The US Postal Service is so familiar, so seemingly old school, it's easy to overlook some of the neat things they do. Things like let customers order Priority Mail boxes online, have them delivered, then pick them up for mailing.
Currently, there seems to be two different ways to order free boxes:
- The USPS Online Store. If you’re willing to take 30 seconds to register an account on http://www.usps.com, you can order directly from the post service. This gives you access to dozens of different box and envelope sizes. Here’s the direct link to access the Priority Mail section of the USPS Online Store.
- The USPS-eBay Partner Website. Alternatively, you can order free boxes with only your eBay account (no separate account needed with USPS). These boxes are also only for Priority Mail, but are branded with both the USPS logo and eBay’s logo. Unfortunately, you can only order 6 different sizes with your eBay account, but there is a decent variety offered. For more information, check out the eBay Supplies partnership on USPS.com.
When you order online, you can select between a pack of 10 boxes or a pack of 25 for each different box size. You can also order between 10 and 100 envelopes in a single batch.
While the boxes are really 100% free, you can only use the free Priority Mail boxes for… Priority Mail. USPS is very strict on this rule. You won’t be able to use the boxes to ship Media Mail, First-Class, or Parcel Post.
Priority Mail is the default shipping method for many people who buy and sell on eBay. Packages normally arrive inside the 2-3 day quoted time frame, and the delivery confirmation and tracking (both free when ordering postage online) are important to a smooth transaction.
If you’re shipping a package via Priority Mail, the ability to order free boxes online means you can avoid the post office altogether! You could order the boxes, pack the item at home, print postage online, and even schedule a pickup for your outgoing shipment. That’s right: USPS will come pick up deliveries that contain at least one package that is Priority or Express Mail.
Note: Express Mail is simply the expedited version of Priority Mail. You pay significantly more, but your shipment is quoted at one business day instead of 2-3 with Priority. Express Mail requires its own special boxes, but they too are free at shop.usps.com.