The Mail Never Fails: What’s the Difference in Courier Service vs Postal Service?

Courier service vs postal service: what’s the difference? Is one of them cheaper, faster, and/or more reliable? Does it matter if you’re sending personal or business items?

Whether you’re sending a package or expecting to receive one, it’s helpful to know what to expect. But what exactly is the difference between postal service vs courier service?

You’ll find the answer right here. Below is a quick guide we’ve written to explain the major differences between these two types of delivery services. Read on to learn all about it.


The biggest and most obvious difference between the two is ownership. The postal service is owned and regulated by the government while a courier service is private/corporate-owned.

Thus, the postal service has to abide by the federal laws that govern it while couriers do not. Couriers are, of course, still bound to the same laws and regulations as any other private business. But, other than that, their practices are determined by the company that owns them, not the government.


One way that government ownership vs private ownership makes a difference is in pricing. For example, the price to mail a package at the post office is determined by the government. 

Couriers, on the other hand, are free to decide their own pricing plans. That’s also why you don’t put stamps on mail sent by courier.

Because of the difference in pricing, it’s sometimes cheaper to ship certain items via a courier. They are, after all, in competition with the postal service.

Often, though, couriers compete by offering superior service rather than pricing. In this case, you may find it more expensive to use a courier.


Because they are privately-owned, couriers often form partnerships with other businesses. This can mean discounted shipping rates for customers shipping to these partnered companies.


As with pricing, couriers are also free to decide what services they provide and how these services work. And, as stated, this usually means that couriers offer competitively superior service quality. This may include faster shipping to certain locations, better assurance of delivery, and better recompense for lost or damaged items.

International Shipping

Another major difference is how a courier service vs the postal service handles international shipping. Since the postal service is a branch of the government, it doesn’t have jurisdiction in other countries.

The postal service will ship an item to another country, but not all the way to its final destination. Once the mail gets to the country, it stops at customs. From there, the destination country’s postal service delivers it the rest of the way.

But couriers can do business internationally. Such couriers can transport the item all the way from the origin country to the delivery address in the destination country. Thus, they can guarantee their own standards of shipping for the item’s entire journey.

Shippable Items

Certain items are prohibited from postal shipping according to government regulations. But couriers can decide for themselves what items they allow.

Different Types of Couriers

Because of that last point, there are many different types of couriers. Some are specifically centered around shipping items the postal service won’t ship, like food, ice, and other perishables.

These couriers often partner with local businesses to deliver around the neighborhood. Local couriers can, therefore, offer same-day delivery of online shopping purchases in locations all over the country.

Courier Service vs Postal Service: Know Your Options

To sum up, it’s usually more expensive to ship via courier service vs postal service. But that’s because you get what you pay for. Couriers typically provide more options, better reliability, and better service than the post office.  

Decide for yourself which service is best for your needs. But when you do, remember this list so you can make an informed decision.

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