Bottom & links
POSTAGE RATES 

An unofficial site by Jerry Nelson.
   First Class letter down to 47 cents 10Apr2016
    Flats, postcards (34¢), small parcels down.
  No online discounts for Priority flat rate.
Under revision Apr2016 for Stnd Post ("parcel post")
---=---

Inspired by the friendliest home town post office in the USA, Lafayette, TN    (see "My Two Bits" at end)

FOREVER STAMPS can be used for anything, but what are they currently worth?

47¢  -  classic forever stamp
21
¢  -  additional ounce
68
¢  -  wedding invitation stamp (2 oz)
21
¢  -  bad envelope penalty (non-machinable stamp)
34¢  -  postcard
$1.15  foreign letter

Note: mail that can’t get through a sorting machine costs more.  
A  flat, flexible regular or business-sized envelope is cheaper than a flat, flexible manila envelope  that needs bigger sorting machines and they are cheaper than thick, inflexible envelopes of the same size and weight that are UNMACHINABLE.  

Letters 1st Class 47¢+21¢/oz (10April2016)

Not over:
1 oz          $0.47            +21¢/oz.  Bad envelope penalty is also  21¢ 

2 ounces  $0.68
3 ounces  $0.89
3.5 oz       $1.10           Heavier?  Go to FLATS (next). 

Incrementing 22¢ on 31May2015 with an increased Nonmachinable surcharge ("bad envelope penalty") of 22¢.
Increment back to 21¢ on 10Apr2016; Nonmachinable surcharge ("bad envelope") also back to 21¢
more price history
dates when rates changed  (helps you search for historic data)
USPS tables, not the rate calculator: DMM, the Domestic Mail Manual
Go to "Quick Refs" at end of this long pdf doc; stay in "Retail" chapters, we don't qualify for cheap corporate rates.

Rigid object inside?  Metal clasp?  Button & closure string?Business envelope styles like "commercial" or "wallet flap"
Add  non-machinable surcharge ("bad envelope penalty"). 
Square?  Goes though their machines but they can’t tell which way?  Add   $0.21
Almost square (less than 30% height-width difference)?  Add  $0.21. 
Too skinny? (long length more than 2.5x short)?  Add   $0.21.
Really cute little one for that note, under 3 ½ or 4¼”?
     Hide it! You're illegal.  Go home and start over.
Length over 11 ½ ? Go to “Flats” (next)
Height over 6 1/8”? Go to “Flats”.
    A "Size 14" envelope is OK; Size 10 is normal.
    If you want to send someone a stamped, self-addressed envelope ("SSAE")
    to return-mail you, it's nice to get a few Size 11 envelopes to put the #10 into.     
Thicker than ¼”?  Go to “Flats”.
You're a corporation using metered mail?  Congratulations!  Take off 1¢
Not a corporation, tired?  Sorry.  Too bad.  Congress gave away its power of oversight and let the Postal Service change rates by itself.  

“Flats  (Large 1st Class Envelopes)                  

1 oz            $0.94            Down from 98¢ on 10Apr2016         
2 ounces   $1.15            Incrementing 21 cents each additional ounce                        
                                            
3 ounces   $1.36            (3oz? Fold it & go in a business envelope for 89 cents)
4 ounces   $1.57
5 ounces   $1.78
6 ounces   $1.99
7 ounces   $2.20          
8 ounces   $2.41
9 ounces   $2.62
10 ounces $2.83
11 ounces $3.04
12 ounces $3.25
13 ounces $3.46

FLATS:

Over 13 oz?  Consider Priority Mail flat-rate envelope.
Your envelope is inflexible, lumpy, not rectangular? Go to “Packages”. 

(No rigid, corrugated cardboard in flats for preventing creased photos, sorry.)
If you want to send the photo anyway,
        pad the envelope with stiff paper to protect it,
       hang half of the short side over the edge of the table and check it flexes 1" and back if you press down with your finger.
       If the short side is 10 inched long or more, you'd better be able to bend 2". 
       You're a pro in the Retail System now -- these are Commercial Mail tests. 
Length over 15  ? Go to “Packages”.
Height over 12”? Go to “Packages”.
Thicker than 3/4"? Go to “Packages"
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 read this

After 12May08, it went up 3¢   
After 11May09, it went up 5¢ 
After  17Apr11, is incremented 20¢ /oz instead of just 17¢
After  22Jan12, it went up 2¢
After  27Jan13, it went up 2¢; 13 oz is $3.32
After  26Jan14, it went up 6
¢; 13 oz is $3.38
After  26Jan14, is incremented 21
¢/oz instead of just 20¢; 13 oz is $3.50
After  31May15, is incremented 22
¢/oz instead of just 21¢; 13 oz is $3.62
After  10Apr16, reduced 4
¢ on 1st oz & incrementing 21¢ again, not 22¢; 13 oz is $3.46
          Note that $3.46 does not roll us back to any price we ever had before.
          The per-ounce increment was rolled back exactly, but the starting cost is arbitrary.


     
   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        


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 under 108". 

You may write on your little box, "1st Class Airmail Small Pkg" or "1st Class Airmail".   Avoid "parcel", you'll just confuse everybody.  "Parcel Post" is abolished.  We send parcels by post, but not by Parcel Post.  Doesn't exist.  Parcel Post was abolished on 27 January 2013 and became "Standard Post".  Standard Post was abolished on 17 January 2016 and became "Retail Ground".  This is not "Ground", it's First Class and today 1st class is almost entirely Air Mail, so write "1st Class something" on the package.

((When did I start this Web page?  What ever made me think I could find the logic in all this, let alone explain it to anyone?))

