If you’re waiting for an important piece of mail to arrive, then you may wonder when you can expect it.
Mail isn’t like packages that are trackable.
There’s no way to know the exact date your mail will arrive since it depends on too many factors and processing times at the post office.
That said, there is a general time you can expect your mail.
Here’s what you need to know about how long you should wait for your mail to arrive.
What Time Does The Mail Come?
The post office delivers mail between the hours of 7 AM and 8 PM.
The post office itself is open from 9 AM until 7 PM.
This means that, before the post office is even open to the public, there are mail carriers on the streets delivering mail.
If you’re wondering about the specific time your mail arrives, then that’s information that the post office can’t give you.
The time is different every day and can change at a given moment due to several factors.
However, if you’re home often, then you can sometimes come up with a general time you can expect your mail to arrive.
That’s because the mail carrier usually arrives around the same time every day.
That all said, there are a few factors that impact the time it takes for your mail to arrive.
Here are some of those factors.
1. Distance From Post Office
Mail carriers have a route they’re given that follows an efficient path.
If they were to drive without a route, then it’d take too long to deliver all the mail in a day.
The chances of losing mail or missing the mailbox would also be greater.
To avoid that, the post office creates a specific route for every postal worker to drive.
The route starts with the addresses closest to the office and works its way out, covering every address in the office’s jurisdiction.
The further you are from a postal office, the longer it’s going to take to receive your mail.
Your address is further down on the route than those who are closer to the office.
As such, if you live far from the postal office, then you can likely expect your mail to arrive in the latter part of the afternoon.
If you live closer to the postal office, then you can expect your mail to arrive in the early hours of the morning or afternoon.
The further you are from the office, the later in the day your mail will arrive.
2. Size Of Community
The size of your local community also impacts what time you get the mail.
Most cities, towns, and villages have their own post office.
Cities have several post offices within them.
However, some townships may be so small that they don’t qualify for their own post office.
As such, they rely on a neighboring town’s post office to take care of their mail, too.
The size of the community also determines when your mail arrives.
If you live in a small community with only a few addresses, then you’re likely going to receive your mail early in the day.
Those who live in a large community like a minor or major city will likely receive their mail in the afternoon, depending on how far they are from the office.
Larger populations have more addresses for the office to service.
Since there are more addresses, some people have to wait until later in the day for their mail carrier to arrive.
Smaller areas don’t have that problem since there are fewer homes for the mail carrier to visit.
The size of your community can influence what time your mail arrives.
3. Walking Routes
Not all mail carriers use a vehicle to deliver mail.
Some have to walk.
This can also impact when your mail arrives.
Most mail carriers who work in the city are the ones who need to walk.
Cities prefer that mail carriers park their vehicles in designated areas, then deliver along their route from there.
This helps cut down on the amount of traffic congestion caused by mail trucks.
However, this also means that the mail is going to arrive a bit later.
Walking is a lot slower than driving down the road with a vehicle.
Mail carriers also have to transport heavy bags of mail with them.
This can slow them further.
As a result, if you live on a route where your mail carrier walks, then you may receive your mail later in the day.
It’s a slower process, which means you receive your mail later.
4. Road Construction
Mail carriers have to contend with road construction on their routes.
This can slow them down and make your mail arrive a bit later.
The good news is that road construction shouldn’t last several years.
At most, it will only be there for a few weeks or months.
Road construction slows down mail carriers because they have to sometimes find an alternate route to get to the addresses they need to reach.
If the road is impassable, then they’ll need to go on foot, which is even longer.
If your mail usually arrives in the morning, then road construction can sometimes push it back to the early afternoon.
This also goes for anyone who comes after the road construction.
Since it delayed one street of addresses, the rest of the route is going to face delays, too.
The time you receive your mail may also be earlier or later, depending on the presence of road construction.
Why Is My Mail Late?
In most cases, mail routes occur around the same time.
If your mail carrier tends to arrive around 3 PM at your mailbox, then the chances are they’ll continue to arrive around 3 PM for the foreseeable future.
However, some situations can arise that can impact when your mail arrives.
Here are a few reasons your mail may be late.
The weather greatly influences how fast or slow your mail arrives.
On clear days, the mail carrier doesn’t encounter any problems on their route.
This allows them to deliver mail around the same time that they usually do.
One of the biggest weather problems that can impact your mail delivery is snow and ice.
When it snows, the roads become difficult to navigate.
Mail carriers have to travel even slower than normal to ensure they don’t slip off the road.
Ice is especially hazardous since it becomes dangerous to stop on the road.
Some mail carriers are on the roads before snowplows, so they’re the ones contending with large snowdrifts and blocked roads.
If the roads are especially hazardous, then you can expect your mail to arrive later than normal.
That’s because the mail carrier is taking extra time to ensure they’re able to drive safely.
Even something like heavy rainfall can delay mail delivery.
When a severe thunderstorm passes through an area, it can make visibility on the roads poor, if not impossible.
To ensure they’re able to arrive safely at each address, the mail carrier might choose to wait or find cover until the storm passes.
Once the rain lightens up and they can see out their windshield, they’ll resume their route.
Depending on how long the storm lasted, your mail may face delays of only a few minutes to a few hours.
Finally, severe weather like hurricanes and tornados can also impact when your mail arrives.
