USPS uses the term "zones" to describe the distance a domestic shipment must travel.
Zones range from Zone 1 (local) to Zone 9 (very far away). A zone is determined by the "ship from" zipcode as it relates to the "ship to" zip code. The farther a package must travel, the more zones it crosses, and the more it costs to ship it.
Finding the Zone for a USPS Shipment
The first 3 digits of your destination ZIP Code determine the zone. If you are shipping local (Zone 1) the package is not traveling very far. If you are shipping non-local (Zones 2-9), the zone is determined by how many zones a package crosses to arrive at the destination. You can look up the zone for your shipment using the USPS Zone lookup tool.
I am shipping a 4lb. package from New Orleans, 70117, to Nashville, 37202.
Using the USPS Zone lookup tool, I enter in the first 3-digits of my zip code and then Select.
On the results chart, I locate the first 3-digits of the destination zip code to find the zone (4).
Now, I can look at the rate table to locate my price by finding there the weight and the zone marry. For this example, I am using the Priority Mail - USPS Commercial | Rate Table.
My cost is $9.47.
Zone-Based USPS Services
Zones only apply to USPS domestic services. If a service is selected that relies on weight or dimensions to determine the rate, then the zone will also factor into the postage cost.
- Priority Mail: See USPS rate tables for Priority Mail to determine shipping cost between zones.
- Priority Mail Express: See USPS rate tables for Priority Mail Express to determine shipping costs between zones.
- Priority Mail Regional Rate: Zoned service that uses different packages to save you money. Learn more about Regional Rate.
- First-Class Package Service: Available only for packages less than 1 lb. See USPS rate tables for First-Class Package Service to determine shipping cost between zones.
USPS Services Exempt from Zones
Some USPS domestic services are exempt from zone-based pricing.
- Flat Rate package types: Available for packages up to 70 lbs. Learn more about USPS Flat Rate package rates.
- Email at email@example.com.
- Telephone at 1-800-238-3150. Select “Option 6” followed by “Option 2” to speak with a customer service representative between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm CT (between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm ET).