2011: No longer available on-line to the American public.  April2016: still no on-line access.  This is stupid. 
Pitney-Bowes can print it for eBay Inc, but you and I have to stand in line at the Post Office.

But wait!  To send  small 1st Class Packages ON LINE, go to this unpublicized URL ("Universal Resource Locater" or Web address):  https://www.paypal.com/ShipNow   (Thank you, JohnD.)

You must be a registered PayPal user (allied with 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 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 to the ShipNow address.  Browser cookies will keep you logged in, and all will run smoothly.

<rant> When public access to this URL is shut down, there will be some excuse.  You didn't sell on eBay, we don't know what you are sending.  But all our parcels are subject to opening for postal inspection, so tell me again, What are you afraid of?   Why should it be up to eBay, Inc. to say whether we, the American people, have the right to use our own postal system?  Keep small parcel access available on line -- the Post Office needs the money.  We want the service.  Our Constitution (Sec 1, Art 8) promised a postal system to us.  </rant>

1 oz           $2.45
2 ounces   $
2.45
3 ounces   $
2.45  and add 19 cents each additional ounceParcels symbol used on USPS Webpages.     
4 ounces   $2.64
5 ounces   $2.83
6 ounces   $3.02
7 ounces   $3.21

8 ounces   $3.40                                                           
9 ounces   $3.59
10 ounces $3.78
11 ounces $3.97
12 ounces $4.16
13 ounces $4.35

After 26Jan14, it went up 25¢.  Wow! No wonder their press releases only talk about 1st class stamps.
After 31May2015, it went up 22
¢.  The increment increased to 20¢, so 13oz goes from $4.12 to $4.54
On 10April2016, we had a "roll-back", but we didn't roll back to prices we ever had before.  Go figure.
More price history

THE CARTON SYMBOL:  To get the above small carton estimates even if you can't purchase the postage on-line, enter the USPS site by clicking on the cartons symbol and look for "First Class Mail & Other Options" at the bottom, or perhaps a line labeled "Other Services" to get the menu to enlarge (open up) and show cheaper choices.   https://postcalc.usps.com/

YOUR CONSOLATION PRIZE:  PARCELS MIGHT STILL BE PRIVATE 

Congratulations!  Your mail is a parcel!  All letters are recorded because letters  have to be scanned to be automatically sorted, and we keep the scans.  At least some parcels are still done manually so we don't have any scans. 

The letter scans are saved, and, here in the United States, we know everyone with whom you are in correspondence.  Then comes what we don't know: how long is your personal dossier kept?  In this "Mail Isolation Control and Tracking" (surveillance) system, they say they don't store the information for more than 30 days.  Maybe you can find out for me, and, while you're up, ask to see their no-fly list. 

<rant> My address is 50 characters with spaces.  Call it 100 characters.  There were 62 billion pieces of mail in 2015.  Call it 100 billion -- more mail, long addresses.  All people's correspondence exchanges that occurred this year can be recorded on a single high-end hard drive (10TB).  Next year, buy another drive.  So much for 30 days. 

But wait.  The sorting machines are set up with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to translate only the "to" address into a string of characters and we need complete surveillance, we need to see who is writing to whom.   Why not build new surveillance-**and**-sorting machines that get both "from" and "to" addresses with OCR?  Until then, we'll have to store the whole-envelope image as graphics.  At reasonable resolutions and jpeg compression levels, that means 500 times more storage.  Oh dear, where can we get that kind of storage capacity?  What if we really are back to 30 days? 

There is an answer to anyone's storage prayers.  It is Bluffdale, the new NSA data center in Utah.   With an estimated 3 to 12 exabytes (10E18, ten with 18 zeros) of storage capacity (and figuring on 5 exabytes for letter scans), Bluffdale can hold and retrieve the nation's letter traffic for 1,000 years before their drives get full.

While talking about metadata for mail (only metadata, they don't open the envelopes), I would like to mention a mistake popular in the press.  Telephone metadata is not about everyone with whom you spoke.  The metadata includes every call that tried to come in (and you didn't pick up) and every call you tried to place (and couldn't get through).  If you were in a panic trying to reach out for friends, family, a lawyer, anyone, and never got through, we know all about it . . . and it's easy to identify a panic situation from the frantic pattern of time stamps on your call record.  To look at how and why the national telecommunications infrastructure generates telephone metadata, the proper search term is not "metadata" but "CDR, the Call Detail Record" which all telephone switches produce as they connect calls. 

At this time, several groups are trying end-runs around established elites in order to obtain political power:  The Tea Party, Bernie Sanders supporters, Donald Trump.  There is no way any group could reach out to members and pull in any money if those who have power now, or those who get it in the future, have their hands on this technology and decide to use it for identifying and neutralizing emerging leaders.  That's all I wanted to say, you'll have to do your own research.   What did they tell you about that 30 day storage time?
</rant>

BIGGER THAN "FLATS"?
If over 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.

You are not over 15lbs, therefore Priority flat rate is not such a good deal for you.  Now what?  Some suggestions: 

Online:  "Parcel Post Select" purchased online includes free tracking.
Length plus girth for Parcel Post Select is 84 inches max.
Length plus girth max for ordinary Retail Ground (formerly Parcel Post) is 130 inches -- the Postal System's absolute max.

Too big for the box?  I prefer the brown UPS trucks from ups.com.   You have to register.  

Length plus girth over 108”?      Go to the Retail Ground (Parcel Post)  calculator.  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 take it.

If over 13 oz and going overseas, 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 next). 

Posters rolled up (maximum post office length): 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.  They can't seem to pick one rule.  


   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        


International Airmail Letters $1.15 

1 ounce any country $1.15 after 10Apr2016

Thank you, dear P.O.,  for making first-ounce foreign letters the same to anywhere.  And in 2013, for Global Forever stamps  :-) 
Try this search for Global Forever stamps at store.usps.com

One 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 safe.    "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).

