site by Jerry Nelson.
First Class letter 50 cents 21Jan2018
Knock at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll wake up to fix whatever's broken.
by the friendliest home town post
office in the USA, Lafayette, TN
(How this page started, below)
((PDF of rate tables only -- BareBonesPostageTables.pdf ))
be used for anything, but what are they
50¢ - classic forever stamp
21¢ - "Additional
71¢ - "Two Ounce"
(the wedding invitation stamp, heart symbol)
71¢ - the
"butterfly" stamps for bad envelopes (square, stiff, metal clasp).
Although the stamp
says "Non-Machinable Surcharge",
it is not the
surcharge, it is the entire cost.
35¢ - postcard
$1.15 foreign letter
mail that can’t get through a sorting machine
flexible regular or business-sized envelope is cheaper than a flat,
envelope that needs bigger sorting machines and they
are cheaper than thick, inflexible envelopes of the same size
and weight that are unmachinable and have to go as small parcels.
Letters 1st Class 50¢+21¢/oz (21Jan2018)
envelope penalty is also 21¢
2 ounces $0.71
3 ounces $0.92
Go to FLATS (next).
object inside? Metal
clasp? Button & closure string?
Add non-machinable surcharge ("bad envelope penalty").
Square? Goes though
their machines but they can’t
tell which way? Add
Almost square (less than 30%
height-width difference)? Add $0.21.
length more than 2.5x short)? Add
Really cute little one for that note, under 3 ½”
Hide it! You're
illegal. Go home and start over.
Length over 11 ½”? Height
over 6 1/8”? Go to
Max size in the stnd envelope series is #!4
(5"x11.5"). Size 10 is normal (4.125" x 9.5").
If you want to send someone a
self-addressed envelope ("SSAE")
for them to send you back something,
it's nice to get a few Size 11
envelopes to put the #10 into,
or to send a bounced envelope back when you get your friend's new address.
Go to “Flats”.
You're a corporation using metered mail? Congratulations!
Take off 1¢. Wait! Take off 3¢, we love corporations.
Not a corporation, tired?
Sorry. Too bad.
Congress gave away its power of oversight and let the Postal
Service change rates by
“Flats” (Large 1st
$1.21 Incrementing 21 cents
each additional ounce
3 ounces $1.42
it & go in a business envelope for 92 cents)
4 ounces $1.63
5 ounces $1.84
6 ounces $2.05
7 ounces $2.26
8 ounces $2.47
9 ounces $2.68
10 ounces $2.89
11 ounces $3.10
12 ounces $3.31
13 ounces $3.52
Consider Priority Mail
Your envelope is inflexible,
lumpy, not rectangular? Go
rigid, corrugated cardboard in flats for preventing creased photos,
If you want to send the photo anyway,
pad the envelope with
stiff paper to protect it, & do the flex test:
hang half of the short side over the
edge of the table and check that it flexes 1" and back if you press
with your finger.
If the short side is 10 inches
long or more, you'd better be able to bend 2".
Length over 15”?
over 12”? Go to
Thicker than 3/4"? Go to
Under 3/4" but lumpy? Klutz! Go to "Packages", pay more.
Still confused? Make sure your letters are white, your flats are
manila envelopes, and share user stories like
Small Packages / Parcels /
Lumpy envelopes 1st class
These are padded
envelopes over 3/4" thick, rigid
photo mailers, medical samples, small boxes under 1 cubic foot.
If it's not cubic but very rectangular, then girth + length have to be
2 ounces $3.50
3 ounces $3.50
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
5 ounces $3.75
6 ounces $3.75
7 ounces $3.75
8 ounces $3.75
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 ounces $4.10 and 35¢ for each oz more
10 ounces $4.45
11 ounces $4.80
12 ounces $5.15
13 ounces $5.50
14,15, and 16 ounces were announced as acceptable on
but this remains a COMMERCIAL First-Class Package
Service only, not a retail service for normal people
SYMBOL: To get rates even if you can't purchase the
postage on-line, enter the USPS site, click on the cartons symbol,
for "First Class & Other Options"
at the bottom, or perhaps a line labeled "Other Services". This
is the "Parcel" (small pkg) rate. https://postcalc.usps.com/
Class" and "Pkg" on the package.
Don't buy insurance unless you have receipt or written proof of value.
When they ask you "Is it over 12 inches?" that's the limit that throws
you out of ordinary letters, it has nothing to do with limits on
packages or even manila envelopes ("flats")
2011: No longer available on-line
to the American public. Jan2018: nothing is available online
can print it for eBay Inc, PayPal can sell it for eBay, but you and I
have to stand in line at the
send small 1st Class Packages ON LINE, go to https://www.paypal.com/ShipNow
and be prepared to log into your PayPal account.
JohnD.) You will be coming in as a corporate
customer with an 8% discount (5oz level) over the rest of us peon
Not to mention, you can do this online and we can't.
WHAT NAME IS THIS SERVICE?
Full service name was "1st Class Airmail Small Pkg", then "First Class Package Service,
Avoid "parcel", you'll just confuse
everybody. "Parcel Post" is
We send parcels by
post, but not by Parcel Post. Doesn't exist.
was abolished on 27 January 2013 and became "Standard Post".
Standard Post was abolished on 17 January 2016 and became "Retail
Ground shipments 1st Class go
by Air, of course.
