2 December 20228 minute read

What Is Standard Shipping?


To use standard shipping or not to use standard shipping — that is the question.

When you have a package to ship, cost is probably one of the factors you consider when choosing a shipping option. 

Standard shipping is often the least expensive shipping option couriers and delivery companies offer. 

But that comes at a price.

Unlike priority, priority mail express, or next business day delivery services, standard shipping is a cost-effective option with the slowest delivery speeds.

You might also find standard shipping referred to as regular, economy, or ground shipping during the checkout process. 

This is because packages with standard shipping are transported over land wherever possible — that’s one of the reasons standard shipping is cheap but slow. 

Delivery through free standard shipping can take anywhere from 1-5 days domestically.

Is standard shipping the right choice to ship your package? How does standard shipping look for different couriers? What are the costs? How long are the delivery timelines? 

You’ll find answers to all these questions in this article. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the standard shipping process and costs.

Track any package in the world, in seconds, with Circuit Package Tracker. Click here to start tracking.

Standard shipping times and rates by carrier

Standard shipping generally relies on road and rail networks to deliver packages. 

While this offsets some of the higher costs associated with air transportation, it doesn’t take away from customers wanting their packages quicker anyway.

After all, if your order is on its way, you’d want it to reach your destination faster — regardless of whether it’s transported by donkey, road, rail, or air.

Today, five major players compete to offer the widest and fastest services when it comes to standard shipping.

USPS standard shipping times and rates 

The United States Postal Service’s (USPS) standard shipping option, called USPS Retail Ground, is great for deliveries that aren’t urgent and don’t involve oversized packages. 

So, if you’re receiving or sending a package that’s not so urgent and not so large, you can use USPS.

With USPS, deliveries can take 2-5 business days, depending on the distance to the destination. 

So, your package will take a maximum of 5 days to reach its destination.

The service is also available on Saturdays at no extra charge

Prices start at $8.50, and the service is only available at post offices. 

Actual prices depend on package weight and shipping distance. 

The maximum shipment weight allowed is 70 pounds with a maximum combined length and girth of 130 inches. 

Packages between 108 and 130 inches are charged at an oversize price.

Weigh and measure your package to know what shipping charges you’ll have to pay.

USPS shipments include free tracking, with additional features like collect on delivery, return receipt, and signature confirmation also available. 

You can even track a USPS package without a tracking number

All these features make USPS an excellent choice for package delivery.

The USPS Retail Ground service is available to all 49 continental US states, plus Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Some ZIP codes in Alaska are charged a limited overland route price.

FedEx standard shipping times and rates 

FedEx has two standard shipping services: FedEx Ground delivers to businesses and FedEx Home Delivery serves residential areas. 

Both services have a slight advantage over USPS Retail Ground because they deliver 7 days a week. 

So, if you want to send or receive a package on Saturday or Sunday, no problem! FedEx delivers even on weekends.

And the services cover all 50 US states, including Alaska and Hawaii. 

Rates start at $9.36 for a package weighing 1 pound or less and with a destination distance of 150 miles or less — which is pretty reasonable for the services they offer. 

But there’s a $4 surcharge if you choose to ship to a home address using FedEx Ground. 

The maximum weight allowed is 150 pounds

Packages need to be within 108 inches in length and 165 inches in length plus girth to ship with either FedEx Ground or FedEx Home Delivery. 

So, don’t forget to weigh and measure your packages before sending them.

Delivery timelines for both services can range from 1-5 business days, depending on the distance to the destination. 

Meanwhile, shipping to and from Alaska and Hawaii takes 3-7 business days. 

Factor these timelines in before shipping your package. 

If you want your package to be delivered before a certain date, you may have to ship it earlier if the delivery destination is Alaska or Hawaii. 

A separate FedEx Ground Multiweight service is available if you’re shipping multiple packages from the same origin to the same destination. 

Keeping track of your FedEx packages is easier than you think. Check out our in-depth guide on how to track a FedEx package.

UPS standard shipping times and rates 

The UPS standard shipping service, called UPS Ground, is a reliable and cost-effective way to deliver your packages nationwide within 1-5 business days

Saturday delivery is standard for most shipments to residential addresses. 

The company claims 90% of all UPS Ground packages deliver in 3 business days or less. 

Go by their promises, and you won’t worry about your package not being delivered in time.

UPS Ground delivers to homes and businesses across all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico. 

It also gives you the advantage of day-definite deliveries, so you can have better control of your shipping schedules. 

Prices for UPS Ground start at $9.36

The courier delivers Monday through Saturday for commercial shipments and offers 7-day deliveries for residential packages.

Whether you’re shipping a residential package or a commercial package, UPS is a great option.

Size and weight specifications for all UPS shipments are the same.

Packages can be up to 150 pounds and 165 inches in length and girth combined

Remember to check the weight and size of your package before shipping it.

Amazon standard shipping times and rates 

Amazon standard shipping offers deliveries to the 48 contiguous US states within 4-5 business days

Meanwhile, packages to Alaska and Hawaii take 3-7 business days to deliver. 

Shipping charges are pre-calculated and included in the price of an item bought on the eCommerce giant’s platform. 

But unlike traditional couriers, Amazon has a flat rate based on the product purchased. 

