How Long Does Standard Shipping Take?

How Long Does Standard Shipping Take? Standard shipping is a popular shipping method among individual customers and e-commerce businesses alike because of its affordability, hence its alternative name economy shipping. However, it has one significant downside: standard shipping is slower than express shipping. So if you want to use economy shipping but don’t want your package to arrive too late, you should figure out in advance how long standard shipping is going to take.

Standard shipping, also known as economy shipping, budget shipping, regular shipping, basic shipping, or ground shipping, is the cheapest shipping option offered by a postal or courier company. It is so affordable because carriers use ground transportation (and sea freight for overseas shipments) to deliver mail and packages, which is more cost-effective than air transport.

Since ground delivery is slower than air delivery, standard shipping takes more time than express shipping. But how long exactly does it take? Well, it depends on a number of factors, such as the shipping carrier and service, whether we’re talking about domestic or international delivery, and various circumstances that may cause shipping delays.

If we’re talking about domestic delivery within the United States, standard shipping usually takes 1–5 business days depending on the distance. Here’s a quick breakdown of estimated delivery times for standard shipping options offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) and UPS:

  • USPS First-Class Mail: 1–5 business days.
  • USPS Ground Advantage: 2–5 business days.
  • UPS Ground: 1–5 business days.

While it is possible for a package to arrive within a couple of days, especially if the distance is not very far, we recommend to have your packages shipped at least 5 business days before the desired delivery date to be on the safe side.

What about international shipping? Well, this is where things get trickier. International delivery via UPS Worldwide Economy (formerly UPS Worldwide Standard) takes 5 to 12 business days, but there is a catch: this shipping service is available only for business to consumer international shipments to select countries on a contractual basis. So if you’re just a regular person who needs to mail an international package, you won’t be able to use it.

This leaves us with standard shipping options offered by the USPS. First-Class Mail International (for envelopes under 1 lb) and First-Class Mail Package International Service (for small packages under 4 lbs) do not have a guaranteed delivery time. Delivery can take any time between 1 and 4 weeks, and sometimes even longer, depending on the destination.

Priority Mail International is the standard shipping option for international packages over 4 lbs; delivery usually takes 6–10 business days to major markets with well-developed postal systems, but it can take longer depending on the destination, customs delays, and other factors.

What factors can affect standard delivery time? Ground shipping is typically less affected by weather conditions than air delivery, but extreme weather and natural disasters that can cause road closures and/or vehicle damage may result in delivery delays. Other possible causes of shipping delays for both domestic and international shipments are typos/errors in the recipient’s address, peak shipping seasons, labor strikes, and mishaps at sorting facilities.

When it comes to international delivery, there are additional factors that can result in shipping delays. They include incomplete or inaccurate information in the customs declaration, other issues at customs (improper labeling, unpaid duties and fees, customs being overloaded during peak seasons, etc.), and local emergencies during the final leg of delivery, which is responsibility of the national postal service of the destination country.