USPS slowdown starts Oct. 1: What to know about new delays and price hikes for mail


A few of us nonetheless depend on a paper envelope and a stamp to ship vital paperwork or payments. 

Angela Lang/CNET

For those who’re like me, sending a letter or bundle throughout the nation by the US Postal Service appears like a recreation of likelihood. Will it get there in every week — or two? Through the first quarter of this yr, around 20% of first-class mail throughout the US was delivered late. And now snail mail is about to get slower for a number of the 160 million residences and companies that depend on the Postal Service.

Beginning Oct. 1, the USPS will implement new service requirements for first-class mail and packages, lengthening supply time for about 30% of its quantity. Meaning some letters, parcels and journal subscriptions touring longer distances may take as much as 5 days to reach, as an alternative of two or three days. The modifications are a part of a 10-year plan referred to as Delivering for America to overtake the company and attempt to deal with its $160 billion debt. The plan would additionally cut back publish workplace hours and lift costs for purchasers, and there will be much more postage hikes throughout the peak vacation season. 

Each hour, an average of 17.7 million mail pieces are processed and delivered by the USPS, a portion of that are packages from on-line retailers like Amazon. However there’s been an enormous decline within the quantity of first-class mail like letters, playing cards and payments as People rely increasingly on digital funds and communication. And with the rising demand of e-commerce, the company is struggling to match the fast supply of opponents like UPS, FedEx and even Amazon itself, which has its personal supply community.  

What do the USPS’ service modifications imply for you? Costlier or erratic mail supply may result in delays in marriage ceremony invites and even late unemployment checks or child tax credit funds. Beneath, we’ll clarify the foremost modifications it is best to learn about, who the USPS value hikes and delays may have an effect on most, what to do for those who’re going through a USPS holdup, and what choices it’s important to ship mail.

Why is the USPS making modifications I must learn about?

The Postal Service has stated it is struggling to fulfill excessive efficiency requirements, and it has been financially underwater for some time now. The COVID pandemic exacerbated the USPS’ sluggish service and money disaster, as staffing shortages collided with each the surge of on-line shopping for for necessities and the inflow of 2020 election ballots.

A method the USPS plans to cut back prices is by utilizing fewer airplanes to ferry mail and as an alternative use extra vans, which might ship the next quantity of mail for much less cash. Floor transportation can also be extra dependable than air in all seasons, according to the USPS

The Postal Service’s 10-year plan additionally features a multibillion greenback contract to modernize the now ancient delivery vehicle fleet, with the brand new vans showing on service routes in 2023. There are additionally proposed investments in tools and infrastructure to assist transport the rising quantity of packages extra effectively, in addition to upgrades to postal services. 

Some critics marvel why the company would choose to decelerate mail when it is already struggling to ship mail on time. The Postal Regulatory Fee issued an advisory opinion on July 20 that discovered that the estimated annual price financial savings for the USPS’ proposed service customary modifications will not, in truth, result in “a lot enchancment” of the company’s present deficit woes. 


Specialists say the brand new modifications will result in the most important slowdown of mail in additional than a era. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

What does this imply for first-class mail and packages?

Not all first-class mail might be affected by the brand new service requirements. Here is the way it breaks down. 

First-class mail (standard-size, single-piece letters and envelopes): The USPS says 39% of mail will now be delivered in three to 5 days, relying on the gap between origin and vacation spot. The remainder (61% of native mail) might be unaffected and might be delivered in a single to 2 days. 

First-class bundle service (smaller, light-weight parcels): The Postal Service says 32% of packages will now be delivered in 4 to 5 days, with the longest distances having the longest timetable (corresponding to between California and New York). The rest (68% of packages) will nonetheless be delivered in two to a few days. 

Periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers): The USPS says solely 9% p.c of publications will now be delivered in as much as 5 days, and 93% will nonetheless be delivered in two days or much less. 

What causes Postal Service supply delays? 

There are numerous the explanation why there is likely to be a holdup together with your Postal Service mail, and plenty of instances it is not what you’d anticipate. Listed below are a number of the most typical causes for mail delays. 

  • Climate: Postal supply disruptions may very well be on account of extreme winter storms, floods, pure disasters or energy outages. Clients can verify weather-related delays on the Service Alerts web page on the USPS web site. 
  • Holidays: The vacation season is the busiest time for the Postal Service, and the spike in parcel quantity could cause delays if the company is not in a position to take care of the quantity of rush purchases by retailers. One solution to keep away from that is to organize early and keep away from last-minute present shopping for. 
  • Mistaken handle: Generally a recipient offers the mistaken handle, or there is a typo within the supply handle, from lacking an house quantity to an unreadable road identify. 
  • Notification slip lacking: If the USPS wasn’t in a position to ship your mail as a result of nobody was there to obtain it, or there wasn’t a secure place to go away it, you may get a discover telling you your bundle is on the nearest publish workplace. Nevertheless, if that slip will get misplaced, you will haven’t any method of monitoring down the bundle. 