((Write "1st Class PKG" on it, and be thankful you didn't have
to go to the post office Name Deciding Meetings that worked all this
Mail is scanned, parcels might
still be private, you have a parcel, congratulations !!). </rant>
THAN A "SMALL PKG"?
13 oz domestic, try Priority Mail
flat rate boxes
(any weight if you can fit it in). Once you're over about 15 lbs,
Retail Ground (formerly Parcel Post) will never be cheaper than a
Priority Flat Rate box.
If you're not heavy enough (>15lbs) to make flat rate Priority
a no-brainer, then try "Parcel Post Select" down below (online only,
see top of the Parcel Post section).
When Parcel Post Select is purchased online, it includes free
Length plus girth for Parcel Post Select
is 84 inches max.
plus girth over 108”? Go to the Retail Ground (Parcel
No even Priority will accept your package.
Length plus girth over 130"
Go to UPS like I told you -- even the Post Office won't
Call the brown trucks from
If over 13 oz
you want "First-Class Package International Service" good up to 4
lbs. (Other names: "1st Class International Parcel", "1st Class
Mail International Packages".) After that, try Priority Mail
International's flat rate
boxes (limited to 20 lbs to most countries; see International section
Posters rolled up? Maximum
post office lengths: Global Express Guaranteed is only 46",
Express Mail Intl. is 60", domestic Priority Mail is maybe 60", and
sometimes there is a formula of length plus how tight you rolled it up,
so you don't really get the maximum length. (Take 2 inches off
the max length for every inch looser than a 3 inch diameter
Airmail Letters $1.15, 2018
ounce any country $1.15
Thank you, dear
P.O., for making the first ounce the same anywhere, and for
giving us Global Forever stamps in 2013 :-)
this search to buy Global Forever stamps at store.usps.com The "wrong" forever stamps can be combined to get up to the foreign ltr amount.
ounce is a
business envelope with 5 sheets of typical Xerox paper, or 1 sheet and
six 4x6" photos. Leave out 1 sheet or 1 photo to be
"3.5" oz means you can't weigh more, but you
pay for 4 oz.
Limits, all countries: value under $400, size under 6 1/8" x
11 1/2" x 1/4" thick (same envelope limit as domestic).
$1.15 which is 0¢
$1.61 which is 46¢ more
$2.08 which is 47¢ more, because there was nothing to do
so we had a committee meeting to discuss it,
and they had
so we made each additional ounce different.
We have to bribe them to take the letters, so they cost more.
Rest of World 1 oz
Check your country group
Group 1 Countries is CANADA (see above).
Group 2 Countries is MEXICO (see above).
Groups 6-9. Central and South America,
Middle East, Africa,
New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan
3 oz $2.81
Costly Countries, Groups 3-5.
European Union (France, Italy,
with chateaus & good food) ,
Russia, eastern Europe, Turkey; China, Hong
spy satellite stations).
$2.13 that was 98¢ more
3 oz $3.12 now
10April2016 5¢ increase revoked,
first ounce back to $1.15. Steady 2017, 2018.
other countries: https://postcalc.usps.com/
THAN A LETTER? MORE THAN 3.5 OZ?
- "1st Class Mail International" unchanged 2018
to 15" x 12", weights up to 4 lb, not lumpy, not totally inflexible.
Weight increments are 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 oz then 12 oz, 16 oz, +4oz.
So, if you cross 8 oz (or 12), print some photos on your
camera -- 5 sheets/ounce of good paper, 6
sheets/ounce of ordinary copy paper (minus a sheet for safety).
ONLINE you can get prices but not buy
select the large plain
envelope icon at https://postcalc.usps.com/
. On next page, click to unhide
"First-Class Int'l Options". Y
Canada, roughly $6
first lb, half as much gets you a quarter pound
$10 first lb, ditto
$12 / first lb,
FLEXIBLE: International Flat envelope
cannot be rigid. And
thickness? We are going up to 4 pounds here, folks, so the
infamous thickness limits do not apply. Instead, the warning
have more than 1/4" VARIATIONS in thickness.
fail the thickness test, you are a
First Class International Package box
-- prices are 40, 50% higher, even double for the low weights.
OVER ABOUT 2 1/2
POUNDS a Priority Flat Rate
Envelope will be
cheaper. Get the legal
9-1/2" x 15" -- same price as stnd size for international.
ENVELOPES FOR "FLATS": Don't try
to mail a small envelope that's over 3.5 oz. even if you pay for
it -- it confuses some postal clerks. The small envelope will
look like a letter, and
"LETTER" service up
to 64 oz was dropped on 12May2008, so now there's only big
"FLATS". Fill the airplanes with big envelopes, that's what they
MAIL SOMETHING TO CHINA?
If it's flat and under 4 oz, the postage alone needs to be $5.10 to
cover the cost (Zone 3 above). Yet at any moment on eBay, the
number of items whose total cost is
$5 or less is between two and three million. If $5.10 is the true
cost to the post office for us to mail a little envelope to China, then
there's no way eBay's China traffic can cover
what it costs our postal system to run their business and deliver their
the eBay story on a separate page. eBay's
total China traffic is about 100
million items a year. The United States subsidizes the flood
of Chinese stuff into the US. Our government pays for eBay's
profits. eBay ran a conference between our post office and
China's, gave away our first class service to them, and locked us into
it with a treaty. Ebay collects the sellers' fees, we don't
collect the postage.
HEAVIER THAN 4 LBS?
international boxes take up to 20 lbs, cost a fortune, and require the
#2976 Customs Form. Sketched in Priority section below.
