USA first-class postage to Canada

For those in the USA who have used the postal system for years, you may remember there used to be a special international first-class rate for Mexico and Canada – it was more than domestic first class but less than the international rate. I am dating myself, as this was years ago! But at some point the special rate for Canada and Mexico ceased. However, I discovered several months ago, by accident, when I was double checking the postage amount for a slightly heavy letter to Canada, that:

“International postage (for first-class postage) starts at $1.30, covering the postage costs for up to 2 ounces of mail to be delivered to any address in Canada.”
Normally the limit is 1 ounce. See the chart below.

So, take advantage of being able to stuff extra paper items in your envelope to Canada, up to 2 ounces! This may be nothing new, but I was unaware of it. Years ago I mailed to Canada quite often, having personal friends and pen pals there. But then I lost touch with these people, and only gained a new Canadian pen pal a couple years ago.

The mail?? The post??

I just realized that November is the 4 year anniversary of when I began this blog. I don’t always blog consistently, but I plan to keep at it! Here is a post (slightly edited) that was originally on the blog in December 2017…

The mail? The post?

I recently told someone that I would send them an item by post. They did not know what this meant! “What is post?” Uh, by mail – the postal service. Then they felt a little dumb. haha.

But really, they should not have felt dumb about it. I tend to use the word post, and I recently realized this is more of a British or European term. Somewhere along the line I picked this up, even though I am American. Perhaps for several reasons: I had a great deal of Canadian influence in my youth. I appreciate certain classic British novels and movies. I’ve long had international pen friends (and international students live with me) that typically write and speak British English.

If you look up the word post in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, there are several definitions, but one is this: “chiefly British, a nation’s organization for handling mail.”

The online free dictionary similarly says for post:

1. Chiefly British
a. a single dispatch or delivery of mail.
b. the mail itself.
c. an established mail system or service.

I sometimes sign my letters “Your friend by post and pen.” You’ll note that this blog is called Postman’s Treasure, rather than Mailman’s Treasure.

However, I am a blend of American and British English when it comes to the post or mail, and may even be inconsistent with my word use. When it comes to my home mail box, I use the word mail. It is the mailbox, not postbox. Do you say that you will “post a letter” or “mail a letter”? Most Americans, in my experience, say mail. I also say mail a letter; somehow post a letter sounds strange to me!

In the U.S.A. we do call it the POST office. It is the USPS: the United States Postal Service. So why is it that we are more likely to use the word mail instead of post…we mail letters, check the mailbox, look for the mailman, and mail packages. Hmmm?

Heritage Breed farm animal postage stamps

A comment was left yesterday that my posts were missed. (Thanks!) I’ve not had a post since March! Several times I’ve thought to myself “I should write about that on Postman’s Treasure” and then never did. Sometimes I wonder if postal related blogs go silent because, well, we prefer tangible communication – pens, paper, etc. That is partly it for me. But don’t worry, I plan to get back to posting here at least somewhat regularly.

One thing I’d meant to blog about was the farm animal (Heritage Breed) stamps that came out in May here in the US. These stamps have a connection to the county in North Carolina where my mom lives, so these stamps were in her local news.

Here is an article about it: New stamps trace lineage to Chatham’s Livestock Conservatory.

The article opens this way: “A Chatham County-based organization went to Washington last week to celebrate a rare victory. The Livestock Conservancy of Pittsboro joined with the U.S. Postal Service to mark the release of a sheet of 20 stamps showing endangered breeds of American farm animals on May 17. It was a rare win for the North Carolina organization because the Postal Service receives more than 30,000 suggestions for new stamps every year. Less than 100 typically win approval.”

Read the rest of the article for more details, but note that the Postal Service gets 30,000 suggestions a year for new stamps and less than 100 get approval. Wow!

A quick heads up…Did you know that postal rates are going up in the US at the end of August? More later.

My postal scale

This is my digital postal scale that I’ve had since the late 1990’s. I think it was a gift from my husband. It still works great. The only small problem is a little dark blob in the left side of the digital area, but it does not interfere with seeing the weight.

