What Is “Priority Shipping”?

Here’s an odd one. “Priority shipping” is a term used almost exclusively by the United States Postal Service. In fact, they’ve even registered “Priority Mail” as a trademark, so perhaps even the local mailman has to stake his claim somewhere.

Priority is the USPS’s expedited/express shipping option, though that might get confusing here in a moment. Priority shipments have a delivery window of one to three business days, though that’s not a guarantee (remember that part; it’s important for later).

Priority is also a step up from First Class Mail, which sounds pretty upper class, especially if you’ve ever had the privilege of being shipped first class yourself (as in, flying first class). Really, it’s just a designation based on who’s shipping the item and what’s being shipped (with things like business marketing materials taking lower priority than personal mail, thankfully).

Some Priority Mail is priced by weight and destination, though the USPS also offers flat-rate priority boxes—sometimes it’s cheaper, sometimes it’s not, but at least you know what you’re paying.

Finally, USPS also offers the option to ship Priority Mail Express. It’s not necessarily any faster—both boast a delivery window of one to three business days—but unlike regular Priority Mail, Express guarantees delivery in that window. So, the next time you need to get a cursed golden ring to a fiery volcano…maybe try that.

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