The United States Postal Service (USPS; also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service) is an
independent agency A regulatory agency or regulatory authority, is a Public benefit corporation Public-benefit corporation is a term that has different meanings in different jurisdictions. In some cases it is the technical term used for a traditional nonprofit ch ...
of the executive branch of the
United States federal government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or Ameri ...
responsible for providing
postal service The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcard A postcard or post card is a piece of thick paper or thin Card stock, cardboard, typically rectangular, intended for writing and mailing without an envelope. Non-rectangular s ...

postal service
in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, including its
insular area In the law of the United States The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according ...
s and
associated statesAssociated may refer to: *Associated, former name of Avon, Contra Costa County, California *Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto, a school in Canada *Associated Newspapers, former name of DMG Media, a British publishing company See also

*Associa ...
. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or organ ...

United States Constitution
. The USPS, as of 2021, has 516,636 career employees and 136,531 non-career employees. The USPS traces its roots to 1775 during the
Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British c ...
, when
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States that was negotiated on behalf of the United States by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simp ...

Benjamin Franklin
was appointed the first
postmaster general A Postmaster General, in Anglosphere The Anglosphere is a group of English-speaking nations that share common cultural and historical ties to the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as ...
; he also served a similar position for the colonies of the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
. The
Post Office Department The United States Post Office Department (USPOD; also known as the Post Office or U.S. Mail) was the predecessor of the United States Postal Service The United States Postal Service (USPS; also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal S ...
was created in 1792 with the passage of the
Postal Service Act The Postal Service Act was a piece of United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of ...
. It was elevated to a cabinet-level department in 1872, and was transformed by the
Postal Reorganization Act The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 was a law passed by the United States Congress that abolished the then United States Post Office Department, which was a part of the Cabinet of the United States, Cabinet, and created the United States Postal S ...
of 1970 into the United States Postal Service as an independent agency. Since the early 1980s, many direct tax subsidies to the USPS (with the exception of subsidies for costs associated with disabled and overseas voters) have been reduced or eliminated. The USPS has a monopoly on "letter" delivery within the United States and operates under a universal service obligation (USO), both of which are defined across a broad set of legal mandates, which obligate it to provide uniform price and quality across the entirety of its service area. The Post Office has exclusive access to
letter box A cast-iron mail slot letter box A letter box, letterbox, letter plate, letter hole, mail slot or mailbox is a receptacle for receiving incoming mail The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcard A postcard or post c ...

letter box
es marked "U.S. Mail" and personal letterboxes in the United States, but has to compete against private
package delivery Package delivery or parcel delivery is the delivery of shipping container A shipping container is a with strength suitable to withstand shipment, storage, and handling. Shipping containers range from large reusable steel boxes used for inte ...
services, such as
United Parcel Service United Parcel Service (UPS, stylized as ups) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple co ...
FedEx FedEx Corporation, formerly Federal Express Corporation and later FDX Corporation, is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational f ...

, and
Amazon Amazon usually refers to: * Amazons In Greek mythology, the Amazons (Ancient Greek: Ἀμαζόνες ''Amazónes'', singular Ἀμαζών ''Amazōn'') are portrayed in a number of ancient Greek, ancient epic poems and legends, such as the ...


On March 18, 1970, postal workers in New York City—upset over low wages and poor working conditions, and emboldened by the Civil Rights Movement— organized a strike against the United States government. The strike initially involved postal workers in only New York City, but it eventually gained support of over 210,000
United States Post Office Department The United States Post Office Department (USPOD; also known as the Post Office or U.S. Mail) was the predecessor of the United States Postal Service The United States Postal Service (USPS; also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Pos ...
workers across the nation. While the strike ended without any concessions from the Federal government, it did ultimately allow for postal worker unions and the government to negotiate a contract which gave the unions most of what they wanted, as well as the signing of the
Postal Reorganization Act The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 was a law passed by the United States Congress that abolished the then United States Post Office Department, which was a part of the Cabinet of the United States, Cabinet, and created the United States Postal S ...
by President
Richard Nixon Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913April 22, 1994) was the 37th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the and of the . The president directs the of the and is the of the . The power o ...

Richard Nixon
on August 12, 1970. The act replaced the cabinet-level Post Office Department with a new federal agency, the United States Postal Service, and took effect on July 1, 1971.

Current operations

In a 2006
U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a coun ...

U.S. Supreme Court
decision, the Court noted: "Each day, according to the Government's submissions here, the United States Postal Service delivers some 660 million pieces of mail to as many as 142 million delivery points." As of 2021, the USPS operates 31,330 post offices and locations in the U.S., and delivers 128.8 billion pieces of mail annually. The USPS operates one of the largest civilian vehicle fleets in the world, with an estimated 227,896 vehicles, the majority of which are the easily identified
Chevrolet Chevrolet ( ), colloquially referred to as Chevy and formally the Chevrolet Division of General Motors Company, is an American automobile division of the American manufacturer General Motors General Motors Company (GM) is an American Mul ...

Grumman LLV The Grumman Long Life Vehicle (LLV) is an American light transport truck model, designed as a mail truck for the United States Postal Service The United States Postal Service (USPS; also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service ...
(long-life vehicle), and the newer Ford/Utilimaster FFV (flex-fuel vehicle), originally also referred to as the CRV (carrier route vehicle). Made from 1987 to 1994 and with no air conditioning, no airbags, no anti-lock brakes, and lacking space for the large modern volume of e-commerce packages, the Grumman fleet ended its expected lifespan in fiscal year 2017. The LLV replacement process began in 2015, and after numerous delays, a contract was awarded in February, 2021 to Oshkosh Defense to finalize design and produce 165,000 vehicles over 10 years. It is by geography and volume the globe's largest postal system, delivering 47% of the world's mail. For every penny increase in the national average price of gasoline, the USPS spends an extra million per year to fuel its fleet. The number of gallons of fuel used in 2009 was 444 million, at a cost of . The fleet is notable in that many of its vehicles are
right-hand drive Left-hand traffic (LHT) and right-hand traffic (RHT) are the practices, in bidirectional traffic, of keeping to the left side or to the right side of the road, respectively. They are fundamental to traffic flow In mathematics Mathema ...
, an arrangement intended to give drivers the easiest access to roadside mailboxes. Some rural letter carriers use personal vehicles. All contractors use personal vehicles. Standard postal-owned vehicles do not have
license plate A vehicle registration plate, also known as a number plate (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in Histor ...
s. These vehicles are identified by a seven-digit number displayed on the front and rear. The Department of Defense and the USPS jointly operate a postal system to deliver mail for the military; this is known as the Army Post Office (for
Army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch Military branch ...
and postal facilities) and the Fleet Post Office (for
Navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense ...
Marine Corps Marines, or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate in in support of naval operations. Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included helping maintain discipline and order aboard the ship (reflecting the natu ...
, and
Coast Guard A coast guard or coastguard is a maritime security Maritime may refer to: Geography * Maritime Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps * Maritime Region, a region in Togo * Maritime Southeast Asia * The Maritimes ...
postal facilities). In February 2013, the Postal Service announced that on Saturdays it would only deliver packages, mail-order medicines, Priority Mail, and Express Mail, effective August 10, 2013. However, this change was reversed by federal law in the
Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 () was a bill passed by the United States House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress, with the United St ...
. They now deliver packages on Sunday—only for
Amazon.com Amazon.com, Inc. ( ) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational ...
— meaning that carriers make parcel deliveries seven days a week. During the four weeks preceding Christmas since 2013, packages from all mail classes and senders were delivered on Sunday in some areas. Parcels are also delivered on holidays, with the exception of
Thanksgiving Thanksgiving is a national holiday A holiday is a day set aside by Norm (social), custom or by law on which normal activities, especially business or work including school, are suspended or reduced. Generally, holidays are intended to allow ...
Christmas Christmas is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people Observance of Christmas by country, around the world ...

. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the busiest time of the year for the USPS with the agency delivering an estimated 900 million packages during the period of 2018. In May 2019, the Postal Service announced that it will be releasing a pilot of self-driving trucks to haul mail across the U.S. The 18-wheelers were developed by startup company, TuSimple. The pilot will last two weeks, making five total round trips to cities across the country. In early May 2020, the USPS's board of governors confirmed that
Louis DeJoy Louis DeJoy (born June 1957) is an American businessman serving as the 75th U.S. postmaster general. He was appointed in May 2020 by the Board of Governors A board of directors is a group of people who jointly supervise the activities of an ...

Louis DeJoy
would be the new postmaster general.

Operation and budget

In Fiscal Year 2021, the Postal Service had $77.06 billion in revenue and expenses of $81.99 billion with a net loss of $4.93 billion.

Revenue decline and planned cuts

In 2016, the USPS had its fifth straight annual operating loss, in the amount of $5.6 billion, of which $5.8 billion was the accrual of unpaid mandatory retiree health payments.

Declining mail volume

First-class mail volume peaked in 2001 to 103.65 billion declining to 52.62 billion by 2020 due to the increasing use of
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and the World Wide Web for correspondence and business transactions. USPS also almost delivered the first email but did not do so. Private courier services, such as
FedEx FedEx Corporation, formerly Federal Express Corporation and later FDX Corporation, is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational f ...

United Parcel Service United Parcel Service (UPS, stylized as ups) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple co ...
(UPS), directly compete with USPS for the delivery of urgent letters and packages. Lower volume means lower revenues to support the fixed commitment to deliver to every address once a day, six days a week. According to an official report on November 15, 2012, the U.S. Postal Service lost $15.9 billion its 2012 fiscal year.

Internal streamlining and delivery slowdown

In response, the USPS has increased productivity each year from 2000 to 2007, through increased automation, route re-optimization, and facility consolidation. Despite these efforts, the organization saw an $8.5 billion budget shortfall in 2010, and was losing money at a rate of about $3 billion per quarter in 2011. On December 5, 2011, the USPS announced it would close more than half of its mail processing centers, eliminate 28,000 jobs and reduce overnight delivery of First-Class Mail. This will close down 252 of its 461 processing centers. (At peak mail volume in 2006, the USPS operated 673 facilities.) As of May 2012, the plan was to start the first round of consolidation in summer 2012, pause from September to December, and begin a second round in February 2014; 80% of first-class mail would still be delivered overnight through the end of 2013. New delivery standards were issued in January 2015, and the majority of single-piece (not presorted) first-class mail is now being delivered in two days instead of one. Large commercial mailers can still have first-class mail delivered overnight if delivered directly to a processing center in the early morning, though as of 2014 this represented only 11% of first-class mail. Unsorted first-class mail will continue to be delivered anywhere in the contiguous United States within three days.

