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Oversize Shipping: Carrier Rules, Dimensions, Weights, and How to Ship Oversized Items

May 31, 2022

9 min read

How shipping services define oversized packages

Moving or shipping bulky, oversized packages can be difficult, especially for small business owners who depend on shipping carriers to keep their businesses up and running. But different parcel shipping services have different criteria for what they consider “oversized packages”.

Understanding the size and weight limit guidelines of shipping carriers can help you avoid unnecessary confusion and costly fees.

In this article, we’ll look at the best ways to ship oversized packages so you save money for your business and reduce shipping stress.

USPS’s definition of large packages

The United States Postal Service considers a package oversized when it measures more than 108” in combined length and girth, but does not exceed 130”. Regardless of the size of the package, it should not weigh more than 70 pounds.

USPS has two other categories for large packages, namely balloon price for oversized packages weighing less than 20 lbs and pricing based on the dimensional weight of your package if it is larger than 1 cubic foot.

USPS charges flat rate shipping ($21.50 regardless of weight or destination) on the following large box sizes:

12″ x 12″ x 5 1/2″

23 11/16″ x 11 3/4″ x 3″

USPS charges variable prices if you choose to use your own boxes to ship large packages.

For variable pricing, they offer two service levels for faster delivery times: Priority Mail (ships in 1-2 business days) and Priority Mail Express (ships in 1-3 business days). Packages must be less than 108” in length and 165” in girth and weigh under 70 lbs.

Alternatively, when delivery times are not an issue, USPS Retail Ground service or Parcel Select (both ship in 2-8 business days) is ideal for shipping packages up to 130” in combined length and girth, not exceeding 70 lbs.

It depends on your contract, but USPS is generally the cheapest shipping solution for packages weighing under 70 lbs.

FedEx’s definition of large packages

FedEx considers a package oversized if it is more than 130” in girth with a weight limit of 90 lbs. It charges a $90 surcharge for each oversized package exceeding the minimum billable weight.

Packages that measure more than 165” in combined length and girth or weigh more than 150 lbs are classified as freight shipments.

FedEx shipping rates depend on the delivery service you choose and the destination of the package. Oversized pricing is charged for large, heavy packages, whereas dimensional weight pricing is used to determine shipping charges for large, lighter-weight packages.

You’ll pay FedEx a flat rate for shipping (known as FedEx One Rate)if you use one of their boxes (shipping charges as low as $39.10*). Here’s a look at the dimensions of available large and extra-large boxes:

Large Box:

12-3/8″ x 3″ x 17-1/2″

8-3/4″ x 7-3/4″ x 11-1/4″

Extra Large Box:

11-7/8″ x 10-3/4″ x 11″

15-3/4″ x 14-1/8″ x 6″

*Internal packing materials and cushioning are available for an additional fee.

However, note that FedEx One Rate pricing is only applicable to FedEx Express U.S domestic package services only, and not FedEx Ground Shipping.

The FedEx shipping calculator lets you check the variable shipping prices for your packages.

You can also create a shipping label for your oversized package at home and drop-off at one of FedEx’s locations or schedule a pickup.

UPS’s definition of large packages

UPS defines a package as oversized if it has dimensions of more than 165” of combined length and girth, or the longest side does not measure more than 108”, or weighs heavier than 150 lbs.

UPS shipping charges depend on the shipping methods you choose (namely UPS Ground, UPS 2nd Day Air, and UPS 3 Day Select), as well as the destination of your package. It charges oversized pricing on large, heavy items, and dimensional weight pricing on large, lightweight packages.

UPS flat rate shipping costs for packages up to 50 lbs in weight are the same ($19.60 for large and $24.30 for extra-large packages), regardless of the box size or whether the package is large and lightweight.

You can order a free large box from the UPS website with the dimensions 18” x 13” x 3”.

For international shipping, the following sizes are available under UPS Worldwide Express:

UPS 10 KG box: 16.5″ x 13.25″ x 10.75″

UPS 25 KG box: 19.375″ x 17.375″ x 14″

4 Cheapest Ways to Ship Large Items

There are a number of systems and insights available today that can help eCommerce businesses save shipping costs with large packages. Let’s look at some of the ways you can reduce shipping costs, avoid overbilling, and improve the efficiency of your operations.

1. Make sure you’re using the right packaging

Most parcel shipping services like UPS and FedEx charge flat rate shipping fees for the boxes they provide. Alternatively, you have to pay a dimensional weight fee (usually higher than the flat rate) if you want to use your own packaging and branding.

Another way you can save on postal expenses is by using the right and cost-effective packaging. For example, consider using custom boxes instead of using fixed-sized, standard ones. Some shipping carriers offer free boxes or packaging material to small business owners.

Dimensional weight pricing is favorable for your company if you ship high-density  goods, however, this pricing model can increase your shipping costs by as much as 30% if you ship lightweight but large packages. The cheapest way is to find a shipping carrier that doesn’t follow dimensional pricing.

2. Double-check your invoices

Always incorporate all the shipping charges when billing your customers to ensure that you don’t have to absorb these expenses.

Sometimes carriers can make invoice errors such as incorrectly classifying a large shipment as extra large, applying the wrong discount rates, or charging additional fees in terms of storage charges, waiting fees, and handling fees. Regularly perform invoice audits to catch these errors and dispute charges with your carrier that are incorrect.

An efficient way to eliminate these hidden costs is to automate your shipping audits using Sifted.

3. Optimize

As a business owner, you should look for multiple shipping options, distribution strategies, and shipping networks. This information helps you optimize your shipping operations and identify ways to reduce shipping expenses.

Even if you have set shipping rates with a carrier, it will do you little good if your carrier can’t meet your specific requirements. For example, a large portion of your packages may be oversized and lightweight shipments, and your carrier charges dimensional pricing on all packages. You may end up paying more for shipping these packages.

Again, for heavy, oversized packages, you should consider a carrier who charges dimensional pricing, and for lightweight, oversized packages, you should hire a carrier who does not follow this practice.

We recommend that you talk to your shipping carrier rep about any additional charges and negotiate better terms in your carrier agreement.

4. Get a better handle on your data.

To scale your business properly, it’s essential to optimize and automate order management, otherwise, your team becomes overwhelmed by the growth in orders.

But a shipping management software like Sifted can help you optimize your shipping processes for optimal efficiency. It streamlines the process of calculating shipping rates, package dimensions, identifying shipping zones, and providing a variety of carrier alternatives. This helps you find the best rates and quickest shipping times for your deliveries.

Sometimes large shipping companies like UPS and FedEx are late on their shipment promises which entitles you to a full refund. Similarly, you can also get reimbursements for overcharges, weight discrepancies, and service failures. The catch is that you need to monitor your account and file the claim.

Manually tracking shipping discrepancies can be time-consuming, however, you can get Sifted to automate your invoice and shipping audit tasks. This way, you’ll be able to auto-reconcile invoices, uncover instances of poor shipping performances, and identify duplicate invoices.

Sifted’s Logistics Intelligence can help you save money on shipping costs

Shipping oversized packages can be difficult, especially if you don’t have the right information and tools. You need to do thorough research to identify shipping carriers that meet your particular requirements. 

Sifted’s Logistics Intelligence helps eCommerce businesses save money by optimizing parcel shipping costs and getting the best carrier rates. It gives you the tools you need to take control of your data and negotiate with your carrier by speaking their language. This gives you more visibility in your operations and gets you a more favorable carrier contract.

Ready to optimize your packaging expenses? Get a free demo from Sifted!


Check out related resources at Sifted.

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