How Long Will Mail Take From Zip Code To Zip Code?

Category: General Tips

Last updated October 3rd, 2023

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is one of the largest logistical service providers in the world. The USPS is a part of the US government and is responsible for providing mailing services throughout the entire US. Additionally, USPS provides logistical services worldwide.

Despite the rise of competitors, USPS remains one of the most popular postal services in the United States. USPS can ship almost anything you want to the location you desire and have recently implemented many new cutting-edge technologies to deliver your mail and packages faster than ever before.

As a consumer, one of the most pressing concerns is USPS mail delivery time. Whether you are mailing an in-kind donation letter or sending a note to say you no longer need someone’s services, you want to know how much time it will take for your mail to arrive at the desired location.

For people who are curious, “will mail be delivered today”, USPS delivery times can vary greatly depending on the zip code you live in and the zip code you are sending the mail to; luckily, there are many USPS ship time maps that make it easy to predict when a package will arrive. Regardless, the primary variables are the distance between the two locations and the size of the mail or package you are sending.

I’ve done the research to keep you informed. This article will dive into the various variables that impact the United State Postal Service mail delivery time. After reading this article, you will know exactly how long to get mail to arrive at its destination.

Understanding ZIP Codes

The first step in understanding USPS mail delivery time is learning about ZIP codes. ZIP codes are postal codes used by the USPS to sort and route mail efficiently. The USPS sorts mail by ZIP code and then delivers it to the correct post office for that area. The term ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan. 

Zip Codes have five digits, followed by an additional optional four digits for “ZIP+4”.  The first digit represents a group of states.

  • 0 = Connecticut (CT), Massachusetts (MA), Maine (ME), New Hampshire (NH), New Jersey (NJ), New York (NY, Fishers Island only), Puerto Rico (PR), Rhode Island (RI), Vermont (VT), Virgin Islands (VI), Army Post Office Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East (APO AE); Fleet Post Office Europe and the Middle East (FPO AE)
  • 1 = Delaware (DE), New York (NY), Pennsylvania (PA)
  • 2 = District of Columbia (DC), Maryland (MD), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC), Virginia (VA), West Virginia (WV)
  • 3 = Alabama (AL), Florida (FL), Georgia (GA), Mississippi (MS), Tennessee (TN), Army Post Office Americas (APO AA), Fleet Post Office Americas (FPO AA)
  • 4 = Indiana (IN), Kentucky (KY), Michigan (MI), Ohio (OH)
  • 5 = Iowa (IA), Minnesota (MN), Montana (MT), North Dakota (ND), South Dakota (SD), Wisconsin (WI)
  • 6 = Illinois (IL), Kansas (KS), Missouri (MO), Nebraska (NE)
  • 7 = Arkansas (AR), Louisiana (LA), Oklahoma (OK), Texas (TX)
  • 8 = Arizona (AZ), Colorado (CO), Idaho (ID), New Mexico (NM), Nevada (NV), Utah (UT), Wyoming (WY)
  • 9 = Alaska (AK), American Samoa (AS), California (CA), Guam (GU), Hawaii (HI), Marshall Islands (MH), Federated States of Micronesia (FM), Northern Mariana Islands (MP), Oregon (OR), Palau (PW), Washington (WA), Army Post Office Pacific (APO AP), Fleet Post Office Pacific (FPO AP)

The second and third digits represent the sectional center facility (SCF), which serves as a processing and distribution center for mail. If the SCF serves multiple states, the same SCF is given a unique two digit code for each state it serves. The fourth and fifth digits represent the specific area within that metropolitan area or rural region.

For example, Zip Code 94043 is for Mountain View, California. The first digit (9) represents the western region of the country, the second and third digits (40) represent the San Francisco SCF, and the last two digits (43) represent the specific area of Mountain View represented by the zip code.

You can use the USPS website to look up Zip Codes for any location in the United States. Just enter the city and state, and USPS will provide you with the correct Zip Code.

Postal Barcode

To expedite the USPS mail delivery time, the USPS uses postal barcodes. These barcodes identify and direct your mail to its desired location.

Postnet Barcode

A postal barcode has 32 bars. The bars represent the delivery point, city, and state information, and the USPS uses these barcodes to sort and route mail automatically.