Post office closures

In July 2011, the USPS announced a plan to close about 3,700 small post offices. Various representatives in Congress protested, and the Senate passed a bill that would have kept open all post offices farther than from the next office. In May 2012, the service announced it had modified its plan. Instead, rural post offices would remain open with reduced retail hours (some as little as two hours per day) unless there was a community preference for a different option. In a survey of rural customers, 54% preferred the new plan of retaining rural post offices with reduced hours, 20% preferred the "Village Post Office" replacement (where a nearby private retail store would provide basic mail services with expanded hours), 15% preferred merger with another Post Office, and 11% preferred expanded rural delivery services. Approximately 40% of postal revenue already comes from online purchases or private retail partners including
Walmart Walmart Inc. (; formerly Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.) is an American multinational Retail companies, retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets (also called supercenters), discount department stores, and grocery stores from the United ...

, Staples,
Office Depot The ODP Corporation is an American office supply retailing company headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida Boca Raton ( ), is the southernmost city in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. It was first incorporated on August 2, 1924, as ...
Walgreens Walgreen Company, d/b/a Walgreens, is an American company that operates as the second-largest Pharmacy (shop), pharmacy store chain in the United States behind CVS Health. It specializes in filling prescriptions, health and wellness products, health ...

Sam's Club Sam's West, Inc. (doing business as A trade name, trading name, or business name is a pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) or alias () is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular pur ...

Sam's Club
Costco Costco Wholesale Corporation (Trade name, doing business as Costco Wholesale and also known simply as Costco) is an American multinational corporation which operates a chain of membership-only Big-box store, big-box retail stores (warehouse cl ...
, and grocery stores. The
National Labor Relations Board The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent agency of the federal government of the United States with responsibilities for enforcing U.S. labor law in relation to collective bargaining and unfair labor practices. Under the N ...

National Labor Relations Board
agreed to hear the American Postal Workers Union's arguments that these counters should be staffed by postal employees who earn far more and have "a generous package of health and retirement benefits".

Elimination of Saturday delivery averted

On January 28, 2009,
Postmaster General A Postmaster General, in Anglosphere The Anglosphere is a group of English-speaking nations that share common cultural and historical ties to the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as ...
John E. Potter testified before the Senate that, if the Postal Service could not readjust its payment toward the contractually funding earned employee retiree health benefits, as mandated by the Postal Accountability & Enhancement Act of 2006, the USPS would be forced to consider cutting delivery to five days per week during June, July, and August. H.R. 22, addressing this issue, passed the House of Representatives and Senate and was signed into law on September 30, 2009. However, Postmaster General Potter continued to advance plans to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. On June 10, 2009, the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association (NRLCA) was contacted for its input on the USPS's current study of the effect of five-day delivery along with developing an implementation plan for a five-day service plan. A team of Postal Service headquarters executives and staff was given a time frame of sixty days to complete the study. The current concept examines the effect of five-day delivery with no business or collections on Saturday, with Post Offices with current Saturday hours remaining open. On Thursday, April 15, 2010, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing to examine the status of the Postal Service and recent reports on short and long-term strategies for the financial viability and stability of the USPS entitled "Continuing to Deliver: An Examination of the Postal Service's Current Financial Crisis and its Future Viability". At which, PMG Potter testified that by the year 2020, the USPS cumulative losses could exceed $238 billion, and that mail volume could drop 15 percent from 2009. In February 2013, the USPS announced that in order to save about $2 billion per year, Saturday delivery service would be discontinued except for packages, mail-order medicines, Priority Mail, Express Mail, and mail delivered to Post Office boxes, beginning August 10, 2013. However, the
Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 () was a bill passed by the United States House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress, with the United St ...
, passed in March, reversed the cuts to Saturday delivery.

Retirement funding and payment defaults

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) obligates the USPS to fund the present value of earned retirement obligations (essentially past promises which have not yet come due) within a ten-year time span. In contrast, private businesses in the United States have no legal obligation to pay for retirement costs at promise-time rather than retirement-time, but about one quarter do. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the main bureaucratic organization responsible for the human resources aspect of many federal agencies and their employees. The PAEA created the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund (PSRHB) after Congress removed the Postal Service contribution to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Most other employees that contribute to the CSRS have 7% deducted from their wages. Currently, all new employees contribute into Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) once they become a full-time regular employees. Running low on cash, in order to continue operations unaffected and continue to meet payroll, the USPS defaulted for the first time on a $5.5 billion retirement benefits payment due Aug 1, 2012, and a $5.6 billion payment due September 30, 2012. On September 30, 2014, the USPS failed to make a $5.7 billion payment on this debt, the fourth such default. In 2017, the USPS defaulted on some of the last lump-sum payments required by the 2006 law, though other payments were also still required. On February 5, 2020, the House passed The USPS Fairness Act (H.R. 2382) with a more than two-thirds majority (309 to 106). The measure would eliminate the requirement going forward and forgive all payments on which USPS has defaulted. It was forwarded to the Senate on February 10, 2020, and is awaiting action by senators.

Rate increases

Congress has limited rate increases for First-Class Mail to the cost of inflation, unless approved by the
Postal Regulatory Commission The United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washingt ...
. A three-cent surcharge above inflation increased the rate to 49¢ in January 2014, but this was approved by the commission for two years only. As of January 2019, first-class postage for up to 1 ounce is $0.55.

Reform proposals and delivery changes

During the Obama administration

Comprehensive reform packages considered in the
113th Congress The 113th United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 5 ...
include S.1486 and H.R.2748. These include the efficiency measure, supported by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe of ending door-to-door delivery of mail for some or most of the 35 million addresses that currently receive it, replacing that with either curbside boxes or nearby "cluster boxes". This would save $4.5 billion per year out of the $30 billion delivery budget; door-to-door city delivery costs annually on average $353 per stop, curbside $224, and cluster box $160 (and for rural delivery, $278, $176, and $126, respectively). S.1486, also with the support of Postmaster Donahoe, would also allow the USPS to ship alcohol in compliance with state law, from manufacturers to recipients with ID to show they are over 21. This is projected to raise approximately $50 million per year. (Shipping alcoholic beverages is currently illegal under (f).) In 2014, the Postal Service was requesting reforms to workers' compensation, moving from a pension to defined contribution retirement savings plan, and paying senior retiree health care costs out of Medicare funds, as is done for private-sector workers.

During the Trump administration

As part of a June 2018 governmental reorganization plan, the
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
administration proposed turning USPS into "a private postal operator" which could save costs through measures like delivering mail fewer days per week, or delivering to central locations instead of door to door. There was strong bipartisan opposition to the idea in Congress. In April 2020, Congress approved a $10 billion loan from the Treasury to the post office. According to the ''Washington Post'', officials under Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin Steven Terner Mnuchin ( ; born December 21, 1962) is an American investment banker and film producer who served as the 77th United States secretary of the treasury as part of the Cabinet of Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021. Previously, Mnuchin ha ...

Steven Mnuchin
suggested using the loan as leverage to give the Treasury Department more influence on USPS operations, including making them raise their charges for package deliveries, a change long sought by President Trump. In May 2020, in a controversial move, President Trump appointed a new Postmaster General,
Louis DeJoy Louis DeJoy (born June 1957) is an American businessman serving as the 75th U.S. postmaster general. He was appointed in May 2020 by the Board of Governors A board of directors is a group of people who jointly supervise the activities of an ...

Louis DeJoy
, the first postmaster in the last two decades who had no prior experience within the United States Postal Service. DeJoy — until 2014 CEO of New Breed Logistics (a controversial Postal Service contractor), and until 2018 a board member its new parent,
XPO Logistics XPO Logistics is an American transportation and contract logistics company that manages supply chains for 50,000 customers worldwide, including 69 of the Fortune 100. It operates in 30 countries, with approximately 100,000 employees. XPO Logistics ...
, whose postal contracts expanded during DeJoy's postmaster role — was a major donor and fundraiser for the
Republican Party Republican Party is a name used by many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. It is common for the members of a political party to have similar ideas about polit ...
(from 2017, a deputy finance chairman of the
Republican National Committee The Republican National Committee (RNC) is a U.S. political committee that leads the Republican Party of the United States The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP ("Grand Old Party"), is one of the two major Major is a mi ...
, until appointed postmaster, and later million-dollar donor to the 2020 Trump campaign while postmaster). DeJoy immediately began taking measures to reduce costs, such as banning overtime and extra trips to deliver mail. While DeJoy admitted that these measures were causing delays in mail delivery, he said they would eventually improve service. More than 600 high-speed mail sorting machines were scheduled to be dismantled and removed from postal facilities, raising concerns that mailed ballots for the November 3 election might not reach election offices on time. Mail collection boxes were removed from the streets in many cities; after photos of boxes being removed were spread on social media, a postal service spokesman said they were being moved to higher traffic areas but that the removals would stop until after the election. The inspector general for the postal service opened an investigation into the recent changes. On August 16 the House of Representatives was called back from its summer recess to consider a bill rolling back all of the changes. On August 18, 2020, after days of heavy criticism and the day after lawsuits against the Postal Service and DeJoy personally were filed in federal court by several individuals, DeJoy announced that he would roll back all the changes until after the November election. He said he would reinstate overtime hours, roll back service reductions, and halt the removal of mail-sorting machines and collection boxes. However, 95 percent of the mail sorting machines that were planned for removal had already been removed, and according to
House Speaker File:Marshal's chair Sejm Plenary Hall.JPG, 250px, Marshal's chair in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Sejm, lower chamber of the Polish Parliament The speaker of a deliberative assembly, especially a Legislature, legislative body, is its chai ...
Nancy Pelosi Nancy Patricia Pelosi (; ; born March 26, 1940) is an American politician serving as since 2019, and previously from 2007 to 2011. She has served as a U.S. representative from since 1987. A member of the , Pelosi is the only woman in U.S. h ...

Nancy Pelosi
, DeJoy said he has no intention of replacing them or the mail collection boxes.

