to Travel From City to City?

While First-Class Mail delivery time usually takes one to five days from sender to recipient, delivery times are only estimates and not always guaranteed.

To help you determine the estimated time it takes for mail to arrive from one city to another, USPS provides a delivery time tracker at This tool lets you input the ZIP codes of the origin and destination and calculates the estimated delivery time between the two locations.

How Fast Is USPS First Class International?

USPS First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS) has a delivery time of 6 to 20 business days. Although delivery time may depend on the destination, this duration makes FCPIS one of the slower international shipping options.

Another reason FCPIS shipping times are slower is that USPS does not handle end-to-end delivery for this shipping service. Instead, USPS passes packages to the destination country’s local postal service.

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

Although USPS strives to deliver its First-Class Mail within the published delivery standard of one to five days, this period is not guaranteed. Adverse conditions, such as traffic rush, unfavorable weather, or less staff, can affect delivery times.

If your First-Class Mail takes longer to arrive, consider checking the USPS Tracking tool to trace the shipment. If you have no tracking number, you can contact the shipper instead.

USPS First Class Delivery Time Delays

The following factors can contribute to time delays with your USPS First-Class Mail delivery:

Adverse Weather Conditions

USPS usually delivers during bad weather to a reasonable degree. If the weather is too severe, the conditions are no longer safe for drivers to continue operating.

Additionally, natural disasters can affect the drivers’ routes and general operations, leading to delays.

Incorrect Address

If you place the wrong address on the envelope, the delivery person cannot put the shipment in the correct mailbox. This mistake can also cause delays.

Ensure you write the correct address since even one wrong ZIP code digit can cause an important mail not to be delivered on time.

Other factors, such as rain or dirt, can smudge the address and make it illegible, resulting in the item getting placed in the wrong mailbox.

Backlogs at the Sorting Facility or Post Office

The USPS can experience significant backlogs during peak periods, such as when there is a surge of numerous eCommerce packages. Whether the backlog occurs at the post office or sorting facility, such events can delay your shipment for an uncertain time.

Federal Holidays

Recognized national holidays, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, can affect mail delivery times. The U.S. Postal Service usually does not deliver on these holidays, so send your item earlier if you want your recipient to receive your shipment on time.

First-Class Mail Delivery Time Map

Some First-Class Mail items, such as mail letters and large envelopes, do not have tracking available. In this case, USPS provides a delivery time map as an alternative to determine the estimated time your package will arrive.

You can access the USPS delivery time map at the USPS website. To use the tool, enter the ZIP code you are shipping from, then drag and zoom the map to the location where you are shipping.

Know the other helpful USPS tools at Read more about other tools such as USPS Tracking, delivery time, hold mail, and shipping calculator.

Which Is Faster, USPS First-Class or Priority?

USPS First-Class Mail ships in one to five business days. On the other hand, USPS Priority Mail takes one to three business days for domestic deliveries. Comparing these times, Priority Mail is faster than First-Class Mail.

USPS Transit Time

First-Class Mail uses USPS zones when comparing transit times. The following are the estimated delivery times USPS takes for different locations around the U.S. and globally:

USPS First-Class vs. Priority Mail Domestic Transit Time

Transit times between USPS First-Class Mail and Priority Mail are as follows:

Service Domestic Transit Time
Zone 1 Zone 3 Zone 5 Zone 8
First-Class Mail Two days Three days Three days Three to five days
Priority Mail One to two days Two days Two days Three days
Priority Mail Express One to two days One to two days One to two days One to two days

USPS First-Class vs. Priority Mail International Transit Time

For international transit times, the comparison between USPS First-Class and Priority Mail services is as follows:

  • First-Class Mail International: No guaranteed time
  • Priority Mail International: 6 to 10 days
  • Priority Express International: three to five days

What Are the New Delivery Time Changes Coming Into Effect?

Following the recommendations of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in 2021, the Postal Service implemented changes to First-Class Mail delivery times on October 1 of that year.

These changes include increasing the service standards for certain First-Class Mail items to one to two days.

USPS mentioned that the additional one to two days would help the postal service deliver a higher mail volume within the contiguous U.S. by ground transportation.