CANADA       1 oz         $1.15                                                           
                        2 oz         $1.15    which is   0¢ more                       
                        3 oz         $1.61    which is 46¢ more 
                        3 1/2       $2.08    which is 47¢ more, because we had nothing to do one day,
                                                                          so we had an extra committee meeting to discuss it,
                                                                          and they had to decide something,
                                                                          so we made each additional ounce different. 
                                                                  
MEXICO        1 oz          $1.15    +57¢/oz 
                        2 oz          $1.72                 
                        3 oz          $2.29                      We have to bribe them to take the letters, so they cost more.        
                        3 1/2        $2.86   


Rest of World    1 oz       $1.15            

                           2           
                           3            Check your country group below.

                           31/2      

COUNTRY GROUPS
Group 1 Countries
is CANADA (see above).
Group 2 Countries 
is MEXICO (see above).

Cheaper  Countries, Groups 6-9
.  Central and South America, Middle East, Africa,
                                                               central
Asia, New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan
                            1 oz        $1.15         

                            2 oz        $1.98      +83
¢/oz        
                            3 oz        $2.81
                            3  1/2      $3.64

Costly Countries, Groups 3-5.      European Union (France, Italy,
                                                              places with chateaus & good food) ,
                                                              Russia, eastern Europe, Turkey; China, Hong Kong,
                                                              South Korea, Japan, & Australia
                                                              (kangaroos, spy satellite stations).
                            1 oz        $1.15            
                            2 oz        $2.13   that was 98¢ more       
                            3 oz        $3.12   now it's   99
¢ more.  Why?       
                            3  1/2      $4.11
                          
31May2015 first ounce up 5¢ for all countries to $1.20
10April2016
5¢ increase revoked, first ounce back to $1.15
some price history
check other countries:  https://postcalc.usps.com/


BIGGER THAN A LETTER?  MORE THAN 3.5 OZ?

Int'l Flats - "1st Class Mail International" 

Envelopes up to 15" x 12", weights up to 1 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), pull some photos off the camera and print them up -- 5 sheets/ounce of good paper, 6 sheets/ounce of ordinary copy paper (minus a sheet or two for safety).

    TABLE BELOW
    Canada, roughly     $6    first lb, half as much gets you a quarter pound

    Mexico roughly       $10 first  lb,   ditto
    ROW roughly          $12 / lb,  ditto

ONLINE:  select the large plain envelope icon at https://postcalc.usps.com/ and a weight 16oz or less.  On next page, click to unhide  "First-Class Int'l Options".  You still cannot buy the postage online as of 4/2016.  This is stupid.  They need the money. 

FLEXIBLE:   International Flat envelope cannot be rigid (or else it won't go around the curves on their conveyors past high-speed  scanners).  And thickness?  We are going up to 4 pounds here, folks, so the infamous "quarter-inch rule" does not apply.  Instead, the warning is,

don't have more than 1/4" VARIATIONS in thickness.  

If you 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 size   9-1/2" x 15" -- same price as stnd size for international.

EBAY RETURNS TO CHINA:   a padded envelope International Flat is your lowest possible cost  -- $3 or $4  to return one dead CPU or fraudulent USB thumb drive.  How did eBay arrange for the Chinese to sell hundreds of items whose TOTAL COST is under $2 including shipping and still earn a profit, when you can't even pay the freight? 

I couldn't afford the postage to return a fraudulent USB thumb drive to China, and eBay helpfully blocked users from reporting frauds so that Chinese sellers had 30 days to unload their stock, so I turned around and sold my fradulent thumb drive - money for me, and a visible alert to the entire eBay user community -- two birds, one drive. 

USE BIG ENVELOPES FOR "FLATS":  Don't  try to mail a small envelope that's over 3.5 oz. even if you pay for it.  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 want. 

INTERNATIONAL FLATS - 10 April 2016

HEAVIER THAN 4 LBS?
Priority international boxes take up to 20 lbs, cost a fortune, and require the #2976 Customs Form.  Sketched in Priority section below.

          

   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        




1st Class Mail International PACKAGES - 4 lbs
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 i
s also called
First-Class Pkg INTERNATIONAL SERVICE, aka
First-Class International PARCEL.
This is the "Letter Post" group which embraces everything that is not "shipping"; namely, LCs (Letters and Cards) joined with AO ("Air Mail -- Other"). 

Size limit is 1 cubic foot maximum, and no one dimension over 24 inches. 
Rolled up poster maximum: width: 36" x 3"diameter.  If you roll it up 1" wider, take 2 inches off your length.
Customs Form 2976 (the green one) must be filled out, max value is $400.

Available online 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 should do to its own people. 

Postage Rates for International Small Packages as of 10April2016

LIST-OF-COUNTRIES  PAGE
I'm sorry the service beyond Canada & Mexico has been broken up from 2 zones (3-5 grouped together plus6-9) into 7 zones (10April2016).  The break-up makes it hard for me to help you.  Standing in line at the Post Office costs them money and us, time.  Here is an alphabetized list of the most common countries with their zones.  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 zone for those of us who need to get some idea how the shipping world is divided up (what each zone means).   The first-class zones are on the right.  I do not know why the same country can move to a different zone for a different postal service. 

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 ally. 
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. 
Zone 8 is the Middle East, Arab sheikdoms, Algeria. 
Zone 9, the most expensive, includes, understandably,  remote island nations and, inexplicably, all our neighbors in this hemisphere, in both nearby Central America and throughout South America. 