Class Mail International PACKAGES - 4 lbs max
Flat rate Priority Int'l is
reasonable, but, if you can't fit their flat rate boxes, then you need
1st Class Mail Int'l PACKAGES.
First-Class Mail Int'l PACKAGES is also called First-Class Pkg INTERNATIONAL SERVICE.
This is the "Letter Post" group which
embraces everything that is not "shipping"; namely, LCs (Letters and
with AO ("Air Mail -- Other").
at discounts up to 10%. To
get the appropriate USPS calculator,
pick the small tan carton symbol, enter a weight under 4 lbs, and a
country overseas. Skip all the Priority choices and click on a
closed menu item labeled "First-Class Int'l Options" (or "Other
Services") to open it.
Hiding the choices most people need is not what a democratic government
to its own people.
Size limit is 1 cubic foot maximum, and no one dimension over 24
Rolled up poster maximum: width: 36" x 3"diameter. If you roll it
up 1" wider diameter, take 2 inches off your max length.
Customs Form 2976 (the green one) must be filled out, max value is $400. This is sooo tedious.
YELLOW IS YOUR COST TO SEND ONE eBAY
ITEM BACK TO CHINA
GOT A LIST-OF-COUNTRIES for USING THE CHART ABOVE
Try the alphabetized list of the most common
countries with their zones. The full list follows it; you
can use "CONTROL-F for find" to jump-search the list in most
browsers. Finally, I sorted
the list by zone for
those of us who need to get some idea how the shipping world is divided
up (what each zone means).
For the chart above, use the first-class zones on the
right of the list (any version).
Zones 1 and 2
are always Canada and Mexico.
Zone 3 is Australia, China & Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea -- in
Asia, our three big trading partners and closest surveillance
Zone 4 is Turkey, Russia, and Eastern Europe.
Zone 5 is Europe, east including Kosovo and Serbia.
Zone 6 is what most people think of as Asia, including India and
Pakistan, but not China, Japan, Korea.
Zone 7 is Africa and some island nations (Seychelles east off Africa,
Zone 8 is the Middle East, Arab sheikdoms, Algeria.
Zone 9 is remote
island nations and our neighbors in this hemisphere,
in both nearby Central America and throughout South America.
BETWEEN THESE ZONES
JUSTIFY THE ZONES EXISTENCE
THE FIRST PLACE.
<rant> MAIL SOMETHING TO CHINA?
For the smallest box (8 oz or less), it recently (2017) took $13.75 to
cost (Zone 3 above).
Yet at any moment on eBay, the number of
listed for sale, whose total cost is
$13.50 or less, is about 4 million.
If $13.75 is the true cost
to the post office, there's no way eBay's China traffic can pay its way
when the value of the item itself is less than Americans pay just for
So many items are free shipping (85%) that there's no
pot of gold anywhere from which China
Post could compensate the United States.
the eBay story on a separate page. eBay's
total China traffic is about 100
million items a year.
the fees, we don't collect the postage.
Don't tell me here that you
nine zones to avoid losses. You have losses because you can't
collect costs from China. You gave away the store. </rant>
Some price history for
First-Class Package International Service.
HEAVIER THAN 4 LBS?
international flat-rate boxes take up to 20 lbs, cost a fortune, and
#2976 Customs Form . . .as sketched in Priority section below.
International $1.15 world
min - 4
¼ max by 5" min - 6"
max, 7 - 16 mills thick. (0.016" is "16
mills". A typical business card is 12 mills)
Within the USA, the smallest permitted letters and postcards are the
same: 3 1/2" x 5".
Minimum thickness 7 mills; cheap glossy ink jet photo paper is 10
so mail it.
Max thickness 0.016" --
easier to say "16
mills", sound like a machinist who can actually make things.
A typical business card is 12 mills.
Too bad. Use rates for domestic first class
International postcards same, but must be 5 1/2" - 6" wide vs 5"-6" domestic.
Thickness 7-16 mills (0.007" = 0.016")
Domestic postcards can be square-ish, up to 4 1/4" high by
only 5" wide.
For all other mail, "rectangular" means "Let's have a 30%
That's a simple rule, so let's apply it inconsistently for
postcards. There, done! Feel better?
Domestic PCs up 1¢ 21Jan2018,
Int'l PCs unchanged at $1.15, same as a letter !!!
more price history
Postcards offer no privacy and not much
Pricing International postcards up there with a 1oz International
letter kills them,
kills a cultural
tradition for tourists the world over when they visit and want to
send home more than a selfie.
We need the money our tourists bring, we need cheaper postcards -- 27¢ in 2008.
3 mills (0.003 inch) - El Cheapo copier paper
4 mills - brightest white copier paper
7 mills + is legal for
9 mills - sheet of ordinary ("110 lb") card stock (good enough for post
11 mills - glossy 4x6 photos (Postcards to anywhere can be 3.5 - 4.25 x
5.5 to 6
inches -- just mail your photo.)
feels cheap: 8 mills
feels normal: 12 mills
feels impressive: 16 mills (=max mills for postcards)
Letter Sheets are
discontinued by the postal service of the United States. . Aerograms were $0.75
to any country, postage printed on the paper,
no stamps. Write whatever you
want, mail it to any address you want -- done. Simplicity -- the good old
Domestic PRIORITY Envelope &
BOXES, up in 2017,2018
local shipments, use straight Priority and drop the flat rate
concentrate on flat
flat rate envelope
zone, any weight
as you can seal the envelope without extra tape,
for legal length; 55¢ for
10April2016: no more online discounts for citizens, only
small flat rate box domestic,
any zone, any weight,
as you can close the flaps on the seams.
