Direct Mail

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

By 31 March 2024April 30th, 2024No Comments
folded self mailers mail delivery time

Mail Delivery Time: How Long Does It Take From Zip Code To Zip Code?

The USPS or United States Postal Service is one of the biggest postal service providers in the whole world. With a postal delivery system that works around the clock every single day, USPS is popular for its ability to deliver. Regardless of the size or shape of your package, USPS never fails to deliver something from point A to point B. Furthermore, USPS has witnessed so many drastic changes in the industry and played an active role in the transformation of postal delivery.

folded self mailers mail delivery time

From delivering mail on horseback to integrating automated solutions for sending mail, USPS has truly evolved over the years. One thing that has remained constant throughout the years is the user’s question about mail delivery time from zip code to zip code.

It is natural for the sender of direct mail to want to know when their postal mail will be delivered to the addressee. The answer to this question can vary based on the type of mail the sender has chosen along with other factors.

The standard mail delivery time from zip code to zip code can vary depending on different aspects of a mailer. Two major factors that can affect the delivery time are the distance between the two locations and the size of the mail.

When talking about ZIP Code to ZIP Code delivery time, you also need to consider the different types of ZIP Codes. You first need to know how ZIP code works to understand why the mail delivery time from zip code to zip code varies for different mailers.

Furthermore, the USPS postal system classifies mailpieces into different segments based on their delivery speed. Some of the major segments used in direct mail include:

  • First-Class Mail
  • Priority Mail
  • Priority Mail Express
  • Marketing Mail Express

As we read along, the article elaborates on the delivery period for the different types of mailers. Additionally, we will also address questions like “How long does regular mail take from state to state?” and much more.

Understanding ZIP Codes

ZIP Code is a postal code system used by the USPS for addresses inside the United States. USPS's ZIP code system enables them to make faster and more accurate mail deliveries. The ZIP Code on every USPS package denotes the location and it is addressed using a 9-digit code.

The ZIP Code alone can explain which state, city, and locality the direct mail is addressed to when considering a package. While the basic ZIP code format only has five digits, the full ZIP code has nine digits, including the ZIP+4 Code.

Mailpieces with a full nine-digit ZIP code are easier to sort based on their destination and speed up the mailing process. In addition, businesses often make use of advanced tools like PostGrid to find the ZIP+4 code of the addresses. This way, companies can ensure the timely delivery of their postal mails.

The first digit of the nine-digit full ZIP Code signifies a specific group of US States. For example, the ZIP codes starting with 0 belongs to an address in a specific state. ZIP codes starting with zero could belong to a pre-defined group of states.

Hence, any address starting with 0 is destined to go to one of the states in that group. Similarly, the second and third digits are used to narrow down to districts inside a state. And finally, the fourth and fifth digits of the ZIP Code simplify the group even further and narrow it down to specific regions.

Postal Barcode

Although ZIP Codes are used to quickly sort and transport postal mails, they are usually translated to intelligent barcodes first. You may wonder why the ZIP Code needs to be translated to barcodes. This is because using a barcode makes the whole process much more accessible and convenient for USPS.

The intelligent barcode is printed and pasted on the package, and this is often done by the Post Office itself. USPS usually uses OCR technology for punching the barcode. However, the sender can themselves print the barcode if they choose to do so.

But, printing the barcode by themselves is not preferred if the sender is an individual because they can not access OCR technology. On the other hand, businesses that send out bulk postal mails can access discounts if they print the barcodes themselves.

Most businesses often employ direct mail service providers like PostGrid for printing and mailing their packages. Outsourcing their print and mail process gives firms access to printers already compliant with the rules and regulations.

:bulb: Also Read: Zip Code Validation

Four Types of ZIP Codes

There are four different types of ZIP codes to which the USPS delivers. The mail delivery time from zip code to zip code may vary depending on the specific locality you are sending the mailer. Therefore, you must understand the four types of ZIP codes deliverable by the USPS.

Listed below are the four major ZIP code types deliverable by the USPS.

1. Unique ZIP Code:

The unique ZIP codes are not the most common ZIP codes that all of us are familiar with. This type of ZIP code is assigned to a single high-volume address like big companies or businesses. Governmental agencies and universities may also be given unique ZIP codes.

2. Post Office Box Only ZIP Code:

The PO-Box Only ZIP Code is what its name suggests. These are ZIP Codes given only to unique PO boxes. This means that every PO box has a unique ZIP+4 code.

3. Military ZIP Codes:

Military ZIP Codes are used to denote military bases scattered all around the country and even outside it. You may come across military bases that are stationary or some that move around. Furthermore, there is a good chance that this type of ZIP Codes overlaps geographically with other ZIP Codes.

