Courier vs Postal Services: Everything you need to know

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Courier vs Postal Services: Everything You Should Know

Logistics is key to the success of your e-commerce business.

There are, however, different types of logistics services and operators from which you can choose from. Two of the most popular shipping and delivery services for domestic and international shipping are courier services and postal services. What is a courier service? Should you choose courier or postal services? What is the difference between courier and post?

These questions and many more questions are answered in this guide on Courier vs. Postal services.

What is a courier service?

Courier services are shipping and delivery services provided by courier companies.

A courier company is usually a private shipping firm specialized in the shipping of critical high-value packages and urgently needed documents. Courier services are known for their speed, tracking service, security, and excellent customer service.


Types and examples of courier services

There are three main types of courier services. These include;


  • Local shipping

Some courier services specialize in providing super-fast same-day shipping and delivery services within a particular locality such as a town.

Examples of courier services like these include the CitySprint in London and Breakaway Courier in New York City.

  • Time-sensitive shipping

Some courier services specialize in the global shipping and delivery of time-sensitive goods. These shipments often need to be delivered within specific timeframes typically within 1 to 3 business days as well as within a particular time of the day, such as within 8 am to 10 am.

Examples of courier services like these include the DHL and FedEx courier services.

  • International Shipping

Some courier services offer global shipping to worldwide destinations. These services usually include hassle-free tracking as well as tax and duty handling to ensure your shipment does not get blocked or delayed unnecessarily at any point.

Examples of courier services like these include China EMS or ePacket, Aramex, DTDC, etc.


What is the postal service?

Postal services are shipping services provided by government-owned shipping companies. Although postal services can also be used for the shipment of important documents and packages, most businesses and individuals prefer to use this shipping service mostly for non-urgent packages as well as routine communications and correspondence between customers, clients, or business partners.

Examples of postal services include the United States Postal Service (USPS), Royal Mail, China Post, SingPost, Hong Kong Post, etc.


Is USPS a courier service?

Well, we wouldn’t classify USPS as an entity as a courier company based on the single fact that it’s the national post of the United States government.

However, the USPS Priority Mail Express service is a typical example of a courier service since the service offers local and fast same-day delivery to most US addresses.


The case with Royal Mail is also similar.

In the case of Royal Mail, the company used to be owned and managed by the UK government until it was fully privatized in 2015. Even then, it’s still the designated Universal Postal Service Provider, and it’s also a part of the Universal Postal Union.

Universal Postal Union is the UN agency in charge of formulating postal policies made up of representatives from every country’s national postal service providers.

However, Parcelforce Worldwide, a subsidiary of Royal Mail, offers courier services in the UK and to some specific foreign destinations.


Difference between courier and post

There are two critical differences between courier services and postal services. These differences lie in pricing and service quality.

  • Pricing difference

Postal services are affordable and simple. They are inexpensive, compared to courier services. Courier services cost more, but the services are way faster and more reliable.

  • Service quality difference

You’ll most likely get what you pay for, with both shipping services.

Postal services are the more affordable option, but you may have to put up with longer delivery times, less than stellar tracking, and below-par customer service. Even then, not all postal services operate the same way. Some countries have postal services that are more reliable than others.

Courier services are pricier, compared to posts.

This is because they tend to include additional costs and expenses such as parcel handling fees, fuel surcharges, remote area surcharges, etc.


Should you choose courier or postal service?

Well, it depends.

First, it’s essential to understand the difference between courier and post as laid out in this guide. You can then analyze and consider whether the added value, proper handling, speedy delivery, and extra costs of courier services are truly worth it for your package.

Using postal services can be challenging, especially for international shipments.

This is usually because postal services are often not responsible for the entire delivery of your parcel to the final destination. Customer service at some points may be unhelpful, and tracking may also be inconsistent. The challenges can also surface since duties and taxes usually apply to most international shipments.


Courier services, on the other hand, are responsible for the delivery of your package throughout the entire journey. You can expect superb customer service and reliable tracking service all through.

Some also offer a pre-pay option for applicable duties and taxes so your shipping and delivery can be as smooth and hitch-free as possible. These added values, however, comes at a higher cost, compared to postal services.


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