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Can you send out mail from home?

Can you send out mail from home?

Postal employees are essential members of our communities. They provide us with access to important services such as banking, retail sales, government assistance programs and e-mail service at no charge. Mailmen also play an integral role in keeping our country connected by delivering newspapers, packages and letters -- both incoming and outgoing. Learn how you can help keep postal workers happy while helping keep your community safe through efficient delivery systems.

When we think "post office," most people conjure images of long hallways lined with wooden boxes or steel trays where they place their mail for sorting and distribution. In many countries around the world though, post offices aren't so conventional. Many places use bicycles rather than cars to deliver mail throughout the day. And it's not uncommon for entire villages to receive their daily supply of news via donkey caravan instead of vehicle. These village postmasters may be considered public servants but they're often called upon to act like local entrepreneurs since they own the only means of transportation available.

In this article, we'll learn what happens when someone sends a letter through the U.S. Postal Service. We'll find out if you can mail a letter from home, why deliveries must go through a carrier, whether there's anything special about putting mail into your mailbox, and how mail gets delivered during rush hour.

First let's discuss who actually delivers the mail.

Mail Carriers vs. Post Office Drivers

The United States' system of distributing mail differs greatly depending on where you live. Some cities don't even have a separate department responsible for transporting the mail. Instead, city officials will either assign current drivers or hire new ones to take care of everything. Other areas employ dedicated mail carters whose sole job is driving vehicles loaded with the nation's correspondence. Since the number of locations increases dramatically across state borders, each state has its own unique way of handling the task.

Outgoing mail isn't always handled directly by postal employees. Sometimes clerks work at larger processing facilities which handle millions of pieces of mail every week. The clerk then scans the addresses of individual mailpieces and matches them to routes. This allows the clerk to know exactly where to route any piece of mail based on the destination ZIP code. If the clerk doesn't already have the necessary routing information, he or she would need to consult with supervisors before mailing something.

This same procedure applies to incoming mail too. But because there are fewer destinations compared to outgoing mail, it takes less time to sort the mail and determine which person should get each one. Most large towns have two or three designated sorting stations. A single station usually handles between 500 and 1,000 pieces per shift. Smaller areas might just have one employee working eight hours. For those living outside major metropolitan centers, sorting stations become almost nonexistent. Rural residents rely entirely on private couriers hired by companies for delivery.

So now you've got an idea of how mail is sorted and routed. Let's look next at some ways you could try mailing a letter yourself.

Can I mail a package from home?

It depends. You probably won't want to ship a fragile item (like glassware) without using insured packaging materials. However, you can still send small items using standard shipping methods. There are several options to choose from including Priority Mail Express, Media Mail Parcels, First Class International Packages and Standard Letter Boxes. All these products cost money, but they offer protection against damage caused by weather conditions, rough roads or theft.

There are other factors to consider beyond price. Is your shipment going internationally? Do you require signatures? Are you worried about delays due to traffic congestion? What kind of insurance do you need? Each situation requires different answers.

If you're looking to ship a lot of bulky items overseas, however, you may wish to check out USPS Global Solutions Center. With this program, you pay a flat fee ($20.95) plus a percentage of the value of your package. The rest goes toward covering the costs associated with international shipments. You can also request priority service. It's free if you call customer service first. Otherwise, global solutions charges $15 for Priority Express and $25 for Premium EMS Worldwide Expedited Services. For more details visit

Next, we'll find out how much weight mail can carry.

How Much Weight Can Mail Carry?

You probably wouldn't want to drive down a busy street carrying hundreds of pounds worth of mail. After all, you'd likely end up injuring yourself or another driver. That said, the maximum size allowed varies according to location. Here are some examples:

Canada - 10 kilograms (22 lbs.)

United Kingdom - 100 kilos (220 lbs.)

Australia - 20 kilograms (44 lbs.)

New Zealand - 5 kilograms (11 lbs.)

To figure out how heavy your parcel is, add together all the contents inside your box and multiply that total times 0.0254. Then divide that number by 704. If the result is greater than 2,500 grams (.5 kg), you can legally transport the item. If the answer is lower than 2,500 grams, contact your local postmaster for advice.

Now let's talk about what happens once you drop off your mail.