Coronavirus pandemic and voting by mail

Voting by mail has become an increasingly common practice in the United States, with 25% of voters nationwide mailing their ballots in 2016 and 2018. The
coronavirus pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavi ...
of 2020 was predicted to cause a large increase in mail voting because of the possible danger of congregating at polling places. For the 2020 election, a state-by-state analysis concluded that 76% of Americans were eligible to vote by mail in 2020, a record number. The analysis predicted that 80 million ballots could be cast by mail in 2020 – more than double the number in 2016. The Postal Service sent a letter to 46 states in July 2020, warning that the service might not be able to meet the state's deadlines for requesting and casting last-minute absentee ballots. The House of Representatives voted to include an emergency grant of $25 billion to the post office to facilitate the predicted flood of mail ballots. Trump conceded that the post office would need additional funds to handle the additional mail-in voting, but said he would oppose any additional funding so that "universal mail-in voting" would not be possible. On August 14, 2020, President Trump said he was willing to approve USPS funding if concessions were made to some funding asks in coronavirus relief package.

Environmental impact

The United States Postal Service (USPS) delivered 11.52 billion pounds of paper in Financial Year 2019, taking into account First Class, Marketing Mail, and Periodicals. At 17 mature trees per ton of paper, nearly 98 million trees were cut down for the 11.5 billion pounds of paper (assuming that is not recycled paper) delivered by USPS in 2019. It uses a delivery fleet exceeding 200,000 vehicles, responsible for producing 1.7 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases in 2018. With USPS releasing 1.7 million metric tons of CO2 in 2018 and a mature tree absorbing 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year, we would need 78 million trees to absorb USPS’ CO2 produced annually.

Governance and organization

The Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service sets policy, procedure, and postal rates for services rendered. It has a similar role to a corporate
board of directors A board of directors is a group of people who jointly supervise the activities of an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, W ...
. Of the eleven members of the Board, nine are appointed by the president and confirmed by the
United States Senate The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, politi ...
(see ). The nine appointed members then select the
United States postmaster general The United States postmaster general (PMG) is the of the (USPS). The PMG is responsible for managing and directing the day-to-day operations of the agency. The PMG is selected and appointed by the , the members of which are appointed by the , ...
, who serves as the board's tenth member, and who oversees the day-to-day activities of the service as chief executive officer (see ). The ten-member board then nominates a deputy postmaster general, who acts as chief operating officer, to the eleventh and last remaining open seat. The independent
Postal Regulatory Commission The United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washingt ...
(formerly the Postal Rate Commission) is also controlled by appointees of the president confirmed by the Senate. It oversees postal rates and related concerns, having the authority to approve or reject USPS proposals. The USPS is often mistaken for a
state-owned enterprise A state-owned enterprise (SOE) or government-owned enterprise (GOE) is a business enterprise where the government or state has significant control through full, majority, or significant minority ownership. Defining characteristics of SOEs are ...
government-owned corporation A state-owned enterprise (SOE) or government-owned enterprise (GOE) is a business enterprise Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). Simp ...
(e.g., ) because it operates much like a business. It is, however, an "establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States", () as it is controlled by presidential appointees and the postmaster general. As a
government agency A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government The machinery of government (sometimes abbreviated as MoG) is the interconnected structures and proce ...
, it has many special privileges, including
sovereign immunity Sovereign immunity, or crown immunity, is a legal doctrine A legal doctrine is a framework, set of rules, Procedural law, procedural steps, or Test (law), test, often established through precedent in the common law, through which judgments ca ...
eminent domain Eminent domain (United States, Philippines), land acquisition (India, Malaysia, Singapore), compulsory purchase/acquisition (Australia, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom), resumption (Hong Kong, Uganda), resumption/compulsory acqui ...
powers, powers to negotiate postal treaties with foreign nations, and an exclusive legal right to deliver first-class and third-class mail. Indeed, in 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision “The Postal Service is not subject to antitrust liability. In both form and function, it is not a separate antitrust person from the United States but is part of the Government, and so is not controlled by the antitrust laws" such as the
Sherman Antitrust Act The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 (, ) is a United States antitrust law In the United States, antitrust law is a collection of federal and state government laws that regulate the conduct and organization of business corporations and are genera ...
. Unlike a state-owned enterprise, the USPS lacks a transparent ownership structure and isn't subject to standard rules and norms that apply to commercial entities. The USPS also lacks commercial discretion and control. The U.S. Supreme Court has also upheld the USPS's statutory monopoly on access to letter boxes against a
First Amendment First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill, ...
freedom of speech Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philoso ...
challenge; it thus remains illegal in the U.S. for anyone, other than the employees and agents of the USPS, to deliver mailpieces to letter boxes marked "U.S. Mail". The Postal Service also has a Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee and local Postal Customer Councils, which are advisory and primarily involve business customers.

Privatization proposals

Since the 1990s, Republicans have been discussing the idea of privatizing the U.S. Postal Service. President
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
‘s administration proposed turning USPS into "a private postal operator" as part of a June 2018 governmental reorganization plan, although there was strong bipartisan opposition to the idea in Congress. On December 17, 2017, President
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
criticized the postal service's relationship with
Amazon Amazon usually refers to: * Amazons In Greek mythology, the Amazons (Ancient Greek: Ἀμαζόνες ''Amazónes'', singular Ἀμαζών ''Amazōn'') are portrayed in a number of ancient Greek, ancient epic poems and legends, such as the ...
. In a post on
Twitter Twitter is an American microblogging Microblogging is an online Broadcasting, broadcast medium that exists as a specific form of blogging. A micro-blog differs from a traditional blog in that its content is typically smaller in both actu ...

, he stated: "Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!" Amazon maintains that the Postal Service makes a profit from its contract with the company.Gold, Michael, and Katie Rogers (March 29, 2018).
"The Facts Behind Trump’s Tweets on Amazon, Taxes and the Postal Service."
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of a ...

The New York Times
''. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
On June 21, 2018, Trump proposed a sweeping reorganization but Congress did not act. Lisa Graves has documented decades-long efforts to privatize the U.S. Postal Service through driving the public service to financial collapse. The Council on Foreign Relations brings the argument to bring USPS online with a digital identity via an email address. USPS explored a digital identity using an email address in it “Digital Identity – Opportunities for the Postal Service” report in 2012.

Universal service obligation and monopoly status

Legal basis and rationale

Article I, section 8, Clause 7 of the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or organ ...

United States Constitution
grants Congress the power to establish post offices and post roads, which has been interpreted as a de facto Congressional monopoly over the delivery of first-class residential mail—which has been defined as non-urgent residential letters (not packages). Accordingly, no other system for delivering first-class residential mail—public or private—has been tolerated, absent Congress's consent. The mission of the Postal Service is to provide the American public with trusted universal postal service. While not explicitly defined, the Postal Service's universal service obligation (USO) is broadly outlined in statute and includes multiple dimensions: geographic scope, range of products, access to services and facilities, delivery frequency, affordable and uniform pricing, service quality, and security of the mail. While other carriers may claim to voluntarily provide delivery on a broad basis, the Postal Service is the only carrier with a ''legal obligation'' to provide all the various aspects of universal service. Proponents of universal service principles claim that since any obligation must be matched by the financial capability to meet that obligation, the postal monopoly was put in place as a funding mechanism for the USO, and it has been in place for over a hundred years. It consists of two parts: the
Private Express Statutes The Private Express Statutes (PES) are a group of United States federal civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil (jour ...
(PES) and the mailbox access rule. The PES refer to the Postal Service's monopoly on the delivery of letters, and the mailbox rule refers to the Postal Service's exclusive access to customer mailboxes. Proponents of universal service principles further claim that eliminating or reducing the PES or mailbox rule would affect the ability of the Postal Service to provide affordable universal service. If, for example, the PES and the mailbox rule were to be eliminated, and the USO maintained, then either billions of dollars in tax revenues or some other source of funding would have to be found. Some proponents of universal service principles suggest that private communications that are protected by the veil of government promote the exchange of free ideas and communications. This separates private communications from the ability of a private for-profit or non-profit organization to corrupt. Security for the individual is in this way protected by the United States Post Office, maintaining confidentiality and anonymity, as well as government employees being much less likely to be instructed by superiors to engage in nefarious spying. It is seen by some as a dangerous step to extract the universal service principle from the post office, as the untainted nature of private communications is preserved as assurance of the protection of individual freedom of privacy. However, as the recent notice of a termination of mail service to residents of the
Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness Frank may refer to: People As a name * Frank (given name) * Frank (surname) Groups of people * A member of the medieval Germanic people, the Franks * Crusaders in medieval Middle Eastern history * Levantines (Latin Christians) known as Franco ...
indicates, mail service has been contracted to private firms such as Arnold Aviation for many decades. KTVB-TV reported:

2008 report on universal postal service and the postal monopoly

The Postal Act of 2006 required the
Postal Regulatory Commission The United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washingt ...
(PRC) to submit a report to the president and Congress on universal postal service and the postal monopoly in December 2008. The report must include any recommended changes. The Postal Service report supports the requirement that the PRC is to consult with and solicit written comments from the Postal Service. In addition, the Government Accountability Office was required to evaluate broader business model issues by 2011. On October 15, 2008, the Postal Service submitted a report to the PRC on its position related to the Universal Service Obligation (USO). It said no changes to the USO and restriction on mailbox access were necessary at that time, but increased regulatory flexibility was required to ensure affordable universal service in the future. In February 2013, the Postal Service announced that starting August 2013, Saturday delivery would be discontinued. Congress traditionally includes a provision in an annual
continuing resolution In the United States, a continuing resolution (often abbreviated to CR) is a type of appropriations Appropriation may refer to: *Appropriation (art) the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation *Appropriation (law ...
that requires six-day delivery; it did so again in March 2013, and the Postal Service was forced to continue Saturday delivery. Obligations of the USO include uniform prices, quality of service, access to services, and six-day delivery to every part of the country. To assure financial support for these obligations, the postal monopoly provides the Postal Service the exclusive right to deliver letters and restricts mailbox access solely for mail. The report argued that eliminating or reducing either aspect of the monopoly "would have a devastating impact on the ability ... to provide the affordable universal service that the country values so highly". Relaxing access to the mailbox would also pose security concerns, increase delivery costs, and hurt customer service, according to the Post Office. The report notes:
It is somewhat misleading to characterize the mailbox rule as a "monopoly," because the enforcement of leaves customers with ample alternative means of delivering their messages. Customers can deliver their messages either by paying postage, by placing messages on or under a door or a doormat, by using newspaper or non-postal boxes, by telephoning or emailing, by engaging in person-to-person delivery in public areas, by tacking or taping their notices on a door post, or by placing advertisements in local newspapers. These methods are comparable in efficacy to communication via the mailbox.
Most of these alternatives are not actually free in some communities. For example, in the
Chicago metropolitan area The Chicago metropolitan area, also referred to as Chicagoland, is one of the 40 largest urban areas in the world. Encompassing 10,286 sq mi (28,120 sq km), the metropolitan area includes the city of Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Wi ...
and many other one must get a background check from
police The police are a Law enforcement organization, constituted body of Law enforcement officer, persons empowered by a State (polity), state, with the aim to law enforcement, enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citize ...

and pay a daily fee for the right to solicit or post
commercial Commercial may refer to: * a dose of advertising conveyed through media (such as - for example - radio or television) ** Radio advertisement ** Television advertisement * (adjective for:) commerce, a system of voluntary exchange of products and se ...

messages on
private property Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the prope ...
. Regarding the monopoly on delivery of letters, the report notes that the monopoly is not complete, as there is an exception for letters where either ''the amount paid for private carriage of the letter equals at least six times the current rate for the first ounce of a single-piece First-Class Mail letter (also known as the "base rate" or "base tariff")'' or ''the letter weighs at least 12.5 ounces.'' The Postal Service said that the USO should continue to be broadly defined and there should be no changes to the postal monopoly. Any changes would have far-reaching effects on customers and the trillion dollar mailing industry. "A more rigidly defined USO would ... ultimately harm the American public and businesses," according to the report, which cautions that any potential change must be studied carefully and the effects fully understood.


