Step into our United States Postal Service Updates blog, your go-to source for navigating the evolving postal landscape. Here, we’ll keep you informed with the freshest news and rate updates straight from the USPS. Join us as we review the 2023 updates.
November 2023 USPS Rate Case
Effective November 18, 2023, the USPS is set to introduce new rate adjustments, bringing changes to your shipping costs. Here’s a brief overview of the upcoming changes:
- Priority Mail® costs will rise by an average of 1.5%, with steeper increases in Zones 1-2
- Ground Advantage™ costs will drop by around 5%, with more significant decreases in Zones 1-5.
Which shipments will experience the most significant shifts? In short, those covering shorter distances. Specifically, Ground Advantage™ packages weighing 1-2 lbs traveling to Zones 1-5 could see a substantial price drop ranging from 10-18%.
Moreover, for users of Priority Mail Flat Rate® boxes, be prepared for an approximate 5% price uptick.
Bear in mind that exact rates will depend on package specifics and distance traveled. As always, we recommend thorough rate and service comparisons to identify the optimal choice for your business.
USPS Ground Advantage™
On July 9th, USPS’s newest domestic shipping service called USPS Ground Advantage™ goes live. This new parcel service replaces three services: USPS Retail Ground, USPS Parcel Select Ground, and USPS First Class Package Services. This service provides customers with a shipping option for packages weighing under 70 pounds.
USPS Ground Advantage™ Key Points
- Transit time for USPS Ground Advantage takes 2–5 business days.
- Shipments with Ground Advantage have a weight limit of 70 lbs and a maximum length + girth of up to 130 inches.
- Ground Advantage rates for parcels weighing under one pound are based on limits of 4 oz, 8 oz, and 15.99 oz. USPS zones also impact rates.
- Parcels weighing between 1–70 lbs have rates calculated based on their rounded-up pound.
- Ex: A 7.5 lb parcel is rated at the 8 lb rate structure.
- You can schedule a free Package Pickup service.
- Tracking is included for all Ground Advantage parcels.
- Ground Advantage shipments include up to $100 in coverage
- Commercial rates and USPS Ground Advantage Return services are available for businesses.
- Only domestic FCM parcel service is impacted by USPS Ground Advantage™—First Class Mail International® and First Class Mail® Letter, Flats, and Postcard offerings will continue to be offered.
Please note that if you have any outbound or return labels connected to the services that will no longer be available, USPS will continue to accept and process those labels until September 30, 2023.
Updates to Shipping Hazardous Materials
Great news! You can now send HAZMAT items using USPS via ShipEngine.
On July 9th, USPS introduced updates requiring anyone printing a USPS label to declare whether the product being shipped contains hazardous materials (HAZMAT) or Dangerous Goods (DG). This will require a Service Type Code (STC) specific to HAZMAT/DG shipments. The USPS utilizes numerical values known as service-type codes (STCs) to identify packages that contain hazardous materials. USPS uses STCs to identify packages containing hazardous materials, such as lithium batteries. These protocols aim to protect postal workers, vehicles, and other mailpieces from damage, fire, and injury. Shippers must follow HAZMAT regulations and correctly label their shipments. Failure to comply with these protocols may result in the return of the shipment without a refund.
Additional HAZMAT updates go into effect on January 21, 2024. At this time, senders of HAZMAT/DG parcels will need to add a new two-dimensional barcode or Intelligent Mail Matrix Barcode (IMmb) on labels.
Notes on the HAZMAT changes
- Merchants can start by familiarizing themselves with Publication 52 on HAZMAT regulations and marking requirements.
- The USPS maintains the most current, full list of items they deem hazardous.
Did you miss the January 2023 rate and service changes? You can find them below!
USPS January 2023 rate and service changes
The United States Postal Service has announced rate increases and service updates going into effect as of January 22, 2023. There are the standard rate increases to some Priority Mail and First Class Mail services, but there are also updates to regional and local shipping services. Additionally, shipments bound for Canada have a singular pricing structure.
- USPS First-Class Package Service prices increased by an average of 7.8%
- USPS Priority Mail® rates increased by 3.6%
- USPS Priority Mail Express® prices increased by 6.6%
- USPS Priority Mail International® and International Express® prices increased by 5.9%
- Regional Rate Boxes A & B® services have been discontinued
- Parcel Select® Ground pricing remains the same as 2022 rates
- Local Zone no longer exists, and Zone 2 pricing no longer matches Zone 1 pricing
USPS Pricing Changes for 2023
The most impactful changes USPS makes each year are their annual rate changes. If you rely on the USPS to ship your orders, there are still ways to save money—regardless of an annual rate increase. To keep costs low, ShipEngine offers many ways to save on USPS shipping.
2023 USPS Rate Changes Chart
Popular USPS services are seeing a range of rate increases for 2023. Luckily, USPS Commercial rates are not only more affordable, but also subject to a smaller rate increase. Priority Mail rates are increasing by an average of 5.5%. ShipEngine users benefit from a lower rate and can avoid many of the higher costs associated with USPS retail rates on Priority Mail and other services.
USPS Regional Shipping Changes
The USPS has restructured how it deals with local and regional shipping services. Along with these changes come some pricing changes. USPS Parcel Select Ground rates remain unchanged from 2022. However, local and regional rates have been impacted.
2023 Changes to USPS Zones
The USPS has restructured its zones slightly for 2023. While Zones 1–9 will remain, the local zone is being discontinued. This historically has been for parcels that originate and are sent through the same post office.
USPS Restructures Pricing for Zone 1 & 2
USPS is creating distinct pricing for both zones 1 and 2. Zone 1 shipments are shipments sent to recipients within 50 miles of the origin post office. Zone 2 shipments are sent within 150 miles. Historically, these two zones shared the same pricing structure. However, Zone 2 shipments will now see a slightly increased shipping rate over Zone 1 shipments.
USPS Discontinues Regional Rate Boxes
Another change to regional shipments is that USPS no longer supports Regional Rate Boxes. These flat-rate parcels for shipments weighing up to 15 or 20 lbs will be phased out. While these services are no longer available, the remaining stock of Regional Rate boxes may be used as standard packaging until they deplete. Keep in mind, though, that these parcels will be charged the rate of the new, applied service. Economical replacements for Regional Rate Boxes may be USPS Parcel Select Ground or other discounted USPS services available through ShipEngine Carriers.
USPS Simplifies Priority Shipments to Canada
Historically, Priority Mail International shipping rates destined for Canada were segmented into 8 different Pricing Groups. USPS has now streamlined Canadian pricing into a single group for any and all Canadian delivery locations. All Priority Mail International shipments sent to Canada will now fall into International Pricing Group 1.
How ShipEngine Helps Keep Shipping Costs Low
As a ShipEngine customer, our partnership with USPS rates give you access to substantial savings on shipping costs. So, even as rates increase, you can still pay lower rates than your competition. We help our customers manage their shipping operations efficiently, and our discounted USPS shipping rates are another way we’ll continue to keep your fulfillment process running smoothly.