There can be some confusion about courier services and how they differentiate from postal services. That’s OK, as some of the elements of these services can be similar. While both deliver goods to homes or businesses, they are actually two very distinct service types. Let’s go over the differences of each so you can better understand the principles behind them and know what to expect.

Courier Services

First of all, what’s a courier service? This is essentially a delivery service that puts a high priority on speed, usually with delivery promised within the same or next day. Couriers are the professionals who transport the items, which are usually packages, products, and documents. Specialty couriers specialize in certain areas, transporting sensitive, medical, dangerous, airport, or delicate goods.

Take a medical courier, for instance. This type of courier transports medical samples such as blood samples between health care provider offices to labs for testing. Medical couriers must take certain health and safety measures to ensure samples don’t get contaminated or otherwise compromised.

Sticking with the medical courier example, such a courier has to have certain qualifications to perform the job. For example, to protect patient privacy, they would have to be current on their HIPAA certification.

As a rule, specialty couriers offer customized services that go above and beyond the general logistics services that postal services such as USPS, or package delivery services like FedEx and UPS do.

Now let’s switch to another example. Some couriers work for law firms, tasked with transporting sensitive and confidential legal documents, usually under deadline pressure. This is important because many times, documents must be filed with the court system within the same day and by a certain time.

In the end, couriers stand apart from postal services by their discretion and speed.

Postal Services

Postal services, on the other hand, are run by government agencies. They are responsible for sorting and delivering letters and packages nationally and internationally. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the best example of a popular postal service. The USPS is an entrenched entity in America, dating way back to 1775 when a Mr. Ben Franklin stepped up as the first Postmaster General. For this reason, postal services are often relied on by residents and business owners alike to send correspondence and letters.

However, where speed is the name of the game for couriers, postal services are usually used by people looking to send non-urgent, routine communications, packages, cards and letters.

Key Differences

Here’s a quick overview of the main differences between courier services and postal services.

  • Price: Postal services are more affordable than courier services due to their longer delivery times. You will pay more for a courier delivery for reliability, speed, and quality of service. You can also pay extra for things like tracking.
  • Service level: Courier services focus on rush shipping, such as next-day or same-day shipping, whereas postal services don’t necessarily prioritize urgency. For example, standard mail shipments can take between five and 10 days longer than courier services delivering the same item.
  • Locality: Due to the promise of speed and efficiency, courier services are typically local businesses, offering services within the confines of a particular city or metro area. Postal services, on the other hand, operate nationwide and internationally.
  • Specialty services: Courier services can offer more specialized delivery services, and are adept and experienced at handling fragile and hazardous packages, for instance. Some couriers focus on one area, such as artwork and antique transportation, hazardous materials, legal documents, and organs for transplant. Postal services do not transport hazardous or dangerous goods because it is illegal to send those items through the standard mail system.

The service you ultimately choose will be dictated by the sensitivity of the item as well as the time frame in which you need to have it delivered. You may wish to pay more for a courier service when time is of the essence, as it gives you great peace of mind knowing it’s well taken care of. On the other hand, if you are sending general mail with no time urgency, postal services would suffice.

Also, the two are not mutually exclusive. You may split your requirements between the two on any given day depending on the nature of your business or the task at hand.

Call Modern Express Today

Modern Express is your first choice in courier services, as we offer prompt and reliable 24/7 delivery service in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Choose from same-day delivery and overnight delivery to get your package or document where it needs to be – fast. Contact us today at (800) 400-7874 to learn more.