USPS Mail Classes

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USPS Mail Classes

Any piece of mail you have ever sent or received through the USPS belonged in its own distinct class of mail. Most of the time, it is the sender who determines which class they want their mail to belong. Other times, your mail will belong to a certain class by default, as per the terms and conditions of the Postal Service. These classes often differ on the speed of delivery, the services offered, the price and presort requirements. Below are the main classes of US mail, with a brief explanation of each.

Priority Mail Express

This class encompasses all types of mailable objects, from merchandise to letters. As the name suggests, this is the fastest mail service. Your mail is guaranteed to be delivered within 1-2 days. Due to the fast delivery, free forwarding and return and other extra services, this service is quite expensive. The price varies depending on the distance and the weight of the mail (70 pound limit). You can, however, use USPS provided mail packaging and pay a flat rate.

Priority Mail

This class also encompasses all mailable objects that can be mailed by air. However, the USPS requires the following items to be mailed as priority mail; handwritten or typed items, invoices, credits cards, bills, personal letters and all sealed items. This service also offers fast delivery, and you can add other services such as mail tracking. The price will also depend on the distance to be travelled by the mail, although the maximum weight for this class is 70 pounds.

First-Class Mail

This class is very similar to Priority mail, with the only difference being the weight and the price. The maximum weight for First-Class mail is 13 ounces, whereby if your package exceeds this amount, then it automatically becomes Priority mail. First-Class mail is charged the same postage no matter how far the destination post office is, unlike Priority mail that depends on distance For a small fee, you can add extra service such as Registered Mail or Certified Mail.


As the name suggests, this service is dedicated to the mailing of magazines, newspapers and other publications that are meant for information transmission. There has to be a certified list of subscribers and the periodical has to be published at least four times in a year from a recognized publisher. If you want to use this option, there is a formal application process and you also pay a non-refundable application fee.

USPS Marketing Mail

This service caters for the mailing of material meant for marketing and advertising, including; flyers, newsletters, catalogs, circulars and even small parcels. The maximum weight is 16 ounces, although the minimum quantity is 200 pieces. There is no single postage for this service as it will depend on the materials and the quantity.

Package Services and USPS Retail Ground

Package services is composed of other sub-classes, each dedicated to a specific type of mail; Media Mail, Library Mail and Bound Printed Matter. Some items under this category include; catalogs, computer media, merchandise and printed material. USPS Retail Ground on the other hand is used to mail single-piece mails that are not categorized under First-Class or Priority mail. Common items here include merchandise and gifts.