Is it [still] true U.S. postage rates are among the lowest in the developed world?

I know, it’s an article, but I’m trying to find an update.

Can anyone find an easy to read chart or comparison list of domestic letter postage rates like Cecil found when he wrote the original article in 1993?

Here is the original article

All I know is that books I order from overseas have far cheaper postal charges from the UK than the US. And they get here much, much faster.

Are we talking domestic rates? That’s going to (or at least costs probably do) vary a lot by the size of the country. Back in '98 I’m pretty sure the rate to mail a letter in the Cayman Islands was 25 C.I. cents making it about 31 cents U.S. As I recall there was no home delivery everyone came to a post office to pick up their mail, and there weren’t too many of those since the country is small. Their rates to the U.S. were also very cheap, but then all they did was take all the U.S. bound mail and put it on a plane to Miami. After that it was the USPS’s problem.

Domestic letter stamps, yes.

The UK still has a classification for “Book Post”; I know there used to be a Printed Matter rate, but I don’t think it exists anymore, or if it does, it doesn’t exist in the same context as it once did.

The USPS has a book rate (technically, it’s now called “media mail”, and can now be used for electronic media, such as CDs and tapes) as well, though I don’t know if it’s available for international shipping.

FWIW, postage has very closely tracked inflation in the US over the last 10-20 years. (This according to a Newsweek article a few years ago that asked whether stocking up on Forever stamps was a good long-term “investment”). That doesn’t directly address whether we’re still cheaper than other countries, but if prices are merely keeping up with inflation, it suggests that we are still relatively low.

Well, here is the cost of mailing a letter in Australia.

A basic stamp for a letter is 60c Australian which, at current exchange rates, is about 52c US. This means that the US is cheaper.


In Australia the basic rate applies for letters up to 250g (or just over 8 ounces), whereas in the US the rate goes up as soon as you hit 1 ounce. So, a 3 ounce letter in Australia, provided in fit within the regulation dimensions, would still cost you 52c US, but in America that same letter would be 78c.

While i don’t think i’ve ever tried to cram four or five ounces of material inside a regular envelope, i have managed to go over 1 ounce on quite a few occasions, and the 61c cost for that in the US is more expensive that the same letter would be in Australia.

I’ve always found it bizarre that I can mail a letter to Perth (some 4,000kms away on the other side of the country) for 60c, but sending the same letter to New Zealand (2,500kms away across a fairly modest body of water) is $1.50. And it takes a week for the letter to get to NZ and it’s in Perth within a day or two.

I realise there are reasons behind all of this, but it’s still illogical on the face of it…

There is still a “printed paper” rate in the UK. For instance sending a 350g package by “ordinary” airmail to Canada would be £8.91. Sending it by printed paper rate is £5.91. There are similar reductions on surface mail. Try this price finder to check up on the various postal rates.

I don’t get that. How can The Book Depository, who sell world wide without postal charges, ship me The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for $12.63 Australian (£6.84) and have it arrive in 5 days?

I’ve wondered the same thing, FWIW.

The only thing I can think of is that they are buying in the books at a deeply discounted rate, and somehow still making a small profit on each one. It might be a case of “pile them high and sell them cheap” with the sheer bulk of their sales ensuring that they do make a profit.

I forgot to add that companies and organizations can set up an account with the Royal Mail which will give a discount on the postage rates compared to those quoted in that “price finder”. So another saving there.

I work in an Oxfam Bookshop which sends books all over the world, and we have one of these accounts with RM. We process and stamp the parcels ourselves, and RM come to the shop in the afternoon to collect the bag of parcels.

Must be something like that because, checking the rates, at Airmail Printed Papers to Australia they would get 45p to pay for the book.

I sent a postcard from the U.S. to the U.K. not long ago on the second day of my entering the U.S…

The postage cost more then the postcard and reached the addressses a week after I’d arrived back in the U.K.
I had spent just over a month in America.
I want my money back.

Do they ship the case or just the DVD in a paper sleeve? With a paper sleeve the weight would be under an ounce and 1st class international letter would be $1.18. That would up to a Max. length 11 1/2", height 6 1/8" or thickness 1/4". I’ve mailed a lot of CDs to Switzerland and 5 days sounds about right.

Off the top of my head, domestic letters cost 41p in the UK (62 cents) and 80 yen in Japan (93 cents).

That 41p is good for mail up to 100g, though, which is about 4 “ounces”, as they are quaintly called in the US. According to the USPS website, that would cost either 95 cents or $1.39.

He’s talking about the book, not the movie. :wink: