Individuals and small businesses reliant on flat-rate shipping from the United States Postal Service may have to dig a little deeper come January 18.

That’s when flat rate envelopes and boxes for Priority Mail and Express Mail will face a price hike of up to $1 per package. The Postal Service did not attribute the price increases to any particular economic event, and said the increases were consistent with industry standards.

For Priority Mail, envelopes will be $4.95 (up from $4.80), regular boxes will be $10.35 (up from $9.80) and large boxes will be $13.95 (up from $12.95). The USPS will also introduce a smaller Priority Mail box size, which will cost $4.95.

“We are also introducing a new, smaller Priority Mail flat-rate box,” the USPS wrote in its website. “The new box is priced the same as the flat-rate envelope and provides a great option for customers sending smaller items that require sturdy packaging and the convenience of flat rate pricing.”

Express Mail envelopes will increase in price to $17.50 (up from $16.50).

As usual, Commercial and Commercial Plus rates are lower than the normal prices. Full pricing information for the changes can be found on the USPS website.

USPS Pricing for Flat Rate Shipping
USPS Pricing for Flat Rate Shipping

These changes are for shipping only. Mailing price changes, including the price of stamps, will be announced in February, with the price changes taking effect in May 2009.

The USPS still stresses that it is the most cost-friendly way to ship in the United States, claiming that its Commercial Plus prices for Express Mail are 14.5 percent less than competitors’ prices and Priority Mail Commercial Plus prices average 7 percent less.

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