Even in an increasingly digital world, the United States Postal Service still plays a vital role in the operations of most businesses. Invoices, advertising and work products of all kinds are often sent via the mail, and it remains one of the most budget-friendly choices for entrepreneurs or small companies. As technology has developed, USPS tracking has grown more sophisticated. Tracking your USPS package is no longer a challenging undertaking.

First Class Mail Basics

According to the United States Postal Service, First Class Mail is its most affordable option for shipping envelopes and light packages. There are certain restrictions about what can be classified in this type of mail, however. Generally speaking, letters that weigh 1 ounce or less can be sent using a Forever stamp, which is good in perpetuity and costs whatever the going First Class postage rate is for a stamp. As of 2018, the price of a First Class stamp is $0.50. Extra weight requires extra postage. Letters must be between 5-and-11.5-inches long, 3.6-to-6.125-inches high and 0.25-inches thick to require a normal stamp.

Postcards require a lower-priced stamp that costs only $0.35. There are size restrictions for postcards, which may be only 5- to-6-inches long, 3.5-to-4.25-inches tall and 0.016-inches thick.

Any mail that cannot go through a USPS sorting machine due to its size, bulk or shape may require additional postage. Also, packages should be sent with calculated postage rather than stamps whenever possible. First class packages may have a maximum size of 108 inches, length plus girth.

First Class Mail Tracking

First Class mail can be expected to be delivered from one-to-three days, but there are no guarantees. It’s the best option regarding cost efficiency if your mail weighs 13 ounces or less. It is not generally trackable. However, if you are a business and shipping a large volume of material, you may pay extra to receive tracking on your mail.

There are several other USPS fee-based services that you can use to verify that a package was delivered. These include Delivery Confirmation, which provides the date and time of a delivery or delivery attempt. Signature Confirmation does the same but requires that the recipient sign for their package. Registered Mail is another choice to verify that your package was received and provides the date and time of delivery. Certified Mail verifies the delivery of a mailpiece and also requires a signature from the recipient. Lastly, Return Receipt provides you with a copy of the recipient’s signature, which is a good option for expensive or sensitive shipments.

USPS Tracking

If you are using a higher-level USPS service, you can track your package via the United States Postal Service website. In the top toolbar on the site, you will find an option called “Track & Manage.” Once you select this, a box will appear in which you enter your tracking number. After entering the number and clicking enter, you should receive a detailed list of information regarding your package; where it has been and when you can expect it to be delivered.

If you are the sender, USPS tracking can be a helpful way to verify that your package is on schedule and that the recipient gets it on time. If you run a business that distributes goods, it’s essential to have documentation that a customer received an item they ordered. Furthermore, having a tracking number allows you to put forth a dispute, should the package get lost or damaged.

If you are expecting to receive a package, such as one containing ink, raw materials or advertising circulars, request a USPS tracking number from the sender. This way, you can actively participate in the shipment process and verify that everything is on track. If you are concerned about receiving your package in a specific timeframe, requesting a tracking number ensures the vendor will expedite your order.

You may also sign up for Informed Delivery, which requires you to create a USPS account. Each day, you will receive an email containing images of the mail coming to you that day. It will also include a list of any packages that might be on their way, including tracking numbers. You have the option to inform USPS via your account if any mailpieces were not delivered, which can be a nice feature if you are expecting important documents or packages.