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Top 5 mailing questions, answers that will deliver

Have a question about mailing? Chances are it’s one of our Top 5 most frequently asked questions. Here they are. Better yet, here are the answers, too!

• “How long will it take for a letter to get to . . . ?”

Generally, items sent via First- Class Mail to an address in your local delivery area should arrive the next day. Mail destined for addresses within 400-to-600 miles generally is delivered in two days. Coast-to-coast service, on average, is accomplished within three days.

• “How much postage do I need for my package?”

The answer depends on the weight of the parcel, the distance it will travel, and how fast it goes. Your local post office can weigh your parcel and compare services and prices for you. If you already know how much your parcel weighs, you can go to www.usps.com and hit Calculate Postage. And while you are online, you can use Click-N-Ship service to print shipping labels, with or without postage. Go to www.usps.com and look under Shipping Tools for Click-N-Ship.

• “How big (or small) can my piece of mail be?”

Parcels tend to be the biggest items mailed, and they cannot weigh more than 70 pounds. Except for Parcel Post items, parcels cannot be more than 108 inches in combined length and “girth” (circumference). Parcel Post packages mailed at the “oversized rate” can be no more than 130 inches in combined length and girth.

As for the smallest mailable items, all mail must be at least 0.007 inch thick. Letters 1/2-inch thick or less must be at least 3 1/ 2-inches high, 5-inches long and rectangular in shape.

Ratefold (Notice 123) is a handy reference. It not only shows the current postage rates by class of mail, it lists the mailing dimensions for letters, large mailing envelopes, and parcels. You can download a copy of Ratefold by going to http:// pe.usps.com.

• “How late can I mail a letter to get today’s postmark?”

Schedules vary by post office. If you are mailing your letter at the post office, ask the retail associate or postmaster for the last pickup time. The last pickup time is posted on all street collection boxes. Mail your letter prior to the designated time to get today’s postmark.

• “What’s the ZIP Code for this address?”

You’re right to ask, because every piece of mail needs a ZIP Code. Don’t guess at the number, or leave it off — no ZIP Code, or the wrong one, could delay delivery. Just go to www.usps.com and click on Find a ZIP Code in the upper left-hand corner. Or you can call 800- ASK-USPS (800-275-8777).

For the answers to other frequently asked mailing questions, get a copy of A Customer’s Guide to Mailing (DMM 100) at the post office or online at www.usps.com/customersguide.

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