USPS Priority Mail: A Full Breakdown | ShippingEasy

usps priority mail is a convenient and cost-effective method of shipping items in a timely manner. The process for shipping items via priority mail is simple, making it an ideal option for small businesses that don’t have resources for shipping staff.

usps priority mail features and rates vary depending on the type of priority mail you send (flat rate, regional rate, or commercial rate). We’ve provided a full breakdown of Priority Mail below to help you decide if it’s right for your business’ shipping needs.

what is priority mail?

usps priority mail is the fastest class of mail in usps. packages are typically delivered faster than first-class mail and can weigh up to 70 pounds, with a maximum combined length and girth of 108 inches. To calculate circumference, measure the distance around the thickest part of the package.

for more definitions, check out our small business shipping terms blog.

How long does a priority mail package take? priority mail packages usually arrive within 1-3 days. For an even faster option on this class of mail, you can opt for Expedited Priority Mail.

priority mail is a domestic service, so it can be transported:

  • within the united states
  • from the united states to
    • us. territories, marshall islands, federal states of micronesia
    • usa. military and diplomatic posts, and the united nations, ny

    Priority Mail is often compared to UPS and FedEx packages that weigh less than 10 pounds and fit in a mailbox. delivered 6 days a week, no additional charge for delivery on Saturdays. Priority mail packages also include insurance, and the amount covered depends on how you purchased the label. retail customers qualify for up to $50 or $100 insurance and manifest shippers who pay with a permit imprint qualify for up to $100.

    learn how to file usps insurance claims on our blog!

    usps priority mail features

    When you use USPS Priority Mail, you get access to additional features for your convenience (most of them at no additional charge).

    • mail packages from any local post office, or simply give prepaid packages to your mail carrier at normal mail delivery time at no extra charge
    • free usps tracking
    • package pickup and pickup-on-demand services available
    • may pay postage with stamps or postage—packages over 13 ounces. postage paid with stamps must be delivered to a local post office employee (note: you cannot use a usps corporate account to pay for priority mail)
    • packages can be forwarded or returned free of charge

    how much does priority mail cost?

    You can ship packages based on weight and dimension, or via priority mail flat rate envelopes. prices for priority mail packages depend on how the mail is packaged.

    Priority Mail packages not shipped in flat rate envelopes (which do not qualify for dimensional weight or lump sum pricing) are charged by zone and weight. the area depends on the origin and destination of the shipment. all fractions are rounded to the nearest whole pound.

    Retail sale of first-class mail packages weighing more than 13 ounces. are automatically shipped at the price of priority mail service. If you have USPS Priority Mail business rates, that maximum for First Class Parcel Service is increased to 15,999 ounces. You can always request that items weighing less than 13 ounces be shipped at the Priority Mail price if you want to add an additional Priority Mail service, but the cost could be almost double.

    flat rate envelope price

    If an item is packaged in a flat-rate envelope or box, the sender pays a fixed price regardless of the item’s weight or destination, up to 70 pounds. For convenience, USPS allows all Priority Mail envelopes smaller than the 12.5″ x 9.5″ Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope to be mailed at the flat rate envelope price (even if the envelope is not technically a flat rate envelope).

    if your items fit in flat rate envelopes or small flat rate boxes, using these free priority shipping will always be cheaper than usps regional rate boxes, regardless of weight and zone. Avoid stuffing as your item will only fit in the flat rate box if the container flaps close and seal within the normal folds.

    To dive deeper into USPS Priority Mail flat rate options and when to use them, read our breakdown here.

    regional rate

    Regional rate service is a combination of the flat rate and zone pricing options. although it requires specially marked boxes, it is a cost-effective method as long as the items fit in the box. Boxes can be ordered for free through USPS and can be delivered to your door.

    The contents of your regional rate box cannot exceed 20 pounds. regional rate boxes (a and b) are the best price when shipping to a lower zone/closer destination. they are intended for small, dense packages that are shipped short distances. If you’re shipping to a higher zone (longer distance), USPS Medium and Large Flat Rate Boxes are the most affordable option.

    Regional Priority Mail rate is a great way to save on shipments weighing less than 20 pounds. Zones are key to taking advantage of the regional rate, as rates vary by zone.

    trade rates

    usps offers commercial pricing at a discounted postage rate. is lower than retail price and is available to qualified shippers (including shippingeasy subscribers, regardless of volume) with annual shipping volume greater than 50,000 units/year.

    However, it is important to note that commercial pricing requires a contractual agreement with USPS.

    commercial rates vs. retail rates

    On average, business rates will save you 17% off the retail price, but can be as high as 40%+ in some cases.


    usps priority mail is a great way for small businesses to ship packages at an affordable price. With discounted business rates, so many different ways to ship, and convenient extra features, Priority Mail makes the process easy for even the most inexperienced mailer. Click below to start a free trial of ShippingEasy today to access USPS commercial rates, easy shipping automation, and award-winning support at your fingertips.


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