FedEx FedEx Corporation, formerly Federal Express Corporation and later FDX Corporation, is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational f ...

United Parcel Service United Parcel Service (UPS, stylized as ups) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple co ...
(UPS) directly compete with USPS Express Mail and package delivery services, making nationwide deliveries of urgent letters and packages. Due to the postal monopoly, they are not allowed to deliver non-urgent letters and may not directly ship to U.S. Mail boxes at residential and commercial destinations. However, both companies have transit agreements with the USPS in which an item can be dropped off with either FedEx or UPS who will then provide shipment up to the destination post office serving the intended recipient where it will be transferred for delivery to the U.S. Mail destination, including Post Office Box destinations. These services also deliver packages which are larger and heavier than USPS will accept.
DHL Express DHL is today an international brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertis ...

DHL Express
was the third major competitor until February 2009, when it ceased domestic delivery operations in the United States. A variety of other transportation companies in the United States move cargo around the country, but either have limited geographic scope for delivery points, or specialize in items too large to be mailed. Many of the thousands of
courier A courier is a company, an employee of that company or a person who delivers a message, package or letter from one place or person to another place or person. Duties and functions Couriers are distinguished from ordinary mail The mail or po ...

companies focus on same-day delivery, for example, by
bicycle messenger Bicycle messengers (also known as bike or cycle couriers) are people who work for courier companies (also known as messenger companies) carrying and delivering items by bicycle. Bicycle messengers are most often found in the central business distr ...

bicycle messenger
. Although USPS and FedEx are direct competitors, USPS contracts with FedEx for air transport of 2–3 Day Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express (typically delivered overnight). Amazon controls one-fifth of the delivery market, and is on track to overtake UPS and even the US Postal Service (USPS), according to data from the logistics firm Pitney Bowes. Amazon Drone Delivery service is in USPS territory as well.

Alternative transmission methods

The Post Office Department owned and operated the first public
telegraph line An electrical telegraph is a point-to-point text messaging system, primarily used from the 1840s until the mid 20th century when it was slowly replaced by other telecommunication systems. It used coded pulses of electric current An electric c ...
s in the United States, starting in 1844 from Washington to Baltimore, and eventually extending to New York, Boston, Buffalo, and Philadelphia. In 1847, the telegraph system was privatized, except for a period during World War I, when it was used to accelerate the delivery of letters arriving at night. Between 1942 and 1945, "
V-Mail V-mail, short for Victory Mail, was a hybrid mail process used by the United States during the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involv ...
" (for "Victory Mail") service was available for
military mail Military mail, as opposed to civilian mail, refers to the postal service The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcards, letters, and parcels. A postal service can be private or public, though many governments place restri ...
. Letters were converted into
microfilm Microforms are scaled-down reproductions of documents, typically either films A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perception ...
and reprinted near the destination, to save room on transport vehicles for military cargo. In 1970, Western Union in co-operation with the Postal Service introduced the "
MailgramA mailgram is a type of telegraphic message which is delivered to the recipient by the post office. Mailgrams are received at a mailgram center by telephone, teletypewriter service or computer. Each message is placed in a special envelope and dispa ...
", a special type of
telegram Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of messages where the sender uses symbolic codes, known to the recipient, rather than a physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus flag semaphore is a method of telegraphy, whereas p ...

offered by Western Union intended for bulk mailing to multiple addressees. The sender would contact WU and submit to them the message to be sent and a list of addressees to mail the requested Mailgrams to. The message and address data were then sent electronically over Western Union's terrestrial network normally used for standard telegrams, with WU's
Westar 1 Westar 1 was America's first domestic and commercially launched geostationary A geostationary orbit, also referred to as a geosynchronous equatorial orbit''Geostationary orbit'' and ''Geosynchronous (equatorial) orbit'' are used somewhat ...
satellite used instead starting in 1974 with its launch, for Mailgram transmission to participating Postal Service centers, who would then print and mail the Mailgrams to the requested addressees. Similar to WU's Mailgrams was Electronic Computer Originated Mail, offered by the Postal Service from 1982 to 1985. Also known as E-COM, it too was used for bulk mailings. Text was transmitted electronically to one of 25 post offices nationwide. The Postal Service would print the mail and put it in special envelopes bearing a blue E-COM logo. Delivery was assured within 2 days. To improve accuracy and efficiency, the Postal Service introduced the Intelligent Mail program to complement the ZIP code system. This system, which was intended to replace the deprecated POSTNET system, allows bulk mailers to use pre-printed bar codes to assist in mail delivery and sorting. Additional features, called Enhanced, or Full-Service, Intelligent Mail Barcodes allow for mail tracking of bulk mail through the postal system up to the final delivery Post Office.

Criticism of the universal service requirement and the postal monopoly

Critics of the universal service requirement and the statutory postal monopoly include several professional economists advocating for the privatization of the mail delivery system, or at least a relaxation of the universal service model that currently exists. Rick Geddes argued in 2000: Furthermore, some economists have argued that because public enterprises may pursue objectives different than
profit maximization In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods an ...

profit maximization
, they might have more of an incentive than profit-maximizing firms to behave anticompetitively through policies such as predatory pricing, misstating costs, and creating barriers to entry. To resolve those issues, one economist proposes a cost-allocation model that would determine the optimal allocation of USPS's by finding the share of costs that would maximize USPS profits from its competitive products. Postal regulators could use such a cost model to ensure that the Postal Service is not abusing its statutory monopoly by subsidizing price cuts in competitive product markets with revenue obtained from the monopolized market.

Law enforcement agencies

Under the Mail Cover Program USPS photographs the front and back of every piece of U.S. mail as part of the sorting process, enabling law enforcement to obtain address information and images of the outsides of mail as part of an investigation without the need for a warrant.

Postal Inspection Service

United States Postal Inspection Service The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), or the Postal Inspectors, is the law enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service The United States Postal Service (USPS; also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service ...
(USPIS) is one of the oldest
law enforcement agencies A law enforcement agency (LEA), in North American English, is any government agency responsible for the law enforcement, enforcement of the laws. Outside North America, such organizations are usually called police services. In North America, some o ...
in the U.S. Founded by
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States that was negotiated on behalf of the United States by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simp ...

Benjamin Franklin
on August 7, 1775, its mission is to protect the Postal Service, its employees, and its customers from crime and protect the nation's mail system from criminal misuse. Postal Inspectors enforce over 200 federal laws providing for the protection of mail in investigations of crimes that may adversely affect or fraudulently use the U.S. Mail, the postal system or postal employees. The USPIS has the power to enforce the USPS monopoly by conducting search and seizure raids on entities they suspect of sending non-urgent mail through overnight delivery competitors. According to the
American Enterprise Institute The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, known simply as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), is a Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the W ...
, a private conservative
think tank A think tank, or policy institute, is a research institute A research institute, research centre, or research center is an establishment founded for doing research Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to inc ...
, the USPIS raided
Equifax Equifax Inc. is an American multinational consumer credit reporting agency A credit bureau is a data collection agency that gathers account information from various creditors and provides that information to a consumer reporting agency in the ...

offices in 1993 to ascertain if the mail they were sending through
Federal Express FedEx Corporation, formerly Federal Express Corporation and later FDX Corporation, is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational f ...

Federal Express
was truly "extremely urgent". It was found that the mail was not, and Equifax was fined $30,000. The PIS oversees the activities of the Postal Police Force who patrol and secure major postal facilities in the United States.

Office of Inspector General

United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General The United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) was created by Public Law 104–208, passed by Congress in 1996. The inspector general of the United States Postal Service (USPS) is appointed by the presidentially appointed gover ...
(OIG) was authorized by law in 1996. Prior to the 1996 legislation, the Postal Inspection Service performed the duties of the OIG. The inspector general, who is independent of postal management, is appointed by and reports directly to the nine presidentially appointed,
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
confirmed A woodcut depicting the confirmation of Lutheran youth In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of the covenant created in baptism. It is an affirmation of commitment and belief. Those bei ...
members of the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service. The primary purpose of the OIG is to prevent, detect and report fraud, waste and program abuse, and promote efficiency in the operations of the Postal Service. The OIG has "oversight" responsibility for all activities of the Postal Inspection Service.