4. Standard ZIP Codes:

The standard ZIP code is the one we are all familiar with, and most direct mails fall under this category. Almost every address except for the ones we have mentioned above gets assigned with a standard ZIP code.

Factors to Consider While Estimating Delivery Time

Several factors can affect the time required for delivering direct mail. Some of these factors are consistent or predictable, like the distance between two ZIP Codes. But, at the same time, other factors such as possible breakdowns and system malfunctions are unpredictable.

There is little you can do about unpredictable factors such as possible breakdowns and system malfunctions. However, some factors can potentially cause the direct mail deliveries to be slowed, which can be avoided if you plan. Some of the factors that can potentially slow down direct mail deliveries are listed below:

Federal Holidays:

Federal holidays are a busy time for the people at USPS, especially during the Christmas holidays. With their offices literally filling up with letters and postcards, it is probably the USPS's busiest time of the year.

Therefore, you must expect rather long delays during holidays or peak season. However, as long as you are mindful of the possible delays, you can effectively plan for such situations. The best approach, in this case, is to schedule and send the mail early to avoid delays.

Direct Mail Backlogs:

USPS is the biggest postal service provider in the United States. Hence it is not hard to imagine the bulk quantity of mailers they deal with daily. So, from time to time, USPS may experience some backlogs.

However, these backlogs often coincide with the holiday season, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Therefore, the solution here is to minimize direct mail sent out during peak seasons and plan early.


Distance is the first thing that should come to your mind when we talk about factors that affect direct mail delivery time. But sometimes, the distance itself and the inaccessibility to rural areas affects the delivery time and causes delays.

You can better understand delivery times of specific locations by going to the USPS website and checking for local mail delivery times. Furthermore, this data comes directly from USPS. Hence, it is the most reliable delivery time data that you can get your hands on.

Standard Mail Delivery Time From Zip Code To Zip Code

If you go online and search for “mail delivery time calculator”, you can find numerous relevant results. In most cases, all you have to do is enter the destination's ZIP Code, and you will get a delivery date. However, the accuracy of these calculators is not necessarily top-of-the-line.

As far as mail delivery time calculators go, your best option is to go for USPS's delivery time calculator. This is because USPS's calculator offers the most accurate data concerning the delivery time. However, the actual delivery time of the mailer can vary depending on multiple factors such as distance.

Standard mail usually takes around 3 to 4 business days to be delivered. Even though many factors come into play that affects the delivery time, the principal aspect remains the ZIP Codes. However, you need to consider the ZIP Code of both the source and the destination.

So, if you are sending a time-sensitive mailer, you can first check the delivery time using a USPS calculator. Once you are done, you can check whether the standard mail can reach the addressee on time or choose a mail option.

What Is The Delivery Time For a Stamped Letter?

Stamped letters are a prominent choice for business communications. As the name suggests, stamped letters are those that have a paper stamp affixed on them. Unfortunately, it's not possible to give a super accurate delivery time for the stamped letters.

However, there are specific metrics that you can consider to get a more accurate estimation of the delivery time. Some of the primary metrics that you could use for this are listed below:

Service Area

The service area for direct mail can include both the source and destination of the stamped letter. You can try analyzing the origin and destination for deliverability. If the destination of the mailer belongs in a rural area that does not have a regular mail route, then it is likely that the delivery may get delayed.

Mail Class

A stamped letter can belong to any of the mail classes defined by the USPS. Therefore, it is vital that you know which mail class you are using to send the mail. The popular mail class choices employed by businesses include First-Class Mail, Package Services, Periodicals, and Standard Mail.

ZIP Code and City Name

Ensuring that you have a valid ZIP Code is perhaps the most challenging thing about sending direct mail. There is little to no chance that the sender uses the wrong city name. When it comes to ZIP Codes, the best you can do is an address verification API like PostGrid. Such tools provide you with verified addresses that include a full ZIP+4 code.

Regular Mail Delivery Time From State to State

The only feasible way for you to find out exactly when your mail will arrive at its destination is if you purchase the tracking information. This may be a viable option if you want to track a couple of postal mails or two.

However, if you are running a business that sends and receives regular direct mail, then this is not practical. Printing and sending mailers is already an expensive affair, and spending more money tracking can only lower your ROI.

Considering that many companies use mailers to send marketing materials, spending more money tracking them is unnecessary.

In effect, there is no way for you to track the delivery time of your direct mail, especially if they are sent in bulk. So then, how long does regular mail take from state to state? The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might think.