Factors that Affect How Long Mail Travels between Zip Codes

Now that you understand how Zip Codes and postal barcodes work, it’s time to dive into the various factors impacting USPS transit times. These factors include:

  • The type of mail you are sending
  • The size of the mail or package
  • The distance between the two zip codes
  • The time of year/holidays

These factors can have a tremendous impact on mail delivery standards

Type of Mail You Are Sending

One of the primary factors determining USPS mail delivery time is the type of mail you are sending. The USPS offers a variety of services with different delivery times, including other bulk mailing services. The three most popular USPS services are:

  • First Class Mail
  • Priority Mail
  • Express Mail

First Class Mail is the USPS’s standard mailing service. You can use First Class Mail delivery for postcards, letters, large envelopes, and small packages. The USPS considers anything that weighs 13 ounces or less to be a small package. Sending First Class Mail letters is the least expensive of the USPS shipping options, and 1st Class mail time is also the quickest of all their services.

From their service standards, the USPS does not guarantee delivery time for their First Class Mail service. However, for those wondering “how long does regular mail take”, one of the First Class Mail features is delivery typically within a 3 to 5 day window.

Priority Mail is the USPS’s expedited mailing service. You can use Priority Mail for packages that weigh more than 13 ounces. For people wondering “how fast is Priority Mail”, USPS’s priority mail time frame guarantees delivery within two to three days. The USPS Priority Mail time map can be used to calculate expected delivery times, as well.

Express Mail is the USPS’s fastest mailing service. You can use Express Mail for packages that need to be delivered quickly. The USPS guarantees overnight delivery for Express Mail, even for USPS delivery times on Saturday.

It’s important to note that USPS does not guarantee delivery on Sundays or holidays.

The Size of the Mail or Package

Another factor that affects USPS mail delivery time is the size of the mail or package you send. Generally, larger items will take longer to ship than smaller items.

The USPS has different shipping options for different-sized packages. For example, USPS offers a First-Class Package Service for small packages weighing less than 15.99 ounces. These packages will typically be delivered within two to three days.

USPS also offers a Priority Mail service for packages weighing more than 15.99 ounces. These packages will typically be delivered within one to three days.

Distance Between the Two Zip Codes

The distance between the two zip codes is another factor that can affect USPS mail delivery time. Mail will take longer to travel between two distant zip codes than it will to travel between two close zip codes, obviously, so this will make mailman delivery times by zip code differ.

USPS divides the United States into nine different zones. The closer you are to the center of one of the USPS shipping zones, the less time it will take for your mail to be delivered.

For example, if you are sending mail from New York to Florida, your mail will travel through USPS Zone 8. If you send mail from California to Arizona, your mail will travel through USPS Zone 5.

Time of Year/Holidays

The USPS is typically busiest during the holiday season. This means that USPS mail delivery times will be slower during this time.

If you are sending mail during the holiday season, it’s essential to plan and allow extra time for your mail to be delivered. The USPS recommends shipping packages at least one week before Christmas Day.

What Time Does the Mail Come in My Zip Code?

For those wondering, “is mail being delivered today”, unfortunately, there is no USPS mail time estimator available on their website. However, there are general timeframes that we can assume most packages will fall under.

  • The average USPS estimated shipping time usually takes anywhere from three to four days for standard mail delivery.
  • The amount of time this takes can go down if you use priority or priority express mail. However, if you are mailing within the same zip code, your mail could arrive as soon as the next day.  

So… How Long Does USPS Take to Deliver?

If you want to ensure that the Postal Service delivers mail when you need it, it is essential to follow the proper format when addressing your envelopes. This includes using the proper postal address on the letter or package. 

If you’re curious about the mail delivery time from zip code to zip code, you can estimate using the zip code zones available on the USPS website. However, a far more accurate method is to use a delivery time calculator. This will take into account the distance as well as the type of service you are using. 

USPS Transit Times

There are quite a few different types of mail that USPS can send and different services they offer, which can make it pretty confusing when trying to understand mail transit times, including

  • How long does first class mail take?
  • How long does a letter take to mail?
  • How long does mail take to deliver?

Luckily, we’ve put together USPS’s estimated transit times for their different services, both for domestic mail and international mail.

