Direct Mail

How Long Does Priority Mail Take

By 12 May 2024May 16th, 2024No Comments
how long does priority mail take

How Long Does Priority Mail Take

A Priority Mail will take one to three business days to reach its destination. While posting your package, the receipt provides a tracking number to track Priority Mail items. It is an ideal mailing service for sending time-sensitive shipments. USPS also provides insurance coverage up to $50 and a flat-rate option for some package sizes. However, the delivery speed also highly depends on the distance between the origin and destination.

You can check the USPS website to explore their Priority Mail map to acquire an accurate delivery time estimate. It will only ask you to provide a ZIP code and choose the state you are sending the mail. USPS tries its best to deliver the mail within 3 business days. However, there are no delivery guarantees for First-Class Mail and Priority Mail options. You should go for Priority Mail Express if you want the fastest USPS service.

Key Takeaways

  • Priority Mail is a package delivery service by USPS that provides options for both domestic and international shipments.
  • Users have multiple options to use the USPS Priority Mail service.
  • Priority Mail provides higher convenience, tracking features, and mail forwarding & returns.
  • Users can also purchase additional services like Registered Mail, Certified Mail, Signature Confirmation, Adult Signature, or Insured Mail for better package protection.
  • The USPS website has a Priority Mail map to help users get a delivery estimate time.
  • The prices for Priority Mail start from $7.95 depending on the destination zone and mail weight.

Since its establishment, the USPS has introduced innumerable services to suit the needs of every individual and organization. It is our job to understand these services and know what we need.

how long does priority mail take

First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, and Priority Mail Express are the most popular and commonly used USPS mailing options. But, they all offer different features and are suited for different mail items. Also, their charges vary depending on several factors like mail weight, destination, etc.

In this blog, we will discuss how long does Priority Mail takes. This way, you can decide which option you should choose to send out your mail items.

But, before jumping to its answer, we will cover everything you need to know about Priority Mail, like how it works, pricing, etc.

What Is Priority Mail?

Priority Mail is a package delivery service that enables customers to ship depending on size and weight or via standard-priced boxes and envelopes.

Though it is primarily used to send packages, you can also send letters and postcards that don't fit the First-Class Mail guidelines.

Priority Mail is primarily a domestic mailing option, but you can also mail internationally via Priority Mail International. The pricing differs significantly according to the destination country, but most of the features are the same as domestic.

Priority Mail items are delivered on all days of the week, except Sunday. You also don’t need to pay anything extra for Saturday deliveries.

There are many advantages of Priority Mail as compared to First-Class Mail. For example, First-Class Mail doesn’t let you send anything weighing more than 13 oz. But, you can mail packages up to 70 lbs with Priority Mail.

How long does it take for Priority Mail to arrive?

Well, it takes between one to three business days depending on where you want to send the item.

Thinking about How long is USPS priority mail or how long does priority mail take to deliver?

USPS's Priority Mail service can put your package on a fast track to its destination—and give you peace of mind by including tracking. The name of this service gives it away: Priority Mail is the main delivery service USPS offers. Package pickup is included if you don’t want to take the time to go to the post office.

Thus, Priority Mail provides a cheaper and faster option for customers to send their packages across the country. Furthermore, you can buy additional services like Return Receipts, extra insurance coverage, etc.

Find below some more features of Priority Mail:

  • Unlike First-Class Mail, you can track all Priority Mail items. The receipt you get while posting a package consists of a tracking number.
  • You can return and forward Priority Mail at no extra cost.
  • Postal charges can be paid either via stamps or metered postage.
  • You can request free Package Pickup from home or the office.
  • The USPS gives a $50 insurance coverage on most packages (restrictions apply).
  • Priority Mail rates start at $7.95.

How Does USPS Priority Mail Work?

There is no difference in Priority Mail collection—you can post it the same way as you would for any other mail item. Your options include:

  • Dropping it in a collection box
  • Leaving it at your carrier or mailbox for pickup
  • Taking it to an authorized retailer
  • Handing it over to the clerk at the Post Office

The first two options need you to calculate the postage by yourself. Take care to affix the correct number of stamps or print the correct postage. If you are unsure of the postage, take it to the post office window for accurate calculation. Or you can use the USPS shipping calculator to do the same. 