Similar to the first-class mail we have discussed above, several factors come into play here. These factors include distance, destination, delivery routes, and much more. Ideally, a regular mail takes 3-5 business days to reach its destination, even if it is in a different state.

Why Does The Regular Mail Delivery Time From State to State Vary?

Even if it's sent across state lines, regular mail should be delivered within the standard time frame of 3-5 business days. If all the factors are aligned, the mail will likely be delivered ahead of schedule.

For the quick delivery of postal mail across state borders, you first need a verified address. This is why when it comes to business applications, most people prefer to use address verification services like PostGrid.

Using a CASS-certified tool like PostGrid, you can verify an address and even get their full address. Once verified and standardized via PostGrid, you can even get the ZIP+4 Code of the address. Now, as long as the mailer's destination falls inside a regular delivery route, there should not be any delays.

That is unless some operational or functional emergency pops up, but those are relatively rare. It is also worth noting that some delivery destinations are in rural areas without a regular mail route. In such cases, the postal delivery might take some more time.

The Steps Involved in Regular Mail Delivery From State to State

Before you can understand the varying regular mail delivery time from state to state, you first need to understand the mailing process. Tracing the steps involved in sending regular mail across state borders enables you to appreciate the process behind the curtain.

Furthermore, understanding the journey of the mailer may even give you ideas to optimize your direct mail process. Below we explain every step involved in sending regular mail across state borders.

Step 1

The first step in delivering an already prepared mailer is to simply put the mailer securely in the mailbox. This step is a no-brainer. However, it needs to be stated because this is where the journey of the mailpiece starts

Step 2

Once the mailpiece is secured inside the mailbox, it has to get picked up by the USPS personnel. The mailpiece once picked up, is taken to the city's Sectional Center. So, if you do not live in a city, the mailpiece is sent to the nearest Sectional Center.

Step 3

Since the mailpiece has to cross state borders, it gets sorted and sent to an airport from the Sectional Center. The mailpiece then gets transported to its destination state. After landing in the airport, the mailpiece again gets transported to the city's Sectional Center

Step 4

When the postal mail from the airport reaches the city's Sectional Center, an intense sorting process is initiated. First, all the letters that arrived from the airport are sorted based on their relevant delivery routes. Once the sorting is completed, the letters get handed over to the person who makes the final delivery.

Step 5

As you can guess, the fifth and final step is where the mailpiece is delivered to the specified address.

Going through the steps stated above, you now must have understood that the direct mail process is not as simple as one might think. The steps involved have a fair scope for error, and hence they are prone to delays as well.

This is why people experience delayed deliveries despite doing everything they can to ensure quick and accurate delivery. That being said, the rate of delayed deliveries is significantly low. It is impressive, especially if you consider the large number of mailers USPS deals with daily.

USPS Delivery Days

You can't claim to have a good understanding of mail delivery time from zip code to zip code without knowing about USPS delivery days. It is common knowledge that the United States Postal Service delivers mail even on weekends.

But, there is always some sort of confusion surrounding the weekend deliveries made by the USPS. Some seem to think that USPS delivers only on Saturdays during weekends and not on Sundays. On the other hand, some others believe that the USPS does not deliver on some weekends.

Weekend Deliveries

The source of this confusion is that the USPS has a mixed approach when it comes to weekend deliveries. They both do and do not deliver mail on the weekends. Sounds confusing, right? The thing is that Sundays are a big no-no for USPS, just like with other countless professions.

So, the bottom line is that USPS does not deliver on Sundays, and every other day is fair-play for them. That being said, USPS does make some exceptions to their Sunday non-deliveries in case of “exceptional” situations.

In most cases, the “exceptional situation” is when the USPS has a lot of backlogs or undelivered mails. This usually happens during the holiday seasons, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is a significant influx of direct mails during this time, and the backlogs are often rectified through Sunday deliveries.

Role of Priority Mail And Priority Express Mail

Although it's reassuring that USPS delivers on Saturdays, you may not necessarily benefit from this. Why? Because USPS does tend to use Saturdays exclusively for delivering priority mail and priority mail express items.

This may not be a problem for people who already know that USPS prioritizes their mail delivery on Saturdays. But, to those who are unaware of this fact, this can be an issue. Therefore, mailing time-sensitive documents via USPS hoping they'd be delivered on Saturday could be a big mistake.

Of course, if you are already aware of the fact, you could opt for priority mail and priority mail express. However, that would also mean that you'd have to spend at least $6.65 to have your letter delivered on a Saturday.