HEAVIER THAN 4 LBS?
Priority international flat-rate boxes take up to 20 lbs, cost a fortune, and require the #2976 Customs Form . . .as  sketched in Priority section below.

   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        

     

Postcard  34¢    International $1.15 world,  10Apr2016

3 ½ 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 mills, so mail it.  
Max thickness
0.016" -- easier to say "16 mills", sound like someone who knows what they're talking about.
A typical business card is 12 mills. 

Too big?  Too bad.  Use rates for domestic first class letter. 

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% high-vs-wide difference." 
That's a simple rule, so let's apply it inconsistently for postcards.  There, done!   Feel better?  

DOMESTIC Postcards Increased 1¢  26Jan14 to 34¢ and again on 31May2015 to 35¢
       Rolled back to
34¢ 10Apr2016 as Postal Regulatory Commission ended the 2-year "exigent surcharge" of 2014.
INTERNATIONAL increased 5¢ to $1.15 for all countries 26Jan14 and again on 31May15 to $1.20
       Rolled back to $1.15 10Apr2016 as Postal Regulatory Commission ended the 2-year "exigent surcharge" of 2014.

Postcards offer no privacy and not much space.
Pricing postcards up there with a 1oz int'l letter kills a cultural tradition for tourists the world over when they visit us and want to send home more than a selfie.
We need the money, we need the tourists, we need cheaper postcards -- 27
¢ in 2008. 

more price history



Vint Cerf's card from Google 2012

                                  16 mills

THICKNESS LIST
3 mills (0.003 inch) - El Cheapo copier paper
4 mills - brightest white copier paper
7 mills +   is legal for postcards
9 mills - sheet of ordinary ("110 lb") card stock (good enough for post cards)
11 mills - glossy 4x6 photos (Postcards to anywhere can be 3.5 - 4.25 x 5.5  to 6 inches -- just mail your photo.)
BUSINESS CARDS
feels cheap:  8 mills
feels normal:    12 mills
feels impressive:  16 mills (=max mills for postcards)

Aerograms / Air Letter Sheets  are discontinued by the postal service of the United States. .  Was $0.75 to any country, postage printed on the paper, no stamps. Write whatever you want, mail it to any address you want -- done.  The good old days.  Remember simplicity? 


   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        



 Domestic PRIORITY Envelope & BOXES 

For local shipments, use straight Priority and drop the flat rate boxes.  
Since 12May08, everything but flat-rate varies by zone.
So let's concentrate on flat rate. 

$6.45 flat rate envelope   domestic, any zone, any weight   
as
long as you can seal the envelope without extra tape,
Add 35
¢ for padded envelope.
10April2016: no more online discounts.


                                   
$6.80 small flat rate box  domestic, any zone, any weight,  
as long as you can close the flaps on the seams.
10April2016: no more online discounts.

            8-5/8" x 5-3/8" x 1-5/8"      

$13.45  regular/medium  flat rate box 
any zone, 70 lb max, 
10April2016: no more online discounts.

Two medium-size boxes are available:

11" x 8.5" x 5.5" and
            13.625" x 11.875" x 3.375"

$18.75 large-size box  to any zone, 70 lb max,  
$16.75 for APO/FPO/Diplomatic
10April2016: no more online discounts.
           
        Two large-size boxes are available:
       12" x 12" x 5.5"  
        23 11/16" x 11 3/4" x 3" 

31May2015: online prices unchanged, but all prices at the counter are higher.
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
   
more price history

If it's not a flat rate shipment, you can use your own box. 
If it's virtually a local shipment, don't use flat-rate. 
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, Media Rate,  Priority, anything. 

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 bigger sizes.
                  You need to do Form2976A (weight, value, all the addresses).
                  Presents can't be alcoholic drinks or tobacco or fresh fruits or veg, or
                  perfume ("fragrances" in alcohol).  Lithium batteries are forbidden
                  while the airline industry reacts to spontaneous combustion of
                  early-tech batteries that did not use lithium phosphate and other safer
                  formulations.  Be patient, battery issues are not the Post Office's fault. 

The flat-rate-size Priority boxes may be used internationally (20 lb maximum; 4 lbs for the small one).
See Priority Mail International below. 

TO ORDER PRIORITY BOXES:     
small boxes
medium boxes  Why does the medium box  link say "International shipping"?  Oh well, it works for now . . .
       https://store.usps.com/store/browse/uspsProductDetailMultiSkuDropDown.jsp?productId=P_O_FRB2&categoryId=international-shipping
large boxes    The large box link looks better.  It says "free shipping supplies". 
       https://store.usps.com/store/browse/uspsProductDetailMultiSkuDropDown.jsp?productId=P_LARGE_FRB&categoryId=free-shipping-supplies

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.  Don't ask, just do it.


SIZE LIMITS -- Escape from a flat rate box.

Internationally, NON-FLAT-RATE PRIORITY
costs about as much as the large box, and gives you sizes up to 79" long and length plus girth of 108 inches.  More costly Express Mail is more limited: 42" long and length plus girth of 79 inches (2013).  Sometimes there are country-specific surprises. 

Over 108", Priority stops (airplanes get crowded fast) and Retail Ground (formerly Parcel Post) is all you have left (trucks have more space).  Stay under the 70 lb limit, but other than that, your weight becomes irrelevant when your box becomes large.  After 108" length+girth,  you pay the "Oversize Penalty Price"  until 130" 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.
Pouring the small box full of liquid lead gets you 29 lbs, so I'd say, for small boxes, 70 lbs shows an intelligence limit.  They thought we would ship the small box to Jupiter, whose gravity will bring any small Priority box of lead up to 68 1/2 lbs. 

