Obtain Free Shipping Supplies From The USPS

It’s the time when people start mailing out gifts, so we thought we’d remind you that you can obtain free Priority or Express Mail supplies from the USPS.

Yes, they really are free. No, this isn’t your tax dollars at work. (The USPS is not supported by taxes.)

The one catch is that you are required to use these boxes, envelopes and stickers to send things Priority Mail. If you’re going to do that anyway… why pay for supplies?

Postal Store Priority Mail Supplies [USPS]

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  1. Consumer David says:

    As an avid eBay buyer, I’ve noticed a lot of people get these free boxes then turn them inside out, retape them and use them to ship First Class, Media Mail or even UPS. In the last few weeks, it looks like USPS finally wised up and now prints “For Priority Mail Use Only” all over the inside.

    • Bix says:

      You can also wrap the boxes with inside-out brown paper grocery bags.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      They started printing inside some years ago – I’m still working through some odd size boxes ordered in 2005 – they just switched to an ink that’s even more obvious.

  2. clamjuice says:

    I turn them inside out and still use them. One cut and one extra piece of tape.

    • diasdiem says:

      That’s illegal.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      I did that once- got busted by the clerk and paid the priority.

      Not only that, but they are also printing “USPS PRIORITY MAIL” on the inside of the box so when you reverse it, there’s still print.

    • Proz says:

      Doesn’t work anymore. All boxes printed in 2009 are printed inside the box with a warning that says “Priority Mail Only”. It covers every inch of the box so if you turn them inside-out, it is obvious where you got the box from. You’re going to need a roll of scotch tape to cover up the warnings.

    • ellemdee says:

      Post offices are cracking down on this. The last time I mailed a package, the cashiers were asking everyone in line if their boxes were inverted Priority mail boxes and were even measuring boxes to see if they were the same dimentions as Priority boxes. My cashier even poked open the corner of my box to see if it was a Priority Mail box turned inside out.

      I actually was using an inverted Priority box once (I received a shipment that way and was reusing the box) and the cashier allowed me to put extra tape on the corner to hide the edges but said she couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t “get caught” (I guess they can return your shipment to you if they catch it).

  3. crazydavythe1st says:

    Some post offices have this stuff too, they just keep it behind the counter because they want you to buy the expensive boxes (some don’t though – and they look at you like you’re crazy).

    I’m only saying this because from experience the odds of you actually getting your supplies in time to use them for Christmas is very, very low.

    • henrygates3 says:

      Yes you’ll have to go to the PO for them if you want them in time. You can order them on the Internet which is convenient, but they basically deliver them whenever they feel like it.

      • cash_da_pibble says:

        Or, you can tote your stuff to the post office and package it there. I know it looks kinda goofy, but heck- it works, right?

        • DJ Charlie says:

          Speaking from recent experience (yesterday, actually), bring a roll of packing tape with you! The PO charges $6 for a 40 foot roll. You can buy a 100 foot roll just about anywhere else for less than $2.

  4. macoan says:

    They use to also give away packing tape – big rolls of it – I wish they would do that again. (But would guess many would use that for other uses…. other then sending mail.

    …. I think I still have about 1/2 a roll left around here somewhere

    • Proz says:

      If you’re a regular customer at the P.O., they’ll usually give you a roll if you ask them. This generally works if you in large city.

    • ecwis says:

      Last time I ordered USPS supplies, which was several years ago, they had tape but it was low quality and said USPS Priority mail all over it.

    • Bix says:

      Last time I asked, the clerk gave me a roll. Yes, it says Priority Mail on it, but if you’re sending Priority packages, it’s excellent tape on top of being free (sticks well but easy to pull off the roll).

  5. Anonymously says:

    FYI: The boxes labeled “Flat Rate” can only be used to mail flat rate. They can’t be used to mail standard priority stuff. You are not allowed to remove or cover up the words “Flat Rate” on the box. The boxes are a special size and they’ll know and charge you the flat rate.

  6. kwm7c says:

    In college we would gather up as many of these boxes as we could find and then make furniture out of them. What fun.

  7. Starfury says:

    The only problem I’ve found with the Priority boxes is the stuff I have to ship (boardgames) don’t fit into their boxes and I have to use my own. At this point parcel post is cheaper but not by much.

