2024 USPS Rate and Service Changes

January 18th, 2024 Comments off

Welcome to our United States Postal Service Updates blog, your guide to the changing postal scene. Here, we’ll share the latest news and rate updates from the USPS. Dive in as we break down the 2024 updates. 

January 2024 Service Changes

Effective January 21st, the USPS is rolling out changes to its shipping rates, which will impact various services and package categories. Stamps remains committed to delivering top-notch service to its customers and is happy to announce that, through our partnership with USPS, customers can now enjoy enhanced discounts on Priority Mail® and Ground Advantage Rates™ compared to Commercial Plus rates.

Here’s an overview of the modifications and how they might impact your shipping and mailing strategies.

Ground Advantage™

  • Ground Advantage™ under 1 pound: Up to 6.6% off
  • Ground Advantage™ over 1 pound: Up to 25.1% off
  • Ground Advantage™ Cubic: Up to 21.2% off

As a reminder, Ground Advantage™ was introduced in July of 2023. This service combines USPS Retail Ground, USPS Parcel Select Ground, and USPS First Class Package Services. The January 21st changes will apply to all weights, zones, and cubic dimensions over 12 ounces using Ground Advantage™.

Priority Mail®

  • Priority Mail 6-10 pounds: Up to 12% off
  • Priority Mail Flat Rate: Up to 2.5% off
  • Priority Mail Cubic: Up to 15.8% off

So where will you see the biggest changes? The short answer: it depends. Exact rates will vary depending on the package details and how far it’s traveling. As always, we recommend comparing rates and services to find the best option for your business. 

Mailing Services

The cost of sending a 1 oz. First Class Mail letter will increase from 66 cents to 68 cents. However, if you use Stamps.com, the Metered Mail rate for the same letter will only go up from 63 cents to 64 cents, saving you $0.04 compared to the retail rate.

USPS Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Label Changes

While the primary focus of this rate adjustment is on shipping rates, it’s crucial to be aware of unrelated changes to HAZMAT labels. Starting January 21st, USPS is enhancing safety measures for handling dangerous goods shipments. The HAZMAT labels will now feature an oversized letter “H” in the corner, the addition of 2D barcodes, and the inclusion of the word “HAZMAT” after “USPS TRACKING #.” Shippers need not take any specific action other than selecting hazardous goods under special services when printing a label when a shipment contains hazardous materials. For more information check out our HAZMAT updates blogs.

Insurance Rate Updates

In addition to the rate adjustments, Stamps.com users should be aware of an increase in their insurance rates. However, depending on your service plan, you could enjoy discounts ranging from 10% to 40% compared to USPS insurance rates.

Enhance Your Efficiency

Despite these changes, Stamps.com continues to offer substantial savings on shipping costs, with discounts of up to 89% through its partnership with USPS and other carriers. We aim to streamline your shipping and mailing operations, providing discounted rates for a smooth sending process.

As the shipping landscape evolves, staying informed about rate changes and adjusting your strategy accordingly can contribute to a more efficient and cost-effective shipping experience. Keep these insights in mind as you navigate the 2024 USPS shipping rate adjustments. For more information check out our help center article.

What are USPS Postal Zones?

October 25th, 2023 Comments off
Understanding USPS Zones

It’s commonplace to think about a destination in miles. You usually have an idea of how far you’re traveling, even if it’s only by the number of cities and states you’ll pass through. Shipping a package follows the same principle. You are aware of the distance between you and your customer, but you might not be familiar with how shipping carriers, such as USPS, calculate this distance to determine your shipping expenses.

What are shipping zones?

USPS divides the US into shipping regions called zones, and this mileage is used to determine the cost of certain packages. Depending on the carrier service used, the distance your package will travel is then used to help determine your shipping costs. TL;DR: the further your package is traveling, the higher the shipping cost. The USPS services that use zones to determine cost include: 

However, flat-rate package costs are not determined by USPS zones. Instead, flat-rate packages can be used for shipments up to 70 pounds and will be charged the same price per box size, regardless of the destination. 

What are the USPS shipping zones?

USPS has broken down the US into nine zones called Zone 1-9. These zones range from within 50 miles to 1801+ miles. Each zone and the mileage it covers can be found below. 

