What Does the USPS Do?

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The United States Postal Service (USPS), also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service, is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government. It plays a vital role in providing postal service in the U.S., including its insular areas and associated states. In this article, we will break down the many features and services the USPS provides, its impact on the national economy, how it handles mail and package delivery, and much more.


The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government that provides postal services within the United States. Its primary function is to offer reliable, affordable, and universal mail service, reaching every address in the nation. Services offered by USPS include mail delivery, post office boxes, package shipping, international shipping, certified mail, registered mail, selling money orders, and postal supplies. USPS also plays a significant role in the national economy, supporting millions of jobs and generating substantial revenue. Additionally, it ensures the security and privacy of mail, provides tracking for mail and packages, and is a crucial part of national communication.

Primary Function of USPS

The primary function of USPS is to provide the nation with reliable, affordable, and universal mail service. Its mission is to bind the nation together through personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. USPS is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, including 160 million residences, businesses, and Post Office Boxes. It delivers mail to urban and rural areas, as well as to protectorates like Puerto Rico and overseas military and diplomats, fulfilling its universal service obligation.

Key Services Offered by USPS

USPS offers a wide variety of services to its customers:

  • Mail delivery: USPS is responsible for delivering mail to residential and business addresses across the United States.
  • Post Office Boxes: USPS provides post office boxes for customers who prefer to receive their mail at a secure location separate from their home or business address.
  • Package shipping: USPS offers various shipping options for packages, including Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and First-Class Package Service.
  • International shipping: USPS provides international shipping services, including Global Express Guaranteed, Priority Mail International, and First-Class Package International Service.
  • Certified Mail: This service provides proof of mailing and delivery confirmation for important documents and packages.
  • Registered Mail: USPS offers registered mail service for added security and tracking of valuable or sensitive items.
  • Money orders: USPS sells money orders, which are a safe and convenient alternative to cash or personal checks.
  • Stamps and postal supplies: USPS sells postage stamps, envelopes, and other mailing supplies at post office locations and online.

USPS and the National Economy

USPS contributes significantly to the national economy by supporting millions of jobs and generating substantial revenue. According to the Envelope Manufacturers Association Mailing Industry Job Study, the mailing industry supports more than 7.3 million jobs and $1.58 trillion in revenue. USPS provides good jobs for workers without bachelor’s degrees, particularly for Black workers and military veterans, who are generally better compensated than many other workers with similar education, years of experience, and hours worked.

Process of Mail and Package Delivery

USPS handles mail and package delivery through a series of steps involving collection, processing, sorting, transportation, and final delivery. The entire process ensures efficient and timely delivery of mail and packages to their final destinations.

Classes of Mail Managed by USPS

USPS manages several classes of mail, each with different features, service levels, postage prices, and presort requirements. These classes include Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, First-Class Mail, Periodicals, USPS Marketing Mail, and Package Services/USPS Retail Ground.

Unique Services of USPS

USPS provides several unique services that set it apart from other postal services, such as Extra Services, PostalOne!, Special Services, Transportation Management System, and various Mail Classes.

Ensuring Security and Privacy

USPS ensures the security and privacy of mail through various measures, including mail center security, security controls for commercial mailers, Intelligent Mail Usage and Privacy Policy, handling and processing mail safely, and new security measures.

USPS and National Communication

USPS plays a significant role in maintaining communication across the country by providing a reliable, safe, and secure delivery of mail, packages, and other communications to all Americans.

Tracking Mail and Packages

USPS tracks mail and packages using a combination of barcodes, checkpoints, and scans at various stages of the transit process. Each package is assigned a unique tracking number that serves as a digital identifier throughout its journey.

In conclusion, USPS plays a crucial role in the United States, providing a wide range of services, contributing significantly to the national economy, and ensuring the secure and efficient delivery of mail and packages. It is a cornerstone of American communication and commerce, touching the lives of every American in one way or another.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express?

Priority Mail Express is the fastest domestic service offered by USPS with guaranteed overnight delivery to most locations. It comes with a money-back guarantee and includes tracking and insurance up to $100. On the other hand, Priority Mail is a fast domestic service that delivers within 1-3 business days based on where your package starts and where it’s being sent.

Can USPS deliver on Sundays or holidays?

While USPS typically does not deliver on Sundays or holidays, they do offer Sunday and holiday delivery for an additional fee with their Priority Mail Express service.

What is a USPS money order and how does it work?

A USPS money order is a payment order for a pre-specified amount of money. It is a safe and convenient alternative to cash or personal checks. You purchase a money order with cash or debit card, and it can be cashed or deposited like a check.

What does it mean when USPS tracking says ‘In Transit’?

‘In Transit’ is a USPS tracking status that indicates your item is currently in transit to the destination or, in other words, it is on its way to the delivery address.

What does USPS do if a package does not fit in my mailbox?

If a package does not fit in your mailbox, the USPS carrier will often attempt to leave it at a safe and secure location near your home. If there isn’t a safe place to leave the package, they may leave a notice with instructions on how to retrieve the package or arrange for redelivery.

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