How to Send a Package: Domestic

Learn how to use USPS® services to send packages (like boxes, tubes, and some large envelopes) inside the U.S. and to U.S. territories and military bases:

  • Send packages directly from your home (or office), using Click-N-Ship® service to do everything you need: Pay for postage, print shipping labels, and even Schedule a Pickup.
  • Or, get a few time-saving tips before you bring your package to a Post Office location.
  • If you just need to find the price of shipping a package, use the Postage Calculator.

How to Send a Package: International

How to Send a Letter or Postcard: Domestic

Send Packages: Step-by-Step Instructions

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Before You Start:

Things You'll Need

  • The name and full address of the person or company you’re sending the package to.
  • Packaging materials (boxes, padding, and tape).
  • A way to pay for postage (if you’re sending from home, you’ll need stamps, or a printer if you’re using Click-N-Ship).
  • Recommended: A kitchen or postage scale (if you’re not using Flat Rate Boxes or Envelopes). Otherwise, you can weigh your package at the Post Office.

You Should Know

  • For some shipping methods, like Media Mail® service or sending live animals, you must bring your package to a Post Office™ counter.
  • You can get free Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail Boxes and Envelopes (even shipped to you for free!), but remember: if you use a Priority Mail box, you have to pay for Priority Mail service.
  • When shipping to U.S. military bases abroad, you’ll pay domestic prices, though you’ll still need to fill out customs forms.

Step 1: Ask, “Can I Send This?”

The maximum weight for a USPS package is 70 lbs. Also, there are some things that you can’t send at all (prohibited) and other things you can only send under certain conditions (restricted). Hazardous materials (HAZMAT) might be prohibited or restricted.

As a rule of thumb, if what you’re sending could harm people or cause damage (like lithium batteries), very carefully check the list of Domestic Shipping Prohibitions, Restrictions, & HAZMAT.

Prohibited Items

Some items are prohibited (completely forbidden): You can’t send them through USPS, so you’ll have to choose another carrier. Prohibited items include:

  • Ammunition, explosives, and fireworks
  • Items containing liquid mercury
  • Alcoholic beverages

Restricted Items

Other items are restricted: You have to follow the rules, stick to any limits, and properly package and label your items. Restricted items include:

  • Lithium batteries (like the ones that come installed inside small electronics, like laptop computers or cell phones) are usually OK to send if the items are new (or a manufacturer-certified repair); if the items are used, they can only be sent via ground transport (can’t go on planes).
  • Perishable items (like plants or food) are generally OK to send as long as they are properly packaged and won’t spoil or leak.
  • Some items have special packaging requirements, or can only be sent via ground transport, like perfumes containing alcohol.

You have to follow all laws and USPS regulations. If you don’t follow the rules, you might face fines, or even criminal penalties.

If you have any questions about what you may ship through USPS, review the restricted and prohibited items list.

See More Details: Domestic Shipping Prohibitions, Restrictions, & HAZMAT

Review USPS Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, & Perishable Mail

Try the HAZMAT Shipping Tutorial

Step 2: Choose a Shipping Service

USPS offers 5 core shipping services for your domestic packages. Start by looking at what you’re sending, then make your decision based on price, speed, and whether you need insurance, tracking, and other extra services.

Compare All USPS Domestic Mail & Shipping Services

Fastest Delivery Speed

Fast air delivery for your most important mail and packages (with some Flat Rate options).

Simple, Affordable, Reliable

Save money shipping packages by ground.

Postcards & Envelopes

Mail, like postcards, letters in small envelopes (up to 3.5 oz), and large envelopes (up to 13 oz).

Only at the Post Office5

Go to the Post Office to ship heavier items like books and educational material.

Priority Mail Express®

Priority Mail®

USPS Ground Advantage

First-Class Mail®

Media Mail®

You're sending something urgent that must arrive next-day or 2-day.1 You need date-certain delivery with a money-back guarantee.2

You're sending important items that need to arrive in 1-3 business days.3

Low rates for packages with expected delivery in 2-5 business days4 (also the primary option for HAZMAT items that can't travel by air).

You're sending a letter envelope (under 3.5 oz) or large envelope (under 13 oz) that's flat and bends easily.

You're sending only books (or other eligible media) and want the most affordable price.

Compare All USPS Domestic Mail & Shipping Services

Choosing a USPS shipping service depends on where it’s going, how much you want to spend, how quickly you want it to arrive, what you’re sending (the contents of the package and its size, shape, and weight), plus any tracking or other special features you want to add.

For example, for packages up to 70 lbs, consider using USPS Ground Advantage, which will take about 2-5 business days to arrive. If it has to arrive faster, you can use Priority Mail Express or Priority Mail service.

