Postal service

Letters and Packages
Every town or city in the United States has at least one post office. (  This is where you can buy stamps and mail packages and letters. Some private businesses also provide mailing services although all non-urgent mail is handled through the post office, an independent branch of the federal government. Package services like UPS and FedEx have created competition for the postal service, but these privately owned companies do not receive government funding like the postal service.

The U.S. Postal Service places public mailboxes on various street corners. Most dormitories, campus buildings, and large apartment buildings also have places for outgoing mail. If you have your own mailbox, ask a neighbor or your postal carrier what you need to do to have your outgoing mail picked up.

The USPS offers reliable and fast mail delivery and they are legally obligated to serve everyone regardless of geography, at a uniform price.  First class mail within the U.S. and weighing less than 13 ounces, costs the same from anywhere in the country to anywhere in the country.  Postage for items weighing more than 13 oz. and packages will depend on weight and destination. Letters and packages, even without express delivery, often cross the country within a few days, with relatively few items getting lost. Overseas mailings leave the U.S. quickly. A post office clerk can explain the various rates for mailing packages within the United States or overseas.

Post office lines can be long during lunch hours and towards the end of the business day. If you want to avoid long lines, try planning your trip at another time or using the USPS online services at Typically post offices operate during normal business hours although some open for part of the day on Saturday.

You can send packages or letters overnight or within two days to certain places in the United States or overseas using express mail or air courier services. Express mail costs significantly more than regular mail.

If you move, it is important you that you alert the post office. This will help you continue to receive your mail.

Zip Codes
The USPS has assigned five-digit zip codes that enable them to quickly route your letter or package to its proper destination. The zip code is written on the envelope or package after the city and state (e.g., Colorado Springs, CO 80901). When you give someone your mailing address, make sure to include your zip code. Zip codes also have an added “plus four” series of four numbers that can be added at the end to further specify your neighborhood within that zip code. To find the correct zip code for a specific address, you can go to

Postal Boxes
For a small fee, you can rent a postal box at your campus post office or at a nearby private location. This arrangement works well when you do not have a long term address where you will be living and don’t want to have to change your address frequently. A postal box uses your name, followed by the box number, city, state, and zip code. You will have to go to the post office where your box is located to pick up your mail.

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