Once posted, your Priority Mail items are sent to sorting and processing centers. After sorting, the packages are handled depending on the mailing class you selected.

The packages are loaded on a truck for ground shipping or into a plane. After reaching the destination, they are taken to the local Post Office for delivery to the mailing addresses.

How Long Does Priority Mail Take?

To better understand how Priority Mail differs from other available mailing services in the US, please refer to the table below. 

Mailing Service  Delivery Speed  Tracking and Insurance Facility  Suitable for  Additional Features 
First-Class Mail  1 to 3 business days Available  Personal and business purposes. 
  • Delivery confirmation 
  • Package tracking 
  • Additional services at an extra cost 
Priority Mail  1 to 3 business days  Available Perfect for time-sensitive shipments and parcels. 
  • Free USPS packaging 
  • You can get up to $50 insurance coverage.
  • Flat-rate options are also available.
Express Mail  Overnight or 1 to 2 days Available Ideal for urgent and time-critical shipments.
  • Overnight delivery guarantee.
  • Free USPS tracking.
  • You can get up to $100 insurance coverage.
  • Money-back guarantee.
Certified Mail  1 to 3 business days  Available  A great option for vital documents or sensitive material.
  • Proof of mailing and delivery 
  • The recipient’s signature is necessary
  • USPS tracking 
  • You can get up to $5,000 in insurance coverage. 
Media Mail  2 to 8 business days Limited Coverage  The best option for educational or medial-related items. 
  • You will get discounted rates for eligible items.
  • A lower cost for shipping books and media is also available.
  • The delivery speed is slower to help you schedule. 

First-Class Mail 

This service is ideal for both personal and business purposes. It provides an amazing delivery speed of 1 to 3 business days and gives tracking and insurance options. You can also expect delivery confirmation, package tracking, and additional services. 

Priority Mail 

If you want to ship time-sensitive shipments, this is the perfect option. Priority Mail gives you a delivery speed of 1 to 3 business days. You can expect features like USPS tracking, insurance coverage up to $50, and flat-rate options for some package sizes. It is one of the best mailing options to consider when you want fast and reliable delivery. 

Express Mail 

If you want the fastest possible mailing experience, Express Mail guarantees overnight or 1 to 2 days delivery. This mailing service also delivers on weekends and holidays, so you are never out of luck. You can expect features like free USPS tracking, up to $100 insurance coverage, and even a money-back guarantee if it fails to deliver on time. 

Certified Mail 

Certified Mail is the best way to obtain proof of delivery if you are sending a critical document or sensitive material. It requires the recipient’s signature upon delivery to give complete peace of mind. You can expect also features like USPS tracking and up to $5000 insurance coverage in case of loss or damage. 

Media Mail

We recommend this mailing service for shipping educational materials, books, or media-related materials. You can get discounted rates if you have eligible items. Media Mail gives us a cost-effective option for shipping books and media. However, this service has a longer delivery time (2 to 8 business days) and gives limited insurance coverage. 

Advantages of Priority Mail

Senders use Priority Mail because the USPS offers fast shipping and reasonable prices. Also, please note that its rates are cheaper than UPS and FedEx couriers.

Here are more reasons businesses use Priority Mail:

  • Convenience: You can drop off your Priority Mail items at a nearby Post Office or request package pickup. All you need is to ask USPS to send a carrier to your home or office address. The best part is this service is free.
  • Mail forwarding and returns: Priority Mail comes with free mailer forwarding if the addressed recipient has moved to another postal address. Also, USPS returns it to the sender for free whenever a delivery failure happens.
  • Tracking: USPS offers free tracking for Priority Mail items. Thus, senders can check the location whenever needed at no extra charge.

Do You Need a Signature For Priority Mail?

If you don’t buy any add-ons for your package, USPS can deliver the item to anyone present at the address. But, you can purchase services like Registered Mail, Certified Mail, Signature Confirmation, Adult Signature, COD Hold for Pickup, or Insured Mail.

By pairing Priority Mail with any of these services, you can ensure that the mailman delivers the package only when someone is present to sign for it.