Standard domestic shipping rates are set at $3.99 (for books, video games, DVDs, and similar items) and $4.49 (for computer hardware, cellphones, outdoor and kitchen equipment, and everything else).

Amazon also charges an additional $0.50 per pound overage for all items in the $4.49 shipping category. 

The standard weight limit of an Amazon shipping box is 50 pounds unless they contain a single item that is over the weight limit. 

Although Amazon ships most items to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, certain restrictions may apply (for instance, shipping hazardous materials like lithium batteries). 

Additional charges may apply for oversized packages exceeding 70 pounds and 108 inches in length and girth combined. 

DHL standard shipping times and rates 

DHL has three distinct services for domestic standard shipping. 

DHL Ground Direct service offers point-to-point shipping with time-specified deliveries. 

The courier has a dedicated fleet of trucks for this service and can handle oversized cargo and temperature-controlled deliveries. 

If you have larger cargo requirements, DHL also has a Domestic Rail Freight service that costs less than road transportation.

DHL also has air, ocean, and road freight options connecting to the noncontiguous states of Hawaii and Alaska, plus Puerto Rico. 

Delivery times vary from 3-8 postal days, depending on the shipping origin and destination when you’re shipping domestically. 

If you’re shipping internationally, it may take 4-8 days to get your package to Europe and 8-14 days for the rest of the world.

Rates depend on the package size, but you can easily estimate using the DHL quote calculator.


What’s the difference between standard and express shipping?

The differences between standard and express shipping options boil down to three things. 

  • Delivery time: Standard shipping timelines can stretch from a few days to a week or more, depending on the point of origin and the destination. Express shipping comes with a delivery assurance of 24 to 72 hours domestically.
  • Cost: Standard shipping costs less, as packages are mostly transported over land or sea (relatively inexpensive modes of transportation). Express shipping means expedited delivery and might involve transporting packages by air. That’s why it can be significantly more expensive.
  • Shipping method: Standard shipping involves working out the cheapest way to get packages to their destination. As a result, packages sent by standard delivery might ship using road or rail. Express shipping might involve sending packages exclusively by air to the nearest airport, with only last-mile delivery relying on road or rail transport. 

Beyond these points, standard and express shipping also differ in the kind of extra features and services attached to them. 

Because express shipping is more valuable for couriers, they will likely bundle add-ons like tracking, insurance, customized packaging, time-specific deliveries, and more as features.

When does it make the most sense to use standard shipping?

Choosing between standard and express shipping depends on two primary considerations: required delivery speed and package weight and size. 

Standard shipping is usually the default option if there’s no urgency to receive a package right away since it’s the cheapest delivery option. 

If you’re shipping a non-urgent package, using standard shipping makes sense since you’ll be paying less on shipping costs. 

With standard shipping, the courier service picks up the package from a warehouse the day after the order is placed. 

It then ships using the most economical method of transport available depending on the destination — usually by truck. 

You’ll then get a delivery window (spread over 2-3 days) when you can expect to receive the package. 

Besides speed, another consideration behind choosing standard shipping is the package’s size and shape. 

Most couriers put a cap on the size and volume of packages designated for faster delivery options. 

As a result, very heavy or odd-shaped packages can often only dispatch through standard shipping. 

In contrast, express shipping is a faster mode of delivery that transports packages through the quickest route and transportation available (often for next-day delivery).

Express shipping usually comes with date-specific delivery and can take as little as 24 to 72 hours to arrive at a domestic destination, depending on the courier. 

If you have a package that needs an urgent delivery, you can express ship it to make sure the package reaches the delivery destination on time.


Can you ship internationally with standard shipping?

Yes, you can! 

A few couriers offer some version of standard international shipping services to select countries. 

But not all couriers call these mail services “standard.” 

That is mostly because international shipping from the US rarely happens over land, except to countries like Canada and Mexico. 

The FedEx International Ground service is a notable exception. 

It ships mail and packages to all business and residential shipping addresses across Canada. 

USPS also offers cost-effective shipping to 180 countries, including the UK, Japan, and Australia. 

Rates and delivery times vary by destination. 

What’s the best way to track shipped packages?

Shipping a personal or business package can be a stressful affair because of the uncertainties involved. 

Standard shipping doesn’t typically come with date-specific delivery timelines. 

So, as a sender or receiver, you’re often left wondering if your package will be delivered today or two days from now. 

That’s why getting a tracking number for your packages makes sense. 

Apart from a few exceptions, most couriers offer tracking as a free extra. 

To take the worry out of waiting for packages, use a tracking service that can locate your shipment in seconds. 

Circuit Package Tracker lets you track each package anywhere in the world. 

Our unique package tracker works for most shipping services, including those in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, Canada, and South America. 

Track one or multiple packages with this powerful tool from the convenience of your home, car, or office. 

You’ll rest much easier knowing your package’s exact location. 

Track any package in the world, in seconds, with Circuit Package Tracker. Click here to start tracking.

About the author

Heather Reinblatt
Heather ReinblattContributor

Heather Reinblatt is a managing editor currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. She spends her free time reading, trying new recipes, and cuddling her cat Paisley. You can find Heather on LinkedIn.


Take the mystery out of knowing where your package is

Find your delivery anywhere in the world with Circuit Package Tracker

Track package now 👉