How Commercial Mail Moves Through the USPS

How Commercial Mail Moves Through the USPS

The first step to lowering postage costs and improving the efficiency of your mailing operations … is gaining an understanding of how commercial
mail is moved through the United States Postal System.
We’ll use Standard Mail as our example. Remember the 10 national areas represented by the first digit of the ZIP code? Well, the mail system divides the country into 29 smaller areas, serviced by National Distribution Centers, or NDCs. These massive sorting centers are the first stop on a piece of mail’s journey. Like a bicycle wheel, the mail system works on a hub and spoke model. The NDCs act as the central hub, where mail is sorted out to a number of
smaller Sectional Center Facilities, or SCFs. If we look at a ZIP code, these first 3 digits, referred to as the Prefix, represent the SCF. The Prefix determines what National Distribution Center receives the mail, and which Sectional Facility it is later forwarded to. So this distribution center in Chicago is responsible for mail with these prefixes, which in turn represent one of its connected SCFs. Then, the SCFs act like smaller hubs, sorting mail out to post offices where letter carriers pick up the mail for delivery on their route. Each post office is represented by its own ZIP code. And adding ZIP+4 designates a smaller geographic area within the ZIP code area. So that’s how Standard Mail moves through the postal system, from National Distribution Facility to Sectional Center Facility – to your local post office. Want to learn more about pre-sorting and how it influences postage pricing in this hub-&-spoke system? Watch our next video or send us an email.


  1. OthmanEmpire says:

    Thanks for the video =)

  2. David Berquist says:

    Is there mutch theft of mail between postoffices. In the sorting hubs

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