How to Ship a Package

Published on September 27, 2021
Written by
Filed under Shipping Basics
Read time 6 Minutes

To ship a package you really just need to make sure that the package is accurately weighed, sized, and packaged. If the parcel uses a service that allows for its size and weight, you’re good to go! 

How to Weigh a Package

Weight is typically the major factor that determines a package’s shipping rate. In order to get a proper weight, you need to weigh the parcel with all items and content packed inside. You can weigh the parcel at a carrier facility or post office. But if you plan on shipping multiple packages, buying a postal scale may be best. Postal scales are usually very affordable and unless you’re shipping a very heavy package, most postage scales will work. 

Can I Weigh a Package with a Kitchen Scale or Bathroom Scale?

It is best to use a postage scale. Most kitchen scales are used for weighing out very small and lightweight amounts of food. Bathroom scales, on the other hand, are better for weighing adult humans. They can also be imprecise (we tell ourselves). Postage scales accurately weigh items that are between a few ounces and around 15-25 lbs. 

Important Weights to Remember

16 Ounces is the Maximum Weight for First Class Mail

This is the max weight for USPS First Class Mail. If a parcel weighs under 16 ounces, almost everyone in the country ships it out First Class. It’s rarely any slower than Priority Mail but it is more affordable. 

70 Pounds is the Maximum Weight for Priority Mail

This is a heavy shipment! While 70 lbs is the maximum weight for a USPS parcel, FedEx and UPS start offering more affordable shipping rates around 5 lbs. 

Maximum Weight by Carrier

USPS First Class Mail16 ounces
USPS Priority Mail70 lbs
UPS Ground150 lbs
FedEx Ground150 lbs

How To Measure A Package

Measurements play into shipping rates differently than weights do. Generally, dimensions are thresholds rather than rates. However, if a package is very large or very small this can impact the shipping cost. If a parcel is heavy and small, it may qualify for cubic pricing. If a parcel is very large and light, though, it may be charged based on its dimensional weight (also known as volumetric weight). 

Maximum Size by Carrier

USPS First Class Mail22″ x 18″ x 15”
USPS Priority Mail108” in combined length plus girth*
UPS Ground108″ in length, and 165″ in length plus girth
FedEx Ground108″ in length, and 165″ in length plus girth

*girth is the thickest part around a parcel. 

Have a Ship From Address and Ship To Address 

The third component that goes into a shipping rate is the distance between sender and receiver. While you may look at this in terms of pure distance between zip code and zip code, carriers rely on something called shipping zones. In the US, there are generally 9 zones. 

Select a Shipping Service

Once you have the above figured out, you’re ready to select the shipping service. A shipping service generally bases its rates on the distance, size, and weight of a parcel. But now, there is the addition of a fourth element: time. Carrier services generally charge higher rates for express services. While some services like First Class Mail rely heavily on weight, the reason for choosing a service is typically due to the delivery timeframe. 

Print the Shipping Label

Printing the shipping label requires you to have a printer, obviously. But the label doesn’t have to be on a label. A thermal label printer is a good idea if you are printing a lot of labels. But a regular desktop inkjet printer works just fine so long as you tape the label to the box and do not cover any of the barcode or recipient information is able to be read or scanned.

Ship the Package

Shipping the package is as simple as dropping it off with the appropriate carrier. However, you can also schedule a carrier pickup if you use a shipping software like ShipStation. Additionally, platforms like ShipStation save you money on label costs. We offer discounted shipping rates for carriers like USPS, UPS, and DHL Express.

If you need to ship a single package or just a few parcels, you may also want to try Shipbot to print labels and get discounted USPS and UPS rates

Written by

James Messer

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