There was additionally the pandemic, which affected postal workers, because it did members of different workforces. Workers needed to comply with social distancing pointers, quarantine restrictions and security protocols, resulting in interruptions within the processing and supply of mail. On the identical time, there was a major rise in parcel quantity due to the lockdowns, and sure services had been so overwhelmed that they merely stopped accepting mail. 

Final summer season, letter carriers, who typically make a number of supply journeys to make sure well timed distribution of mail, had been instructed not to make any extra trips and to only leave mail behind at distribution centers, The Washington Submit reported. 


The Postal Service tasks that the variety of packages will improve considerably over the subsequent few years, pushed by on-line purchasing. 


Who will the USPS supply slowdown have an effect on most?

People and companies will face longer supply instances for each outgoing and incoming mail that should journey by postal truck for farther distances. So the modifications will particularly affect these sending letters or packages from coast to coast — and likewise to and from Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and different US territories that’ll nonetheless must depend on air transportation. 

Delays in first-class mail may additionally have an effect on clients erratically relying on the ZIP code. In keeping with the Washington Submit, the plan will disproportionately affect Western states and parts of Texas and Florida, for instance. Additionally, rural communities, low-income households and seniors are likely to rely extra on the Postal Service. 

Mail delays are a burden for individuals who danger charges or penalties for late hire checks or payments. They’re additionally worrisome for these ready for funds or vital paperwork to reach by publish. (We advocate you give your self a wholesome window to ship vital paperwork, or affirm that mail despatched by a selected publish date might be accepted by your recipient.)

Supply lags may even be a matter of life and demise for some individuals who rely upon a mail-order medicine system. Already throughout the pandemic, many individuals opting to obtain prescriptions at dwelling confronted problems receiving their life-saving medicine on time by the USPS. 


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What about greater postage and supply costs? 

On Aug. 29, the Postal Service raised the worth of a first-class stamp from 55 to 58 cents. Meaning Eternally stamps now price three cents extra. (You may get a cool, customized design from the publish workplace or from However as a result of Eternally stamps by no means expire, those you purchased in 2020 — or any prior yr — stay legitimate although the postage price has gone up. 

Different first-class standard-size mail and enormous envelopes, together with presort letters like payments and statements, and newspapers and magazines had a price increase, as did media mail corresponding to books. The costs for particular providers like licensed mail and cash order went up as nicely. 

And the USPS additionally introduced a brief value improve on business and retail home bundle shipments for the 2021 peak fall and vacation season, in impact Oct. 3 by Dec. 26. The value will increase vary from 25 cents to $5 per bundle on precedence mail, precedence mail categorical and first-class bundle service and are detailed in this USPS statement.

In keeping with the company’s plan, there may very well be extra value will increase over the subsequent decade. Although including a few cents to ship a birthday card may not burn a gap in your pocket, even a small improve may very well be ruinous for companies that ship a ton of mail or corporations that rely upon mass mailings. 

What are my choices for ensuring my mail arrives on time? 

Clients may want to make use of precedence mail providers to ship letters, bigger envelopes or packages inside the contiguous United States, which nonetheless has a one-to-three-day customary. Nevertheless, for those who plan to make use of common first-class mail or bundle service, the USPS recommends that you just plan forward and ship your mail early to ensure that it to succeed in its vacation spot on time. 

An alternative choice is to check charges and supply estimates with competing carriers, like FedEx or UPS. 

What can I do if my USPS bundle is misplaced?

When sending or receiving a letter or parcel with the Postal Service, take into account that supply estimates are simply that — estimates and never ensures. The one USPS service that provides a money-back assure for supply inside a two-day window is precedence mail categorical. So not like first-class mail or common precedence, you will really get a refund for a late supply. 

For those who’re ready on a letter or bundle that has an incorrect handle or was caught in a weather-related delay, the one solution to intercept or reroute it’s with a USPS monitoring quantity. Some Postal Service choices mechanically embody monitoring, however for those who want it for first-class mail or media mail, you will should pay a further payment. According to the USPS, including a monitoring service does not expedite or assure supply. It simply makes it doable to search out your merchandise if it is misplaced. 

For those who really feel such as you’re experiencing an atypical delay and also you assume your mail has gotten misplaced, you’ll be able to submit a missing mail search request, and the USPS will attempt to find it. | USPS slowdown begins Oct. 1: What to learn about new delays and value hikes for mail


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