USPS Domestic Transit Times

Service Delivery Time Details
Priority Mail Express Overnight to 2 days Fastest domestic service, available 365 days a year
Priority Mail 1-3 business days Fast service, flat rate shipping available
First-Class Mail 1-5 business days Affordable mail service for standard-sized and single-piece envelopes
USPS Ground Advantage 2-5 business days Reliable and economical way to ship less-than-urgent deliveries and oversized packages
Media Mail 2-8 business days Cost-effective way to send media and educational materials

USPS International Transit Times

Service Delivery Time Details
Global Express Guaranteed 1-3 business days Fastest and most reliable international service
Priority Mail Express International 3-5 business days Fast and reliable international delivery to more than 190 countries
Priority Mail International 6-10 business days Reliable and affordable international delivery to more than 190 countries
First-Class Package International Service Varies by destination Affordable international service for packages up to 4 lbs
First-Class Mail International Varies by destination Affordable way to send postcards and letters
Airmail M-Bags Varies by destination Economical way to send large amounts of printed material

USPS Delivery Times by Zip Code

When trying to determine mail delivery times by address, using the zip code calculator is the best way to calculate direct mail delivery time. It is very easy to use these tools. You need three pieces of information: the origin zip code, the destination zip code, and the type of service you are using to send the mail/package. 

Screenshot from USPS zip code calculator web site

After entering this information, the calculator will do the rest. Using a zip code calculator is the best way to ensure that your snail mail arrives on time.  

If you are unsure about your zip code, you can use this zip code map to locate the origin and destination zip codes. Remember, this is an estimate, and your mail may arrive sooner to later than expected. 

International Zip Code Calculators

If you are shipping internationally, you will need to identify the international zip code. All countries use a similar zip code system for delivering mail. You can find international zip codes by google the destination country. Google maps can also provide the destination zip code for certain locations.

After you have identified an international zip code, you write it in the same way that you would write an American zip code. This information is particularly important if you are running direct mail campaigns. You wouldn’t want your mail to go to the wrong place or to waste your money on the wrong postal rates

USPS Mail Alternatives

If you’d rather go down a different path and are considering straying away from USPS – perhaps the USPS timing of when your mail would ship is just not quick enough – we’ve put together a list of a few alternatives to make your life easier.

  1. Pitney Bowes: A global technology company that provides commerce solutions in the areas of e-commerce, shipping, mailing, and financial services. They partner with carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx to provide shipping services.
  2. FedEx: An American multinational delivery services company known for its overnight shipping service and pioneering a system that could track packages and provide real-time updates on package location.
  3. UPS (United Parcel Service): One of the largest package delivery companies worldwide, UPS provides a variety of services, including express parcel delivery, freight forwarding, and logistics services.
  4. DHL: A division of the German logistics company Deutsche Post, DHL provides international express mail services. DHL is a world market leader in sea and air mail.
  5. Amazon Delivery Service Partners: Amazon partners with small and medium-sized businesses to deliver its packages. It provides businesses with access to their warehousing and logistics infrastructure.
  6. Aramex: A Dubai-based company that provides logistics and transportation solutions, including express parcel delivery, freight forwarding, supply chain management, and e-commerce solutions.
  7. Sendle: A carbon-neutral shipping service designed for small businesses. They offer flat-rate shipping and easy drop-off options.
  8. ShipStation: A web-based shipping solution that streamlines the order fulfillment process for online retailers. ShipStation integrates with USPS, UPS, and FedEx for domestic and international shipping.
  9. An American company that provides Internet-based mailing and shipping services. is a public company and a leading provider of Internet-based postage services.
  10. UPS WorldShip: A full-service shipping software that can integrate with your existing business operations. It allows you to streamline the shipping process and provides access to powerful features for tracking and managing shipments.

Important USPS Resources in One Place

Wrap Up

As you can see, the amount of time it takes for your mail to be delivered is impacted by various factors. The Postal Service mail delivery time is primarily affected by the distance your snail mail needs to travel and the package size you are sending.

With the information in this article, you can rest assured that you will know precisely how long it will take for your mail or package to arrive at your desired location. Don’t forget to use a delivery time calculator if you want a specific estimate for when your handwritten note will be delivered.

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