10April2016: no more
online discounts for citizens.
8-5/8" x 5-3/8" x 1-5/8" inside
rate box any zone, 70
lb max, up 5¢
10April2016: no more online discounts
Two medium-size boxes are
x 8.5" x 5.5" and
11.875" x 3.375"
to any zone, 70 lb max, up 5¢
$17.40 for APO/FPO/Diplomatic up 5¢
10April2016: no more online discounts
Up 5¢, literally
nickel-and-diming us to death.
Two large-size boxes are
12" x 12" x 5.5"
23 11/16" x 11 3/4" x 3"
PRIORITY is the only thing ordinary slobs (American citizens) can buy online.
Corporate customers can buy all domestic services on line, some at nice discounts.
send Priority Flat-Rate Boxes with the old ON LINE DISCOUNT,
(Thank you, JohnD.)
must be a registered PayPal user (initially owned by eBay). This
page normally comes up only if you sold something on eBay and must ship
it, so you would normally be signed in already. If the site sends you
to a bad login page or can't get back to shipping after login, just log
into PayPal on another browser tab, then go back to the ShipNow tab. Browser cookies will keep you logged in, and all will
If it's not a
you can use your own box.
If it's virtually a local shipment, don't use flat-rate.
If it's local, Parcel Post ("Retail Ground") won't take it anyway, so
to use Priority, and, as we just said, unzoned is cheaper
if the distance is local.
If it's light (a fluffy sweater for Mommy), don't use flat rate -- they
push up what those boxes cost because people usually ship heavy tools
and supplies, not fluffy sweaters for Mommy.
70 lbs is the limit throughout the USPS, period: Retail Ground,
If you don't have a written receipt, don't buy insurance.
Remember, you can't mail
everything, there are no-no's.
For APO/FPO/Diplomatic mail,
go online because a lot of
destinations don't have service for
You need to do Form2976A (weight, value, all
Presents can't be alcoholic drinks or tobacco or fresh fruits or
perfume ("fragrances" in alcohol).
Lithium batteries are forbidden
while the airline industry reacts to spontaneous combustion of
early-tech batteries that have disappeared.
Be patient, battery issues are not the Post
The flat-rate-size Priority
boxes may be used internationally
(20 lb maximum;
4 lbs for the small
See Priority Mail International below. Cheer up, you're not
mailing the Hope Diamond.
TO GET FREE PRIORITY BOXES:
boxes Why does this domestic box link say "International
shipping"? Oh well, it works for now . . .
If these links stop working, search on site:store.usps.com
Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes
Look for a hit from store.usps.com.
Most search engines will do a "site search" like that, and they search
better than any search facility on the site itself. Who knows
why, just try it.
SIZE LIMITS --
Escape from a flat rate box.
PRIORITY costs about as much as the large box, and gives you sizes up
to 79" long and length plus girth of 108 inches. Forget
Express Mail, not only more costly, but more limited in size: 42" long
and length plus girth of 79
inches (2013). Sometimes there are country-specific
108", Priority stops (airplanes get crowded fast)
and Retail Ground (formerly Parcel Post) is all you have left.
Stay under the 70 lb limit, but your particular weight
becomes irrelevant when your box becomes large. That's because,
length+girth, you pay the "Oversize Penalty Price" until
for length + girth brings your expulsion from the Postal Service
altogether. Remember that girth is width + height +
width + height. Check prices online.
ABOUT THAT 70 LB WEIGHT
LIMIT: the maximum box weight, any size,
domestic shipment, is 70 lbs.
the small box full of liquid lead gets you 29 lbs, so I'd say, for
small boxes, 70 lbs shows an intelligence limit. Maybe ship the
small box to Jupiter, whose gravity will bring little box of lead up to
68 1/2 lbs.
can fill any box with a solid block of aluminum and they'll
it. (On the large box, leave 1/2" of free space on top.)
The medium-sized boxes can be about half-full of solid
large box needs to be under 1/3 full of iron to pass -- solid
all the way up to the top of the box would be 225 lbs, lead
be 325 lbs., and don't even think of gold.
I have a friend who could handle the 552 lb avoirdupois weight if
you sent him a large priority box filled with it, but I
don't have the $8 million to buy it. (552.5 lbs Au, 14.583 Troy
Av. With gold at $1000/Troy oz Troy, that's $8M. 2018, up
to $1300 -- I
waste my time
with these stupid calculations while
everyone else makes money trading on the precious metals market.
Pre-May 12, 2008:
insurance up to $500
was available on-line;
up to $5,000 if you presented the
package to a Post Office clerk. $5,000 is still the limit,
$50 worth of insurance is free. Declare even a dollar more, and
you pay a $3..35 insurance fee.
For some easy-to-steal-and-sell
items, you may be forced to
insurance when you fill out the customs form.
Pricing” -- beyond flat rate:
Packages larger than 1 cubic foot
traveling far (Zones
5 through 8) are priced by size because
such trips use air transportation.
Or rather, you use the same old tables that price everything
weight, but you must use an imaginary weight calculated from your
package size as 8.9 lbs
per cubic foot.