See more details and features: Mail & Shipping Services

NOTE: You would also use USPS Ground Advantage if you’re trying to send packages that can’t travel by air because of the contents (such as items that contain HAZMAT or live animals).

Step 3: Pick & Prepare Your Packaging

Whether you’re using a box, padded envelope, or tube, use packaging that doesn't bulge and is strong enough to protect what you’re sending. And accurately measure the size and weight of your package so you can avoid unexpected fees.

Learn how to pack a box. 2:12

Video Description: How to Pack a Box (TXT)

  • Use strong packaging with enough room to add cushioning for fragile items and to prevent items from shifting. Remember: Your package will be going through automated processing machines and sharing space with other packages that could weigh as much as 70 lbs.
  • If you’re reusing a box (be careful: boxes can weaken during shipping), make sure all old logos, barcodes, shipping labels, and addresses are covered or blacked out.
  • Use enough 2-inch-wide packing tape to close and secure all seams. (But please don’t wrap your box in string, cord, or twine, which gets caught in USPS sorting equipment.)
  • Packages can’t be larger than 130” total length (the longest side) + girth (the distance around the package, perpendicular to the length).

Tips for Measuring Packages

Tips for Measuring packages showing different items and how to measure them.

Learn how to measure a package. 2:35

Video Description: How to Measure a Package (TXT)

Pro Tips

  • If you're going to use Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express service, the boxes come in standard sizes and you can get them at your Post Office™ location or order online, free! Order Free Shipping Supplies
  • Include a packing slip or a piece of paper with the recipient’s name and destination address inside the box.
  • Prepare your package before you bring it to the Post Office. If you need packing tape, bring your own or be prepared to buy some at the Post Office.

Step 4: Address Your Package

Please write the address parallel to the longest side of the package, and make sure your return address, the delivery address, and postage will fit on the same side.

TIP: If you'll be printing a shipping label (with postage included), you can use that instead of a separate address label.

Learn how to address a package. 2:18

Video Description: How to Address a Package (TXT)

Address Tips

  • Use a pen or permanent marker.
  • Print neatly using capital letters.

Write Sender Address

Write your address (the “return address”) in the top-left corner. Include the following on separate lines:

  • Your full name or company name
  • Apartment or suite number
  • Full street address
  • City, State, and ZIP+4® Code

Write Delivery Address

Write the delivery address in the center of the label or package (below and to the right of the return address, if possible), using the same format:

  • The recipient’s full name or company name
  • Apartment or suite number
  • Full street address
  • City, State, and ZIP+4® Code

Special U.S. Addresses

Puerto Rico

Some Puerto Rico addresses include an urbanization or community code for a specific area or development. Addresses with an urbanization, abbreviated URB, should be written on 4 lines:

SAN JUAN PR 00926-3232

More Puerto Rico Address Examples

U.S. Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands addresses have the same format as standard addresses. The right abbreviation for this territory is "VI," not "US VI" or "USA VI":

RR 1 BOX 6601
KINGSHILL VI 00850-9802

Military and Diplomatic Mail (APO/FPO/DPO)

Mail to military and diplomatic addresses is treated differently:

  • Do not include the city or country name when you send something to an APO/FDO/DPO address in another country. This keeps your mail out of foreign mail networks.
  • Do include unit and box numbers if they're assigned:

    UNIT 100100 BOX 4120
    FPO AP 96691

More Details on Military Addresses

Step 5: Calculate Postage (& Add Insurance or Extra Services)

Postage is the price you pay to send something (plus any extra services you might buy). It will depend on a few things; you can use the USPS Postage Calculator to see how much you'll need to pay.

You can pay for postage at a Post Office; use stamps (you might need a lot); or in many cases, even buy postage online at (and print it yourself) using Click-N-Ship® service.

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

Postage will depend on how far your package is going and the service you’re using. It also depends on the package’s size and weight, unless you're using a flat rate option for Priority Mail Express or Priority Mail service.

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

How to Pay for Postage

You can pay for postage a few ways:

  • At the Post Office Counter: A retail associate will weigh your package, help you choose a shipping method, and tell you how much postage will cost. After you pay, they’ll print the postage and put it on your package.
  • At a Self-Service Kiosk: The kiosk machine will walk you through the steps of weighing your package, paying for postage (using a credit, debit, or EBT card), printing the postage and attaching it to your package, and placing it in the drop-off bin.
  • Using stamps: You can use any combination of stamps or printed postage that adds up to your total postage price. (You might need a lot of stamps, unless you’re using higher-value stamps.) You can buy stamps at a Post Office Counter or Approved Postal Providers like grocery and drug stores. You can also shop online for all stamps at The Postal Store®.
  • Use Click-N-Ship service: You can pay online for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express postage (and when you use enhanced Click-N-Ship service, you can buy Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and USPS Ground Advantage postage at lower Commercial Rates); then, you can:
    • Print your shipping label on your own printer. (You don’t need special label sticker paper; you can use regular printer paper—just tape the printed label to your package with clear packing tape.)
    • Or, you can use the Label Broker® feature, where you’ll get a QR code that you can take (with your package) to participating Post Office locations. The retail associate at the counter will accept your package, print the label, and send it on its way.
    • Or, when you use enhanced Click-N-Ship service, for $1.25 per label, we’ll print the mailing label and deliver it to you.