How delivery services work

Elements of addressing and preparing domestic mail

All mailable articles (e.g., letters, flats, machinable parcels, irregular parcels, etc.) shipped within the United States must comply with an array of standards published in the USPS Domestic Mail Manual (DMM). Before addressing the mailpiece, one must first comply with the various mailability standards relating to attributes of the actual mailpiece such as: minimum/maximum dimensions and weight, acceptable mailing containers, proper mailpiece sealing/closure, utilization of various markings, and restrictions relating to various hazardous (e.g., explosives, flammables, etc.) and restricted (e.g., cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, etc.) materials, as well as others articulated in § 601 of the DMM. The USPS specifies the following key elements when preparing the face of a mailpiece: # Proper Placement: The Delivery Address should be left-justified and located roughly in the center of mailpiece's largest side. More precisely, on a letter-size piece, the recommended address placement is within the optical character reader (OCR) read area, which is a space on the address side of the mailpiece defined by these boundaries: Left – 1/2 inch (13 mm) from the left edge of the piece; Right – 1/2 inch (13 mm) from the right edge of the piece; Top – 2-3/4 inches (70 mm) from the bottom edge of the piece; Bottom – 5/8 inch (16 mm) from the bottom edge of the piece. Preferred placement of a return address is in the upper left portion of the mailpiece—on the side of the piece bearing postage. Finally, postage (e.g., stamps, meter imprints, information-based indicia etc.) is to be affixed in the upper right corner of the address side of the mail cover. Any stamp/indicia partly concealed or otherwise obscured by an overlapping stamp/indicia may not be counted as valid postage. # Delivery Address (party receiving mail): The mail piece must have the address of the intended recipient, visible and legible, only on the side of the mail piece bearing postage. Generally, the name of the addressee should be included above the
address An address is a collection of information, presented in a mostly fixed format, used to give the location of a building, apartment, or other structure or a plot of land, generally using political boundaries Borders are geographic Geogr ...
itself. A ZIP+4 code will facilitate delivery. # Return Address (party sending mail): A return address tells the USPS where the sender wants the mail returned if it is undeliverable. Usage of a return address is required for some postal services (including Priority Mail, Express Mail, Periodicals in envelopes or wrappers, Insured Mail, Registered Mail, and parcel services). # Postage Payment: All mailpieces must include appropriate valid postage. Postage payment may be in the form of stamps, stamped stationery, precanceled stamps, postage meter imprints & PC Postage products ("Postage Evidencing Systems"), or permit imprint (indicia). Members of the U.S. Congress, among others, have franking privileges, which require only a signature. Domestic First-Class Mail costs 58¢ for envelopes (40 cents for postcard, post cards) and upwards, depending on the weight and dimensions of the letter and the class. Mail going to naval vessels is known as the Military mail, Fleet Post Office (FPO) and to Army or Air Force installations use the city abbreviation APO (Army Post Office or Air Force Post Office). Undeliverable mail that cannot be readily returned, including mail without a return address, is treated as dead mail at a Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia or Saint Paul, Minnesota. ;The format of the address is as follows: :Line 1: Name of recipient :Line 2: Street address or P.O. Box :Line 3: City, State (ISO 3166-2:US, ISO 3166-2:US code or APO/FPO code) and ZIP+4 code ;Example: :Customer Name :1 Montgomery Street :San Francisco CA 94104-5516 The USPS maintains a list of proper abbreviations. The format of a return address is similar. Though some style manuals recommend using a comma between the city and state name when typesetting addresses in other contexts, for optimal automatic character recognition, the Post Office does not recommend this when addressing mail. The official recommendation is to use all upper case block letters with proper formats and abbreviations, and leave out all punctuation except for the hyphen in the ZIP+4 code. If the address is unusually formatted or illegible enough, it will require hand-processing, delaying that particular item. The USPS publishes the entirety of their postal addressing standards. Postal address verification tools and services are offered by the USPS and third-party companies to help ensure mail is deliverable by fixing formatting, appending information such as ZIP code and validating the address is a valid Postal address verification#Delivery Point Validation, delivery point. Customers can look up ZIP codes and verify addresses using USPS Web Tools available on the official USPS website and Facebook page, as well as on third-party sites.

Delivery Point Validation

Delivery Point Validation (DPV) provides the highest level of address accuracy checking. In a DPV process, the address is checked against the AMS data file to ensure that it exists as an active delivery point. 2004 Comprehensive Statement on Postal Operations Chapter 2 Postal Operations The USPS does not offer DPV validation on their website; however, there are companies that offer services to perform DPV verification.

Paying postage

The actual postage can be paid via: * Stamps purchased online at usps.com, at a post office, from a stamp vending machine or "Automated Postal Center" which can also handle packages, or from a third party (such as a grocery store) * Precancel, Pre-cancelled stamps for bulk mailings * Postal meter * Prepaid envelope * Shipping label purchased online and printed by the customer on standard paper (e.g., with Click-N-Ship, or via a third-party such as PayPal or Amazon.com, Amazon shipping) All unused U.S. postage stamps issued since 1861 are still valid as postage at their indicated value. Stamps with no value shown or denominated by a letter are also still valid, although the value depends upon the particular stamp. For some stamps issued without a printed value, the current value is the original value. But some stamps beginning in 1988 or earlier, including ''Forever Stamps'' (issued from April 2007) and all first-class, first-ounce stamps issued from January 21, 2011, the value is the current value of a first-class-mail first-ounce stamp. The USPS calls these Forever Stamps but the generic name is non-denominated postage. Forever stamps are sold at the First-Class Mail postage rate at the time of purchase, but will always be valid for First-Class Mail, up to , no matter how rates rise in the future. Britain has had a similar stamp since 1989. The cost of mailing a First-Class letter increased to 58 cents on August 29, 2021.

Postage meters

A postage meter is a mechanical device used to create and apply physical evidence of postage (or franking) to mailed matter. Postage meters are regulated by a country's postal authority; for example, in the United States, the United States Postal Service specifies the rules for the creation, support, and use of postage meters. A postage meter imprints an amount of postage, functioning as a postage stamp, a cancellation and a dated postmark all in one. The meter stamp serves as proof of payment and eliminates the need for adhesive stamps.

PC Postage

In addition to using standard stamps, postage can now be printed in the form of an electronic stamp, or e-stamp, from a personal computer using a system called Information Based Indicia. This online PC Postage method relies upon application software on the customer's computer contacting a postal security device at the office of the postal service. PC Postage providers include: * Stamps.com (founded 1996, headquartered in El Segundo, CA) * EasyPost (founded 2012, headquartered in San Francisco, CA)

Other electronic postage payment methods

Electronic Verification System (eVS) is the Postal Service's integrated mail management technology that centralizes payment processing and electronic postage reports. Part of an evolving suite of USPS electronic payment services called PostalOne!, eVS allows mailers shipping large volumes of parcels through the Postal Service a way to circumvent use of hard-copy manifests, postage statements and drop-shipment verification forms. Instead, mailers can pay postage automatically through a centralized account and track payments online. Beginning in August 2007, the Postal Service began requiring mailers shipping Parcel Select packages using a permit imprint to use eVS for manifesting their packages.

Stamp copyright and reproduction

All U.S. postage stamps issued under the former
United States Post Office Department The United States Post Office Department (USPOD; also known as the Post Office or U.S. Mail) was the predecessor of the United States Postal Service The United States Postal Service (USPS; also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Pos ...
and other postage items that were released before 1978 are not subject to copyright, but stamp designs since 1978 are copyrighted. The United States Copyright Office in section 313.6(C)(1) of the Third Edition of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices holds that "Works prepared by officers or employees of the U.S. Postal Service ... are not considered works of the U.S. Government" and are therefore eligible for registration. Thus, the USPS holds copyright to such materials released since 1978 under Title 17 of the United States Code. Written permission is required for use of copyrighted postage stamp images, although under USPS rules, permission is "generally" not required for "educational use", "news reporting" or "philatelic advertising use," but users must cite USPS as the source of the image and include language such as "© United States Postal Service. All rights reserved."

Service level choices

General domestic services

As of April 2011, domestic postage levels for low-volume mailers include: * Express Mail, Priority Mail Express (formerly Express Mail): Overnight delivery guaranteed to most locationsUSPS FAQ – Domestic Classes of Mail Estimated Delivery Time
**1 or 2 day delivery guarantee **Delivery guaranteed by 6 PM () ** $100 insurance included. ** Tracking included. ** Flat Rate envelopes are available $26.35 postage. Otherwise, variable pricing, pricing varies by weight and distance. * Priority Mail: Day specific delivery service ranging from 1 to 3 days depending on origin of shipment (not guaranteed) ** As of January 27, 2013, tracking via Delivery Confirmation is now included on all Priority Mail shipments. ** Flat Rate envelopes and boxes (various sizes) are available free from the Postal Store. Otherwise, pricing varies by weight, size and distance. ** $50 insurance for retail/$100 insurance for commercial starting on July 28, 2013. ** Tracking Included * First class mail#First-class, First-Class Mail ** 2- to 3-day delivery. *** In most cases for letters and small packages. ** Rate varies by size and weight, but not distance. *** Postcards (5″ × 3.5″ × 0.007 to 6″ × 4.25″ × 0.016″ × [127 × 89 × 0.18 to 152 × 108 × 0.4 mm]): 40¢ *** Letters (up to 11.5″ × 6.125″ × 0.25″ ×, 3.5 oz [292 × 156 × 6.4 mm, 100 g]): 58¢ + 20¢ for each additional ounce stamped, 53¢ + 20¢ for each additional ounce metered *** Large Envelope or Flat (up to 15″ × 12″ × 0.75″ ×, 13 oz [381 × 305 × 19 mm, 370 g]): $1.16 + 20¢ each additional ounce (28 g). Must be rectangular, uniformly thick, and not too rigid. * First class package service ** Rate varies by weight and distance. *** Package/Parcel (Up to length plus girth, : $3.80-$4.20 up to 4 ounces, $4.60-$5.00 up to 8 ounces, $5.90-$6.50 up to 13 ounces * USPS Retail Ground (formerly Parcel post, Parcel Post) ** Slowest but cheapest service for packages too large or heavy for First Class—uses surface transport. ** 2- to 9-day service to contiguous U.S., 4–14 days internal to AK/HI/territories, 3–6 weeks between mainland and outlying areas (travels by ship). ** Variable pricing by weight, size and distance. ** Free forwarding if recipient has filed change-of-address form, or return if the item is undeliverable. * Media Mail—formerly "Book Rate" ** Books and recorded media only. ** No advertising. ** Pricing by weight only. ** Transit time similar to Parcel Post. ** Cheaper than Parcel Post but only due to increased restrictions on package contents. * Library Mail ** Similar to Media Mail, but cheaper and restricted to academic institutions, public libraries, museums, etc. The Post Office will not deliver packages heavier than or if the length (the package's longest dimension) plus the girth (the measurement around the package at its largest point in the two shorter dimensions) is greater than combine or for Retail Ground.