Does the Policy Change Have Any Impact on Postal Services?

At first glance, people may perceive the changes USPS announced regarding longer delivery times as unfavorable for customers. 

However, during the first year of USPS’ 10-year plan to transform into a self-sustaining and high-performing organization, First-Class Mail achieved an 89.1% on-time delivery rate, a 10.4% increase from the 2020 peak season.

The USPS relies primarily on air transportation through a combination of commercial passenger air carriers and air cargo transportation. 

With the policy change, the postal service will utilize ground transportation more and reduce the impact of network congestion, weather delays, and air traffic control ground stops.

This new transportation model aims to help the organization provide more certainty for customers using the First-Class Mail service. The changes also aim to improve efficiency and service reliability to help keep costs at reasonable levels.

Key Reasons for These Changes According to Officials

Slower delivery speeds allow more use of ground transportation, such as trucks and trains. USPS mentioned that implementing the changes should improve service reliability by reducing the use of contracted air networks that often have reliability issues and incur higher costs.

Will USPS First-Class Mail International Be Impacted?

USPS First-Class Mail International or FCMI is not primarily affected by the policy changes to the delivery window. This non-impact is partly because FCMI’s delivery speed varies by destination outside the U.S. and does not need to meet the expected delivery times as domestic mail services do.

What Is First-Class Mail?

The USPS First-Class Mail service is a convenient and affordable way to send envelopes and light packages to your recipient.

The shape and weight of your item being mailed determine the price, and First-Class Mail is eligible for delivery confirmation services like Certified Mail.

The Features

First-Class Mail is an affordable mail service for standard-sized, single-piece envelopes weighing up to 3.5 oz and large envelopes and small packages weighing up to 13 oz.

The Prices

First-Class Mail prices start at $0.60 at the post office and online, or $0.455 for commercial pricing for businesses that qualify for eligibility.

For First-Class Package Service, prices start at $4.50 at the post office or $3.37 for commercial pricing.

Why Is It Called First-Class Mail?

First-Class Mail gets its name from the category of mailed items comprising letters, padded envelopes, lightweight packages, and thick envelopes.

In comparison, second-class mail comprises magazines, newspapers, and periodicals printed more than four times a year.

Third-class mail includes marketing mail and flyers.

Finally, fourth-class mail comprises media mail, such as CDs, DVDs, vinyl records, books, and bound print media with eight or more pages.

How Does First-Class Mail Work?

The following steps outline how sending First-Class Mail works:

  • Place your letter or document in an envelope. Write the address on the envelope and affix a First-Class Mail stamp on the front.
  • Drop the letter into the nearest mailbox. A mail carrier will pick up the letter and deliver it to your city’s sectional facility, where your letter will get sorted with other mail.
  • USPS brings the mail to the airport, where your letter travels by air to the destination’s sectional facility, where the mail gets sorted again.
  • A mail carrier traveling the route where the destination address is located handles the mail and delivers the letter to the recipient’s letterbox.

Is There a Difference Between First Class and Standard?

One significant difference between First-Class and Standard Mail is that Standard Mail will not get redirected or forwarded if the recipient’s address is incorrect or outdated. The result is mail wastage and an outdated customer database.

However, customers can choose Standard Mail as it costs less than First-Class Mail. Still, consider your mail’s importance before choosing a delivery option.

Why Do Individuals and Businesses Use First-Class Mail?

With First-Class Mail, there is no minimum number of pieces required to send mail. This feature allows individuals and businesses, including small start-ups, to utilize this service efficiently. 

Other benefits of using First-Class Mail include:

  • Getting prioritized over Standard Mail, especially during peak times, such as holidays. This prioritization makes First-Class Mail helpful for urgent or time-bound mailings.
  • Having your mail forwarded or returned automatically to the sender if undelivered. This feature helps businesses update their customer address databases to lower returned mail incidents.
  • Being perceived by the recipient as highly important, so the mail is likely to be opened and reviewed.


1. United States Postal Service’s Total Mail Volume From 2004 to 2021
2. Revised Service Standards for Market-Dominant Mail Products