  • Zone 1: Non-local destinations within 50 miles 
  • Zone 2: Destinations within 51-150 mile radius 
  • Zone 3: Destinations within 151-300 mile radius 
  • Zone 4: Destinations within 301-600 mile radius 
  • Zone 5: Destinations within 601-1000 mile radius 
  • Zone 6: Destinations within 1001-1400 mile radius 
  • Zone 7: Destinations within 1401-1800 mile radius 
  • Zone 8: Destinations within 1801 mile radius or farther 
  • Zone 9: Destinations within Freely Associated States/Zip codes assigned for exceptional network circumstances*

*This doesn’t apply when shipping to between the three-digit zip codes of 962-969.

Tips to avoid shipping adjustments 

Shipping adjustments are additional fees added to your shipping costs. These fees can range from entering incorrect shipping dimensions to using the incorrect packaging for a shipping service. When it comes to zones, adjustments and penalties can be given if a package isn’t shipped through your local post office. There’s also the risk of a package being incorrectly routed if an incorrect address is entered or the address is ineligible, and ultimately, the package can even be returned. Here are a few tips to avoid adjustments: 

  • Weight and measure packages multiple times before inputting them
  • Enter package dimensions for shipments to avoid being charged for the wrong zone 
  • Utilize the free USPS Domestic Zone Chart to confirm the mileage shown is accurate
  • Confirm addresses for all customers and recipients whenever possible and keep addresses legible 

How does Stamps.com help me with USPS zones?

Fortunately, Stamps.com merchants don’t need to memorize and manually enter zones because zones are automatically accounted for when a label is created. However, it’s crucial to find the best shipping rate for your package, especially when packages are traveling long distances. Whenever you create a label on Stamps.com, simply select the Compare Rates and Services option from the Carrier drop-down menu. 

Once selected, you can browse rates through our rate advisor with three different categories: Cheapest, Recommended, and Fastest. The cheapest category filter lists the available rates and services from cheapest to most expensive. The recommended category shows the Stamps.com recommended shipping methods. And finally, the fastest category filters rates by the fastest available carrier rates. You can compare rates in real-time and find the best deal for your business, especially when it comes to long-distance shipping. 

Start your 30-day free trial at Stamps.com today!

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FAQs to Help Understand USPS Priority Mail Changes

September 24th, 2014 Comments off
As of Sunday, July 28, the USPS has made some significant changes to Priority Mail.  We’ve listed some FAQs below:
IMPORTANT! USPS postage rates did NOT INCREASE on Sunday, July 28, 2013 – changes were operational only!!!
Note:  You must update to Stamps.com Version 10.5 in order to utilize these new featuers!!!have the new shipping printed.
#1 Priority Mail shipping labels now indicate “Priority Mail 1-Day” or “Priority Mail 2-Day” on the shipping label – has the delivery service changed?
No, delivery service for Priority Mail is exactly the same as before — 1 to 3 day delivery, but this is not a guaranteed service. Since most Priority Mail packages are delivered within 2 days, the USPS has added estimated delivery dates on the shipping label to help communication between the shipper and the package recipient.
Delivery date estimates are based on where the package is being shipped from and where it is being delivered to.
#2  Can I choose if I want 1, 2, or 3-day delivery for Priority Mail?
No, you will not be able to choose 1, 2 or 3-day delivery.  The scheduled delivery day will be automatically determined by the zip code your package is being shipped from and the zip code where the package is being sent to.  If you need overnight delivery, you can use Priority Mail Express (formerly called Express Mail), which provides overnight delivery to most addresses in the U.S.
#3 Does Priority Mail now include free insurance?
Yes, Priority Mail now includes free package insurance.  You will receive $50 of coverage if you print your labels online through an approved PC Postage vendor that offers Commercial Base Pricing (such as Stamps.com).  If you are approved for Commercial Plus Pricing, you will receive $100 of free coverage.
#4 How do I know how much insurance I receive with my Priority Mail package?
By default, Stamps.com prints all shipping rates using Commercial Base Pricing.  Rates for Commercial Base Pricing includes discounts for the following mail classes:
Priority Mail Express: Save up to 63% off retail rates on all Priority Mail Express shipments.
Priority Mail: Save up to 20% of retail rates on all Priority Mail shipments, depending on weight and distance.
First Class Package Service: Save up to 18% off retail rates on all First Class Parcels.
International Shipping: Save up to 9% on Priority Mail International shipments, up to 10% for Priority Mail Express International and up to 10% on First Class Package International Service.
#5 What is Priority Mail Express?
Express Mail was renamed Priority Mail Express on July 28, 2013. Other then the name change, the Priority Mail Express service remains exactly the same as Express Mail.
The reason for the name change was due to USPS research showing that customers often got confused between Priority Mail and Express Mail.  So the USPS changed the Express Mail to Priority Mail Express, bringing everything under the Priority Mail product umbrella.
#6 I still have old Express Mail boxes.  Can I still use them?
Yes, you can still use your Express Mail boxes through January 2014.  The USPS is there will be new packaging. On or before July 28th, packaging supplies will have the new design and be available in all Post Offices and online. You’ll be able to use old packaging until your current stock runs out. Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail Express International use the same packaging.

