First-class mail is what most consumers use when sending a letter or small package using stamps. Businesses sending a lot of mail on a regular basis can send advertisements, letters or packages using first-class mail, or they may obtain a business mailing permit that allows them to send mail using United States Postal Service (USPS) marketing mail, which was formerly called standard mail and third-class mail before that. While presorted mail takes the same amount of time as first-class mail, the delivery time for marketing mail (still often called either standard mail or third-class mail) is much longer.


Third-class mail delivery time is significantly slower than first-class mail.

What Is Marketing Mail?

Marketing mail is generally used to send newspapers, bulletins, catalogs, flyers, mass-marketing mailers, circulars, other advertising and small parcels. Letters, large envelopes and packages all have different rates that are cheaper than using first-class mail.

All marketing mail must be under 16 ounces in weight, and all senders must have a business mail permit and must send either 200 pieces or 50 pounds of mail in order to secure this discounted rate. Aside from mailing rates, the biggest difference between standard mail vs. first-class mail is that standard mail cannot be used to send a single piece of mail at a time.

It is worth noting that nonprofits authorized by the post office can get even more deeply discounted rates on third-class mail options, which is why they use this service so frequently.

Additional Marketing Mail Services

Forwarding and return services are not offered by default with standard mail, so you must get an ancillary service endorsement if you wish to use these services, which can result in additional fees and postage. All companies can choose to add electronic tracking to their parcel delivery through marketing mail. However, only nonprofits can purchase bulk insurance or a return receipt for merchandise.

Third-Class Mail Delivery Time

As expected, third-class mail can take quite a bit longer to arrive than first-class mail. Whereas first-class mail usually takes around two to three days for local delivery and no more than four days for delivery throughout the nation, marketing mail takes around five days for local delivery and can take up to four weeks for delivery throughout the rest of the nation. This is why it should not be used as a delivery option for any letters or packages that are even remotely time sensitive.

Advertisements that may be somewhat time sensitive, such as those referring to a specific sale or time of the year, should be sent at least a month in advance or through an alternative mailing service in order to ensure that it is received on time.

About First-Class Mail

First-class mail is the most common type of mail sent through the USPS. Only letters and packages weighing under 13 ounces are eligible for shipping through first-class services. Packages that weigh more than 13 ounces can be sent through the post office's priority service.

For businesses hoping to save money, presorted first class can be an affordable option, as it costs about 20 percent less than regular first-class mail. The name isn't just a clever title, though. The presorted factor requires you to send 500 or more mail pieces at once and sort them by zip code.