USPS says holiday shipping deadlines are fast approaching: Everything you should know

USPS is expecting nearly 2.3 billion letters and packages to be processed and delivered just this week alone.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The holidays are quickly approaching and that means major shipping companies are working around the clock to make sure packages will arrive on time for Christmas.

The United States Postal Service is two days away from its first deadline, December 15.

Paul Smith, a spokesperson for the USPS, said the best thing people can do is drop their cards and packages off early.

Smith said the shipping madness that mail carriers experienced last year actually helped crews prepare for this season.

"Last year was definitely a challenge for all shippers, so this year we got three good things going on. First of all, we hired 40,000 seasonal help, and the big thing is we have new machines that can process 12 times faster than the manual sorting we were doing last year," Smith explained.

The new manual machines are expediting the sorting process and can be found at post offices across the U.S., including right here in Pennsylvania.

Smith said the USPS has also converted their help throughout the year to full-time employees since they are already familiar with the mail routes.

USPS is expecting nearly 2.3 billion letters and packages to be processed and delivered just this week alone.

Two days before the first deadline, packages and cards were in hand at the post office in Bala Cynwyd.
"I have to tell you this was the busiest I've seen, today. All last week it was pretty quiet so I think people are really trying to not get their packages in," said Rhonda Ball.

Of course, people are trying to make sure their cards arrive in time to their loved ones, but spirits are merry and bright in case they don't.

"I'd usually be shipping them later because I'm a guy and I send things out last minute, so this is early for me. Honestly, these cards will probably get late to Canada but better late than never," joked Matt Piasta.

Some folks are ahead of the game and have finished dropping off their presents. But in the end, they are just happy to be heading home for the holidays.

"It's been a tough time. We haven't seen our family in almost three years so I'm looking forward to it," Ball said.

United States Postal Service (USPS) 2021 holiday shipping deadlines

For delivery before Dec. 25

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

Click here for USPS shipping deadlines for mail sent to international and military addresses. USPS also offers a list on its website with tips about how to avoid common holiday shipping mishaps to ensure your packages arrive on time.

UPS holiday 2021 shipping deadlines

For Dec. 24 delivery
  • UPS Ground: UPS recommends its self-service options for calculating delivery time

  • UPS 3 Day Select: Dec. 21
  • UPS 2nd Day Air: Dec. 22
  • UPS Next Day Air: Dec. 23

Click here for more information about shipping via UPS to international addresses.

FedEx holiday 2021 shipping deadlines

Recommended last days to ship for delivery by Dec. 25

  • FedEx Ground and Freight Economy: Dec. 9
  • FedEx Home Delivery: Dec. 15
  • FedEx Ground: Dec. 15
  • FedEx Freight Priority and Direct: Dec. 15
  • FedEx Express Saver: Dec. 21
  • FedEx 3Day Freight: Dec. 21
  • 2Day & 2Day AM: Dec. 22
  • FedEx 2Day Freight: Dec. 22
  • FedEx 1Day Freight: Dec. 23
  • FedEx Extra Hours: Dec. 23
  • FedEx SameDay: Dec. 24

Click here for information about FedEx international shipping deadlines.

These recommendations were provided by each company and are subject to change. Please contact shipping companies directly with any questions.
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