Do mail carriers have to pick up outgoing mail?

Yes. When you leave mail for pickup, you're essentially outsourcing your correspondence to others. By law, these individuals must accept your parcels and bring them to the nearest post office. If they can't reach the closest branch, they must hand over the mail to anyone within five miles. If they can't do this safely, they must walk back to their truck and wait until a passerby picks up the mail and brings it to the proper location. Once there, the mail carrier needs to make sure the correct stamps and labels were placed on the envelope. He or she also makes sure that the recipient receives his or her mail.

Although it seems like an inconvenience, leaving mail for pickup provides numerous benefits. One benefit is security. Although thieves sometimes steal outgoing mail left unattended near mailboxes, this crime occurs far less frequently than stealing undelivered mail. Another advantage is convenience. Leaving mail sitting in front of your house overnight gives neighbors a chance to quickly grab it and bring it to the post office themselves. Plus, having mail picked up regularly helps reduce clutter. Finally, if you never see your neighbor again, you'll know where to direct future missives.

But if you really hate waiting in line, you could ask your local postmaster to install a lockbox near your door. Your mailperson can simply slip mail into a slot and close the lid behind him. Of course, if you choose this option, you should remember to remove the locks whenever you enter your building.

Can you put outgoing mail in your mailbox?

No. Putting mail in your mailbox puts unnecessary stress on your neighborhood's mail carrier network. Even worse, placing mail in your mailbox opens up the possibility of identity fraud. Any thief who sees your name on the return receipt can easily obtain your personal data. Thieves can then open accounts under your name that contain sensitive documents, bank statements, credit card bills and more. As part of their scam, criminals will attempt to collect funds owed to the IRS or social agencies.

What if you're moving somewhere else? Don't worry. Just stop paying attention to your mailbox for 30 days after receiving your final statement or bill. During this period, the creditor will automatically suspend payments and forward your account to collections. Once the thirty days pass, you can discard your old mail and start collecting incoming mail again.

For additional tips on avoiding identity theft, read How Identity Theft Works and Protect Yourself Online.

Finally, let's talk about how mail gets delivered during rush hour.

How does UPS Deliver On Time? |

Many businesses depend heavily on timely deliveries. Whether you run a restaurant, grocery store or electronics manufacturer, your success hinges largely on getting things to customers fast. To meet these demands, business owners invest significant sums in specialized equipment designed specifically to move certain types of cargo efficiently and securely. Because of the importance of speed, these establishments typically prefer to work with a company specializing in logistics.

UPS Commercial Package System

One popular choice among commercial entities is the UPS Commercial Package System. This product offers multiple advantages over traditional van-based courier trucks. First, because no drivers are required, the UPS Commercial Package System operates 24 hours a day. Second, because the vehicles are equipped to navigate tight turns and narrow streets, the system moves faster than vans and avoids parking tickets. Third, because the platform features automatic guidance technology, operators spend less labor hours navigating unfamiliar neighborhoods. Fourth, although the units typically weigh 16 tons, they can fit comfortably inside standard garages or warehouses. Fifth, because the system uses sensors to detect obstacles, it arrives automatically stopped at loading docks. Lastly, the system is able to haul oversized loads weighing up to 300 pounds thanks to hydraulic jacks located beneath the floorboards.

Since the UPS Commercial Package System was developed primarily to serve businesses, it lacks key amenities found in residential versions. For example, the unit's seatbelts cannot accommodate passengers. Also, the seats lack air conditioning, windows or cup holders.

Sending mail from home can be an extremely rewarding experience -- but it's not always possible to get away for long enough to catch up with friends or family members by snail mail. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make mailing letters, packages and other items convenient while staying at home. Here we'll explain how to ship things from your own home using U.S. Postal Service services like First Class Mail, Priority Mail Express or Parcel Post. We'll also talk about what kind of supplies you need in order to take advantage of these options.

First off, let's answer some basic questions so you know exactly which option might work best for you:

Is it legal to send mail from my home? Yes, if you follow certain guidelines. You may use one of the postal service methods listed here without getting into trouble with the law. However, if you want to avoid any problems, consult local laws regarding private delivery services before shipping anything important (like medical documents) via courier. If you're still unsure whether something should go through couriers or the post office, contact your USPS representative directly at 1-800-275-8777.