You can fill any box with a solid block of aluminum and they'll ship it.  (On the large box, leave 1/2" of free space on top.)  The medium-sized boxes can be about half-full of solid iron.  The large box needs to be under 1/3 full of iron to pass -- solid iron all the way up to the top of the box would be  225 lbs, lead would 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 oz per lb Av.  With gold at $1000/oz Troy, that's $8M.)   I waste my time with these stupid calculations while everyone else makes money trading on the precious metals market. 


Insurance: 
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, 2016.
$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 get insurance when you fill out the customs form.  

Priority “Dimensional 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 by weight, but you must use an imaginary weight calculated from your package size as  8.9 lbs per cubic foot.  This works out to  LxWxH in inches divided by 194. 


   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        





INTERNATIONAL Priority Mail

When it's bigger than a flat (manila envelope), it's either these flat rate boxes (20 lbs max)  or "1st Class Int'l Parcels" aka "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)
Canada    
       
10April2016         env $23.25, up from $21.95 since 31May2015; envelope  not same as box anymore.
        10April2016         box $24.95, up from $21.95 since 31May2015; box not same as envelope anymore

2. CANADA - MEDIUM FLAT RATE BOX (20 lbs max -- could be $100 if you didn't have flat rate)
Canada
       
10April2016        $45.95, scarcely changed from $45.25 since 31May2015

3. CANADA - LARGE FLAT RATE BOX (20 lbs max)
Canada
       
10April2016        $59.95, why did they bother to change it from $59.75 since 31May2015? 

 

ROW, REST OF WORLD
8-column table: 2016April10 - Int'l Priority mail flat rate boxes

HOW TO USE THE TABLE ABOVE -- LIST-OF-COUNTRIES  PAGE
We have an  alphabetized list of the most common countries with their zones.  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 .
On this country list, 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 above. 
The table above is the regular Int'l Priority table (country column), not the Expre$$ Priority table/column.
Those of you still trying to run a small business may find it easier to get prices for your own set of countries here, vs. cycling through a USPS calculation page on-line. 

some price history
 

METRIC SYSTEM: 66 LBS MAX  IN MANY COUNTRIES
Although 20 lbs is the official limit, some countries will go up to 66 lbs
if you go outside the flat rate system and pay $200,  even $300 to some places.  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 -- Australia converted in the 1970s.   30 kg is a nice round number, it's 66 lbs, so get lost with your stupid "70".  

Map of world countries using the metric system. 
 
   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        


  
    


Domestic Express Mail -- Does everybody agree I can drop this page
  
                            because the prices are ridiculous?

after 31May2015:
$20 for a flat rate envelope, $45 for a little flat rate box, $460 to impress someone with a 70 lb carton shipped across the country.
some price history
https://postcalc.usps.com

Order  flat rate envelopes in cardboard or Tyvek here.
To find the page if they move it again, search on  site:store.usps.com  $0.00 express mail box  like this:  sample search.   



Media Mail Rates -- BOOKS

Flat rate, no zones so it does not get cheaper locally, but even locally it is still cheapest per point if you qualify. 
OK for: books, sheet music, movies and music on CDs, DVDs,  educational maps & charts if there's not a lot of text.

Because advertising 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. 

No video games (they're media, yes; but educational, no).  No hard drives, no tapes if they're blank.

Make it easy to inspect the carton should it be opened -- so, if you want to support book bindings, wrap the books tight in "stretch (plastic) wrap" not brown paper.  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 tan.) 


After 10April2016: Domestic Rates
1 pound: $2.61     One CD/DVD in a padded env is $2.64 (4oz) as a small parcel (1st class service, 13 oz max) .
                                Two
CDs in an env is a $3.21 parcel (7oz), so media mail is clearly cheaper. 
Add 48¢/lb.
The increment never drops, so you can multiply it out for yourself

Up to 2 pounds: $3.09    
Up to 3 pounds: $3.57       
Up to 4 pounds: $4.05
Up to 5 pounds: $4.53
Up to 40 lbs      $21.33
70 lbs max        $35.73


some price history

Yes, it goes to 70 lbs, see https://postcalc.usps.com   At the Post Office, be prepared to open and reseal the box.  If you don't qualify, regular  "Retail Ground" (formerly Parcel Post)  is double to triple the cost, depending on zone.  

To send  Media Mail packages ON LINE, go to this unpublicized URL ("Universal Resource Locater" or Web address):  https://www.paypal.com/ShipNow   (Thank you, JohnD.)

You 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).  Specify 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. 

   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        



      

RETAIL GROUND (formerly STANDARD POST, originally PARCEL POST)

To send  Retail Ground pkgs ON LINE, go to this unpublicized URL ("Universal Resource Locater" or Web address):  https://www.paypal.com/ShipNow   (Thank you, JohnD.)

You must be a registered PayPal user (allied with 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 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 to the ShipNow address.  Browser cookies will keep you logged in, and all will run smoothly.

To look up Retail Ground costs online, the calculator page is here: https://postcalc.usps.com

PRIORITY OR UPS:  I use flat rate Priority  for small stuff, and the brown UPS trucks for heavy boxes (over 5 lbs or so).  

http://www.ups.com/dropoff?loc=en_US&WT.svl=PriNav

EVER COLLECTED ANY UPS INSURANCE?
UPS insurance is free up to $100.  You can buy more (over $1 per hundred coverage), but you may never collect. 
You are warned to have an original receipt for the item, a signed receipt from the guy across the counter when you dropped off the package, perhaps the original complete packaging saved exactly as it looked at the other end, perhaps a police report . . . . 

Retail Ground  (formerly Parcel Post) can be cheaper than UPS if you avoid two pitfalls. 

https://postcalc.usps.com


AVOIDING THE  RETAIL GROUND  BALLOON RATE  PITFALL AT 84 INCHES

When 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 20 lbs ($38.00 across the country, 2014) regardless of weight. 

