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How to Print USPS Postage At Home For Free

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USPS Mail TubPrinting postage at home is one of the best ways to save yourself time. There’s nothing more infuriating than going to the post office, especially as we near tax season and everyone is rushing to mail their taxes (efile people!), and seeing a line of fifteen people and only two postal workers at the registers. Millions of dollars of productivity is lost each year because we have to wait in line.

Fortunately, the USPS has entered the modern era and now offers a lot of nice technological solutions to their inadequate staffing (the workers at my post office are great, there just aren’t enough of them) like the automated kiosks (fantastic). The best solution, however, is the ability to print USPS postage at home for packages without an extra fee.

(The title of this post might be a little confusing, you don’t print free postage, that’s stealing. What you avoid are fees that services like Stamps.com will charge you because there are other options out there where no fees are involved.)

Why You Should Print At Home

When you print postage at home, you’re able to avoid going to the post office and, more important, avoid waiting in that ridiculous line. No matter what time of day you go, the post office will always have a line and not enough workers to keep that line manageable. There will always be twice as many registers as there are people to work them and that’s probably half cost cutting and half “advice from managerial consultants” telling them that you don’t need to fill up all the registers because you want a constant line. Heck, they may do it so more people print postage online!

In addition to avoiding the post office, another advantage of printing postage online is that you get an electronic record of your transactions plus you can simply drop the package off in a blue USPS box or with your mail carrier when he or she comes to deliver your mail. This means you don’t need to interrupt your schedule, which everyone can appreciate.

How to Print USPS Postage at Home

Before you can print postage at home, you’ll need two things – a printer (duh!) and a scale. You’ll need to scale to weigh your postage for the purposes of calculating postage. You’ll want one that can give you a weight in ounces, that’s the level of granularity you’ll need for postage.

As for printing postage, the simplest way is to set up an account with the USPS and print your postage on their website. You can print postage for Domestic Express and Priority Mail as well as International Global Express Guaranteed, Express and Priority mail. One option you cannot do is Media Mail (more on that later), which is the cheapest option if you’re shipping media such as books or DVDs. If you haven’t used this in a few years, it’s come a long way.

The second best way to print postage is using Paypal, which also gives you the ability to print Media Mail postage! I use Media Mail every time I ship a book someone won in the Bargaineering Auctions and it’s usually only a few dollars. Again, you get all of the benefits of printing at the USPS site plus Media Mail (plus you can print UPS shipping labels on Paypal too).

Unfortunately, none of these sites give you the option to print stamps, which is a service offered by companies like Stamps.com but you can usually buy those at places like your local grocery store.

Where to Drop Off Packages

Any blue USPS mailbox will do or you can simply hand it to your mail carrier. There are rules regarding stamped packages (packages where you simply put enough stamps to cover postage), you can’t put a package weighting greater than 16 ounces into the blue mailboxes for security reasons. The package will be returned to you. If you print your postage online, that weight limit no longer applies.

If your package doesn’t fit in a blue mail box, you’ll have to take it to a post office (or an affiliate location such as a “contract postal unit“) and drop it off with a teller or wait for your mail carrier to arrive.

Hopefully this can help you make one fewer trip to the post office and add a couple hours to your life! :)

(Photo: cat-sidh)

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13 Responses to “How to Print USPS Postage At Home For Free”

  1. Martha says:

    Thanks for the info Jim! I plan to do this today!

  2. daenyll says:

    I love the kiosks.

  3. Being able to print postage online has saved me a lot of time. A few years ago I bought an inexpensive digital scale from eBay and have been using it ever since for my online sales.

    Two things that I wish I could do. One is being able to print first class mail anytime.

    And two is being able to drop off mail over 13 ounces or non-first class mail into a blue bin. In order to keep my normal schedule I go to the usps distribution center when I need to drop off mail. They are open early in the morning and later in the evening.

    • Jim says:

      You can drop off mail over 13 ounces and other non-first class mail into a blue bin, I drop media mail packages off in a blue bin whenever possible.

    • Tammy says:

      I purchased one of the oversized mailboxes and it has saved me a ton of trips to the post office that I am sure my gas $$ more than paid for my oversized mailbox

  4. yourPFpro says:

    Interesting, I have a small digital scale that I use for all my ebay purchases. The problem I encounter though is when I want to ship a package first class, then I usually have to go into the post office. I think if the package/envelope weighs over 13 oz, you have to use priority mail right?

  5. Jeff Crews says:

    Awesome! I used to ship direct from the office with UPS. Lately though, we have been using USPS. This is definitely implemented from here on out!

  6. Seasongs says:

    So, does this mean we can use the USPS priority mail shipping boxes and print the postage from home? ‘Just want to make sure I’m understanding. Thanks so much.

  7. Karen says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Dennis says:

    Printing your own postage is great and I do it all the time. However, it doesn’t prevent you from having to wait on line. At my post office, you can’t just leave it, you have to wait online and hand it to them therefore saving no time at all.

  9. skylog says:

    it can also be cheaper, as certain services are offered at reduced prices. delivery confirmation is one i use often.

  10. chinsb says:

    I can’t find a way to print a shipping label for a single DVD. The USPS website shows media mail starting at $2.85, but when I follow the links to calculate postage, there are no such options. The website is frustrating to navigate – too many options, but none for the choice you want to make. I hope the USPS will stay in business, but making things difficult doesn’t bode well for this sinking ship…

  11. turbo says:

    I have Dymo Stamps that is fee free until July 2 2013. Then I have to pay a fee from some provider. I mail maybe, 3-5 letters amonth so Dymo stamps was good for me. I would buy a book of stamps and a week later the price would go up. Then I had to get the stamps to match the increase of postage. Thats why I went Dymo.
    Looks like it was good while it lasted. Oh, If I stick with Dymo, I have to buy there blank stamps which are just over 10 cents per blank stamp.


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