Additional Fees:

If your package is bigger than 1 cubic foot (12”x12”x12”, or 1,728 cubic inches) in volume, “dimensional weight” (DIM weight) may apply. If you’re required to pay the DIM weight rate and you don’t, you’ll be charged an additional fee.

If your package exceeds certain measurements, you’ll also pay an extra, nonstandard size fee.

Additional Package Fees

Add-On Services

If you want insurance, proof of delivery, signature services, or other optional services, you’ll have to pay extra.

  • Certified Mail®: Get proof that you shipped your item and that the recipient signed for it.
  • Registered Mail®: USPS’s most secure shipping service—items are processed by hand, handled separately and securely, and signed for along every step of its journey. This takes longer, and you won’t get tracking updates. The recipient must sign for the package to confirm delivery (or attempted delivery).
  • Return Receipt: You’ll get a printed or emailed delivery record showing the recipient’s signature. You can combine Return Receipt with other services, including Certified Mail, Registered Mail, Priority Mail Express® service, and more.
  • Adult Signature Required: Only an adult (age 21+) can sign for the item after showing a showing a valid government ID.

Find more details on Insurance & Extra Services.

Step 6: Ship Your Package

How you can ship your package depends on a few things, like how heavy/thick it is and if you used stamps or not. If your package is less than one-half inch thick and weighs less than 10oz, you can use postage stamps and drop off your package by:

  • Putting it in your mailbox for carrier pickup.
  • Dropping it in a blue collection box or Post Office lobby drop-off box.
  • Requesting a free pickup.

If your package uses stamps and is more than one-half inch thick or weighs more than 10 oz, you must take it to a Post Office counter and give it to the Retail Associate at the counter.

If you printed the postage using Click-N-Ship or at a USPS kiosk, you can use any method to drop off your packages.

NOTE: If your stamped package is thicker than one-half inch or heavier than 10 oz—if you put it in your mailbox for pickup, the carrier will leave it. If you drop it in a blue collection box or Post Office lobby mail receptacle, it will be returned to you.

Schedule a Package Pickup

When you’re ready to send your package, USPS will come to your address to pick it up! Save time—Schedule a Pickup online:

  • Pick up during regular mail delivery (free!): USPS will pick up eligible packages for free.
  • Pickup On Demand® (premium paid service): For a fee, you can select a 2-hour period for the Post Office to pick up your packages.

Bonus: Package Postage Pro Tips

Don’t get tripped up on postage—follow our tips and avoid some of the most common mistakes people make when they send packages:

  • Make sure the weight is accurate: Use a kitchen scale or postal scale (not a bathroom scale), or have your package weighed at the Post Office. Include the weight of everything, including packing materials.
  • Round up on weights: Some USPS products round up to the ounce, while others round up to the pound. For example, if you’re sending a Priority Mail package that weighs 5 lbs 2 oz, you would round up to the pound and pay the 6 lb-rate.
  • Check the dimensions. If you’re using your own packaging, dimensional (DIM) weight may apply, so always enter your package’s dimensions in the USPS Price Calculator to ensure you’re paying enough for postage.
  • Use the correct package label. Make sure the label you’re using matches the packaging. (For example, if you use a Priority Mail Mailing Box or Envelope, you must pay the Priority Mail rate. Also, the only way to get Priority Mail Flat Rate pricing is to use a USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Mailing Box or Envelope.)

1. For many major markets. Average number of days based on origin and destination. Back ^ to legal disclaimer 1
2. Exceptions apply. For details, visit the Domestic Mail Manual. Back ^ to legal disclaimer 2
3. In most cases, the expected delivery date printed on your receipt or provided at checkout will reflect a delivery time of 1, 2, or 3 business days and is based on origin, destination, and drop-off time. The expected delivery date does not come with a money-back guarantee. Back ^ to legal disclaimer 3
4. For mailable items up to 70 lbs. Expected delivery in 2–5 business days. Packages going to certain places (including Alaska, Hawaii, and offshore destinations), or containing hazardous materials or live animals may receive slower service. Back ^ to legal disclaimer 4
5. Not eligible for online shipping with Click-N-Ship or PC Postage third-party vendors. Back ^ to legal disclaimer 5