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EAC / Preparing for Departure / Facts About U.S. / Postal Service

Currently it costs $.32 to mail a letter weighing 1 oz. (ounce) or less within the US. Such letters are automatically sent by first class mail. For convenience, you can buy a "book" of 20 stamps for $5.80 at any post office. Sending a postcard within the US costs $.20. To send a letter weighing 1 oz. (ounce) or less by airmail to another country costs $.50. If you are not sending the letter in a special airmail envelope or aerogram, you should write the word AIRMAIL on the envelope, next to or under the address. Be sure to write the name of the destination country clearly in all capital letters.

Packages weighing up to 11oz. can be sent by first class mail for quick service. Packages over 11 oz. can be sent by priority mail which usually takes 2 days to arrive to the destination or by express mail which takes 1 day. Packages weighing 1lb. (pound) or more can be sent by parcel post, or fourth class mail, which is less expensive but takes considerably longer to reach the destination.

When wrapping packages, do not use string or scotch tape (glue and heavy packing tape is preferable). You must wrap the package yourself. While post offices do sell large envelopes and containers for packing purposes, postal clerks will not wrap the package for you. It is best to wrap packages in a large envelope or plain box. If your box has writing on it, you can wrap it in plain brown paper (you can cut up brown paper bags from the supermarket, for example). Be sure the address is clearly marked and easy to read.

Options for Extra Security
While the US postal service is very reliable, you can purchase extra security guarantees if the package is especially valuable or important. One option is insurance for the package. You pay a small fee and must tell the postal clerk the actual value of the package. If it is lost or in some way damaged, the post office will reimburse you for that value.

Some other services offered are:
• Certificate of mailing. Gives the mailer proof that the letter/package was mailed.
• Certified mail (not for international mail). Mailer receives a receipt, and there is a record of the mailing at the post office. For an extra fee, the mailer can receive proof that the object was delivered.
• Recorded delivery. Can be used for international mail. Gives the mailer a record that the object was mailed. For an extra fee, the mailer can receive proof that the object was delivered.
• Registered mail. The most secure way to mail. Packages must be sent by first-class priority mail.

If you receive a package from another country, you will be required to fill out a postal customs form.

Money Orders
You should never send cash through the mail. If you do not have a checking account, you can buy a money order at the post office. You pay the post office the amount of the order plus a small fee and indicate whom you will be paying with that money.

Forwarding Mail
If you move during your stay in the US, fill out a "Change of Address Card" at the nearest post office. Any mail received at your old address will automatically be forwarded to your new address.

If you have any questions or problems, do not hesitate to contact the post office. Part of a postal worker's job is making sure that customers are satisfied.

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