Navigating Postage: How Many Stamps You Need and Where to Find Them

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Determining the right amount of stamps for letters or parcels involves considering the envelope’s size and its weight. If a visit to the post office isn’t possible before figuring out your stamp needs, this guide is here to assist.

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Figuring Out Stamp Requirements

The exact number of stamps required for mailing varies based on factors like weight, dimensions, and destination. Typically, a standard postage stamp is enough for mailing a letter. However, this changes for envelopes that are irregularly shaped, heavier, or larger than standard sizes.

To calculate the stamps needed for your letter or postcard, the postage cost will vary according to the mail’s physical characteristics. Envelopes that don’t lay flat may incur additional charges due to their inability to go through automated processing equipment.

  • Standard Letters: For a standard-sized envelope weighing 3.5 ounces or less, a single stamp is sufficient.
  • Large Envelopes: For larger envelopes, such as 9×12 or legal-sized, two stamps are necessary for the initial ounce, with an added cost of $0.20 for each additional ounce.
  • International Mail: Mailing outside the U.S. requires one Global Forever Stamp for items one ounce or lighter, or alternatively, three Forever Stamps.
  • Packages: The stamp quantity for packages depends on their size and weight. Generally, the first four ounces require at least $4.79 in postage, with the cost increasing with the package’s weight. Alternatively, a priority mail box, available for a flat rate if the package fits within USPS-provided boxes, can be used. Remember, the mail’s shape matters too. All postcards and envelopes should be rectangular. If your mail is square or an unconventional shape, add an extra stamp.

Unsure of the specifics? The USPS offers a postage price calculator online.

Using Forever Stamps Forever

Stamps, introduced in 2007, are unique in that they’re not tied to a specific postage rate, remaining valid for letter mailing even after rate hikes. Treat Forever Stamps as equivalent to the current postage rate, regardless of when they were purchased.

Purchasing Stamps Online

Stamps are available for purchase online through the USPS online store, featuring a wide array of stamp collections. Other online vendors, like, also sell stamps and offer the convenience of printing postage at home.

For those preferring in-person purchases, stamps can be bought at local post offices, or via phone by calling 1-800-STAMP-24. Furthermore, stamps are commonly available at gas stations, grocery stores, and pharmacies.

Embracing Modern Mail Management

A virtual mailbox, such as those provided by Earth Class Mail, a KamanLaw company, offers a modern solution to mail management. It allows you to receive mail at a chosen virtual address, with secure processing facilities automatically scanning mail items for online viewing.

With a virtual mailbox, you can sort, save, or share mail scans, simplifying mail organization. This service is particularly useful for those with mail delivery issues at their physical address.

Stamp Book Contents

A typical stamp book for first-class mail contains 20 stamps, suitable for envelope postage and also applicable to first-class postage. Forever Stamp books also contain 20 stamps. Annually, the USPS releases a 64-page Collective Stamp Book.

Postage Stamp Pricing

Postage costs are determined by the size of the mail item. Standard postage begins at $0.54 for rectangular postcards and $0.68 for regular envelopes. Oversized postcards and unique envelopes start at $0.58 and $0.88, respectively. Prices for large envelopes and small packages range from $1.16 to $4.50, with additional fees for nonstandard packages based on size.

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