Mailing Letters and Packages

Where do I mail letters?

Every city in the United States has at least one post office where you can buy stamps and mail packages and letters. Many private businesses also provide the same services.

The postal service also 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.

How do I mail letters for overseas destinations?

Check with the post office for current overseas air mail rates. Make sure you always clearly mark "air mail" on the envelope. Using self-folding air-mail forms, called "aerogrammes," can save you money on postage.

How do I mail packages?

A post office clerk can explain the various rates for mailing packages within the United States or overseas. Within the United States, packages can often be sent cheaper and faster using independent package and delivery services, such as United Parcel Service (UPS). (For a listing of companies that deliver packages, look under "Delivery Service" in your phone book's yellow pages.)

What if I need to send something quickly?

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 more than regular delivery. (For a listing of express mail or air courier services, look under "Air Freight & Package Express Service" in the yellow pages.)

What is a zip code?

A zip code is a five-digit number (sometimes with four additional "express" numbers, e.g., 80901-3841) that helps the postal service quickly deliver 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 you include your zip code.

How do I know which zip code to use if I only have someone's address?

You can call "zip code information" listed under "Postal Services" in the "United States Government" section of the "Government Offices" listing in the telephone book. Or, you may look the zip code up in your post office's zip code directory.

I will probably move around a lot while I'm in the United States. How do I obtain a permanent address?

For a small fee, you can rent a box, called a post office box or "P.O. Box," at your campus post office. When you give someone your permanent address, use the box number, city, state, and zip code.

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