How Long Does Mail Take From State to State?

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Delivery of mail from one state to another typically takes one day to a week. Considerations that might influence delivery times include shipment methods, extreme weather conditions, holidays and the distance between the states.

This timing depends on adequate postage and that the correct mailing address is stamped or printed on the letter or package being mailed. A return address ensures that, if the delivery doesn't go through, it gets returned to the sender. This can delay delivery by several days or longer depending on the quick turnaround of the sender. Tracking methods are also available so you can check to see where the package is en route and when it is delivered on your smartphone or computer.

The United States Post Office (USPS), which was founded in 1775 when the first Postmaster General was appointed, has indicated that it sorts and delivers more than 700 million pieces of mail daily. The process is methodically streamlined, beginning with mail collection at a mailbox. The postal carrier takes the mail to the assigned post office where a machine culls and postmarks each piece before it is scanned and barcoded. The barcode covers the stamp with lines so someone cannot reuse it. The mail is separated by the ZIP code delivery area then transported to a processing plant nearest the delivery destination. At the processing plant, it is sorted for delivery and sent to the post office in the range of the destination. A postal carrier delivers the mail to its final stop.

Throughout the 50 states, just about every method of transportation is used to get mail where it needs to be. This includes aircraft, boats and ferries, trucks, cars, bikes and walking. Due to the terrain, mules are often used to carry bundles of mail in the Grand Canyon area. There are 42,000 ZIP codes in the United States, according to the USPS. Delivery routes vary from the shortest one of less than a quarter mile to the longest route of over 180 miles.

When using USPS, Overnight Priority Express mail guarantees overnight delivery in most areas, including PO boxes, for all seven days of the week. Priority Mail delivers packages in one to three business days, save for Sundays and holidays. First Class delivers standard-size envelopes in one to three business days. Retail ground mails oversized packages and low priority mail in two to eight business days. Media mail is a low-cost way to mail educational materials in two to eight business days. Pricing varies on most mailings based on the size and weight of what is being shipped and the distance to where it's going.

Independent mailing courier services like FedEx and United Parcel Service (UPS) are headquartered in the South. FedEx was founded in 1971 and UPS began in 1907. These two courier services offer same day-and next-day deliveries for domestic shipping depending on the destination. Aircraft and trucks are their main sources of transportation. Tracking and guarantees are offered on most, if not all, of the mailings. In some situations, FedEx works with the USPS to transport and deliver e-commerce packages by air.