Direct Mail To Get Slower — Just In Time For The Holidays
Direct Mail To Get Slower — Just In Time For The Holidays

New service standards for First-Class Mail and Periodicals implemented by the United States Postal Service (USPS) on Oct. 1, will mean more mail likely to be delivered via ground transportation and mail traveling the greatest distances the most impacted.

The new service standards, according to the USPS, will “increase delivery reliability, consistency, and efficiency for our customers and across our network,” with 61% of First-Class Mail and 93% of Periodicals unaffected by the changes.

Standards for single-piece First-Class Mail traveling within a local area will continue to be two days. USPS said it will increase time-in-transit standards by one or two days for certain mail traveling longer distances. 

“By doing so, the Postal Service can entrust its ground network to deliver more First-Class Mail, which will lead to greater consistency, reliability, and efficiency that benefits its customers,” according to the USPS.

The changes are part of the USPS’ Delivering for America Strategic Plan to improve service reliability and predictability for customers and enhance the efficiency of the Postal Service network. “The service standard changes that we have determined to implement are a necessary step towards achieving our goal of consistently meeting 95 percent service performance.”

First-Class Mail traveling locally — within a three-hour drive between originating and destination processing facilities — will maintain the current delivery standard of two days or less.

Current FCM service standards have been “unattainable” because of changes in the market for mail and standards that are not based on delivery distances, according to USPS. Current standards require three-day delivery for any destination within the contiguous U.S. with a drive of more than six hours — whether 300 miles or 3,000 miles. Attempting to meet these standards led to an over-reliance on air transportation, the USPS said, which is less reliable and more costly than surface transportation. “The result has been unreliable service delivery times, as the Postal Service has not consistently met its published service standards over the last eight years.”

Current First-Class Mail three-day volume will be subject to a three-, four-, or five-day standard depending on the distance between origin and destination. Mail traveling the greatest distances will be the most impacted, ranging from 139 miles traveled and three hours in transit for a two-day delivery standard to 1,908 miles or more and more than 41 hours in transit for the five-day standard:

Delivery Standard; Distance Traveled; Time in Transit

1 Day – Presorted local mail;

2 Day – 139 miles; 3 hour

3 Day – 140-930 miles; 3-20 hours

4 Day – 931-1,907 miles, 20-41 hours

5 Day – 1,908+ miles; more than 41 hours

With the FCM delivery standards going into effect on Oct. 1, more deliveries may occur via ground transportation rather than air. With these changes and others under the Delivering for America 10-year plan, the Postal Service expects to meet or exceed its published delivery standards across all product classes 95% of the time, improving operational efficiency and precision, service reliability, and generation of efficiencies that help ensure affordable postage rates.