Bulk mail

Discounts are available for large volumes of mail. Depending on the postage level, certain conditions might be required or optional for an additional discount: * Minimum number of pieces * Weight limits * Ability for the USPS to process by machine * Addresses formatting standardized * USPS-readable barcode * Sorted by three-digit ZIP code prefix, five-digit ZIP code, ZIP+4, or 11-digit delivery point * Delivered in trays, bundles, or pallets partitioned by destination * Delivered directly to a regional Bulk Mail Center, destination SCF, or destination Post Office * Certification of mailing list accuracy and freshness (e.g., correct ZIP codes, purging of stale addresses, processing of change-of-address notifications) In addition to bulk discounts on Express, Priority, and First-Class Mail, the following postage levels are available for bulk mailers: * Periodicals * Standard Mail (A) ** Automation ** Enhanced Carrier Route ** Regular * Standard Mail (B) ** Parcel Post ** Bound Printed matter, Printed Matter – Cheaper than Media Mail, for advertising catalogs, phone books, etc. up to 15 lb ** Special Standard Mail ** Library Mail ** Nonprofit

Extra services

Depending on the type of mail, additional services are available for an additional fee: * Certificate of Mailing provides proof of the date a package was mailed. * Certified Mail provides proof of mailing, and a delivery record. Used for serving legal documents and for sending Classified information in the United States, U.S. Government classified information, up to the "confidential" level. * Collect on Delivery (C.O.D.) allows merchants to offer customers an option to pay upon delivery, up to $1000. Includes insurance. * USPS Tracking provides proof of delivery to sorting facilities, local post office and destination, but no signature is required. * Insurance is shipping insurance against loss or damage for the value of the goods mailed. Amount of coverage can be specified, up to $5,000. * Registered Mail is used for highly valuable or irreplaceable items, and Classified information in the United States, classified information up to the "secret" level. Registered mail is transported separately from other mail, in locked containers. Tracking is included and insurance up to $25,000 is available. * Restricted Delivery requires delivery to a specific person or their authorized agent, not just to a mailbox. * Return Receipt actively sends signature confirmation back to the sender by postcard or emailed PDF (as opposed to merely putting this information into the online tracking system). * Signature Confirmation requires a delivery signature, which is kept on file. The online tracking system displays the first initial and last name of the signatory. * Special Handling is for unusual items, like live animals.

International services

In May 2007, the USPS restructured international service names to correspond with domestic shipping options. Formerly, USPS International services were categorized as Airmail (Letter Post), Economy (Surface) Parcel Post, Airmail Parcel Post, Global Priority, Global Express, and Global Express Guaranteed Mail. The former Airmail (Letter Post) is now First-Class Mail International, and includes small packages weighing up to four pounds (1.8 kg). Economy Parcel Post was discontinued for international service, while Airmail Parcel Post was replaced by Priority Mail International. Priority Mail International Flat-Rate packaging in various sizes was introduced, with the same conditions of service previously used for Global Priority. Global Express is now Express Mail International, while Global Express Guaranteed is unchanged. The international mailing classes with a tracking ability are Express, Express Guaranteed, and Priority (except that tracking is not available for Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes or Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Boxes). One of the major changes in the new naming and services definitions is that USPS-supplied mailing boxes for Priority and Express mail are now allowed for international use. These services are offered to ship letters and packages to almost every country and territory on the globe. The USPS provides much of this service by contracting with a private parcel service,
FedEx FedEx Corporation, formerly Federal Express Corporation and later FDX Corporation, is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational f ...

. The USPS provides an service for international shipment of printed matter;Postal Explorer>IMM Issue 37 – International Mail Manual > 2 Conditions for Mailing
260 Direct Sacks of Printed Matter to One Addressee (M–bags)
previously surface M-bags existed, but with the 2007 elimination of surface mail, only airmail M-bags remain. The term "M-bag" is not expanded in USPS publications; M-bags are simply defined as "direct sacks of printed matter ... sent to a single foreign addressee at a single address"; however, the term is sometimes referred to informally as "media bag", as the bag can also contain "discs, tapes, and cassettes", in addition to books, for which the usual umbrella term is "media"; some also refer to them as "mail bags". Military mail is billed at domestic rates when being sent from the United States to a military outpost, and is free when sent by deployed military personnel. The overseas logistics are handled by the Military Postal Service Agency in the Department of Defense. Outside of forward areas and active operations, military mail First-Class takes 7–10 days, Priority 10–15 days, and Parcel Post about 24 days. Three independent countries with a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. (Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia) have a special relationship with the United States Postal Service: * Each associated state maintains its own government-run mail service for delivery to and pickup from retail customers. * The associated states are integrated into the USPS addressing and ZIP code system. * The USPS is responsible for transporting mail between the United States and the associated states, and between the individual states of the Federated States of Micronesia. * The associated states synchronize postal services and rates with the USPS. * The USPS treats mail to and from the associated states as domestic mail. Incoming mail does require customs declarations because, like some U.S. territories, the associated states are outside the main customs territory of the United States.

The discontinuation of international surface mail

Sorting and delivery process

Processing of standard sized envelopes and cards is highly automated, including reading of handwritten addresses. Mail from individual customers and public USPS mailboxes is collected by letter carriers into plastic tubs, which are taken to one of approximately 251 Processing and Distribution Centers (P&DC) across the United States. Each P&DC sorts mail for a given region (typically with a radius of around ) and connects with the national network for interregional mail.Author unknown (date unknown). Direct Marketing Direct Mail. Allbusiness.com. Retrieved on 2011-07-08 from . During the 2010s, the USPS consolidated mail sorting for large regions into the P&DCs on the basis that most mail is addressed to faraway destinations, but for cities at the edge of a P&DC's region, this means all locally addressed mail must now travel long distances (that is, to and from the P&DC for sorting) to reach nearby addresses. At the P&DC, mail is emptied into hampers which are then automatically dumped into a Dual Pass Rough Cull System (DPRCS). As mail travels through the DPRCS, large items, such as packages and mail bundles, are removed from the stream. As the remaining mail enters the first machine for processing standard mail, the Advanced Facer-Canceler System (AFCS), pieces that passed through the DPRCS but do not conform to physical dimensions for processing in the AFCS (e.g., large envelopes or overstuffed standard envelopes) are automatically diverted from the stream. Mail removed from the DPRCS and AFCS is manually processed or sent to parcel sorting machines. In contrast to the previous system, which merely canceled and postmarked the upper right corner of the envelope, thereby missing any stamps which were inappropriately placed, the AFCS locates Indicia (philately), indicia (stamp or metered postage mark) regardless of the orientation of the mailpiece as it enters the machine, and cancels it by applying a postmark. Detection of indicia enables the AFCS to determine the orientation of each mailpiece and sort it accordingly. The AFCS rotates and flips over mailpieces as needed, so all mail is sorted right-side up and faced in the same direction in each output bin. Mail is sorted by the AFCS into three categories: mail already affixed with a bar code and addressed (such as business reply envelopes and cards); mail with machine printed (typed) addresses; and mail with handwritten addresses. Mail with typed addresses goes to a Multiline Optical Character Reader (MLOCR) which reads the ZIP Code and address information and prints the appropriate bar code onto the envelope (formerly POSTNET, now Intelligent Mail). Mail with handwritten addresses and illegible typed addresses is diverted from the mailstream to the Remote Bar Coding System (RBCS). Images of such mailpieces are transmitted through RBCS to the Remote Encoding Center, where humans (data entry clerks) read each image and type in the most likely address. Each mailpiece held for RBCS processing is sprayed with an ID Tag, a fluorescent bar code. When address data comes back from the Remote Encoding Center, RBCS uses the ID Tag bar code to identify the corresponding mailpiece and prints the appropriate bar code, then returns the mailpiece to the mailstream. Processed mail is imaged by the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking (MICT) system to allow easier tracking of hazardous substances. Images are taken at more than 200 mail processing centers, and are destroyed after being retained for 30 days. If a customer has filed a change of address card and his or her mail is detected in the mailstream with the old address, the mailpiece is sent to a machine that automatically connects to a Computerized Forwarding System database to determine the new address. If this address is found, the machine will paste a label over the former address with the current address and the appropriate bar code. The mail is returned to the mailstream to be forwarded to the addressee's new location. Mail with addresses that cannot be read and bar coded by any of the foregoing automated systems is separated for human intervention. If a local postal worker can read the address, he or she manually codes and sorts it according to the ZIP Code on the article. If the address still cannot be read, mail is either returned to the sender (First-Class Mail with a valid return address) or is sent to the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia (formerly known as the dead letter office). At this office, the mail is opened to try to find an address to forward to. If an address is found, the contents are resealed and delivered. Otherwise, the items are held for 90 days in case of inquiry by the customer; if they are not claimed, they are either destroyed or auctioned off at the monthly Postal Service Unclaimed Parcel auction to raise money for the service. Once the mail is bar coded, it is automatically sorted by a delivery bar code sorter, Delivery Bar Code Sorter (DBCS) that reads the bar code, identifies the destination of the mailpiece, and sends it to an appropriate tray that corresponds to the next segment of its journey. There are necessarily two P&DCs for every domestic mailpiece which correspond to the regions in which the sender and recipient are located. USPS calls these, respectively, the origination and destination P&DCs. Mail for which they are the same (because the senders are located in the same region as the recipients) is either trucked to the appropriate local post office, or kept in the building for carrier routes served directly from the P&DC itself. Out-of-region mail is trucked to the closest airport and then flown, usually as baggage on commercial airlines, to the airport nearest the destination station. At the destination P&DC, mail is once again read by a DBCS which sorts items to local post offices; this includes grouping mailpieces by individual letter-carrier route. At the carrier route level, 95% of letters arrive pre-sorted; the remaining mail must be sorted by hand. The Post Office is working to increase the percentage of automatically sorted mail, including a pilot program to sort "flats". FedEx provides air transport service to USPS for Priority and Express Mail. Priority Mail and Express Mail are transported from Priority Mail processing centers to the closest FedEx-served airport, where they are handed off to FedEx. FedEx then flies them to the destination airport and hands them back to USPS for transport to the local post office and delivery.