Once the recipient signs the receipt, USPS is no longer liable for the package. The postal workers will leave a notice and take the mail item back to the post office if no one is available to receive the same. Sometimes, there are specific instructions on this notice for the recipient—like collecting it from the post office. Otherwise, you can call the USPS office and request redelivery.

If you need to get a copy of the signature, you can opt for a Return Receipt. It is mailed back to you via First-Class Mail, and you can store it as proof of delivery.

How Long Does Priority Shipping Take?

It is advisable to know how long is Priority Mail delivery time is before sending anything via this option. Priority Mail takes within one to three working days from the date of mailing. It depends on the distance between the origin and destination.

The USPS website has a Priority Mail map that helps you get a delivery time estimate. You only need to enter your ZIP code and select the state you are mailing to.

Find below the Priority Mail delivery map to get an idea of the estimated arrival time:

priority mail estimated arrival time

As you can see above, the USPS has divided the entire country into zones. In some zones, the delivery takes no more than one working day. But, you can hardly see a few zones having a 1-day delivery timeframe.

Priority Mail deliveries in most of these zones take three business days. So, always plan your mail arrival keeping the 3-day estimate in mind.

Is Priority Mail guaranteed to arrive in 3 days?

Clearly, no. The one to three-day delivery timeframe is only an estimate. There are no delivery guarantees in First-Class Mail and Priority Mail options. Your mail items may or may not reach the destination within three days, but the USPS does try.

If there isn’t a lot of mail backlog, the USPS workers can complete the delivery in the said time without any issues. Otherwise, you need to wait for a few more days.

Yet, you cannot request a refund if the USPS fails to complete the delivery in the said time. Additionally, if you want a money-back guarantee, you can opt for Priority Mail Express instead.

How Long Does Priority Mail Express Take?

Priority Mail Express is the fastest USPS service and takes between one to two working days to reach its destination. It also offers free tracking and a $100 insurance cover. You can claim a refund if you do not receive the mail by 3 PM on the second day.

The USPS can deliver your mail before 10.30 am the next day for an extra fee. You may also request a Sunday or holiday delivery by paying a small charge.

How Long Does Priority Mail Take to Deliver Internationally?

The answer varies depending on the destination country of your package. Typically, the USPS completes the delivery in six to ten working days.

Why Are Some Priority Mail Deliveries Delayed?

The USPS does not deliver mail on Sundays. Hence, if you mail on a Saturday evening, the item remains at the Post Office until the next working day.

The estimate says that the delivery would take one to three ‘working’ days. So, you cannot count a non-working day while calculating the delivery date.

Also, the USPS does not deliver mail on federal holidays like Labor Day, President’s Day, Veterans Day, etc.

There are other reasons as well for your Priority Mail deliveries to get delayed, like:

  • Backlogs: As said above, the USPS may face some backlogs, especially during peak times like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Bad weather: Bad or severe weather conditions are another prime reason your mail delivery is not completed even after three working days. The USPS advises its customers to please be patient during such difficult times.
  • Incorrect mailing addresses: USPS may fail to deliver your package if you write an incorrect mailing address on it. Sometimes, the USPS may correct a few minor errors, but it doesn’t guarantee delivery. Packages with incorrect addresses are lost, misplaced, returned, or delayed.

You can only avoid such situations by verifying your mailing addresses beforehand. PostGrid’s address verification API can help you standardize and validate your delivery addresses and avoid unnecessary delays.

Priority Mail Delivery Instructions

You can track Priority Mail via the official USPS website. Or you can call the Post Office and provide the tracking number to get a status.

The shipping receipt has the tracking number and other details. You can look up this information and keep it handy for future reference.

Also, the email confirmation carries all the information, which you can use to complete Priority Mail tracking. 

It tells you how long does Priority Mail take and keeps you updated.

Senders can request the USPS to leave their packages at a location, like their address, a friend’s place, or at the Post Office. However, it is only possible when the mailers qualify for delivery instructions. 

You can click ‘Change Delivery Instructions’ on the results page when you track Priority Mail to add the location. If you don’t get the option—chances are your mailer is not eligible.