These "balloon rate" mythical weights work out to be LxWxH
divided by 194 (No idea. I just work here).
10April2016: no more online
discounts for citizens, only corporate customers.
018: Dear USPS: Why no online
discount for Click-N-Ship? Putting clerks on a service counter
costs you money.
#1: Amazon and UPS (the brown trucks) served on the USPS Board of Governors. They didn't care when online
discounts were killed.
Answer #2: A Congressional
bill made it hard to increase letter rates
(only the post office carries letters, they could have made money on
and easier to increase package rates. Presto, the USPS
prices itself out of the market. Get ready to paint 227,000
Answer #3: Online purchases of all domestic services were killed, except for PRIORITY, where online discounts were canceled because
revenues were too successful. On-line
revenues nearly doubled between 2008 and 2014 for the USPS. Package
traffic soared as eCommerce exploded. Here was an Internet effect that
actually benefited the USPS (unlike email, online bill payment, and
the collapse of subscriptions to printed news source). The myth that
the USPS can't make money and the government can never learn how to run
a business had to be supported. Therefore, the income was taken away.
Get ready to paint 227,000 trucks brown.
4April2016: online mailing labels no longer sold at https://postcalc.usps.com;
you will be transferred to Click-N-Ship where you
must set up an account.
Log in at cns.usps.com
4April2016: No more online discounts for the public.
Try a corporation like stamps.com or use https://www.paypal.com/ShipNow
22Jan2017: prices up, still no online discount.
INTERNATIONAL Priority Mail
When it's bigger than a flat (manila
envelope), try these flat rate boxes (20 lbs max) or "1st-Class
Package International Service" (4 lbs max).
Flat rate box sizes same as all other Priority boxes.
1. CANADA - FLAT RATE ENVELOPE (stnd or
legal) & SMALL BOX (4lbs
max -- could be $48 w/o flat rate)
21Jan18; $23.95 22Jan17, up from $23.25 on
10April2016; up from $21.95 since 31May2015;
envelope not same as box anymore.
$25.95 21Jan18; $24.95 unchanged on
22Jan2017; $24.95 10April2016; up from $21.95 since
2. CANADA - MEDIUM FLAT RATE BOX (20 lbs
could be $100 if you didn't have flat rate)
$45.95 unchanged on 22Jan2017; $45.95 10April2016, scarcely changed
from $45.25 since 31May2015
3. CANADA - LARGE FLAT RATE BOX (20 lbs
$62.35 21Jan18; $59.95 unchanged on 22Jan2017; $59.95 on 10April2016; why did they bother
to change it 20¢ from $59.75 since
21 January 2018
TO USE THE TABLE ABOVE, GO FOR ZONE "B" in
the COUNTRIES LISTS
We have an alphabetized list of the most common countries with
The full list follows
it; you can use "CONTROL-F for find" to search the list in most
browsers. Finally, I sorted
the list by first class zone.
Those of you still trying to run a small business can get prices for
your own set of countries.
On the country lists, the
so-called zone "B" column
gives you the correct 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, or 8 column to use in the table
METRIC SYSTEM: 66 LBS
MAX IN MANY COUNTRIES
Although 20 lbs is the official limit, some countries will go up to 66
you go outside the flat rate system and pay $200, even $300 to
Starting in 2014, nearly every country in the
world refused to carry the United States' Postal Service maximum
of 70 lbs, because nearly every country in the world went metric
and 30kg is the limit everywhere, and 30 kg is 66 lbs not 70.
Mail -- Does everybody agree I can drop this page
because the prices are ridiculous?
$24.70 for a flat rate envelope, flat rate boxes dropped, nobody used
them; $485 to impress someone with a 70
lb carton shipped across the country.
find the the free stuff page, search on site:store.usps.com
$0.00 express mail box like this: sample
some price history
Mail Rates -- BOOKS
no zones so it does not get cheaper locally, but even locally it is
still cheapest per pound if you qualify.
for: books, sheet music, movies and music on CDs, DVDs,
educational maps & charts if there's not a lot of text.
is forbidden, you must take all magazines out of
your box. The books themselves may add only incidental
announcements of other books -- as old-fashioned publishers so often
did on the otherwise blank end-pages.
video games (they're media, yes; but educational, no). No hard
drives, no tapes if they're blank.
At the Post
prepared to open and reseal the box. So, if
want to support book bindings, wrap the books
tight in "stretch (plastic) wrap" not brown paper, because you can see
through it, and you can even unwind it and kind of wind it back
on. Liquor store
cartons are stronger than supermarket cartons, but you have to
obliterate anything that makes it look like you're shipping alcohol.
(Use up your old aerosol spray cans, or buy a new one in Pro Shipper
Yes, it goes to 70 lbs,
If you don't qualify,
regular "Retail Ground" (formerly Parcel Post) is double to
the cost, depending on zone.
After 21Jan2018: Domestic Rates
1 pound: $2.66
in a padded env is
$3.50 (4oz) as a small parcel (1st class service, 13 oz max) .
in an env is a $3.75 parcel (7oz), so media mail is clearly
Add 51¢/lb until the end at 70 lb for $37.85
Up to 5 pounds: $ 4.70
Up to 20 pounds: $12.35
Up to 40 lbs $22.55
70 lbs max
To get Media Mail shipping labels on-line, try this
(Thank you, JohnD.)
must be a registered PayPal user. You
must enter a PayPal user name and password. I suggest
logging in on the normal paypal.com home page and **then** going to the
paypal.com/ShipNow page (which
assumes you are completing a sale and are already logged in).