Types of postal facilities

Although its retail postal facilities are called post offices in regular speech, the USPS recognizes several types of postal facilities, including the following: * A main post office (formerly known as a general post office) is the primary postal facility in a community. * A station or post office station is a postal facility that is not the main post office, but that is within the corporate limits of the community. * A branch or post office branch is a postal facility that is not the main post office and that is outside the corporate limits of the community. * A classified unit is a station or branch operated by USPS employees in a facility owned or leased by the USPS. * A contract postal unit (or CPU) is a station or branch operated by a contractor, typically in a store or other place of business. * A community post office (or CPO) is a contract postal unit providing services in a small community in which other types of post office facilities have been discontinued. * A finance unit is a station or branch that provides window services and accepts mail, but does not provide delivery. * A village post office (VPO) is an entity such as a local business or government center that provides postal services through a contract with the USPS. First introduced in 2011 as an integral part of the USPS plan to close low volume post offices, village post offices will fill the role of the post office within a ZIP Code. * A processing and distribution center (P&DC, or processing and distribution facility, formerly known as a General Mail Facility) is a central mail facility that processes and dispatches incoming and outgoing mail to and from a designated service area (251 nationwide). * A sectional center facility (SCF) is a P&DC for a designated geographical area defined by one or more three-digit ZIP Code prefixes. * An international service center (ISC) is an international mail processing facility. There are only five such USPS facilities in the continental United States, located in Chicago, New York, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco. * A Network Distribution Center, formerly known as a bulk mail center (BMC), is a central mail facility that processes bulk rate parcels as the hub in a hub and spoke network. * An auxiliary sorting facility (ASF) is a central mail facility that processes bulk rate parcels as spokes in a hub and spoke network. * A remote encoding center (REC) is a facility at which clerks receive images of problem mail pieces (those with hard-to-read addresses, etc.) via secure Internet-type feeds and manually type the addresses they can decipher, using a special encoding protocol. The mail pieces are then sprayed with the correct addresses or are sorted for further handling according to the instructions given via encoding. The total number of RECs is down from 55 in 1998 to just 1 center in December 2016. The last REC is in Salt Lake City, Utah. While common usage refers to all types of postal facilities as "substations", the USPS Glossary of Postal Terms does not define or even list that word.Publication 32 – Glossary of Postal Terms
. (PDF) . Retrieved on July 8, 2011.
Post Offices often share facilities with other governmental organizations located within a city's central business district. In those locations, often Courthouses and Federal Buildings, the building is owned by the General Services Administration while the U.S. Postal Services operates as a tenement (law), tenant. The USPS retail system has approximately 36,000 post offices, stations, and branches.

= Automated Postal Centers

= In the year 2004, the USPS began deploying Automated Postal Centers (APCs). APCs are unattended kiosks that are capable of weighing, franking, and storing packages for later pickup as well as selling domestic and international postage stamps. Since its introduction, APCs do not take cash payments – they only accept credit or debit cards. Similarly, traditional vending machines are available at many post offices to purchase stamps, though these are being phased out in many areas. Due to increasing use of Internet services, as of June 2009, no retail post office windows are open 24 hours; overnight services are limited to those provided by an Automated Postal Center.

Evolutionary Network Development (END) program

In February 2006, the USPS announced that they plan to replace the nine existing facility-types with five processing facility-types: * Regional Distribution Centers (RDCs), which will process all classes of parcels and bundles and serve as Surface Transfer Centers; * Local Processing Centers (LPCs), which will process single-piece letters and flats and cancel mail; * Destination Processing Centers (DPC), sort the mail for individual letter-carrier route; * Airport Transfer Centers (ATCs), which will serve as transfer points only; and * Remote Encoding Centers (RECs). Over a period of years, these facilities are expected to replace Processing & Distribution Centers, Customer Service Facilities, Bulk Mail Centers, Logistic and Distribution Centers, annexes, the Hub and Spoke Program, Air Mail Centers, and International Service Centers. The changes are a result of the declining volumes of single-piece First-Class Mail, population shifts, the increase in drop shipments by advertising mailers at destinating postal facilities, advancements in equipment and technology, redundancies in the existing network, and the need for operational flexibility. The program was ended in early 2007 after an analysis revealed that the significant amount of capital investment required to implement the END network concept would not generate the benefits originally anticipated.

Airline and rail division

The United States Postal Service does not directly own or operate any aircraft or trains, although both were formerly operated. The mail and packages are flown on airlines with which the Postal Service has a contractual agreement. The contracts change periodically. Contract airlines have included: United Parcel Service, UPS, Emery Worldwide, Ryan International Airlines, FedEx Express, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Express One International. carried some mail between cities, such as Chicago and Minneapolis–Saint Paul, but this terminated in October 2004. The last air delivery route in the continental U.S., to residents in the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness, was scheduled to be ended in June 2009. The weekly bush plane route, contracted out to an air taxi company, had in its final year an annual cost of $46,000, or $2400/year per residence, over ten times the average cost of delivering mail to a residence in the United States.Where to Buy Stamps
This decision has been reversed by the U.S. postmaster general.

Parcel forwarding and private interchange

Private US parcel forwarding or US mail forwarding companies focusing on personal shopper, relocation, Ex-pat and mail box services often interface with the United States Postal Service for transporting of mail and packages for their customers.

Delivery timing

Delivery days

From 1810, mail was delivered seven days a week. In 1828, local religious leaders noticed a decline in Sunday-morning church attendance because of local post offices' doubling as gathering places. These leaders appealed to the government to intervene and close post offices on Sundays. The government, however, declined, and mail was delivered seven days a week until 1912.
. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
"The Unlikely Alliance That Ended Sunday Mail Delivery ... in 1912"
Today, U.S. Mail (with the exception of Express Mail) is not delivered on Sunday. Saturday delivery was temporarily suspended in April 1957, because of lack of funds, but quickly restored. Budget problems prompted consideration of dropping Saturday delivery starting around 2009. This culminated in a 2013 announcement that regular mail services would be cut to five days a week, which was reversed by Congress before it could take effect. (See the section #Revenue decline and planned cuts, Revenue decline and planned cuts.)

Direct delivery vs. customer pickup

Originally, mail was not delivered to homes and businesses, but to post offices. In 1863, "city delivery" began in urban areas with enough customers to make this economical. This required streets to be named, houses to be numbered, with sidewalks and lighting provided, and these street addresses to be added to envelopes. The number of routes served expanded over time. In 1891, the first experiments with Rural Free Delivery began in less densely populated areas. There is currently an effort to reduce direct delivery in favor of mailbox clusters. To compensate for high mail volume and slow long-distance transportation which saw mail arrive at post offices throughout the day, deliveries were made multiple times a day. This ranged from twice for residential areas to up to seven times for the central business district of Brooklyn, New York.Deliveries per Day
. (PDF) . Retrieved on July 8, 2011.
In the late 19th century, mail boxes were encouraged, saving carriers the time it took to deliver directly to the addressee in person; in the 1910s and 1920s, they were phased in as a requirement for service. In the 1940s, multiple daily deliveries began to be reduced, especially on Saturdays. By 1990, the last twice-daily deliveries in New York City were eliminated. Today, mail is delivered once a day on-site to most private homes and businesses. The USPS still distinguishes between city delivery (where carriers generally walk and deliver to mailboxes hung on exterior walls or porches, or to commercial reception areas) and rural delivery (where carriers generally drive). With "curbside delivery", mailboxes are at the ends of driveways, on the nearest convenient road. "Central point delivery" is used in some locations, where several nearby residences share a "cluster" of individual mailboxes in a single housing. Some customers choose to use post office boxes for an additional fee, for privacy or convenience. This provides a locked box at the post office to which mail is addressed and delivered (usually earlier in the day than home delivery). Customers in less densely populated areas where there is no city delivery and who do not qualify for rural delivery may receive mail only through post office boxes. High-volume business customers can also arrange for special pick-up. Another option is the old-style general delivery, for people who have neither post office boxes nor street addresses. Mail is held at the post office until they present identification and pick it up. Some customers receive free post office boxes if the USPS declines to provide door-to-door delivery to their location or a nearby box. People with medical problems can request door-to-door delivery. Homeless people are also eligible for post office boxes at the discretion of the local postmaster, or can use general delivery.

Special delivery

From 1885 to 1997, a service called special delivery (postal service), special delivery was available, which caused a separate delivery to the final location earlier in the day than the usual daily rounds.

Same-day trials

In December 2012, the USPS began a limited one-year trial of same-day deliveries directly from retailers or distribution hubs to residential addresses in the same local area, a service it dubbed "Metro Post". The trial was initially limited to San Francisco and the only retailer to participate in the first few weeks was 1-800-FLOWERS. In March 2013, the USPS faced new same-day competition for e-commerce deliveries from Google Shopping Express. In November 2013, the Postal Service began regular package delivery on Sundays for Amazon customers in New York and Los Angeles, which it expanded to 15 cities in May 2014. Amazon Sunday delivery has now been expanded to most major markets as of September 2015. Other competition in this area includes online grocers such as AmazonFresh, Webvan, and delivery services operated by grocery stores like Peapod and Safeway Inc., Safeway.

Forwarding and holds

Residential customers can fill out a form to forward mail to a new address, and can also send pre-printed forms to any of their frequent correspondents. They can also put their mail on "hold", for example, while on vacation. The Post Office will store mail during the hold, instead of letting it overflow in the mailbox. These services are not available to large buildings and customers of a commercial mail receiving agency, where mail is subsorted by non-Post Office employees into individual mailboxes.

Financial services

Postal money orders provide a safe alternative to sending cash through the mail, and are available in any amount up to $1,000. Like a cheque, bank check, money orders are cashable only by the recipient. Unlike a personal bank check, they are prepaid and therefore cannot be returned because of insufficient funds. Money orders are a declining business for the USPS, as companies like PayPal, Venmo and others are offering electronic replacements. From 1911 to 1967, the Postal Service also operated the United States Postal Savings System, not unlike a savings and loan association with the amount of the deposit limited. A January 2014 report by the inspector general of the USPS suggested that the agency could earn $8.9 billion per year in revenue by providing financial services, especially in areas where there are no local banks but there is a local post office, and to customers who currently do not have bank accounts.