DON"T JUST DROP YOUR ITEM  INTO  THE  CARTON  & THEN  FILL IT.
When packing a smaller, tighter-fitting box, place padding into the bottom of the box first, THEN add the shipment . . . and stuff the box tight.  You want to float the shipment away from the box bottom, away from all the walls.  Did I say put the padding in first? 

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 $132.20 when  a smaller box would have been only $105.83 (2014, but you get the idea). 

Once you're penalized with this "dimensional weight" charge, you can pack your shipment up in as large a carton as you want, the price isn't going to change with either your weight (up to 70 lbs) or your size (up to 130 inches length + girth). 

At 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.  

To preserve your parcel post sanity, use the USPS rate calculator for "package" or "large package". https://postcalc.usps.com

Measure and weigh the carton first, get your two Zip codes. 
some price history


GETTING YOUR OWN ZONE AND RATE TABLES for  PARCEL POST

Still trying to run a small business? 
If you need to work out all the pricing yourself, you need two charts.  1.) You need to go from Zip codes to postal zones, and then 2.) you need a chart of rates per pound (for all those postal zones).   I can give you both charts.  Translate your  recipient's zipcode into postal zone numbers here.

POSTAL ZONES FROM ZIP CODES

A personalized chart from my town McLean to ZIP XXXxx

Try https://postcalc.usps.gov/Zonecharts/ (a U.S. Postal Service link) to get a chart like the one below for your own town.  This chart works for Priority boxes that are not flat rate, and for Parcel Post.

 

Postal Zone Charts   (my zipcode 2005; click the link to get yours)
Enter another 3-digit ZIP Code prefix to check:        

3-digit ZIP Code prefix is 221. The first 3-digits of your destination ZIP Code determine the zone.
(* - Indicates zones eligible for Intra-BMC Rates)

ZIP Code
Prefix


Zone

ZIP Code
Prefix


Zone

ZIP Code
Prefix


Zone

ZIP Code
Prefix


Zone

005

3

254

1*

456..457

3

710..714

5

006..009

7

255..261

3

458..497

4

716..717

5

010..059

4

262..265

2

498..509

5

718

6

060..079

3

266

3

510..513

6

719..729

5

080..087

2

267..268

2*

514

5

730..731

6

088..119

3

270..286

3

515..516

6

733..741

6

120..123

4

287..296

4

520..528

5

743

6

124..127

3

297

3

530..532

5

744

5

128..129

4

298..315

4

534..535

5

745..748

6

130..132

3

316..317

5

537..551

5

749

5

133..136

4

318..319

4

553..561

5

750..768

6

137..154

3

320..342

5

562

6

769

7

155..159

2

344

5

563..564

5

770..784

6

160..165

3

346..347

5

565..567

6

785

7

166

2

349..352

5

570..577

6

786..796

6

167

3

354..355

5

580..587

6

797..816

7

168

2

356..358

4

588

7

820..831

7

169

3

359..361

5

590..595

7

832..838

8

170..176

2

362

4

596..599

8

840..844

8

177

3

363..369

5

600..609

4

845..847

7

178..179

2

370..374

4

610..617

5

850

8

180..188

3

375

5

618..619

4

852..853

8

189..199

2

376..379

4

620

5

855..857

8

200..212

1*

380..383

5

622..631

5

859..860

8

214

1*

384..385

4

633..641

5

863..864

8

215

2*

386..398

5

644..658

5

865

7

216..223

1*

399..410

4

660..662

5

870..875

7

224..225

2*

411..412

3

664..668

5

877..885

7

226..227

1*

413..414

4

669..672

6

889..891

8

228..239

2*

415..416

3

673

5

893..895

8

240..241

2

417..418

4

674..681

6

897..898

8

242

3

420

5

683..693

6

900..908

8

243

2

421..427

4

700..701

5

910..928

8

244

2*

430..436

4

703..704

5

930..986

8

245

2

437..447

3

705..706

6

988..999

8

246..253

3

448..455

4

707..708

5

 

 

chart from http://postcalc.usps.gov/Zonecharts/


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.
That chart is below, and on this page all by itself, from which you can print it out.  NOT YET REVISED FOR 2014, so it's
http://postcalc.usps.gov/

Nat'l Parcel Post Zone Chart - price changes usually occur in May

Click image to enlarge (browser must have "scripts enabled")


My waste-of-time look at calculating Parcel Post (formerly Parcel Post) costs from Bulk Mail Center (BMC) and Auxiliary Service Facilities (ASFs) is here.  These are the mail sorting centers Congress wants to shut down to "save money".  These Congressmen want to help us "save the Postal System from financial collapse."  Once enough of the sorting centers are gone, the Post Office will never again be able to deliver first class mail by the next day.  Delivering an ordinary envelope the next day and "overnight delivery"  from corporations like FedEx are not much different, except that one costs $21.05 to $36.05 ("FedEx Envelope" up to 8 oz, 2013) and the other costs 91 cents (3 oz First Class business envelope 2014). 
Private industry can beat any competitor once we use a corrupt political system to destroy in our time what previous generations have built for us. 
   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        




Domestic Money Orders 

Up to $500 -- $1.15  

$500.01 to $1000.00 -- $1.55, 

International Money Order $4.45

Your overseas maximum is $700.    The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC, a British bank from colonial times) had a slightly higher money maximum.  They  laundered at least $800 million in drug lord and terrorist money  into the American economy and banking system, and yet nobody went to jail.  The best way to rob a bank is to own one.  (No, seriously, that's the book on Amazon,  The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry
William K. Black.) 


