You don’t need to be an employee of the United States Postal Service (USPS) to work for them. With the onslaught of internet shopping, the USPS is absolutely slammed. Amazon’s Sunday delivery program, which spawned from a 2013 revenue-generating agreement between USPS and the tech giant, didn’t make things any easier for the notoriously underfunded and understaffed organization.
Sure, the agreement helped the organization to only lose $2.7 billion in 2017. Before Amazon stepped in, the USPS was losing around $16 billion per year. Unfortunately, they don’t exactly have the manpower to cover all of the extra business. Enter the opportunity for post office contracts bids.
USPS bid opportunities are open to individuals or entities who can help deliver mail and packages on certain routes. These contract holders, known as contract carriers, act as extra deliverymen, and they’re technically self-employed even though they work under the watchful eye of the USPS. So, how do you land post office contracts bids?
USPS Bid Opportunities Cover Three Types of Transportation
Post office contracts bids cover three major types of transportation: air contracts, rail and water contracts and highway contracts. You need to figure out for which one you qualify before you even apply.
Remember that you’ll have to use your own vehicle, and you’ll outline your vehicle specs in the application. This is easy when you’re driving a delivery van but is maybe a little less accessible if you’re looking to land one of the USPS bid opportunities for air or sea. Let’s assume you’re not flying an air taxi or plan on making deliveries to river addresses by boat.
Meet the Eligibility Requirements
The USPS has more than 17,000 highway contract groups, and it is the largest contract section in the whole organization. These contractors range from long-haul tractor trailers to small vans operating near tiny local post offices. To land post office contracts bids in the highway sector whether you are a large corporation or an independent contractor, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be 21 years of age or older.
- Reside in the county you wish to serve or an adjacent county.
- If you’re incorporated, you must be engaged in business within the county or adjacent county.
Fill out and Send in the Paperwork
In order to be eligible to bid on a USPS contract, you need to fill out PS Form 5436 (also known as Mailing List Application – Mail Transportation Services) and send it to the correct office based on your ZIP code.
Contracts are awarded through the Area Distribution Networks Office, which has numerous outposts throughout the U.S. in sections like the Northeast, Pacific area, New York metro area, Great Lakes area, etc. Use the attached mail transportation contract guide from the USPS to find the correct office.
Wait for Bids via the Mailing List
If your PS Form 5436 is approved, you’ll be put on the USPS mailing list for contract bids. They’ll enter your information into their database and send you contracting opportunities when they match your skill set.
Search for Bids Online
According to the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, all contractor opportunities are posted on FBO.gov. If you don’t feel like going the paper route, which is outlined in the USPS mail transportation contract guide, you can bid on a number of USPS contracts online. They offer everything from mail carrying to construction contracts.
- Salon: Amazon Is Killing Your Mailman: Why its Sunday Service is a Labor Travesty
- Medium: Confessions of a U.S. Postal Worker: “We Deliver Amazon Packages Until We Drop Dead”
- United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General: Contractor Opportunities
- USPS: Mail Transportation Contracting Guide
- Attach a photocopy of your driver's license and a photo of your motor vehicle to the application. While not required, they bolster the sincerity of your bid.
- It is illegal to provide false information. A penalty may be imposed for submitting fraudulent data.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.