The U.S. Postal Service prides itself on its upfront pricing and its quick, easy and convenient ways to ship packages. The Postal Service will continue this trend under the 2006 Postal Act by developing products and services designed to meet customer needs while better managing its costs.


The USPS Board of Governors recently approved two of these new initiatives. First, the Board approved a new, larger Priority Mail Flat-Rate Box, which will enable customers to ship 50% more than with the current flat-rate boxes. It will also be offered at a discount to overseas military addresses, a postal first for the armed forces. The agency also announced a new Sunday and holiday delivery price for Express Mail. Customers can begin using the new boxes March 3, the same day the premium takes effect.


The new Priority Mail Large Flat-Rate Box (12" x 12" x 5") gives customers a single, predetermined rate regardless of the weight or delivery zone and can be used for both domestic and international shipments. The bigger box extends the flat-rate price and ease-of-use benefits to international shippers. International shipments paid for online also will receive a 5% discount on the postage.


A special military version of the box has a $2 discounted rate when shipped to an Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office (APO/FPO) address. The APO/FPO co-branded version of the box includes the logo of "America Supports You," an organization developed through the Department of Defense to show support for military members serving overseas. However, the lower rate for APO/FPO addresses is available for either version of the new box, as long as the destinating address is an APO/FPO address.


The new, larger box extends the agency's successful flat-rate offerings, providing more choices for small businesses and consumers. It meets all the standards of the Postal Service's other expedited packaging supplies and has been "Cradle to Cradle" certified as ecologically sustainable.


Prices for the New Priority Mail Large Flat-Rate Box are:


  • Domestic shipments: $12.95
  • APO/FPO shipments: $10.95
  • International to Canada & Mexico: $29.95*
  • The Rest Of The World: $49.95*


            *Subject to a 20 lb weight limit


The new boxes will be available through your local post office or through the online shipping supply store on starting February 20. The new rates for the Priority Mail Large Flat-Rate Box will go into effect March 3.


The Postal Service has also added a $12.50 premium for Sunday and holiday Express Mail deliveries. The premium reflects the unique delivery option the Postal Service provides on Sundays. The Postal Service is the only carrier to provide overnight delivery on Sundays and widely celebrated federal holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Independence Day.


As a point of comparison, the Sunday and holiday premium is equal to other carriers' surcharges for Saturday delivery a day when the Postal Service already delivers at no additional charge. Express Mail also includes signature proof of delivery, tracking, automatic insurance against loss or damage up to $100, and ecologically sound shipping supplies, also at no additional charge.


Additional insurance up to $5,000 is available at a nominal cost; insurance coverage up to $200 costs 75., coverage from $200.01 to $500 costs $2.10, and insurance over $500 costs $2.10 plus $1.35 for each $500 increment up to $5,000.


Customers who do not need to have their Express Mail shipments delivered on a Sunday or holiday may opt instead to have them delivered on the following business day at the standard Express Mail price. This enables customers who need delivery on these days to get quality on-time service while limiting unnecessary delivery attempts to businesses which may be closed. Eliminating unnecessary delivery attempts helps the Postal Service cut fuel consumption, which helps it protect the environment and better manage its costs.


Express Mail shipments committed for delivery on Sundays and holidays will also have a special sticker attached at the point of package acceptance to ensure that they receive the correct delivery treatment.


Commercial and Express Mail Corporate Account shippers will not be subject to the $12.50 Sunday/Holiday rate.


Shoshana Grove works with USPS Package Services and has 27 years of experience as a letter carrier and also a Postmaster. Contact her at