USPS, not UPS. After entering an address (no address book
facility, sorry) you want to get to a page that asks you to specify a
SERVICE TYPE. There you can select MEDIA MAIL.
April2016: still not available online from the post office.
POST (this is horrible)
For DIYers (Do It Yourselfers), here are the parcel post rate charts with
zones. So now you need a zone number. A chart to give
you the zone # from your own ZipCode can be
printed here -- as illustrated below. To
look up Retail Ground costs online, the calculator page is https://postcalc.usps.com
But you can only buy Priority shipping labels online -- we're talking
Parcel Post service here (cheaper). If the USPS doesn't sell
Parcel Post shipping labels online, where can you turn?
send Retail Ground (parcel post) pkgs ON LINE, try this unpublicized URL
Resource Locater" or Web
(Thank you, JohnD.) As a corporate customer, you will enjoy lower
rates ("Parcel Select") not available to American citizens ("Retail
Ground"). The rest of you please line up at the counter.
(Here's the in-line-at-the-counter vs on-line rate chart comparison for a coast-to-coast box.)
Have your carton dimensions, address & weight handy. You
must be a registered PayPal user (initially owned by eBay, Inc). This
page normally comes up only if you sold something on eBay and must ship
it, so you would normally be signed in already. If the site sends
to a bad login page or you can't get back to your carton shipment after
login, just log
into PayPal on another browser tab,
then go back to your ShipNow tab. You won't
be stuck anymore. Browser cookies will keep you logged in, and
you can get your shipping label and pay for it. We're all
praying for you.
COUNTRY & ITS MAIL STREAM WOULD BE MORE SECURE IF WE COULD
PRINT USPS SHIPPING LABELS online. We would be more secure
because your identity and your shipping data are better known when you
are online, longer
remembered and easier to search and retrieve, compared to just pushing
a box across the
counter (as retail customers are supposed to do). And
the USPS could compete better with corporate UPS and its little brown
trucks. Why are you holding us back? Doing this page for
many years has shown me a postal service being
mis-managed on purpose to make it unprofitable and to justify taking it
I hope you're done and just mailed someone a present. Everything below is just details.
PARCEL POST ("Retail Ground") -
ANY 1-PAGE LOOK AT GOVERNMENT
REGULATIONS THAT RESTRICT MAIL SERVICE IS GOING TO BE INCOMPLETE <- complete restricted materials sec'n
- never: alcoholic
beverages (the Internal Revenue Service wants to catch all the taxes)
explosives, even fireworks
any invitation/advertising to use money to participate in a lottery or
doing a charity raffle can say something like this: check box: "
Please enter my name in the drawing. I do not wish to make a donation
at this time." If you're running the raffle, you can even enclose
the little raffle ticket to
keep in case they win.
of rules for firearms (the ATF
-- the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives in the Dept. of Justice -- wants to control this)
for most of us: switchblade knife
-- Armed Forces, National Guard, state and municipal procurement
officers, they all can get their switchblades in the mail; the rest of
us will just have to meet our buddies in a bar or have a barbecue and
trade our best ones.
of rules for aerosols, flammables,
liquids of any kind, even a urine specimen. My quart
bottles of epoxy always come with extra tape to hold the cap on
able to deviate a compass needle at 7 feet because their
magnetic flux was not short-circuited away by putting iron
"keepers" on them (the Department of Transportation looks bad when
planes fall out of the sky--it's their rule).
- Lithium batteries:
no more stored energy than one very big lithium cell (must be under 20
watt-hours) or a battery of them (<100 watt hours) not plugged into
their appropriate device. My MacBook Pro battery is 50 watt-hours
and 0.8 lbs. The whole story is here:
not sure they realize that lithium metal cathodes are obsolete, and
"lithium-ion" or "lithium-polymer" electrodes using lithium label for this, phosphate
electrolytes are practically fireproof. Write "Fire hazard,
Lithium batteries, Do not transport if damaged" and your phone
number on the box -- there's a special label for this, but I've not
seen it on the cartons of batteries I've bought.
Post Office and law
enforcement take weapons replicas very seriously. A fake
replica of a hand grenade has
to be registered mail, so it can't be Parcel Post (aka "Retail
Ground"). You have to write "Replica Explosive" in letters at
least 1/4" high on the box. Yes, it's legal, but get it boxed and
keep it in the box. If you want to shut down your own post office and the rest of your day, just
walk in with a hand grenade and tell everyone it's just a replica.