blog_usps-changes-july2013As of Sunday, July 28, the USPS has made some significant changes to Priority Mail.  These changes DO NOT include any postage rate increases — they are operational changes only.

We’ve listed some FAQs below:


#1 Has the delivery service changed for Priority Mail?  I now see “Priority Mail 1-Day,” “Priority Mail 2-Day” or “Priority Mail 3-Day” listed on the label.

Delivery service for Priority Mail is exactly the same as before — 1 to 3 day delivery. Keep in mind that Priority Mail is not a guaranteed date-specific delivery service. Since most Priority Mail packages are delivered within 2 days, the USPS has added estimated delivery dates on the shipping label to help communication between the shipper and the package recipient. Delivery date estimates are based on where the package is being shipped from and where it is being delivered to.


#2  Can I choose 1, 2, or 3-day delivery for Priority Mail?
No, you will not be able to choose 1, 2 or 3-day delivery.  The scheduled delivery date will be automatically determined by the zip code your package is being shipped from and the zip code where the package is being sent to.  If you need overnight delivery, you can use Priority Mail Express (formerly called Express Mail), which provides overnight delivery to most addresses in the U.S.


#3 Does Priority Mail now include insurance?
Yes, Priority Mail now includes package insurance.  You will receive $50 of coverage if you print your labels online through an approved PC Postage vendor that offers Commercial Base Pricing (such as Stamps.com).  If you are approved for Commercial Plus Pricing, you will receive $100 of free coverage.


#4 How do I know how much insurance I receive with my Priority Mail package?
By default, Stamps.com prints all shipping rates using postage discounts known as Commercial Base Pricing.  Rates for Commercial Base Pricing includes rate discounts for the following mail classes:

  • Priority Mail Express: Save up to 63% off retail rates on all Priority Mail Express shipments.
  • Priority Mail: Save up to 20% of retail rates on all Priority Mail shipments, depending on weight and distance.
  • First Class Package Service: Save up to 18% off retail rates on all First Class Parcels.
  • International Shipping: Save up to 9% on Priority Mail International shipments, up to 10% for Priority Mail Express International and up to 10% on First Class Package International Service.

Commercial Plus Pricing is a program offered by the USPS that provides highly discounted postage rates for high volume shippers that meet a required number of shipments annually.  For Priority Mail, the minimum number of shipments starts at 75,000.


#5 What is Priority Mail Express?
Express Mail was renamed Priority Mail Express on July 28, 2013. Also, Express Mail International has been renamed Priority Mail Express International. Other then the name change, the Priority Mail Express service remains exactly the same as Express Mail.

The reason for the name change was due to USPS research showing that customers often got confused between Priority Mail and Express Mail.  So the USPS changed Express Mail to Priority Mail Express, bringing everything under the Priority Mail brand umbrella.


#6 I still have old Express Mail boxes.  Can I still use them to ship my packages?
Yes, you can still use your Express Mail boxes through January 2014.  The USPS will be introducing new packaging for Priority Express Mail in the coming weeks, but the old boxes will work with Priority Mail Express.

