[Wayback Repost] How long is mail taking for you?

This post was originally published on February 22, 2013. It’s reappearing today as a Wayback Repost, so you might see some old comments below. Feel free to continue the conversation!

postmarkHello everyone, as Mary mentioned yesterday I’m doing a tiny bit of guest posting here in the last days of LetterMo. I actually spent the first part of the month in her wonderful company and was inspired to even greater letter writing heights by her example.

Jumping off the Day 20 post about time delays, I find myself fascinated by the variance in the time delay between when I send a letter and when the recipient receives it. Before I started Month of Letters, I had a vague idea that first class mail took three or four days, maybe a day or two longer if I sent it all the way to another coast. However, as I get in reports from people who get my letters, I realized that mail is taking longer than I assumed. Sometimes up to a week and maybe a few days more.

When I mentioned my surprise on Twitter, I learned that the difference in time depends on many factors, including where one mails their letters. Most of my letters from earlier in the month went to the mailbox for the postman to pick up on his normal route. That probably means that the letters didn’t get processed until the day after I mailed them, which delays their journey. This same issue can crop up even if you drop a letter in a public mailbox depending on the time of day. The way to assure that your letter is processed faster seems to be taking it to the post office directly, but even that is subject to variance unless you head to your city or town’s central post office.

None of this is particularly bad, mind you. That letters take a while to get to their destination is part of the fun. I just had to adjust my own expectations. Since I recently took a long trip and wrote to people back home, a few times I saw the person I wrote to before their letter came!

I now pay a great deal of attention to postmarks and dates to see how long it was between when the letter left the writer’s hand and it appeared at my doorstep.

How long are your letters taking to arrive? And how long are they taking to get to you?

18 thoughts on “[Wayback Repost] How long is mail taking for you?”

  1. It varies depending on the letter you receive from. It could take an average of two to three days or even longer I will say five days to a week. On the occasion it could take even longer than that! I hope everyone is doing well with the number of letters written for this month. I have written 57 so far and I might top the 60 mark by the time I go to bed later this evening. Have a good weekend everybody.

  2. Letters inside Germany usually arrive the next day (when put into the mailbox before it gets emptied, usually between 2pm and 6pm – depends on the mailbox and is written on the mailbox). Within Europe it often arrives after two days (like Switzerland, Austria, France, Netherlands, Finland and a few more) but also can take up to two weeks. Letters to the US can be as fast as 4 days but most take between 6 and 14 days, Canada is almost the same, perhaps a day or two slowlier. Japan is usually rather quick as well, between 2 (yes, really!) and 7 days, Australia & New Zealand can be as fast as 6 days but most arrive within 12 to 16 days. Extremely slow are most South and Central American countries as well as China and Russia (those two can take ages and 20 to 40 days is rather normal).
    (based mostly on Postcrossing postcards but my own experience tells me that there’s no real difference between cards and letters)

  3. a few years ago, I could mail a letter to someone here in our small towan in Iowa, it went to The Quad Cities and was back the next day! Now our mail goes heaven knows where, i have heard to St. Louis and back, at any rate it may or may not be back in 4 days! It took 3 days for the valentine I sent to the Love of my Life to get back to our house. Mail to our children and friends is totally best guess. A pkg. sent to FL actually made it in 4 days, Priority Mail naturally AND insured. If we, well, We have known the names of our carriers all along and heckle them unmercifully when mail takes so long or is lost. They gentlemen tha have been our Postal Carriers have always been really wonderful people and I hope all the mail we are sending can somehow make a difference. Wouldn’t that be good?

  4. Most letters and cards seem to be taking between five and seven days to reach me from USA.

    I had a postcard dated 14th February in Pittsburgh reach me on 19th.

  5. I take all my mail to be hand-cancelled at the post office. The most frequent arrival time within the U.S. is three days (not counting Sundays), but often it’s a day longer. Overseas is most often five days, but can be up to ten days. I notice stuff takes longer to get to me from overseas than it does for my mail to get to foreign correspondents.

    I have had a few odd ones, though. When I was just starting on collage postcards, I made one that was about 4″ x 5″ and was a bit too rigid. I dropped in a mail box. After three and half weeks went by and it had still not arrived—this was going from the DC area to southern California—I used a 6″ x 10″ print from my scan of the original to make a new, less rigid, postcard. The original ended up arriving after four weeks to the day, in good shape with no postage due, and the print version arrived a day later. I’ve always wondered about what my poor little postcard was doing all that time.

  6. Right now I have a letter and some small trinkets in a small bubble mailer I posted on Jan. 31 its going to Texas, so far my parcel has been to Boston, MA. Dayton, OH. twice back to Florida, Jacksonville and Gainesville and back to Boston, eventually I am hoping it gets to Texas at this rate I could have hand delivered it.
    I have spoken with the someone at the post office they are confused as to why its going North and not West. It has a printed address so its not bad hand writing, I have since sent 2 other letters to the address both have been delivered. And the sad thing is this happens quite often.

  7. I live in the South East of USA. As far as timing I know mainly for things I’ve mailed to family in Ohio. I’ve dropped things in a “blue box” before pickup on a Saturday, and I know it arrived on Monday (or Tuesday after a Monday holiday). From the same person, I’ve received an envelope postmarked on a Saturday and I didn’t get it until Wednesday, but in the holiday mail rush they sent an envelope postmarked the 20th, and it arrived the 22nd. It’s a little hard to figure exactly when to send birthday cards, etc.

  8. I mailed Valentines in a manila envelope to my parents in AZ this year. I put them in the mail about a week ahead of time. The day before my son had posted a letter to grandma, a day or two later we sent his letter to grandpa. Both letters showed up, but still no Valentines. A week later I sent a package for my Dad’s birthday, it arrived a day early, but still no Valentines. Finally about three weeks after I sent them the Valentines arrived. No idea what happened on the way because I had weighed them at home and sent it from our mail box. My mom mentioned that the stamps didn’t look cancelled normally and just had a line drawn through them. Any ideas?

  9. I also prefer to take the extra step of having cards and letters hand canceled. It’s just me, but I think it makes it more personal. While I enjoy dropping letters into my local collection box, I also enjoy sending mail that’s been hand canceled. One of the local post offices even has a unique rubber stamp accenting our local heritage. I sometimes have my outgoing letters stamped with it, but it’s a little large. Like the blogger, I was also surprised to learn how long mail actually takes, in view of the 3 business days that the USPS advertises. The timelines that she and other commenters reported has been my experience as well.

  10. My mail has been all over the place in how long it is taking. I had a friend mail me 2 letters, from the same spot in Wi. The one she sent 2 days later arrived first. I often wonder how much mail art, vintage stamps, decorations, etc affect the time it takes.

  11. It takes things on average three weeks or more to get here (middle of nowhere, USA) from the UK or Germany or France. From China, it varies between two weeks and a month. Mail gets to Denver (the hub) within two days but it’s a crap shoot from there. I suppose there’s no way to speed that up short of putting it on the Concorde myself.

  12. I sent a letter from the US to Quebec. I sent it from my mailbox. It’s been 23 business days. I know that standard international ground mail can take quite a while. How long before I should stop expecting a reply?

  13. Hello can I ask smt? So I sent a letter on December 19, 2016, From Philippines to Spain. And it’s still not there, and it’s already January 23, 2017. 🙁 what do you think happened? 🙁

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