(NEXSTAR) – If you often pay bills or mail gifts at the last minute, you may want to rethink your mailing timeline: The United States Postal Service is now giving itself more time to deliver first-class mail.
The USPS has been struggling with budgetary concerns for years based on pension obligations and a decline in mail use. Now, the agency is relaxing its “service standards” to make on-time delivery less expensive and more consistent.
A first-class parcel was previously expected to arrive within three days of mailing, but the agency now says the standard, going forward, is two to five days. That should mean more truck travel and fewer costly flights on planes the USPS doesn’t own.
“The Postal Service will increase time‐in‐transit standards by 1 or 2 days for certain mail that is traveling longer distances. By doing so, the Postal Service can entrust its ground network to deliver more First-Class Mail, which will lead to greater consistency, reliability, and efficiency that benefits its customers,” agency representatives wrote in a press release last week.
The agency estimates that 61% of first-class mail and 93% of periodicals will be unaffected by the changes. In a fact sheet posted online, USPS says anything within a three-hour drive of your mailing location should still arrive within two days.
According to The Washington Post, the slowdown will not hit all states evenly. Deliveries to less dense states such as Nevada and Montana are expected to take longer on average than some more dense-destination states.
The changes are part of a reorganization known as the Delivering for America Strategic Plan developed under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, an ally of former President Donald Trump.
That 10-year plan calls for electrifying the delivery fleet, expanding package delivery and modernizing the retail locations, among other changes.
The next round of changes comes on Oct. 3, when temporary holiday price surcharges go into effect.
Through Dec. 26, the USPS plans to tack on an additional 30 cents to a typical parcel and a dollar or more to some other, less common types of returns and mailings. The breakdown is available in a recent press release from USPS.