USPS Ready for Peak Season Rush As Shipping Deadlines Loom

The United States Postal Service (USPS) said it is ready to handle the final rush of holiday gifts and greetings being mailed this week.

What you need to know: USPS said that customer traffic at its Post Office locations has been steadily increasing since the first week in December and this week is expected to be the busiest for this year’s holiday season.

USPS has been preparing since January for the 2022 holiday peak season — the time between Black Friday and New Year’s Day — building on investments and organizational strategy improvements from last year’s holiday mailing and shipping season.

Preparations included converting 100,000 workers to full-time since the beginning of 2021, with more than 41,000 part-time workers converted to full-time this year alone.

USPS began a national drive in October to hire an additional 20,000 seasonal employees and secure an extra 10.5 million square feet of mail processing space to manage the anticipated volume of packages during peak season.

The US Postal Service installed 137 new package sorting machines, bringing the organization’s total to 249 new processing machines since it implemented its Delivering for America reorganization plan in March 2021.

What it means: With the new equipment, combined with increased operational and network improvements, USPS can now process 60 million packages a day, which should be sufficient to handle this year’s anticipated peak season volume.

2022 USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Entering this final stretch, here are the important recommended holiday shipping deadlines for expected delivery by December 25:

APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) 

  • December 16: USPS Priority Mail Express Military service

Continental United States

  • December 17: USPS Retail Ground service
  • December 17: First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)
  • December 17: First-Class packages service (up to 15.99 ounces)
  • December 19: Priority Mail service
  • December 23: Priority Mail Express service

Alaska

  • December 18: Alaska to/from continental US — First-Class Mail and Priority Mail services
  • December 21: Alaska to/from continental US — Priority Mail Express service

Hawaii

  • December 17: Hawaii to/from the mainland — First-Class Mail and Priority Mail services
  • December 21: Hawaii to/from the mainland — Priority Mail Express service

The US Postal Service does not guarantee delivery dates. However, USPS will continue to offer its money-back guarantee on Priority Mail Express shipments.

For shipments mailed December 22 through December 25, the money-back guarantee applies only if the shipment was not delivered, or delivery was not attempted, within two business days.

Important weather note: These recommended shipping deadlines do not account for severe weather disruptions.

Unfortunately, this week, a major winter storm is crossing the country, very likely affecting transportation routes in some hard-hit areas, and leading to delayed deliveries. Don’t wait until the last day! Ship early!

International deadlines: The final dates have passed to mail packages internationally with any of the Priority Mail International services and are to be delivered before December 25.

However, you have until December 20* to ship packages with USPS Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) — a service contracted through FedEx — to send last-minute packages overseas.

* GXG deadlines are slightly later for Canada (Dec. 22), the Caribbean (Dec. 21), Europe (Dec. 21) and Mexico (Dec. 22).

USPS Shipping Guidelines

Electronics / Batteries: Packages containing electronics or other hazardous materials — lithium-ion batteries, in particular — must be shipped via surface transportation using Parcel Select Ground, USPS Retail Ground, Parcel Return Service or Ground Return Service.

Restricted and Prohibited Items: Certain items may have mailing restrictions or prohibitions. Details are available here on the USPS list of hazardous, restricted and perishable mail.

Packages with Stamps: Mail and packages that weigh more than 10 ounces and/or are more than a half-inch thick and use stamps as postage cannot be dropped into a collection box or left for a carrier to pick up.

These mail items must be taken to one of the more than 34,000 Post Office locations nationwide.

This requirement does not apply to labels printed online through the Postal Service Click-N-Ship portal.

Sunday Delivery: Sunday delivery continues to be available in select locations that experience high package volumes. USPS already delivers packages on Sundays in most major cities.

Christmas Day: The US Postal Service will deliver Priority Mail Express packages for an additional fee on Christmas Day in select locations.

Where to get more information: We are tracking domestic disruptions reported by USPS to industry partners here. Please check it for the latest updates.

If you have questions about mailing letters or packages, check the USPS website at usps.com, visit your local Post Office, or call the USPS customer service helpline at 1 (800) 275-8777.

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