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How to Ship eBay Items with the U.S. Postal Service

The USPS is open to everyone. You don’t have to set up an account to use its services to ship your eBay merchandise. To get a basic idea of what you’ll pay to send a package, you can access a rate calculator on the USPS website.

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Convenient and fast

The post office has worked hard to keep up with the competition in the parcel business by offering many online features and custom pickup. They also offer many classes of service, with a weight maximum of 70 pounds. Note that the USPS delivers packages seven days a week, the other major carriers count only five business days.

Service Time to Cross the Country (Days) What You Can Ship
First Class 3–5 First Class mail can be used to mail anything, as long as it weighs 13 ounces or less. You can send a letter, a large envelope, or a small package.
Priority Mail 2–3 Priority Mail is just First Class mail on steroids (for heavier items).
Standard Post or Parcel Select 2-8 Standard Post is cheaper (and slower) than Priority Mail.
Media Mail 2-8 Media Mail is the least expensive way to mail heavy items. The only caveat is that you can use Media Mail to ship only books, film, manuscripts, printed music, printed test materials, sound recordings, scripts, and computer-recorded media such as CD-ROMs and diskettes.

Read on for details on the most popular forms of mail used by eBay sellers.

First Class

Good old regular mail — in particular, First Class — is the way everyone send bills and letters. It works also as an economical alternative for eBay items weighing up to 13 ounces.

Sending items in bubble-wrap envelopes will often get the shipping weight under the 13-ounce maximum for First Class mail.

Too many sellers make the jump to Priority Mail because they don’t take the time to think about the weight of their items. It doesn’t have to ship in an envelope to go via First Class mail.

Priority Mail

The two- to three-day Priority Mail service is the most popular form of shipping for eBay packages. There are three price options: Flat Rate. Regional Rate, and weight/distance. You can get free cartons from the post office. You can also print postage online through Endicia or Stamps.com.

The Priority Mail rates are perfect for 1-pound packages (starting at $4.90 flat-rate cross-country when printed online) and 2-pound packages (from $5.80, based on distance). They also have a flat-rate Priority envelope in which you can jam in as much as possible (regardless of the package’s final weight) for $4.90.

Because USPS rates are based on distance and weight, you can save money by using their new flat-rate Priority Mail boxes. The new Regional Rate boxes (sizes A, B, and C) can be a deal with the medium size B box starting at $6.91. Flat-rate boxes ship anywhere in the United States for as little as $12.35 for a medium box.

The Priority Mail rates (including free shipping materials) are attractive until you get into heavier packages.

Standard Post (AKA Parcel Select)

If you want to use the USPS and have a heavy package (up to 70 pounds) that doesn’t fit the requirements for Media Mail, use Standard Post (formerly Parcel Post). Even with the latest rate changes, USPS Parcel Post rates can be highly competitive when you compare them to the UPS or FedEx Ground rates.

When you print your postage electronically, this service is called Parcel Select. Standard Post is for those who buy postage at the Post Office.

Media Mail

To stay new and hip, the post office renamed its old Book Rate to Media Mail, causing many eBay sellers to mistakenly miss out on this valuable mailing tool. The savings are immense. The drawback is that you must mail only books, cassettes, videos, or computer-readable media. Transit time on Media Mail is at least 7to 10 days, but the cost savings on heavy packages may be worth it.

The costs of USPS

The Postal Service levies additional charges for some often-used services but also gives free services to online postage customers:

  • Pickup: If you print your own postage from an online service or print direct from eBay or the PayPal site, the post office offers free pickup. You have to give your packages to your carrier at the time of your regular delivery or schedule a pickup on the USPS site.

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  • Insurance: This guarantees that you’re covered if your package doesn’t arrive safely and will reimburse you up to the value you declare when purchasing the insurance, up to a maximum of $5,000. If your package gets lost or severely mangled in shipping, the Postal Service will, after a thorough investigation, pay your claim. Fees start at $1.95 for packages up to $50.

  • USPS Tracking: Previously known as Delivery confirmation, USPS Tracking you’ll get point-by-point tracking details. It also provides you with proof of delivery or attempted delivery. This number is included free for most postal services when you print your postage electronically. You can check the status of any package by submitting the number.

    You can also verify a package’s delivery by calling a toll-free number, 800-222-1811.

Here’s a quick way to find out postal zones from your place of business.

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