Sending Packages

Preparing Domestic Shipments

Send domestic packages easily with USPS®. Properly preparing your boxes will get them where they’re going on time and save you money.

For how to send a letter or postcard, see Sending Mail.

For mail and packages sent from and to the U.S., see Preparing International Shipments.

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How to Ship a Package

Step 1: Pack Your Box

How to pack your items starts with choosing the right box. You want a box that will close flat when full but hold enough padding to protect your contents. Boxes cost less to mail if they can be processed using automated mail-processing equipment.

Size & Weight Determine Price

If your package can’t fit through processing equipment, it will cost you more to send. Properly measure your packages and prepare them with the correct materials so they don’t bulge or get stuck. Do not use cord, string, or twine because they get caught in equipment.

Preparing Your Box

Pack your box to protect your contents and to make sure the box arrives intact.

  • Use a sturdy box with enough room to add cushioning for fragile items and to prevent items from shifting.
  • Tape your box so that it closes flat on all sides and reinforce the flaps with 2-inch wide packing tape.
  • If you’re reusing a box, make sure all old logos, shipping labels, and addresses are covered or blacked out.

NOTE: Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express come with free boxes you can pick up at your Post Office® or order online.

Order Shipping Supplies

Restricted & Prohibited Items

Many items such as perfumes, alcoholic beverages, and dry ice have mailing restrictions or are prohibited. If you have any questions about what you may ship through USPS, review the restricted and prohibited items list.

Restricted & Prohibited Items

Step 2: Address Your Package

The address format for a box is the same as for envelopes. Write or print address labels clearly. Use ink that doesn’t smear and include your return address and ZIP Codes for you and your recipient.

Address Format

Package addresses should be formatted the same way as envelope addresses.

  • Put both sender and recipient addresses on the same side of the box.
  • Use permanent marker for handwritten addresses.

Step 3: Choose a Mail Service

The best way to send your package depends on how quickly you want it to arrive and its size and weight. USPS has a variety of mail services, different delivery speeds, package sizes, and extras like tracking and insurance.

Packages can be sent using Priority Mail Express®, Priority Mail®, First-Class Package Service-Retail™, USPS Retail Ground®, and Media Mail®.

There are several things to consider when choosing a shipping service.

  • Package contents
  • Destination
  • Speed
  • Shape, size, and weight
  • USPS Tracking®
  • Special handling and insurance
  • Delivery confirmation receipts
Mail & Shipping Services

Shipping Labels

Postal labels show mail handlers and carriers the mail service and extra services you purchase.

Postal Service Shipping Labels

Match the label to the mail service you buy. For example, FRAGILE labels should only be used if you paid the applicable fee for the USPS® Special Handling-Fragile service at a Post Office location.

Special Handling Details

Shipping Insurance

For particularly valuable items, you can insure your package for up to $5,000. You can also purchase a delivery confirmation service such as Certified Mail® to verify your package’s arrival.

Insurance & Extra Services

Step 4: Calculate & Apply Postage

Correct postage helps your packages arrive on time. Shipping costs depend on several factors. You can enter your package information into the USPS Postage Calculator to get postage prices for different services.

Whether you are using stamps or printed postage, postage goes in the top-right corner of your package.

Postage Calculator

Make sure you're not underpaying on postage. When a package is sent without enough postage, it may be returned to you or the person receiving it may need to pay the difference.

The USPS Price Calculator wizard will show you how to measure your package and calculate your domestic postage costs for you.

Calculate a Price

Postage Options

There are several ways to get postage for your package.

  • The Postal Store®
    Shop online for all stamps and ad-on postage for oversized envelopes.
  • Click-N-Ship®
    Print and pay for your own postage for Priority Mail® and Priority Mail Express® envelopes.
  • Post Office® Locations
    Buy stamps at Post Offices or at Approved Postal Providers® such as grocery and drug stores.

Step 5: Ship Your Package

Where to mail your box depends on its size and where you live. You can request free package pickups, drop small packages in a blue collection box, visit the Post Office®, or leave your box with an Approved Postal Provider®.

If your package is less than one-half inch thick and weighs less than 10 oz, you may use postage stamps and do one of the following:

  • Put it in your mailbox for carrier pickup.
  • Drop it in a blue collection box or Post Office lobby mail slot.
  • Request a free pickup.

If your package is more than one-half inch thick or weighs more than 10 oz and you’re using postage stamps, you must take it to a Post Office retail counter to send it. You may also use the Post Office Self-Service Kiosk to buy stamps and drop your package in the lobby package slot.
NOTE: If you put a large package in your mailbox for pickup service, the carrier will leave it. If you drop it in a blue collection box or Post Office lobby mail slot, it will be returned to you.

Schedule a Package Pickup

Save time sending your packages with USPS package pickups.

  • Free Package Pickup
    Package Pickup during regular mail delivery is free regardless of the number of items scheduled for pickup. USPS usually picks up your package on the next delivery day or another designated day.
  • Pickup on Demand®
    If you want your packages picked up at a specific time, for a fee, the Post Office will pick up your shipment within a scheduled 2-hour period.
Schedule a Pickup