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Postal Pointers: USPS answers top five mailing questions

August 7, 2013
By KATHLEEN SWANSON , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The U.S. Postal System receives many questions about the mail. Here are the top five questions and answers.

- What's the ZIP Code for this address?

You're right to ask, because every piece of mail needs a ZIP Code. Don't guess at the number, or leave it off - no ZIP Code, or the wrong one, could delay delivery. To find a ZIP Code, just go to the Postal Service web site - and click on "Find a ZIP Code." Or, you can call 800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777).

- How much postage do I need for my package?

The answer depends on the weight of the parcel, the distance it will travel, and how fast it goes. Your local Post Office can weigh your parcel and compare services and prices for you. If you already know how much your parcel weighs, you can go to and hit "Calculate Postage." And while you're on line, you can use Click-N-Ship service to print shipping labels, with or without postage. Go to and look under "Shipping Tools" for "Click-N-Ship." If you choose our convenient flat rate packaging, there is no need to calculate postage.

- How long will it take for a letter to go to?

Generally, items sent via First-Class Mail to an address in your local delivery area should arrive the next day. Mail destined for addresses within 400-600 miles generally is delivered in two days. Coast-to-coast service, on average, is accomplished within three days.

- How big (or small) can my piece of mail be?

Parcels tend to be the biggest items mailed, and they cannot weigh more than 70 pounds. Except for Standard Post items, parcels cannot be more than 108 inches in combined length and "girth" (circumference). Standard Post packages mailed at the "oversized rate" can be no more than 130 inches in combined length and girth. As for the smallest mailable item, all mail must be at least 0.007 inch thick, at least 3 1/2 inches high, 5 inches long, and rectangular in shape.

- How late can I mail a letter to get today's postmark?

Schedules vary by Post Office. If you are mailing your letter at the Post Office, ask the Sales Associate for the last pickup time. The last pickup time is posted on all street collection boxes. Mail your letter prior to the designated time to get today's postmark.

For answers to many other frequently asked mailing questions, get a copy of A Customer's Guide to Mailing. Stop by your local Post Office or get a copy online at

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations

Kathleen Swanson is a spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Service.



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