Time of day matters - USPS

I get this is super specific…. But I would like to mail out the most efficient way possible.
I know to have the mail sent out by 4:30 at our little post office to go to that day’s mail, but does anyone know what that means or what it looks like?
For example, the little post office is not open yet this morning, but is this all getting out at the same time as the mail in by 4:30? If I drop it off at the main post office before they open can it go out on today’s truck to the next sorting stop? Or does it just wait until the end of the day? Would that essentially mean having dropped off something at 6pm the previous day be the same as dropping off this morning or dropping off at 4:30 pm?
I also wonder this, but on a weekend level.
Oh, and with that if the mail carrier came to my house at say, 5pm to deliver and picked up my outgoing mail would it be going out in the next day’s mail or the same day as if I had dropped it off for the 4:30 collection times at the little post office?

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Here we have to schedule a day for home collection online, we pay a bit extra for it as well. Is it the same in America?

Sorry for hijacking your post.

Not high jacking at all!!
Here, the mail carrier picks up outgoing when delivering incoming. There is no fee for them to pick it up.

Because your question is a specific one for US I moved it there.

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Thank you and oh? That is interesting. So how do they know you have outgoing mail?

Thank you for doing that!

@Bunny-Boo They won’t know we have outgoing mail until they deliver our mail. We have plenty of drop boxes that they pick up at scheduled times daily, but most days I receive mail so it isn’t usually an issue. I also drop mail off at the post office just because I know for sure they will be there.

Ah okay thank you for explaining. It is interesting how things are in different countries. I hope you get the answer to your question :slight_smile:

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Many rural and suburban boxes positioned kerbside look like this: you raised the little flag on the side to notify them of outgoing mail, and they lower it to show it has been picked up by the carrier. Most recent apartment buildings (block of flats?) or group boxes outdoors have an ‘outgoing’ slot as well besides the individual post boxes for residents.


Oh thank you John! Yes in animal crossing they have those type of mail boxes, but I thought it was just part of the game. I have also seen them in movies, it never occurred to me that it was taken from real life. As some things in movies are just for that. I have learnt something new today.


I forgot about these! Oh my goodness. The ones out in the country are even on the opposite side of the street sometimes so that the mail carrier can reach it from the mail truck!!! Thank you, John!

@Bunny-Boo I have a question for you that I’ve always wondered… do mail trucks where you live have the drivers side on the same side as passenger vehicles? Here we drive in the right side of the road, with our steering wheels on the left except mail trucks have theirs on the right side…. So if you are in a country with a steering wheel typically on the right side, do mail trucks have theirs on the left side?

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I work at a post office. All mail dropped off to us, no matter from 8-3:30 pm, goes to a larger sorting center and will be sent the next day, never the same day. Same-day mail is only if you paid extra, or if they have a P.O. box at our post office, we can simply cancel the stamps and place it in their box. I hope that helps! So, yes! Essentially, dropping something off at 6 pm the previous day is the same as dropping it off before the pick-up time the next day. All mail picked up from the mailboxes will also go out the next day since it all needs to be sorted, bundled, organized, canceled, etc.


Thank you so very much!!! This is extremely helpful.

Of course! Glad I could help. :smile:

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My mailbox is out at the street, As another poster said, in most rural areas, you put your outgoing in the same box the incoming will be in, and “raise the flag” (almost always red, but I’ve seen other colors).

If the person in the delivery truck has no mail for you and the flag is down, they pass you by. If they have mail, they put it in the box, and if you have any outgoing, they take it then and put your flag back down. I am sending a postcard almost every day, so I put it out in the morning with the flag up. I like that I can glance to the curb and see if the post truck has been by or not, because the postman/woman will have put the flag back down.

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That I don’t know, the smaller vans have it on same side as a car. I don’t know about the larger vans. I presume they are the same as the normal vans, and they are on the same side. Now, by larger van I mean a transit van. Trucks are a different thing, they are like the coca-cola truck, I don’t know about those.

The latter. The little post truck lets the driver sit on the right and they are driving on the right as well, so they can just reach your box without getting out.

In the upper Midwest, some carriers walk up and down the streets with a mailbag (like you saw Cliff carry in “Cheers”), and deliver/pick-up to several streets at once, then return to their truck for the next batch. In those towns they don’t have long drive-ways like rural folks do, so their boxes are either right on the side of the house by the door or they even have a flap that the mail can be dropped through, as you’ve probably seen in many movies. Depends on where you live. I wanted to put a door-box in when I moved to a Southern state and was told I couldn’t since carriers can’t drive up your driveway (at least not in my state/county).

Sorry original poster - I got a little off your topic. I, too, have wondered if my postcards will move out faster if I post them at the post office in town or if I just put them in the box by my home for pick-up. I did ask our carrier once. She told me it was about the same, because they only open and empty the big bin at the post office at the posted time of 5pm (unless it is overflowing for seasonal issues - Christmas - tax forms etc). And since I am early afternoon on her route, she returns to that same post office with her collected mail at about the same time. So in almost every case (for me), the receiver is probably going to see mail stamped with a postmark the following day.

She said if I want to have a very specific post mark date (for whatever reason), then I would have to take the card to the counter and ask to have it hand-stamped. And that is not very common. My biggest advantage to taking it to the office myself is to protect the card if we are having very wet weather.

Oh that’s interesting!
I was always under the impression that if you dropped something off before noon that it would go out on that same days truck to the main sorting center and start its journey to its final destination that much quicker. But now that I know that it doesn’t actually send it on its way any sooner I’m just going to start leaving everything in my home mailbox and skip the extra stop in the morning on my way to work.

I live in a pretty rural area and the small Post Office only sorts the incoming bin once a day. I have seen postings in other towns that have more than one collection time. If that is the case, then dropping off early (before the first posted “collection time”) would probably have your mail traveling the same day. Just depends on where you live and how your local USPO has set up their sorting schedule.

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