Mail Service Options

As we have already mentioned, the delivery time of your mail can significantly vary depending on the mail service option you choose. Although USPS offers various mail service options, we will elaborate on the most widely used ones by businesses here.

First-Class Mail

First-Class Mail from USPS is a well-rounded mail USPS service option. It is a fast, economical, and reliable option for sending direct mail. It can take anywhere between one to three business days to deliver first-class mail.

However, it's not uncommon for First-Class Mail to take longer to get delivered. Now and then, the USPS First-Class Mail may take three to five business days to reach its destination. This usually happens when the sender or recipient's location is in rural areas.

The central hubs that process direct mail are often close to the major cities. Hence sending mail from rural areas can turn out to be slow at times. However, First-Class Mail is still your best option if you don't want to spend too much money sending business postcards and letters.

What Is The Delivery Time For USPS First-Class Mail?

Many Americans believe that the USPS first-class mail takes just a single day to be delivered to its destination. It's a common misconception and a harmless one as long as you are dealing with personal direct mail.

However, when it comes to sending important or time-sensitive documents, such misconceptions can prove to be vital. Furthermore, it's not wrong to think that first-class mail will reach its destination in one day because it is not entirely out of scope.

It is not possible to estimate a super accurate delivery time for your mailers. However, we can say that a USPS first-class mail is most likely to be delivered within one to three days. That being said, the delivery time of first-class mail is not set in stone.

Priority Mail

Priority Mail is a best-selling mail service offered by the USPS. You can send everything from postcards to big boxed packages through USPS's priority mail. The boxed packages have a flat rate. And more importantly, every priority mail has a delivery time of 1 to 3 business days.

Another attractive aspect of priority mail is that regardless of the size of the mailer, it must be delivered within the specified time. Therefore, your Priority Mail should get delivered within one or two business days as long as it is within the town or state.

If the mailer is sent across state borders, it can take up to three business days for the delivery. Furthermore, you even get the tracking information with your priority mail receipt. On the flip side, Priority Mail is more expensive than First-Class Mail and not the ideal choice for bulk mailing.

Priority Mail Express

As the name implies, Priority Mail Express is an even faster mail service option than priority mail. In addition, Priority Mail Express guarantees an overnight delivery of your mail. Even more interesting is that Priority Mail Express is available every day of the year, including federal holidays.

However, there is a catch for Priority Mail Express other than the three times higher price. When using Priority Mail Express, your package needs to be ready for mailing by 10:30 AM. This is the only way USPS can guarantee overnight delivery for the Priority Mail Express.

The rules and parameters set for Priority Mail Express are pretty much the same as those for Priority Mail. It is also worth noting that this service is only available for domestic mails. However, you can use Priority Mail International service to make international postal deliveries within 6 to 10 days.

Media Mail

Media Mail is ideal for sending longer letters that contain at least eight pages. The reason Media Mail goes by that name is that you can include some media with your letter. Media that can be included in the mail can be pictures, CDs, flash drives, and more.

The delivery time required for Media Mail is between 2 to 8 business days for domestic ones. Businesses can try different and unique tactics through Media Mail because you can include various media in it. You could try including a book, printed materials, video/sound materials, and many more.

USPS Retail Ground

The USPS Retail Ground is a mail service best suited for sending big and bulky packages that weigh under 70 pounds. It is best to use this type of mail service from the USPS if you don't mind a longer delivery time for the mail.

Normally, Priority Mail limits the package size using a 108-inch combined length and girth rule. Whereas the Retail Ground Mails allow you to send packages that are up to 130 inches in combined length and girth. It is also worth noting that you get free tracking information on this type of mail.


Businesses need to keep an accurate track of mail delivery time from zip code to zip code. Delivery time may vary for your postal mail, depending upon numerous factors. The mail service option you choose, the distance between the sender and receiver, etc., are prominent factors.

Furthermore, regular mail delivery time from state to state can differ from mail delivery time from zip code to zip code. Therefore, delivering mail from one state to another may take some time. This is especially true if either the sender or the mail receiver is located in a rural area.

However, you can minimize the delivery time of your mail by ensuring that you have verified and complete addresses. This can be easily obtained by using an advanced address verification tool like PostGrid.

Using API-based tools like PostGrid allows you to carry out bulk address verifications easily. In addition to that, you also get access to many more features and functionalities. This includes features like Address Autocomplete, which allows you to get accurate address data right from its point of collection.

You can even get access to the full ZIP+4 code of your addresses using PostGrid. The full ZIP+4 code can make way for faster and more accurate deliveries. As a result, your direct mails are always delivered at the earliest possible time.

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