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How long before my letter (or greeting card ) is delivered?

Updated 6/30/21

How long does it take the post office to deliver a greeting card or letter sent by First Class mail to a different city these days? 6 - 8 days for most First Class mail, excluding Sundays and holidays from the count of days.

We are often asked how long it will take to have a greeting card or letter delivered to a different city by First Class mail. Though delivery times may vary, these delivery times, based on our experience, are a good guide to avoiding disappointment.

This guidance is based on current delivery times and reflects the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on delivery of First Class mail sent from one city or state to another.

Cards will be delivered within 6 days, except that cards mailed to Alaska, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Puerto Rico may require up to 8 days. Guam may require up to 9 days. Exclude Sundays and holidays from the count of days.

Cards mailed after the last mail collection on any day are treated as if mailed on the next day that the post office is open.

(Delivery times will be shorter for a greeting card or letter that is both mailed and delivered in the same town or city).

Destination Days to delivery*
Alaska, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Puerto Rico 8
Guam 9
All other destinations 6
* Exclude Sundays and holidays from the count of days. First Class cards and letters both mailed and delivered within the same city or town will be delivered more quickly.

The US Post Office tells its customers to expect that every First Class card or letter will be delivered in 3 days, or sooner, if the card or letter is both mailed and delivered within the 48 states. Delivery to Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico is said to take 4 days and delivery to Guam 5 days.

In our experience, before Covid-19, many cards and letters mailed First Class did not meet those delivery times. Our experience was that First Class cards and letters were often being delivered in 4 days (6 days for Alaska, Hawaii Puerto Rico and 7 for Guam).

Most birthday cards within the 48 states are now being delivered within 6 days - even with Covid-19. But certain areas now seem to require more than 6 days for delivery.

Cards and letters sent First Class mail to Alaska, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Puerto Rico may take up to 8 days. Guam may take up to 9 days. As before, exclude Sundays and holidays from the count of days.

If your card or letter arrives late, you’re not going to feel great about it. So, if possible, mail your cards and letters a little sooner than you ordinarily might.

3 Birthday Card Mailing Mistakes

We all love to get real birthday cards. But first someone has to send them. When you're the person mailing that birthday card, don't make these three common mistakes.

Don't write the first draft of your note in your card

Birthday cards can easily cost over $5. And if you buy your card in a retail store, it can be a huge pain to have to drive back for a replacement if you screw up your note badly. It can also be a little embarrassing when you try to just fix it and your corrections are too obvious.

All of this can be avoided nearly 100% of the time by first writing your note on a piece of scrap paper or on your screen. If you made a mistake, you can fix it without embarrassment. If you think of a better thing to say, you just rewrite your note. Scrap paper - which can be as simple as a napkin - or the screen on your computer or phone is the place to write a first draft of your note - not the inside of your birthday card.

Don't delay

If your birthday card arrives late, you're not going to feel great about it. So you've got to mail your birthday cards on-time.

Not sure when to mail your card for an on-time arrival? Here's the news - it takes longer for the post office to deliver your card than you probably think it will. Mail your card 5 days before the day you want your card to be delivered - and don't count Sundays or holidays. And here's one more piece of news - your 5-day countdown starts when a real live post office employee gets your card - that can be your letter carrier at home or the person that empties the big blue mailbox or the clerk in the post office. Dropping your card in the mailbox at 7pm does not start the countdown clock.

Don't Add Your Stamp Until You've Written Your Envelope

I don't know where the post office buys the glue on the back of stamps, but the stuff is fantastic - unless you need to get your stamp off.

We all make mistakes sometimes. If you make a mistake addressing your card envelope, you might need to start over with a new envelope. That is a lot easier to do calmly if you didn't already stick your stamp on that messed up envelope.

Address your envelope, including your return address if you are using one, and add your stamp only after your envelope is done perfectly.

You can always try to peel off, or cut off, your unused stamp and then glue it onto a different envelope. But that can soon turn into its own mini-crafting project. You won't risk that when you do things in the right order - first your envelope, then your stamp.

So, there you have it. 3 birthday cards mailing mistakes you'll never make (or never make again).

Birthday card notes and wishes you can write in your card

Sometimes I have trouble getting started when I am about to write a note in a birthday card.

Sometimes I can get away with just "Happy Birthday" and my name, but more often I'd like to personalize my card with something more. Here are a few ideas to help get you get started on a note that will make you look good.

Birthday greetings for Mom
  • "Thank you for the years of cake and ice cream. Today is your turn!"
  • "You have given me such great advice over the years, Mom. I want to take this special day and use it as an opportunity to thank you for all that you do."
  • "Congratulations and good wishes to the woman who has everything - including me!"
  • "Twinkle, twinkle, little star. Happy birthday from afar. Missing you, Mom."
  • "Of all the mums in the world I'm so glad you're mine. You're a mum in a million."
Birthday wishes for Dad
  • "Dad, your birthday gift is another year of not having to pay for my wedding."
  • "Happy birthday, Dad! Thanks for the genes that gave me these rockin' good looks."
  • "Nothing compares to having an amazing father like you. I hope your birthday is as incredibly wonderful as you are to your children, Dad."
  • "Some people don't believe in heroes, but they haven't met you. Happy birthday, Dad!"
  • "Happy birthday, Dad! You're not old, you're vintage!"
Birthday wishes for a Son/Daughter
  • "I still remember how happy I was when I first laid eyes on you. I've been proud ever since. Happy birthday."
  • "Happy birthday to the greatest gift I have ever received. I love you!"
  • "One of a parent's greatest joy is to see a child grow up, especially when their child grows up to become such an amazing person."
  • "Today, as you enter the life of an adult, you should be prepared to explore all the new doors that have opened for you. You are not a child anymore, so don't hesitate to explore the world around you. Happy Birthday!"
  • "Just when the caterpillar thinks that it is all grown up, it becomes a butterfly. Happy birthday, butterfly."
Birthday messages for a Friend
  • "Time to celebrate. You made the trip around the sun one more time. It's a birthday revolution."
  • "You have been there for me no matter what. I love you, my dear friend, and I am so excited to share your special day with you. Your birthday is going to be truly special."
  • "I love being alive because you are in my life. Wishing you the very best, my dear friend."
  • "Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."
  • "I love you like I love cake at a birthday party. Don't forget to invite me. Happy birthday."

If you're still struggling to find the words to write on your birthday card, remember that the best greetings are those that come from your heart.

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