Mailing gifts this holiday season? Why it may take longer, cost more to ship packages


PHOENIX — It may not feel like it, but holiday mailing deadlines are approaching, and the United States Postal Service has shared tips on how to make sure your gifts arrive on time this year.

In general, it’s best to mail cards, letters and packages as early as possible. If you are waiting for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday to purchase gifts for your loved ones, there are some deadlines that must be met for international shipping.

The USPS has released recommended send-by dates — mostly from early through mid-December — to ensure an expected delivery date of Christmas Day. For people who are sending mail for Hanukkah (Nov. 28-Dec. 6), the USPS did not provide specific dates, but be prepared to put your item out for delivery with enough time to spare.

Here are the deadlines and price increases that you should know for sending holiday gifts in 2021.

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USPS deadlines for packages to arrive by Christmas Day

For an expected delivery date by Dec. 25, you should send through USPS by the following dates:

  • USPS Retail Ground Service: Dec. 15.
  • First-Class Mail Service: Dec. 17.
  • Priority Mail Service: Dec. 18.
  • Priority Mail Express Service: Dec. 23.

People who are sending mail abroad can find the full list of deadlines for each country at

Take note that Priority Mail’s two- and three-day services have been indefinitely extended to three and four days, respectively, as of April 2020.

Deadlines for sending mail overseas to military posts during the holidays

To make sure that mail sent to military and diplomatic posts arrives by Dec. 25, make sure to send your packages by:

  • Priority Mail Express Military Service: Dec. 16.
  • First-Class Mail letters and cards: Dec. 9.
  • Priority Mail: Dec. 9.
  • USPS Retail Ground Service: Nov. 6.

For more information about deadlines, pricing and how to address packages, go to

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USPS prices have increased for the holidays

Through Dec. 26 at 12: 01 a.m. Central Time, the USPS has implemented temporary price increases.

According to the USPS, “These temporary rates will keep the Postal Service competitive while providing the agency with the revenue to cover extra costs in anticipation of peak-season volume surges similar to levels experienced in 2020.”

For Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, Parcel Select Ground, USPS Retail Ground and First-Class Package Service, increases range from $0. 25 to $5 and depend on how far your mail is traveling and how much it weighs.

For example, sending a letter or package that is less than 10 pounds locally will cost $0. 25 more than usual. Sending a package that weighs 21-70 pounds to Hawaii will cost $5 more.

For the breakdown of price increases, go to To determine your delivery zone, input your zip code and the recipient’s zip code at

Follow KiMi Robinson on Twitter @kimirobin.

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