What does "snail" mean when talking about sending mail? In this context, it means that someone must collect outgoing mail after sorting it and put stamps on envelopes to allow them to reach their destination. This keeps track of incoming correspondence and helps manage processing times. It also prevents delays caused by lost or delayed mail.

In general, if you don't absolutely need overnight service, then standard first class mail will likely suit your needs just fine. For example, if you only need to send small parcels to people who live nearby, then priority mail may offer no real benefits over regular mail. But if you frequently receive shipments from faraway places, such as relatives overseas, then priority mail could save you money since rates tend to be cheaper than those charged for standard mail. To learn more about different types of U.S. Postal Services visit

To find out how to prepare for each type of shipment, read on...

Mail Preparation Tips

If you plan to ship large quantities of goods, you may want to consider packaging materials specifically designed to protect fragile contents during transit. The two most common packing techniques include bubble wrap and Styrofoam peanuts. Both come in handy for protecting everything from electronics to glassware. A third way to pack delicate items is to place them inside plastic bags and close up tight with special tape. These lightweight yet sturdy bags are available at stores specializing in gardening, camping and pet products. All three approaches help prevent damage from falls, bumps and jostling.

Once your item arrives, inspect it carefully. Be especially careful around corners. If necessary, cut foam padding down to size to fit around curves or seams. Also check labels for signs of tampering. And never accept a package that appears damaged or has been tampered with. If the sender offers insurance coverage, call customer support immediately to report suspected fraud.

Now let's see how to actually accomplish mailing tasks yourself.

How Do I Ship With My Own Package Handlers?

You've chosen a method of mailing, packed your item(s), addressed the envelope, stamped and sealed it -- now comes the hard part: actually taking the package somewhere. There are several ways to transport your parcel. Some require little effort beyond walking and others involve driving cars, trains or airplanes. Let's look at each step individually.

Packaging Your Item

When preparing to ship, think ahead about where it will end up once its journey begins. Will you deliver it yourself, or hire a neighbor kid to bring it to school? Is it going straight to another person's house, or will it arrive at a store? Determine how heavy and bulky your package really is before you start boxing it up. Small boxes are easier to carry and less intimidating to handle than larger ones. Consider wrapping smaller items tightly in newspaper strips or Bubble Wrap sheets, rather than loose newspapers. Use masking tape to attach handles to flat objects. Don't forget to label your box clearly.

Get creative! Non-traditional gift ideas abound with holiday season fun. Try putting together a collage with photos of favorite memories, or create a scrapbook full of mementos related to a specific topic. Make a list of your loved ones' interests, and then pick gifts accordingly.

Stamp Your Seals & Labels

It goes without saying that you'll need proper identification to complete your trip. Before sealing the exterior of your package, stamp both sides with official postage seals. Look for self-adhesive stamps that feature images of buildings, landmarks or even cartoon characters. Once they dry, stick these stickers onto your envelope, along with corresponding cancellation marks. Keep extra sets of canceled stamps on hand at all times, because they expire every year unless they're kept in cold storage. Never run short of stamps, though -- keep plenty on hand throughout the year.

As mentioned earlier, you'll also need to affix postage decals to your package's exterior before leaving the house. Decals usually cost between $0.75 and $1 apiece. They measure roughly 2 x 3 inches, and they have adhesive backing that makes removal quick and painless. Just peel off the protective sticker covering your return address, slap it on top of your package and wait 30 minutes until it dries completely. Then apply fresh adhesive and remove the old seal. You can buy many packs of stamps and decals at a time, either singly or in bundles. When ordering postage, remember to ask for non-tack decals. Tacky decals often fall off easily, and you won't want that happening while you're trying to drive across town or cross country.

Don't worry about forgetting to cancel your outgoing mail -- the United States Postal Service automatically puts in new stamps showing a cancelled stamp instead of the original one. That said, it's wise to write out your intended recipient's name and address on the back of each envelope before cancelling the stamps. Otherwise, the person receiving your parcel won't be able to tell whose mail it belongs to.