Domestic Delivery Confirmation ("Signature Conf")

After 22Jan2012:
Sig conf $2.55 for most services, and available online for $2.10 if the postage was.
Certified mail (proof of being sent and delivered, but no signature): $2.95, up from $1.15 in 2009; lots of large price jumps here.
Return Receipt (proof they got it):  $2.35 (a discounted price if you also buy over $200 in insurance or if you buy Registered Mail for $10.95 minimum.          Otherwise  . . . )
    $3.95 for merchandise. 
$2.30 in 2009
Registration (postal employees sign a register as the item passes each step in its journey) starts at $10.95, little changed from $10.60 in 2010.  Registration is a prerequisite to adding large amounts of insurance.  

Registration + Declared Value Insurance costs

Maximum liability has been increased to $25,000 from $5,000 in 2009.

There is no separate "Declared Value Insurance",  only "Registration" at some level of "Declared Value".   
Express Mail ($100 insurance built in) and Priority are limited to $5,000 -- less for some foreign-country destinations.  But not to worry.  For $48.50, you can mail a declared value of $25,000 as a registered item.  But suppose you hit it  big on Antiques Road Show?    For  your items over $15 million, postage starts at  $21,013.50 to persuade the Post Office to carry it (they are not liable) -- you then take the paperwork around to private insurance companies looking for actual insurance coverage.  The Hope Diamond was mailed this way.   Let me know if you need my address. 

Fees vary a lot.  Even Express and Priority mail are different (insurance for a Priority shipment costs more than Express).  As an example, Express Mail International costs $15.85 for $5,000 of insurance. 



CASH TRANSFER

Restrictions to as little as $400/envelope apply to foreign mail.  To sell your house & buy one overseas, try a wired bank to bank transfer instead.  Banks charge $25 or $50 per transaction.  You need bank routing numbers, not just the account number for your deposit.  The US government monitored private bank transfers secretly until it got caught (so it got permission and still does it).  Government spying is a problem for wealthy Americans.  Fortunately, banks offer courier service to wealthy Americans who want to put (or retrieve)  hundreds of millions into off-shore, numbered accounts to avoid taxes (funny, what are all those diamonds in your toothpaste tube?).   Seriously, does our rich, job-creating class do this?  14,700 American came in for amnesty after a whistle blower unmasked 5,000 of them at the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS).  The  whistle-blower was the only one who went to jail, of course.   The IRS gets credit for collecting taxes and it needs whistle blowers to find the money.  So the IRS awarded the whistle blower with $104 million for recovering billions of dollars in taxes on illegally hidden wealth (the real tax rate at the top can be zero).  Meanwhile, the Department of Justice saw to it that the same man was convicted and jailed.  I'm sure that made sense to the people who work there, but maybe they could change the name of their Department. 

   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        


  
    

 (return to top) 

MY TWO BITS:   <rant>  There is a choice between keeping our post office simple so that people can use it, and running it to squeeze out every dime.  Squeezing out every dime makes the Post Office so complex that you can only use it online with a computer.  Today, services change price every year -- "mail services" change price in January, and  "shipping services" change price in May.    Thanks, guys.  Why not change rates every week? 

Who chose to do this?  Not me.  Who gave away power to let rates change without Congressional legislation?  Not me.  It must be the same Congress that lost the power to declare war (we fight anyway),  the same Congress that passes laws and then grants retroactive immunity if you break them, the same Congress that tells the people what is "on the table" and what is "not on the table."   Funny, I thought I was the one who sent them all to Washington as my representatives.  You know, "House of Representatives"?  As we watch our Post Office fall apart, could there be a hand under the table, a soft word behind closed doors?  Does somebody like what's going on here?

 THE JUNK MAIL STORY:  Well, I can send up to a pound of junk mail for about what it costs you to mail just one letter.  Search in Google on "Pound Prices"  Periodicals  "Advertising Portion"  maybe add  site:usps.com. Dig it out, it's there.   Again, **you** pay for your ounce, they pay less for their pound.     And, are you home when the mail arrives?  Take a look at the weight your Letter Carrier carries. 

The U.S. Postal Service no longer serves the U. S. people.   Whether you are working there or just trying to mail a letter, the U.S. Postal Service no longer serves the people of this country.  

Dear US Postal Service, drop the subsidy for big junk mailers and the big corporations that use them.   **Then** tell me about the Internet.  **Then** cry about  fewer ordinary people sending fewer ordinary letters.  All of us using this rate page can tell you what it's really like to mail something,  but first drop your subsidy for corporations.

Dear Corporations:  don't rail against "big government" while you feed on subsidies at the public trough.  It's not polite to talk with your mouth full.  Don't tell me about black welfare mothers and Food Stamps until you get off welfare yourself.   Pay enough to give them a profit, do not bleed my Post Office white.  Pay enough, like the rest of us.  The Post Office serves the country that I love, and shame on you for trying to take it away from me.  

THE SMALL TOWN POST OFFICE I EMULATED:  This Web page was inspired by a similar rate page put up by the local post office in Lafayette, Tennessee.  The government Websites were driving me crazy.  Finally I found the Lafayette page that  told me how many stamps to put on my letter so I could just put it outside and come back in for a cup of coffee.  Some guys who work there and one or two of their buddies  put up a Web page with the few simple rates that most of us need most of the time.  I put up my page  to be like theirs.   I put up something myself so I could be less formal than the government, and add some common sense, such as,  "If it isn't machinable, it costs more--here's what the penalty is."

Then what?

Soon the rates were changing two different times a year.  The rate structure was getting complicated. Zones where added for Priority that 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 for everybody.  Tennessee gave up.  That's right -- the town  post office took down their rate page and gave up.  I challenge you to find any place that posts the postage rates of the USA -- the ones you need,  all on one page.   I also apologize for any errors on my page, 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 https://postcalc.usps.com
Maybe you won't stand in line like me only to discover you chose the wrong envelope (and have to go home to fix it).