Here are the reasons Priority Mail items are ineligible for delivery instructions:

Your package left the destination Post Office for the recipient’s address. Adding delivery instructions during the last-mile delivery is not advisable because the carrier cannot take last-minute requests. It is better to inform USPS beforehand, helping the staff arrange your mailer’s arrival at another place.

The sender is an international shipper. Global deliveries are ineligible for delivery instructions. Since the postage, arrival time, and other details depend on the arrival address, changing it can cause delays and issues. Hence, the USPS does not entertain adding requests for sending Priority Mail from an international origin.

An active Intercept order exists. If your package already has other delivery instructions or mail forwarding—USPS won’t let you add more commands. Thus, senders must always decide beforehand where to send their Priority Mail items.

The address is a military (DPO/ APO/ FPO) location. You cannot add delivery instructions or change the mailing address for these packages. Thus, cross-check the place at least twice before mentioning it on your mail items and sending them to the Post Office.

Your package is up for an insurance coverage of $500 or more. The USPS doesn’t take risks with valuable packages. Hence, you can only mention one delivery address on your Priority Mai items with a higher liability cover. Please be careful to use address verification solutions, like PostGrid, to cross-check everything beforehand.

A hold or forward mail request is active. You cannot add delivery instructions when the package or envelope is arriving at another address. Also, it cannot happen when the USPS has got a request to hold the mailer at the Post Office. 

After the request ends, the postal carrier will deliver the mail item to the mentioned address, not the new one.

A delivery signature request exists. Packages with the signature on arrival option cannot go to another address. USPS prohibits changing the postal addresses on these packages because it disrupts the process and makes getting the recipient’s details challenging.

The package has a collect-on-delivery request. The COD option makes sending the mail item to the mentioned address essential. It allows the carrier to meet the addressee and collect the amount without hassles. Changing the address by adding delivery instructions can make it complicated. 

Though some shippers only want to add the landmark or delivery instructions, like ‘leave the package on the porch,’ USPS prohibits it. Thus, add the details in the mailing address and be upfront from the start for COD packages.

First Class Vs. Priority Mail: Which One Is Faster?

Surprisingly, the delivery timeframes of both First-Class Mail and Priority Mail are the same. First-Class Mail also takes between one to three business days to arrive.

The prime difference is the weight limitation; First-Class Mail only allows you to send items up to 13 oz. As discussed earlier, Priority Mail is more flexible and enables you to send packages up to 70 lbs.

Apart from the weight guidelines, tracking and insurance are other features that separate Priority Mail from First-Class Mail.

Also, as the name suggests, Priority Mail is sorted and delivered on a priority basis.

Priority Mail Tracking

You can track your USPS Priority Mail envelopes and boxes by using an online tracking tool. After posting an item, you can find the tracking number on the receipt.

Moreover, you can also call up the USPS office and ask for your delivery status by giving them the tracking number.

If you buy insurance, the tracking number is mentioned in your insurance receipt too.

If you ship something online via, you can track your mail through the confirmation email you receive.

How Much Does Priority Mail Cost?

You can mail packages based on dimensions and weight or through the Priority Mail flat rate envelopes

Furthermore, prices depend on whether you are using the Retail or Commercial option. If you are a regular mailer, you can choose the Commercial option and get some discounts. 

Priority Mail rates start at $7.95 but rise upwards depending on the zone you want to mail to and the mail weight.

Advantages of Considering USPS Priority Mail for Shipping Packages

Blazing Fast, Reliable Delivery 

USPS Priority Mail can deliver shipments within 1 to 3 business days. It is blazing fast, considering the huge size of our country. The service is popular for its consistency and timely deliveries. You can always ensure that your packages reach their destination effectively. 

Free Precise USPS Tracking 

Priority Mail provides you with free online tracking services. It makes it possible to track the progress of your shipments throughout their mailing journey. You can obtain real-time updates through text or email. Both senders and receivers get peace of mind while the package is in transit

Insurance Coverages 

Disasters always come uninformed! Anything can happen to your shipment during transit. Priority Mail gives you insurance coverage of $50 for loss, damage, or missing items. This way, you can ensure good protection for all your shipments. It is also possible to buy additional insurance if you are shipping higher-value items. 

