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Parcel post is a method of shipping packages that is generally considered the most cost effective choice offered to consumers. The rate for parcel postage is usually calculated based on the weight and destination of the parcel. It is commonly utilized when the promptness of delivery is a low priority. Lower parcel post shipping rates are usually offered for printed materials. This type of shipping service is typically offered by a country's postal service agencies.
The first service of this kind was established in 1882 by the postal service in Great Britain. The service included shipping packages to foreign destinations as well as those with domestic and commonwealth delivery addresses. Three years later, the agreement establishing international parcel post service was extended to include 19 more countries.
Although the United States was part of the initial international shipping agreement, it did not institute domestic services in this category until 1913. This plan was enhanced in 1917 when a water path for boats and ships carrying packages was added to the transportation system. The next year, a convoy of trucks dedicated to this kind of delivery became a permanent part of the United States system in the Eastern part of the country. Air parcel post was first offered in the Unites States in 1948.
Domestic parcel post service boosted the United States economy for merchants located around the country who could directly ship their goods to mail order customers. Medicines, food and other items previously only available at the general store were now available for home delivery. Mail order houses flourished during this period.
When the service extended to rural locations in 1919, farmers’ businesses significantly improved because farmers could ship eggs and other produce to retailers and consumers for a nominal cost. Chickens and turkeys could be also be shipped by this method. It is still permissible today to ship small animals via parcel post if they do not require daily food and water.
Private shipping businesses offer comparable services, but at considerably higher rates. Many do not offer the maximum freight weight of 70 pounds offered by parcel post. Other restrictions regarding package contents are often part of the private company contracts for service as well.
The United States Postal Service ceased international parcel post deliveries in 2007. Packages with international destinations can now only be shipped through this service as first class mail. The new rates are dependent upon weight and desired speed of delivery.