    • diasdiem says:

      Yeah, they need a few different boxes for each of the size classes of Priority Mail. There are times when what I’ve needed to ship wouldn’t quite fit in a small flat-rate Priority Mail box because it wasn’t wide enough, or deep enough, but would leave lots of empty space in a medium box.

  8. morlo says:

    Priority mail is usually not worth it, so you end up paying a lot for your free boxes unless you are using them to heat your house for the winter.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      When I was selling lots of stuff on eBay I found the break-even point for USPS Priority Mail vs. UPS Ground was about 4 pounds. If the item was lighter than that, then USPS was cheaper, UPS was cheaper for larger/heavier packages.

  9. MooseOfReason says:

    I shipped something at the Post Office last week and they charged me for a large flat-rate box.

    Bastards.

  10. lukesdad says:

    I had a UPS account a while back and – at least at that time – they also offered free boxes and some supplies. Creating the account was free, you just had to tie it to a credit card to pay for the actual shipping costs. This was ~2 years ago, so things may have changed.

  11. brodie7838 says:

    You used to be able to order them for free from the USPS website as well, free delivery too which reminds me of the first time I tried that (I was about 16 at the time):

    I placed an order for a handful of these boxes, the connection hung, and I kept clicking that ‘Place Order’ button. Unknown to me at the time every single one of those clicks ended up placing a duplicate order.

    The delivery truck that came to my house was an 18 wheeler, no joke. Took several full trips in the F-250 to get those from the top of our driveway to the house (really long driveway).
    Needless to say, my parents were less than pleased when they got home.

  12. Outrun1986 says:

    You can still order them from usps.com for free, I do it all the time. However the boxes will take a while to come, so you need to order a couple weeks in advance. You can also order forms and stuff too. I don’t like to clean my local post office out of DC forms or customs forms so I usually just order through the website.

  13. srh says:

    Hmm I feel kinda bad now. I got a bunch of these free boxes a couple years ago, and I just wrap them in a paper grocery bag, then send them parcel post. Oops.

  14. Noadi says:

    I love the free priority boxes. I send the majority of orders from my shop Priority so this definitely saves me money. Unfortunately this close to Xmas good luck getting them in time to ship for the holidays unless your local PO has some available. I ordered all the boxes I would need back in October and they still took 3 weeks to arrive, they’re low on the list of USPS delivery priorities so they take a while.

  15. katsuyakaiba says:

    EXCEPT you CAN’T get them.

    Knowing that I was going to send out Christmas Cookies this year to my out of state friends, I ordered on November 23rd a set of Flat Rate Boxes and a roll of Priority Mail stickers. I got the stickers on Monday, the 7th…I still haven’t received my boxes and these cookies need to be sent out next week so I ended up going to the post office to pick them up, seeing how the USPS website says it’ll take 7-10 days for me to get my order and it’s been very much past that. For a company that complains how they’re hardly getting any business, they sure aren’t helping me much to give them any.

  16. menty666 says:

    It takes, on average, up to three weeks to get the boxes. But it’s a great service and in most cases they’ll deliver them to your house (for some reason mine go to my PO Box). But, I order the sizes I need most often for my glass business and pass the savings on to my customers. In most cases I get peanuts free from my own supply orders. Add in a percentage off from setting up and paying for the package online and it’s a good deal.

    As an added benefit they have more sizes online than they typically have on hand in the office.

    Just be careful you don’t order the flat rate boxes if they don’t make sense. The 8.00 flat rate box is about the same size as the other priority mail box I use for something under a pound, costing me 4.80 to ship instead. But, if you ship heavy but small things, flat rate’s a better deal.

    The one caveat is plan ahead. You can’t just order them and have them show up the next day.

  17. krunk4ever says:

    Not really free. Just included in the shipping fee.

  18. razremytuxbuddy says:

    The free boxes and supplies is just one example of how, for my small business, USPS beats all other shipping services. The USPS Express Mail pricing and options do too. This sounds like a paid testimonial, but it’s not. No other service touches the USPS–at least for my small business.

  19. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    Call around, also, to see if a local USPS has extras on hand.

    Unfortunately, if you’re in a more rural area, your order might be delayed. When I lived in the Northwest a few years back, my post office decided to take and use my order, because they weren’t getting any themselves; it was an office where some of the older clerks liked to make up their “own” rules about overseas Express Mail, box renting (saw them blatantly lie to a new recruit who had just been transferred to the nearby base), etc. I ended up ordering a second batch.