A postal scale is so very worthwhile, as I can keep adding things to the envelope until I max out the weight for up to 1 ounce! (Many pen pals like to enclose things with their letters. See here.) Or if I am knowingly going over an ounce, I can add the additional ounce stamp. I always keep a variety of stamp denominations on hand, so I can try to get exactly or close to the amount of postage needed. Truly, a digital postal scale can help you be frugal, and get the most for your money when sending enclosures.

After using a postal scale for years, I’ve actually gotten pretty good at accurately guessing weight myself! I may not get it exactly right, but can tell – for example – that “this is on the edge for a first-class stamp” – and when I weigh it, it is .9, 1, or 1.1 ounce. Yes, right on the edge.

Anyways, I consider my postal scale an essential item. If it breaks, I will get a new one! Whatever would I do without it?

Don’t try to cheat the post office! But do know how to get the most for your money.

I avoid the post office closest to my house for several reasons, but I do end up in there from time to time. There have been some significant staff changes, and the only clerk I “know” from the past was not working when I recently stopped to mail a book via media mail. As a frequent utilizer of the postal system, I am more familiar than some with the ins and outs of mailing. Anyways…

I stepped up to the desk and said “It is a book, so media mail please.” The clerk then asked me “what type of book?” – I was a bit surprised. I have never been asked this before, and my package clearly looked like a book. “Uh…it is a Christian non-fiction book.”  I am thinking to myself, do only certain genres of books now qualify for media mail now? How strange.

Well, it turns out the clerk said they have seen an increase in people trying to pass items off as media mail that don’t qualify. A book must be an actual book – with words inside that you read – to qualify. For example, a journal, which is a blank book, does not qualify. Neither does a calendar. Etc. I already knew this, but the clerk was just doing her due diligence in asking me.

She also told me that at the automated mailing machine in the lobby – people try to get away with all kinds of stuff! Somehow certain people think that because it is a machine, that they can pick the cheapest mailing option – even if their item does not qualify – and get away with it. Nope. She said someone kept repeat trying to mail a LAMP (yes, a lamp) via media mail and the post office kept returning it to the person as non-deliverable due to the wrong postage. Duh. Or she told me someone would bring in a large box, filled with something like clothes or a blanket, and then they would put ONE book in the box – and then want media mail. Uh, no!

Please, don’t try to cheat the post office. It is not honest. And if too many people try to cheat the system, it can contribute to future price increases.

There are honest ways to get the most for your money. Learn the ins and outs of the system and the postal mail categories.

For example, the flat rate shipping boxes. You get a free box, which is nice. Depending on what you are mailing, these flat rate boxes can save you considerable money OR actually cost you more. Yes, more.

How heavy or light are the items you are mailing? It makes a difference. If the items are quite light, the flat rate box may actually cost you more! But if you are mailing heavy items, the flat rate box could prove a super bargain!

Media mail was already mentioned, which is a real money saver for books. However, even then, media mail may not always be the best deal. One time I was mailing a thin, lightweight paperback book so I asked the clerk to compare the mailing options – and it was indeed a bit less to NOT use media mail because this book was so light.

I own 2 postal scales, a small one for letters and a large one for packages. This helps me determine the best way to mail items before I go to the post office. Even if you don’t own a postal scale, you can get an idea of package weight using your bathroom scale.

So…please don’t cheat the post office…but do learn how to get the most for your money.

USPS informed delivery

I’ve recently encountered several people not familiar with the USPS informed delivery service. I stumbled upon when it was new, and signed up right away. I love it. And it is free! What is it? USPS link here: Informed Delivery.  You get an e-mail every morning with a scan of the mail you will receive that day.

Why do I like it? I like how I can get out of bed, check e-mail, and see what my mail will be for that day! I immediately know if it is a good or bad mail day! Good mail = personal mail, letters from pen friends. Bad mail = generic mail, junk mail. I know ahead of time whether to rush to the mailbox as soon as I see the mail truck, or not. I am home during the day. But if you work during the day, you could still know whether to rush to your mail box when you get home from work.

I suppose some might not like the loss of suspense or surprise of opening the mail box not knowing ahead of time what will be in there.

Informed delivery can also be helpful if you are having problems with your mail delivery. A friend of mine signed up for it because of frequent mis-delivery of her mail.