Flat-Rate Options are Also There 

You can also avail of Flat-Rate boxes and envelopes for Priority Mail from your USPS. Individuals and businesses often use specially designed packages at fixed prices irrespective of package weight and destination. It could also be a great option for you if you want to ship heavy or dense items, as the cost will remain the same. 

Package Pickup Facility

You don’t even need to move out of your home or office. USPS provides free pickup service for its Priority Mail shipments. Instead of going to your post office, you can schedule a pick for convenience. You can save a lot of time and effort by avoiding the need to drop the package to a local USPS facility. 

Smooth Delivery to PO Boxes and Military Addresses 

You can easily deliver shipments to PO boxes and military addresses with the help of Priority Mail service. It gives a huge convenience to users who want to deliver packages with these particular address types. USPS ensures much wider coverage and accessibility for various recipients with this service. 

The Availability of Regional Rate Boxes 

USPS also provides Regional Rate Boxes for its Priority Mail service. You can find these boxes in different sizes with lower shipping costs to specific zones or regions. You can save a lot if your shipments are within specific zones by considering Regional Rate Boxes. 

Shipments Even on Saturday

USPS Priority Mail delivers packages even on Saturdays without any additional cost. It could be a blessing, especially for people expecting packages only on weekends. Thus, even individuals busy throughout the week have the full opportunity to get their shipments. 

Proper Return Shipping Solutions 

Using Priority Mail gives you proper arrangements for return shipping. You only need to include pre-paid return labels while shipping your packages. It makes it very convenient for customers to return items if necessary. This way, you can make the overall customer experience smoother. 

Eco-Friendly Options for Delivery 

This facility is highly suitable for environmentally friendly businesses. USPS Priority Mail allows you to use recyclable packing materials and carbon-neutral transit programs. It would help you align your shipping operations with your sustainability goals.


  • What Is USPS Priority Mail?

USPS Priority Mail is among the fastest postal services to send crucial documents, letters, and packages. Senders can use their packaging items or get the flat-rate materials from the Post Office. 

It allows them to send mail items anywhere in the US, irrespective of the distance. They only pay postage for the weight. 

Also, USPS Priority Mail lets them get their items to the intended recipients within one to three business days. Thus, shippers consider it among the best postal solutions next to Express Mail.

  • Does Priority Mail offer helpful features to senders?

Yes. It offers tracking, fast delivery, additional instructions, and other features to shippers. Also, it lets you request a package pickup whenever needed, saving you the unnecessary trip to the Post Office.

  • Is It easy to track Priority Mail?

Yes. You can use the tracking number on the shipping receipt or USPS email confirmation to find the item status. USPS allows you to complete tracking on its website or by calling the Post Office. 

Please secure the shipping details till the item arrives safely at its destination. 

  • Does Priority Mail offer insurance?

Yes. You get insurance coverage of up to $50 for Priority Mail packages and envelopes for no extra costs. 

However, you might buy additional insurance for valuable items with a small charge.

  • Is Priority Mail better than Priority Mail Express?

This answer is subjective. Priority Mail costs less but offers one to three-day shipping. Hence, shippers with a lower budget who need to send less time-critical mailers can use this service. 

However, shippers that can spend more and need urgent or overnight shipping should opt for Priority Mail Express. 

Both services are suitable for different situations, making USPS a reputed mailing organization that offers solutions for everyone.


We hope you were able to get an upfront answer to your questions like how long does USPS Priority Mail take. Priority Mail is an excellent option for individuals and companies to send their packages affordably and speedily. Though it is not guaranteed that your mail will arrive in three days or not, it does most of the time. So, you can continue to ship via Priority Mail without any second guesses.  

If you need help creating, printing, and mailing your items, PostGrid can help you throughout the process. Our direct mail API can help you in the following ways:

  • Design your mail items through our pre-built templates.
  • Get your items printed through a reputed printer.
  • Presort your mail.
  • Verify your mailing addresses.
  • Ship your items via First-Class, Priority Mail, and other options, as needed. 
  • Access delivery reports and campaign insights. 

Want to automate the process of printing and mailing items to your clients, prospects, and customers? Try PostGrid today by requesting a demo. 

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