The Postal Service is the nation's second-largest civilian employer. – There is als
a web version of the content
, it employed 495,941 career employees and 148,092 non-career personnel, divided among offices, processing centers, and actual post offices. The United States Postal Service would rank 44th on the 2019 Fortune 500 list, if considered a private company and ranks 136 on Global Fortune 500 list. Trade union, Labor unions representing USPS employees include: The American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which represents postal clerks and maintenance, motor vehicle, mail equipment shops, material distribution centers, and operating services and facilities services employees, postal nurses, and IT and accounting; the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), which represents city letter carriers; the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association (NRLCA), which represents rural letter carriers; and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU). USPS employees are divided into major crafts according to the work they engage in: * Mail carrier, Letter carriers, also referred to as mailmen or mail carriers, prepare and deliver mail and parcels. They are divided into two categories: City Letter Carriers, who are represented by the NALC, and Rural Letter Carriers, who are represented by the NRLCA. City Carriers are paid hourly with automatic overtime paid after 8 hours or 40 hours a week of duty. City Carriers are required to work in any kind of weather, daylight or dark and carry three bundles of mail (letters in one hand with magazines and other larger mail pieces) on the forearm carrying the mail. Advertisement mail, Every door direct (EDD) and smaller parcels all go in the carriers satchel). Larger parcels, up to a total of 70 lbs. may be delivered at various times of the day or with the mail. Mail routes are outfitted with a number of scanpoints (mailbox barcodes) on random streets every 30 to 40 minutes apart to keep track of the carriers whereabouts in real-time. * Rural carriers are under a form of salary called "evaluated hours", usually with overtime built into their pay. The evaluated hours are created by having all mail counted for a period of two or four weeks, and a formula used to create the set dollar amount they will be paid for each day worked until the next time the route is counted. * Mail handlers and processors, prepare, separate, load and unload mail and parcels, by delivery ZIP code and station, for the clerks. They work almost exclusively at the plants or larger mail facilities now after having their duties excessed and reassigned to clerks in Post Offices and Station branches. * Clerks, have a dual function by design of where their assignment is. Window clerks directly handle customer service needs at the counter, sort box mail and sort first-class letters, standard and bulk-rate mail for the carriers on the work floor. Clerks may also work alongside mail handlers in large sorting facilities, outside of the public view, sorting mail. Data Conversion Operators, who encode address information at Remote Encoding Centers, are also members of the clerk craft. Mail handlers and Clerks are represented by the NPMHU and the APWU, respectively. Other non-managerial positions in the USPS include: * Maintenance and custodians, who see to the overall operation and cleaning of mail sorting machines, work areas, public parking and general facility operations. * City Carrier Assistants. (CCAs) With the Das Arbitration award the designation of PTF City Carrier has been abolished. TE City Carriers will have the opportunity to become CCAs. A CCA is a non-career employee who is hired for a 360-day term, similar to what TEs had. CCAs earn annual leave. CCAs, unlike TEs do have a direct path to becoming career employees. When excess City Carrier positions exist the CCA in that work installation with the highest "relative standing" will be promoted to a career employee and be assigned to the vacant position. * Career, Part Time Flexible and Transitional employees (Career, PTF & TE) There are a variety of other non-managerial positions in such crafts as accounting, information technology, and the remote encoding center. These are under a different contract than plant workers or letter carriers. *Contractors are not USPS employees, but work for the USPS under a written contract and usually paid per mile. They do not get benefits including health insurance, leave, life insurance, and pension. They must use their own vehicle and pay any cost to maintain, insure, or replace. Contractors generally make less than employees. Just like regular carriers they deliver packages and letters to mailboxes and doors. Though the USPS employs many individuals, as more Americans send information via email, fewer postal workers are needed to work dwindling amounts of mail. Post offices and mail facilities are constantly downsizing, replacing craft positions with new machines and consolidating mail routes through the MIARAP (Modified Interim Alternate Route Adjustment Process) agreement. A major round of job cuts, early retirements, and a construction freeze were announced on March 20, 2009.

Workplace violence

In the early 1990s, widely publicized Workplace violence, workplace shootings by disgruntled employees at USPS facilities led to a Human Resource effort to provide care for stressed workers and resources for coworker conflicts. Due to media coverage, postal employees gained a reputation among the general public as more likely to be Mental disorder, mentally ill. The USPS Commission on a Safe and Secure Workplace found that "Postal workers are only a third as likely as those in the national workforce to be victims of homicide at work." In the documentary ''Murder by Proxy: How America Went Postal'', it was argued that this number failed to factor out workers killed by external subjects rather than by fellow employees. This series of events in turn has influenced American culture, as seen in the slang term "going postal"Vick, Karl, "Violence at work tied to loss of esteem", ''St. Petersburg Times'', Dec 17, 1993 and the computer game ''Postal (video game), Postal''. Also, in the opening sequence of ''Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, Naked Gun : The Final Insult'', a yell of "Disgruntled postal workers" is heard, followed by the arrival of postal workers with machine guns. In an episode of ''Seinfeld'', the mailman character, Newman (Seinfeld), Newman, explained in a dramatic monologue that postal workers "go crazy and kill everyone" because the mail never stops. In ''The Simpsons'' episode "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday," Nelson Muntz asks Postmaster Bill if he has "ever gone on a killing spree"; Bill replies, "The day of the gun-toting, disgruntled postman shooting up the place went out with the Macarena (song), Macarena". The series of massacres led the USPS to issue a rule prohibiting the possession of any type of firearms (except for those issued to Postal Inspectors) in all designated USPS facilities. In 2016, video footage was released showing a group of police officers from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) arresting a USPS worker while he was in the middle of his deliveries. The footage showed that the officers were dressed in civilian clothing. The NYPD is reportedly investigating alleged disorderly conduct.

In fiction

* In the film ''Miracle on 34th Street'' (1947), the identity of Santa Claus, Kris Kringle (played by Edmund Gwenn) as the one and only "Santa Claus" was validated by a state court, based on the delivery of 21 bags of mail (famously carried into the courtroom) to the character in question. The contention was that it would have been illegal for the United States Post Office to deliver mail that was addressed to "Santa Claus" to the character "Kris Kringle" unless he were, in fact, the one and only Santa Claus. Judge Henry X. Harper (played by Gene Lockhart) ruled that since the U.S. Government had demonstrated through the delivery of the bags of mail that Kris Kringle was Santa Claus, the State of New York did not have the authority to overrule that decision. * The novel ''Post Office (novel), Post Office'' (1971), written by poet and novelist Charles Bukowski, is a semi-autobiographical account of his life over the years as a letter carrier. Bukowski would, under duress, quit and years later return as a mail clerk. His personal account would detail the work at lengths as frustrating, menial, boring, and degrading. * David Brin's novel ''The Postman'' (1985) portrays the USPS and its returned services as a staple to revive the United States government in a post-apocalyptic world. It was The Postman (film), adapted as a film starring Kevin Costner and Larenz Tate in 1997. * The comedy film ''Dear God (film), Dear God'' (1996), starring Greg Kinnear and Laurie Metcalf, portrays a group of quirky postal workers in a dead letter office that handle letters addressed to the Easter Bunny, Elvis Presley, Elvis, and even God himself. * In 2015, ''The Inspectors (TV series), The Inspectors'', which depicts a group of postal inspectors investigating postal crimes, debuted on CBS. The series uses the USPIS seal and features messages and tips from the Chief Postal Inspector at the end of each episode. *Signed, Sealed, Delivered (TV series), ''Signed, Sealed, Delivered'' (original title: ''Dead Letters''), also known as Lost Letter Mysteries, is an American-Canadian drama/romantic comedy television series that aired on the Hallmark Channel from April 20 through June 22, 2014. * In the NBC sitcom ''Cheers'', Cliff Clavin (played by John Ratzenberger) was a know-it-all bar regular and letter carrier.

See also

* First Amendment to the United States Constitution * List of U.S. state abbreviations * List of ZIP Code prefixes, List of Zip Code Prefixes * United States Postal Service creed * USPS Post Office Box Lobby Recycling program


* William Goddard (publisher) — Worked with
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States that was negotiated on behalf of the United States by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simp ...

Benjamin Franklin
in establishing the U.S. postal system. * American Letter Mail Company * History of United States postage rates * Owney (dog) * Post Office Murals * Postage stamps and postal history of the United States * Railway Mail Service

International associations

* International Postal Union (IPU) * Postal Union of the Americas, Spain and Portugal

Key related, comparable, and competing entities

* Pony Express * Wells Fargo, particularly: :* Wells Fargo (1852–1998) * Courier service * U.S. Military Postal Service (MPS) (and previous APO - Army Post Office) * Airmails of the United States *
United Parcel Service United Parcel Service (UPS, stylized as ups) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple co ...
* Federal Express *
Amazon Amazon usually refers to: * Amazons In Greek mythology, the Amazons (Ancient Greek: Ἀμαζόνες ''Amazónes'', singular Ἀμαζών ''Amazōn'') are portrayed in a number of ancient Greek, ancient epic poems and legends, such as the ...
* Telecommunications * Broadcasting

Mail bag types

* Catcher pouch * Mail pouch * Mail sack * Mail satchel * Pony Express mochila * Portmanteau (mail), Portmanteau

Workplace violence

* List of postal killings


Further reading

* Adelman, Joseph M. "'A Constitutional Conveyance of Intelligence, Public and Private': The Post Office, the Business of Printing, and the American Revolution," ''Enterprise & Society'' (2010) 11#4 pp 709–52
in Project MUSE
* Carpenter, D. (2000). doi:10.1017/S0898588X00003382, State Building through Reputation Building: Coalitions of Esteem and Program Innovation in the National Postal System, 1883–1913. ''Studies in American Political Development,'' ''14''(2), 121–155. * Fuller, Wayne. ''American Mail: Enlarger of the Common Life'' (1972) * Gallagher, Winifred. ''How the Post Office Created America'' (New York: Penguin, 2017). 326 pp * Henkin, David M. ''The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America'' (2007
excerpt and text search
* John, Richard R. ''Spreading the News: The American Postal System From Franklin to Morse'' (1998
excerpt and text search
* Kielbowicz, R. (1994). doi:10.1017/S0898588X00000109, Government Goes into Business: Parcel Post in the Nation's Political Economy, 1880–1915. ''Studies in American Political Development,'' ''8''(1), 150–172. * Kielbowicz, Richard. "The Press, Post Office, and Flow of News in the Early Republic," ''Journal of the Early Republic'' (1983) 3: 255–80. * Kielbowicz, Richard. ''News in the Mail: The Press, Post Office, and Public Information, 1700–1860s'' (1989)
excerpt and text search
* * * Musacco Ph.D., Stephen. "Beyond Going Postal: Shifting from Workplace Tragedies and Toxic Work Environments to a Safe and Healthy Organization", (2009) Booksurge Publishing
Book Trailer
* Rich, Wesley Everett. ''The History of the United States Post Office to the Year 1829'' (Harvard University Press, 1924) * * * White, Leonard D. ''The Federalists: A study in administrative history: 1789–1801'' (1948), pp 173–98 * White, Leonard D. ''The Jeffersonians: A study in administrative history: 1801–29'' (1950), pp 299–335 * White, Leonard D. ''The Jacksonians: A study in administrative history: 1829–61'' (1954), pp 251–83 * White, Leonard D. ''The Republican Era: A study in administrative history: 1869–1901'' (1963), pp 257–77

External links

United States Postal Service
in the ''Federal Register'' {{Authority control United States Postal Service, 1971 establishments in the United States Express mail Independent agencies of the United States government, Postal Service Postal organizations Postal system of the United States