Priority Mail is the USPS brand-name for the quite-fast mailing method that seems to be the new standard for small to moderate sized parcels. It is also, in some ways a continuation of First Class mail which is limited to letter-sized articles. Priority Mail boasts an average delivery time to any address in the US of 2-3 days. My experiences corroborate this claim.
There are two classes of Priority Mail: the flat rate envelope and the weighed package. Anything that can be fit inside the flat-rate envelope (a manuscript, small book, several letters, etc) will ship for $3.85. The USPS also provides a wide assortment of preprinted boxes for shipping by Priority Mail which are provided for free to USPS customers. (Pick them up at your local post office or fax in an order to be shipped to your address) These boxes, and any other cartons to which you affix a Priority Mail sticker, are priced based on the weight of the final package and the distance between origin and destination zip codes. A five pound package will cost anywhere from $5.85 to $12.15 to ship.
The constraints on what you can ship include:
- minimum size: 3-1/2 inches high by 5 inches long, and 0.007 inch thick
- Maximum weight: 70 pounds.
- Maximum combined length and girth: 108 inches.
- Many materials (firearms, explosives, poison, radioactives, etc.) can not be shipped at all
Priority Mail can be combined with all of the normal postal services: insurance, C.O.D., special handling, return receipt, delivery confirmation, certified mail, etc.
The USPS also provides Global Priority Mail but only with countries that support the infrastructure for speedy delivery and have entered a reciprocal arrangement. GPM is a separate service.