When a hurricane or tornado is occurring, then the mail carrier cannot be on the roads.
They have to take shelter just like everyone else.
Depending on how long the severe storms last, it could delay your mail carrier by a few days.
The damage done to the roads, like fallen trees, can cause further delays.
The type of weather outside can cause delays with your mail carrier.
2. Vehicle Problems
Some of the carriers use severely outdated trucks.
That’s because the USPS doesn’t usually have enough funds to buy new trucks, let alone pay their operating costs.
Since their trucks are quite old, they can fall prey to breakdowns.
It may be as simple as a flat tire or something more complex like a malfunctioning transition.
Whenever there’s a problem with a mail carrier’s vehicle, you can expect your mail arrive to later.
It may not even arrive until the next day.
Sometimes, the mail carrier will have to add their day’s worth of mail to the next day’s mail delivery.
Other times, if another mail carrier is almost done and nearby, they might pick up the mail for them and deliver it instead.
In both instances, you can expect a delay.
With the former, you might not get your mail at the same time that particular day, but you can expect it around the usual time tomorrow.
For the latter, your mail faces a delay of a few hours since the new mail carrier has to finish their own route first.
Vehicle breakdowns can occur at any time.
When they do, your mail may no longer arrive at the usual time that it does.
3. Traffic Congestion
Everyday traffic can also impact your mail delivery time.
Sometimes, the traffic might not be too busy or your mail carrier may finish a part of their route just before the congestion begins.
In this case, your mail may arrive earlier than you expect.
In other cases, your mail carrier may run a little late and find themselves stuck in traffic.
In this case, your mail may arrive a little later than you expected.
Even small cases of traffic congestion can delay your mail by a few minutes.
For example, if your mail carrier ends up stuck behind a slow driver, a garbage truck, or even a police car, then they may face a delay.
An unexpected accident ahead can also cause traffic delays, which can impact your mail carrier.
Any time there’s traffic on the road, your mail carrier may not be able to deliver your mail at the usual time.
In most cases, the delay can last a few minutes or even a few hours.
4. Holiday Season
You may notice that your mail is a bit slower to arrive during the holidays.
This can be a frustrating experience since the holidays are also when you’re likely the most dependent on your mail carrier.
The reason your mail carrier is slower during the holidays is that everyone is using their services more.
Since the USPS can pick up packages at your doorstep, many people use them to send their presents to families and friends who live far away.
Many people send cards through the mail, too.
Since there’s an influx of mail during the holidays, the USPS has to contend with them with a small staff.
Because the USPS doesn’t have a high budget, they usually only employ a few carriers.
While a few offices may hire seasonal workers during the holidays, not every office has the budget to do so.
As a result, it’s the usual small crew that has to work more hours to ensure they pick up and drop off all packages and mail.
Since there’s more mail but the same number of workers, the mail carrier has to deliver more in the same amount of time.
This usually means that your mail arrives a little late.
Another reason the USPS is a lot busier during the holiday season is that they partner with UPS, FedEx, and Amazon.
The USPS handles what’s called last-mile deliveries.
This means that the other companies take care of some expenses of transporting the package over a long distance.
When it arrives at the local post office, the USPS is the one responsible for delivering it to the actual address.
Since there are more packages handled by those businesses during the holiday, the USPS has more packages from them to deliver, too.
The holidays are a busy time for the USPS and it can result in the delay of your mail.
5. Incorrect Address
Sometimes the USPS will also deliver to the wrong address.
During the sorting process, some mail might accidentally slip into the section that belongs to someone else.
If this is your mail, then it may take a while for it to actually reach you.
The person who does receive your mail will have to put it back in the mail with a notification that the address is incorrect.
The USPS will then need to re-sort the mail and put it in the correct section.
Then the mail carrier will deliver it to the correct address at their usual time.
Sometimes the mail won’t arrive at the correct address at all.
In this case, the sender may need to send another piece of mail or notify the recipient of the attempted delivery.
This can delay the arrival of that specific mail item even further.
Your mail can sometimes face a delay if it went to the wrong address.
6. Type Of Mail
The USPS gives different priorities to certain types of mail.
Priority Mail and Priority Express Mail have the highest priority.
They tend to arrive at your mailbox within a day up to three days.
Standard mail can take anywhere from five days to seven days to arrive.
It’s important to know what type of mail you’re waiting for to help you determine when your mail carrier should arrive with it.
For example, if you know that you’re waiting for a piece of mail that’s Priority Express, then you can expect the piece of mail to arrive in a few days.
If you know the piece of mail is standard, then you might need to wait a week for it.
Understanding the priorities given to different types of mail can help you determine if there’s a delay you’re experiencing or not.
Can You Track Your Mail?
No, you cannot track a piece of mail that you send.
The USPS doesn’t use trackers on their trucks or mail.
It isn’t safe for them to do so.
Since their mail carriers are carrying mail containing sensitive information sometimes, it’d be dangerous to let the general public know their exact whereabouts.
As such, tracking your mail is impossible.
The USPS delivers mail between the hours of 7 AM and 8 PM.
The exact time your mail arrives at your home varies based on the factors discussed above.
By keeping an eye on your mailbox, you can determine the general time that your mail carrier arrives at your home to deliver your mail.