There are basically four categories of deliveries: personal, commercial, international and rural routes. Personal deliveries occur within city limits and range from door-to-door service to collection stations located next to grocery markets. Commercial deliveries occur outside the immediate area, mostly to businesses. International deliveries travel abroad. Rural routes cover areas too remote to receive direct access from major roads.

A word of advice: If ever you encounter a situation in which you feel unsafe physically transporting a package, opt to leave it behind. Many cities have dropboxes strategically placed near public transportation lines and subway entrances. Or simply set the package down and walk toward your desired destination. Since most thieves target packages, you're better off avoiding carrying yours alone.

Remember to notify your delivery company of changes of address. Most companies provide customers with free maps detailing current locations, including street names and apartment numbers. You can also request updated maps based on your exact location. Check with your provider to learn what forms you need to fill out to update your records.

Delivery vehicles vary widely depending on region. Generally speaking, however, if you're delivering a simple letter or package, you probably won't need much more than a car. On the other hand, if you're hauling furniture, clothing or even livestock, you may need a truck or van. Delivery personnel rely heavily upon detailed instructions provided by clients concerning the nature of each shipment. As such, be prepared to describe precisely what you intend to ship, why you shipped it and where it should land.

At last, we can move on to discussing how you can ship packages from home using the U.S. Postal Service.

The following are tips and suggestions offered by the Federal Trade Commission regarding the safe opening of mail sent through the USPS:

Never open mailed material yourself.

Keep copies of all receipts received from the USPS.

Use scissors to slit the tape holding the closure strip.

Carefully pull apart the tab separating the flap from the mailing envelope.

Hold the edge of the unsealed side firmly against the table.

Slide the tip of the knife under the flap and gently lift it upward.

If you've ever tried mailing letters in bulk before, then you know how time-consuming it can be -- especially if you're not familiar with U.S. postal service rules for large envelopes or packages. When you consider the cost of stamps and the fact that many people are still using snail mail, it's no wonder so few people choose to go through the hassle of writing their own personal correspondence when they could just use e-mail instead. However, some companies need to communicate via direct mail because traditional paper communication simply doesn't work well enough these days. In this article we'll explain whether you can send an email directly to someone who subscribes to AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) or Yahoo!, and what kind of problems you might run into doing so. We will also discuss how you can easily convert any message you want to print onto a form that can be mailed by post office employees. Finally, we'll look at ways you can order something over the internet and have it delivered to your door.

Letters vs. E-mails

Before you decide which method works best for you, it helps to understand how each one differs from the other. First off, let's compare e-mail with regular old snail mail. One benefit of e-mail is that once you hit "send," it automatically goes straight to its destination without being stopped along the way by anyone else. On the other hand, snail mail takes several steps before you even see the envelope arrive in front of your mailbox. First, the piece of mail has to be printed on special forms called Postal Service Form 3800s. These forms are available free of charge from most local post offices. Once the form arrives, you must fill it out completely, including filling in the recipient's name and address, and affixing a stamp to indicate where the item should end up. The clerk at the post office may ask you questions like "Are you expecting this package?" If he does, make sure you answer truthfully. You don't want to waste hours trying to return items that arrived but weren't actually addressed to you!

You probably won't encounter too much trouble finding stamps if you order them online. But if you do, our next section explains exactly where to find them quickly and cheaply.

Postal Services Online

Buying postage online used to mean paying hundreds of dollars per week for expensive overnight shipping services. Nowadays, however, buying postage online involves only two simple steps:

Go to and click the link labeled Buy Postage Online.

Select either Flat Rate Envelope Mailers or Parcel Post Items. This tells you how much money you can spend on postage for each particular type of item. For example, flat rate envelopes start at $1.10 for first class, while standard parcels begin at $2.95. Click Continue after both pages load and enter your zip code. Then select the quantity of items you wish to purchase and add them to cart. After entering payment details, confirm your order and wait patiently until everything shows up at your doorstep.

Once you receive your shipment in the mail, check it against the list of tracking numbers provided by the post office website. Look carefully at the delivery date shown on the package and make sure it matches the day you ordered it. A quick search online will tell you what normal expected arrival times are for various types of deliveries.

Mail From Home?

Now that you've learned everything you need to know about ordering postage online, read on to learn how to send an actual letter offline.