If she asked for help getting her birth control pills, get a letter
proving "solicitation" before you get a criminal record. "Unsolicited
samples of an article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for
preventing conception is permitted in the mail only when sent to a
manufacturer or a dealer of such an article or things, to a licensed
physician or surgeon, or to a nurse, pharmacist, druggist, hospital, or
clinic (39 USC 3001; 18 USC 1461)." --> 18USC1461? The post office regulations are citing the wrong law of the land. This citation
by the US Postal Service of United States Code1461 in their own postal regulations
(it's at the bottom when talking about "preventing conception")
suggests some people
at the USPS don't see any difference between contraception and
abortion. 1461 is about abortion, not contraception. I can't believe lawyers inscribing the law of the land into the federal statute books use language like this:
BOTTOM LINE ABOUT ANYTHING: If in doubt, go to the Post
Office. I would just see if
they'll take whatever it is and not ask questions because they're not
supposed to answer: "Postmasters are not authorized to give opinions on
the legality of any shipment of firearms." I'm quoting official regulations here: 433 Legal
Opinions on Mailing Firearms
PARCEL POST OVERVIEW
GROUND (PARCEL POST) is the cheapest postal service,
the one that takes very large, very heavy boxes. Write
"USPS Retail Ground"
on the box if using stamps instead of a mailing label. Parcel Post will
not take local traffic to Zones 1 to 4. (A ZipCode-to-Zone chart
below, and you can easily make one centered on the place where you
live.) Try regular (not flat rate) Priority for just local or
PRIORITY, PARCEL POST, or BROWN TRUCKS? I
use flat rate
Priority if it fits the box, parcel post (Retail Ground) for
small stuff that doesn't fit, and the brown UPS trucks for heavy boxes
(over 5 lbs or
Don't buy insurance if you don't have the receipt. More precautions here.
Please pack nicely. DON'T JUST DROP YOUR ITEM INTO THE CARTON &
THEN FILL IT.
padding into the bottom of the box first, THEN add the
shipment. You want the item floating
away from the walls, not crashing into them when you shake the
THE BIG BOX PENALTIES in PARCEL POST
("Retail Ground") SERVICE
AVOIDING THE TWO PITFALLS OF RETAIL GROUND (Parcel Post)
Ground (Parcel Post) can be cheaper than UPS if you
1. AVOIDING THE RETAIL GROUND
PITFALL AT 84 INCHES
you are under 20 lbs (as most gifts and eBay shipments are), then
keep the box length plus girth under 84"or you will pay for 20 lbs (up
across the country, 2018) regardless of actual
weight. Think of a
rate box as a flat rate box at the 20 lb rate. If you're stuck
with the size, enjoy the weight -- put something else in.
non-flat-rate Priority Mail has the same 20lb/84 inches penalty in the
more local zones 1-4.)
2. AVOIDING THE PARCEL POST
OVERSIZE PITFALL AT 108 - 130 INCHES
If your length + girth goes over 108 inches, you pay an oversize
penalty. Going across country with 70 lbs., your oversize
cost is $183.75 (2018; $132.20
in 2014), when a smaller box would have been "only" $130.51 ($105.83 in 2014).
Once you're penalized with this "dimensional weight" charge, you can
your shipment up in as large a carton as you want (up to the maximax of
length+girth of130 inches) and throw in some extra items . . . the price isn't
going to change with either your weight (up to 70 lbs) or your size (up
to 130 inches length + girth).
Over 130", you are
expelled from the Postal System.
Go directly to UPS or FedEx Freight, do not pass Go, do not
pay any more penalties.
130" and 70 lbs are the limits no USPS service can exceed.
To get parcel post in the USPS rate calculator, choose "package"
"large package". https://postcalc.usps.com
Measure and weigh the carton first, get your two Zip codes.
some price history
GETTING YOUR OWN 1.ZONE
AND 2.RATE TABLES
for PARCEL POST
Still trying to run a small business? Need to get six boxes
out this morning without going online or to the post office?
You need two
charts, your own stamps, and you'll have to present your packages in
person at the Post Office counter,
unless you use the corporate privileges that eBay and PayPal have
gotten for their customers, the ones I told you
about above ("unpublicized").
business grows, you will yearn for these lower prices on the business
calculator page: https://dbcalc.usps.com/
but you have to bring everything to a BMEU, Business Mail Entry Unit.
See if there's a BMEU near you: https://ribbs.usps.gov/locators/find-bme.cfm
If you figure out how to qualify, write me email@example.com so I can share it.
Meanwhile, for the retail-level DIY
- You need to go from
destination Zip code to a postal zone, and then
- You need a chart of rates per
pound (for all those postal zones).
PARCEL POST ("Retail Ground") -- Do It Yourself
w/ZONES FROM ZIP CODES
A personalized chart from my town McLean to ZIP XXXxx
It's easy to get
your own chart at https://postcalc.usps.gov/Zonecharts/
charts work for Priority boxes that are not flat
and for Parcel Post. Both have big-box
Post and non-flatrate-Priority have the same 20lb/84inch balloon box problem, but only for
local-ish Priority boxes (Zones 1-4).
Parcel Post big boxes have the oversize dimensional weight penalty at 108".
Priority starts its oversize dimensional
weight penalty at 60", but only for distant Priority boxes
to the zone chart, then the rate table, and you're done? Not so
THE SPECIAL CASE OF PARCEL POST ZONES 1
post zones 1-4 do not exist.
You have to use Priority. (Try the non-flat-rate kind of
Priority; it is probably cheaper for local, zone 1-4 shipments).
So why do we have 1-4 zones if we
can't use them? Wrong!!
They are used, just not by you. Ground shipment is required for
all stuff that knocks airplanes out of the sky, so we keep zones 1 thru
4 alive for people forced into ground transportation. If it weren't for dangerous
materials shippers, we'd never send our trucks out on such short routes. .
If we don't use zones 1-4, why not
abolish them? Clarity of vision is a key part of the
leadership we do not have. Just mail your silly box.
Above: a chart
PARCEL POST ("Retail Ground") - Do It Yourself w/THE PRICE CHART (RATE
THE PARCEL POST RATE TABLE - 2018 PRICES BY ZONES
You've got the zone number. Now you need a table of charges to
that zone for all the weights up to 70 lb max.