USPS Shipping Service Changes Start Sunday, July 28 2013

September 24th, 2014 Comments off
The U.S. Postal Service is making operational changes to select shipping services starting Sunday, July 28, 2013.  The changes being made include the following:
IMPORTANT! USPS postage rates are NOT INCREASING on Sunday, July 28, 2013 – these changes are operational only!!!
Express Mail Renamed to Priority Mail Express
Express Mail is being renamed Priority Mail Express and Express Mail International is being renamed Priority Mail Express International. USPS research shows that having two shipping product names is confusing to customers, and so the USPS will simplify everything under the Priority Mail brand name.
Delivery service for Priority Mail Express will remain the same (1-2 day for domestic, 3-5 day for international).  Also, older Express Mail boxes can still be used with the newly named Priority Mail Express through January 2014.
Estimated Delivery Date Included on Priority Mail Shipping Labels
The USPS will be printing the estimated delivery date on all Priority Mail shipping labels. The date will be displayed at the top of the shipping label in bold text and will contain either “Priority Mail 1 Day,” “Priority Mail 2 Day” or “Priority Mail 3 Day.”
This is only an estimated delivery date and package shippers will not be able to choose a date-specific delivery service for Priority Mail.  Delivery dates will be determined by where you’re shipping your package from and where you’re sending it.
Additionally, Priority Mail labels will now include a four-digit Carrier Route Code to help speed up package delivery.  The four-digit code will be printed just to the right of the delivery address.
Electronic Delivery Confirmation Now Available to 14 Countries
Along with Canada (added in January 2013), the USPS will be adding Electronic Delivery Confirmation to 13 additional countries for First Class Package International Service, Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Boxes.  This service will be available for no additional cost.
New countries offering Electronic Delivery Confirmation include Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland.
Package Insurance is Being Added to Priority Mail
Priority Mail is now going to include $50 of insurance for FREE if you print postage online (Commercial Base pricing).  If you are approved for Commercial Plus pricing, you will receive $100 of insurance coverage. This insurance coverage is provided automatically by the USPS and claims will be to protect shippers against loss, damage or missing contents.
Stamps.com Will Automatically Update on July 28, 2013
As a Stamps.com customer, you will not need to do anything — the Stamps.com software and website will automatically be updated with all necessary changes for this USPS update.

The U.S. Postal Service is making operational changes to select shipping services starting Sunday, July 28, 2013.  The changes being made include the following:

IMPORTANT! USPS postage rates are NOT INCREASING on Sunday, July 28, 2013 – these changes are operational only!!!

Express Mail Renamed to Priority Mail Express
Express Mail is being renamed Priority Mail Express and Express Mail International is being renamed Priority Mail Express International. USPS research shows that having two shipping product names is confusing to customers, and so the USPS will simplify everything under the Priority Mail brand name.

blog_2013-priority-mail-express_box

Example of the new Priority Mail Express Flat Rate Box

Delivery service for Priority Mail Express will remain the same (overnight for domestic, 3-5 day for international).  Also, older Express Mail boxes can still be used with the newly named Priority Mail Express through January 2014.

Estimated Delivery Date Included on Priority Mail Shipping Labels
The USPS will be printing the estimated delivery date on all Priority Mail shipping labels. The date will be displayed at the top of the shipping label in bold text and will contain either “Priority Mail 1-Day,” “Priority Mail 2-Day” or “Priority Mail 3-Day.”

This is only an estimated delivery date and package shippers will not be able to choose a date-specific delivery service for Priority Mail.  Delivery dates will be determined by where you’re shipping your package from and where you’re sending it.

blog_priority-mail-date-specific-label

Example of new Priority Mail shipping label. Note the "Priority Mail 1-Day" in the top section, and the Carrier Route Code next to the delivery address.

Additionally, Priority Mail labels will now include a four-digit Carrier Route Code to help speed up package delivery.  The four-digit code will be printed just to the right of the delivery address.

Electronic Delivery Confirmation Now Available to 14 Countries
Along with Canada (added in January 2013), the USPS will be adding Electronic Delivery Confirmation to 13 additional countries for First Class Package International Service, Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Boxes.  This service will be available for no additional cost.

New countries offering Electronic Delivery Confirmation include Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland.

Package Insurance is Being Added to Priority Mail
Priority Mail is now going to include $50 of insurance for FREE if you print postage online (Commercial Base Pricing).  If you are approved for Commercial Plus Pricing, you will receive $100 of insurance coverage. This insurance coverage is provided automatically by the USPS and claims will be to protect shippers against loss, damage or missing contents.

Stamps.com Will Automatically Update on July 28, 2013
As a Stamps.com customer, you will not need to do anything — the Stamps.com software and website will automatically be updated with all necessary changes for this USPS update.

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