Since most Americans now pay bills and buy groceries online rather than going downtown to stand in long lines, the idea of receiving a physical letter in the mail seems quaint at best. And yet, sometimes businesses still need to ship orders or provide customers with written instructions. Luckily, modern technology makes such tasks possible. It's important to keep a couple things in mind, though:

There's nothing illegal about sending a letter by mail since the United States Postal Service operates under federal law. As long as you follow proper procedures, you shouldn't run into too many problems. Some states allow private carriers to deliver the mail whereas others require official permission from the state government. Always consult your local laws regarding mail carriage, as well as the directions posted on your neighborhood post office.

The Postal Service charges extra fees if you attempt to send junk mail or unwanted advertisements through the mail. Use the USPS' mail sorting machines to determine if your mail contains commercial material or advertising fliers. If the machine marks anything as prohibited, ask the person behind the counter to take care of those pieces for you. Otherwise, stick to legal documents, newspapers, magazines, catalogues, and similar mail.

Do not tamper with incoming mail. Opening the outside of an envelope or taking apart a parcel seal voids the contents inside. Also, tampering with the postmark on outgoing mail causes delays and results in higher postage rates.

How Do You Get Mailman To Pick Up Mail?

In addition to following the guidelines above, you should remember two critical points:

Always sort your mail properly. Before attempting to send a large number of letters or parcels, open the top envelope and put all the unaddressed ones aside. Address the remaining letters and parcels according to size and weight. If you haven't already done so, try looking around your house for small boxes you can stack together to accommodate larger envelopes. Make sure you label these stacks clearly with the sender's address.

Keep track of every single piece of mail. Even if you plan to drop off a letter or package at the post office, always write down the exact street address where you live. That way, if you forget where you left off, you can refer back to your notes.

While you may think that having mail carrier pick up your mail means less time spent waiting in line yourself, you'd be mistaken. Most post offices offer limited hours during which you can receive your mail. Plus, if there's heavy traffic due to holidays, bad weather conditions, etc., you may wind up spending longer waiting in line than usual. So unless you absolutely cannot manage getting to the post office at another time, leave yourself plenty of room in your schedule so you can walk right in whenever it suits you.

As soon as you receive your mail, set aside time immediately to review it. Don't bother opening bulky packages or unwrapping multiple smaller items. Instead, scan the addresses on envelopes and packages to ensure that you didn't misspell your own address somewhere along the line. Your first priority should be addressing all the letters and parcels, followed by putting away any newspaper subscriptions, credit card offers, and other mail that requires signatures.

Remember to avoid delaying the processing of future mail. Open mail as soon as possible to prevent further delays. Delayed mail usually winds up sitting in big piles in post offices across America, causing severe backlogs. By keeping an eye on the clock, you'll help clear up your queue faster.

Is There a Way to mail a letter online?

No matter how busy life gets, everyone needs to stay connected to friends and family members. With the advent of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it's easier than ever to create strong bonds between distant acquaintances. However, some folks prefer to maintain stronger ties with loved ones by using the old fashioned telephone. Others rely upon handwritten messages scribbled on slips of paper for staying in touch. Fortunately, today's world provides us with lots of different options for communicating. Whether you use phone calls, text messaging, instant messaging, or e-mail, here's a useful tip for converting any message you want to type into one that can be sent by mail.

Type or Write Your Message Into An Applet

First off, why would you want to convert a typed or written message into applet format? Well, suppose you received an invitation to attend a party hosted by dear Aunt Sally. Rather than calling her up herself, you'd feel much better leaving a voicemail. But maybe she isn't near her computer often. Or perhaps you were invited to a gathering that was held far away from your current residence. Either scenario becomes problematic if you happen to misplace the invite itself or lose the original voice recording. What happens then? You can solve this dilemma easily by typing a short note containing the essentials into an applet program like Notepad or WordPad. All you have to do afterwards is save the file to disk. Next, head over to your nearest post office and give the document to a postal worker. He or she will slip it into a preprinted envelope and attach a stamped cover sheet to it, allowing you to drop the letter in the mailbox. Within minutes, your aunt will receive a copy of the message that perfectly mimics the appearance of a real invitation. She won't even notice that you converted it into applets.



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