Because of its large size, the parcel post rate chart is on a page all by itself, from which you can print it
Money Orders 2018
up to $500
$1.65 up to $1000
up to $750
$18.45 up to $!,500
overseas maximum is $1,500 (up from $750 on 16April2016). The
Hong Kong and Shanghai
Banking Corp. had a
higher maximum. They transferred billions of drug dollars into
the banking system. There is something charming about this tale of money laundering in today's
Sources of official US Postal Service information:
Search terms: site:pe.usps.com Notice 123 Effective January
2018 (or whatever year you seek)
(return to top)
HOW THIS PAGE STARTED, WHAT
HAPPENED TO OTHER ONES?
I still remember the day I was ready to put out a letter and then come
for coffee. I started this site in 2007 when I couldn't find out
to put on the envelope. "Forever
stamps" weren't around, and
besides, I loved pretty "commemorative" ones. The government websites drove me crazy
with a hundred questions
and no information. Reveal the secret!! What stamp goes on
I finally found a web page
that told me the postage so I could just mail the envelope and
have my coffee.
I decided to put up the
simplest postage charts, the ones everyone wants first. My page was
inspired by a similar rate page at a local post office in
Lafayette, Tennessee. Some
guys who work there and one or two of their
buddies put up a web page with the few rates
that most of us need most of the time. By putting up something myself,
I could be less
formal than the government, add some common
sense, such as, "If it isn't machinable, it costs
them more, so we pay a penalty of X cents." I could tease
everyone and have some fun.
rates were changing two different times a year. The rate
structure was getting complicated. Zones were added for Priority
used to be the same for the whole country.
Rates to Canada and
Mexico that used to be the same became different. What a headache
Tennessee gave up. That's right -- the
post office took down
their rate page and never put it back. I challenge you to find
any place that posts the postage rates of
the USA -- the ones you need,
on one page. I also apologize for any errors on my
but at least you can get an overview and the logic -- if there is any
behind the rules. Maybe I helped you pick the service you
want before you went to the https://postcalc.usps.com page. It was
worth it if you didn't stand in line as I once did, only to
discover you chose the
envelope (and had to go home to fix it).
I never dreamed
doing a chart of how many stamps to put on an envelope would become as
political as this task has I poked fun at changes that seemed
only silly at first. But it wasn't a game. They weren't
just stupid. Someone wanted to destroy the
They change the rates, I look things up. You see FedEx, UPS, DHL,
Amazon or junk mail execs at the top, you see
people lower down "retiring" early to start a second career at
triple the salary in the shipping industry. The wolves want the hen
house -- destroying it makes sense when you want the business for
OK, so the world has a lot of selfish people in it, what's
What's new is telling me you're saving the system
(Revenue! Profitability!) as you slip the dagger in. What's
even better is setting up the rules so the US Postal Service slowly
out of the
market -- no one has to put on gloves for the strangulation.
Don't be caught bringing the system down if what you really want is to
pick up the pieces, all the business yourself later. Instead it's
death by complexity, death by letting
them increase rates where they
should go down, death by preventing them legally from earning profits
where they still could have.
The last straw was discovering how eBay gave away our
class parcel service to China. eBay pulled together a bi-national
conference -- China Post and the United States Postal Service -- and
now we have to live by their treaty. Chinese sellers on eBay ship about 100 million items into the
Ask the Inspector General for
the USPS, ask the Chief Postal Inspector, How much postage does the
USPS collect from China
Post for delivery of an item
costing under one dollar?
Why do you deliver items whose cost, profit and delivery charge are
less than it would cost an American for return postage?
collects the sellers' fees, we don't collect the postage -- our postal
system is eBay's welfare check.
And this webpage? I'm still having fun, but my postage page is
turning into a murder mystery.
And we switched to espresso. Takes five years off your age.
(return to top)
P.S. Robin says she'll take me out
to dinner when I get a million hits, and I've been stuck at 800,000-ish for years. Send a friend a
real birthday card -- maybe they'll be clueless how to write back and come here.
Back to reality and 35 lbs of mail.
Maybe next time ask if they offer a shredder option.
1Jun2016 -- remove eBay China story to separate page, the politics
should either be funny (laughable) or out of here.
30June2016: show on-line ShipNow access for all domestic services.
State CH's discount for Priority Medium FlatRate/
19Aug2016 -- put link to forbidden items in the parcel post section,
not just buried in Domestic Priority section. .
31Jan2017, 1Feb2017; 11Feb 1st class letters heading--thank you, Carolyn
12Feb2017 Media Mail compares Small Parcel prices for 2017; make
ParcelPost rate table for 2017; change Domestic, Int'l Priority
14Mar2017-state that postcard rate did really stay unchanged.
10Apr2017 - rename the pdf of the postage tables something besides
"SimplePostageCharts.pdf" because all the search engines are sending
people to the crummy pdf
instead of the main page. Should've thought of
that. 100,000 frustrated people wasting their time?
8July2017 - Got some old stamps--add the one about the invention of
postage stamps -- UK 1840, USA copies them 1847. People used to refuse
letters rather than pay-on-delivery,
so postal systems world-wide rushed to a pre-paid
system. IMAGE "PostageStampCentenary1947...."
10July2017 - IMAGE "Postcard-AncientTypefaces"
Jan2018 major update; 8Feb18 #11envs for bounced mail
5Mar2018 - Chris Maginniss caught the 3 oz flats error.