Our Post Office is part of our civic society -- it is in all our communities, it serves everyone, all of us in our daily lives, and it is not a corporation. Like many institutions of civic society in our time,  the Post Office has been weakened.  (By whom?  Why?)  The changes that have been made to "save money" and "make the USPS a competitive player" in the "free market"  have made the US Postal Service too difficult for most people to use.  For anything more than a letter, we all have to go on line or stand in line.  Anything else would be quicker than all this complexity -- an email, a fax, anything.  The price is bad, the service is worse -- by design.  

THE PROFITS THAT WENT INTO THE PIGGY BANK.  The final blow has been a sensible requirement to make the Post Office put money into the piggy bank NOW to cover the retirement benefits of all its employees TOMORROW.   The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) sounded sensible at the time, but it forces the USPS to get 75 years worth of future health care benefits for future retirees funded now,  in ten years — a requirement imposed upon no other government organization.  Humm.   Until the Great Recession, the Post Office was making enough profits to fill a sixty billion dollar piggy bank.  And 75 years?  People retire at age 65, so the Post Office is being forced to save now for the retirement of people they haven't hired yet.  Humm. 

Then the lies begin.  Did you know about the piggy bank?  I didn't think so.  Did you know it was $50 to $60 billion big?  Guess nobody mentioned that either.  The  Post Office is making profits and saving them to take care of its "family" for the future, but what we hear is that, after the "cost" of feeding the piggy bank, the USPS is a money loser.  Bankrupt!!   Financial crisis!!   Last chance before it's too late!! 

It is a clever drama.  They're not really lying, just waiting for us to forget.  It's simple:  require the Post Office to save whatever is extra, and then tell the public, Look,  there's nothing extra, they are not smart enough to make profits.  

By June 2011, the Post Office had put $20.95B into the Piggy Bank, and run up a $19.50B deficit.  Here's the math:  $20.95B - $19.50B = $1.45 billion dollars in profit for the Post Office since the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.  

So, deficit or a billion in profits -- you decide.   Deficit!  Deficit!!! Gotta do something fast:  Congress has already decided.  To "save" the Post Office from running out of money, our national leadership will see to it that the USPS closes more than half its mail processing centers so that overnight delivery of first-class mail is impossible now, and will never be possible again (think Netflix DVDs that will go to FedEx or UPS). 

Big government can't run any businesses, they always fail.   If they are not failing fast enough, then we help them fail a little faster.  Amtrak,  the Post Office, they are all the same, they are all money-losers.  Give their business to corporations that know how to make a profit.  

#3    FedEx                         $34B in revenues in 2010
#2    brown UPS                 $50B    2010
#1    U.S.  Postal Service  $65B    2011

Number One is the USPS, our post office:  sixty-five billion in revs -- the 2nd largest civilian employer in the country (over half a million career employees),  the largest fleet of vehicles in the world.   And when #3 and #2 tear out the profitable parts of the corpse,  I'm sure rural Americans will not pay more than the rest of us to get their mail.  Even if it costs more, corporations will sacrifice profit to give rural America a fair go and the same chances the rest of us have.  It's only fair.  And I'm sure all 574,000 USPS employees (2011) will move into the private sector without layoffs.  And all the pensions will be protected and nobody will lose their health insurance, and there won't be any office temps and even the contractors won't be forced to drive their own cars because we would never hire contractors just to avoid giving out employee benefits.  And don't tell us about any Piggy Banks, and don't regulate us so that we save for our employee's future.  Kiddies need a Piggy Bank but we are corporations, we are grown-ups, so don't tell us what cash reserves we should keep on our books.     

A token postal service, a cripple that can't fight but can't be killed off completely either,  because the Constitution says we have to have something  -- that  is the future we are being led to as a nation by those with power over us.  

Civic society -- our communities and our relations with one another --  can get lost when profit is the only goal.  The country -- the welfare of the United States of America, its role in the world, its greatness as a nation -- this is not what counts when profit comes first.   In the end, we lose greatness itself when we  become preoccupied with profit alone.  All of us can count on a future in which the US Postal Service delivers junk mail at reduced rates for corporate clients right up until the day the system vanishes forever.   On that day there will be less competition for the corporations that killed it, paid for the funeral in advance, and always wanted the business.  Live with  it, get with the program.  The failure of post offices in every town in the country is the free market at work.  So just accept it.   And when the banks failed?   

--jerry
J. I. Nelson, Ph.D.   
</end rant>

(return to top) 
 

   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders, Delivery Confirm        



home for this Website


   McLean, VA Post Office

Vacation over.
Back to reality and 35 lbs of mail.
Maybe next time ask if they offer a shredder option.  


Revised  29Jan2011 enlarged clarity; and  no online purchases anymore 3Mar2011;
15Feb11 bad env penalty still 20 cents ; 17Apr11 rate change; 10Jun11 Flats3oz-vs-1stClass
24Oct2011 70lb limits, on-line access thru PayPal  25OctPkgs; gold. weight; 2Nov links to Parcel Post
23,24Jan2012: Everything.  6Feb12
Jan2013 remove BMC & AFS text to separate pages.
10Feb2013 Oh my goodness, all the internal links were broken!   :-(   Fix. 
30Jan2014: update 1st class, flats, small parcels, Priority envs+boxes, Media Mail, spelling but don't have online prices for Priority
8FebPMtabular internal links, only ParcelPost not revised (note added);ChinaRipOff not written.
30April2016--the big 10Apr16 "roll-back" + 17Jan16 minor changes