Is there a way to figure out what optimal postal routes there are in the United States?

For example, I am located near Portsmouth NH, but as far as I can tell, the nearest postal distribution center is in Boston. So, let's say I want to mail a package to Camden, Maine, as fast as possible. Am I better off driving the package to Boston and submitting it to the postal distribution center there, OR, am I better off posting it in Portsmouth?

If the Portsmouth office is just going to send it to the distribution center in Boston, then obviously it is better for me to drive it to Boston myself, but if Portsmouth will mail it Maine directly, then I should post it to Portsmouth instead.

Is there any way to determine these routes and figure out where it is best to post a package for fastest delivery?

  • Note that "as fast as possible" will be much quicker in January - November than it will be in December.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 21, 2020 at 11:21

1 Answer 1


In general, postal systems work like this:

At the end of the workday, mail in mailboxes and in post offices is transported to the nearest distribution center. This sorts the mail into 2 categories: local delivery and 'goes to another distribution center'. Mail for other distribution centers is transported overnight. Local delivery goes out the next day.

The next morning: each distribution center gathers the local delivery mail plus everything that came in from other distribution centers, sorts it and parcels it out to delivery drivers.

Due to the size of the US, mail that has to move between distribution centers that are far apart may not make it in one night, unless you pay extra for priority mail.

The list of USPS distribution centers can be downloaded here if you have an account.

It's unlikely that driving to the distribution center will speed up mail delivery over just dropping it off at the nearest post office or letterbox. There's one exception: if you drop off the package at the nearest post office after the transport to the distribution center has left, it'll wait until the next day. If you can make it to the distribution center before the cutoff time for transport to the next hub, you might be able to get it delivered the next day.

The more reliable and cheaper way (cheaper than driving to Boston) to make sure the package is delivered the next day, is to pay for 'Priority mail express' delivery.

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