The U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the United States. The Postal Service delivers to nearly 153 million homes, businesses and PO box addresses. These tips from a postal worker who cares will help you properly address your mail, ship packages, track your mail, send mail out of the country and forward your mail when you move.
What’s in an Address?
I see many cards, letters and packages every day that don’t get where they are going because of a bad address. My company processes and delivers about 523 million pieces of mail each day, according to USPS.com. Most of the mail is processed by machine, not by hand. If the machine can’t read the address or it’s not a valid address, your mail won’t make it where it’s going. A return address helps mail without a valid address be returned to sender. The address of the person sending the mail should always be written in the top left hand corner of the letter or package. The address of the person receiving the mail goes in the center of your letter or package. Be sure to write the name, street address or box number, city, state and zip code in that order for both addresses.
Box It Up and Pack It Well
When you’re mailing something thicker than 1/2 inch, don’t try to stuff it into a flat envelope. I know it’s cheaper to send an envelope than a package, but merchandise put into envelopes is often damaged by the machine process. Using a padded envelope or box instead of an envelope means your package will arrive in one piece, instead of coming to me in lots of little pieces. Be sure to add bubble wrap, shredded paper, styrofoam peanuts or other packaging material to protect the contents from damage. Use tape, not string, to close your box.
If It’s Important, Track it
I know everyone wants to save money, but anything important should be sent with tracking. Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail and Standard Mail parcels all come with free tracking. Letters and large envelopes can be tracked using Certified Mail. Consider purchasing insurance for anything of value. Be sure to hold onto the receipt until the item is delivered. We can only track your mail with the article number.
Shipping Across the Ocean: It’s Not the Same
It costs the same to mail to someone deployed in the military as mailing to someone in the U.S., but it’s a little more expensive to send to a non-military person living in a foreign country. Packages going overseas or to military APO, FPO or DPO addresses require a customs form. On the customs form, you need to fill out a detailed list of the contents, including weight and value of each item. If you don’t plan ahead, you might have to open your box at my counter to fill out the customs form. Check USPS.com for nonmailable items and country-specific listings of items which are forbidden to be mailed to your destination.
Tell Us When You Move
Tell us where you’re going before you move and we’ll forward your important mail to your new home. Mail forwarding is provided for free for 12 months for First Class Mail, Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. If you move without filling out a change of address form, your mail will be returned to sender. Most standard mail, including catalogs and advertising mail, can’t be forwarded or returned to sender, unless the mailer requests and pays for the service.
Most postal workers are like me. We want to help you send and receive mail without delays. Spend a little extra time preparing your cards, letters and packages and your mail will arrive at its destination, making all of us happy. Learn more about our pricing and products at USPS.com.