Can I Change Flat Rate Packaging to Ship Weight-Based Priority Mail?

Changing free USPS flat rate packaging in order to ship weight-based Priority Mail is acceptable, despite conflicting information
Altered Flat Rate Packaging

The free boxes and envelopes on the USPS website are quite popular with shippers looking to keep packaging costs low. However, did you know USPS lets you alter their Priority Mail Flat Rate packaging to ship weight-based Priority Mail? That way, you won’t have to pay for flat rate service if you don’t want to.

It’s Perfectly Fine to Change Flat Rate Packaging to Ship Weight-Based Priority Mail

Contrary to popular belief, you can alter your flat rate packaging to qualify for weight-based rates. Typically, it’s crucial that you pay for the specific service marked on your USPS box or envelope. Most postal workers will tell you that if you use flat rate packaging, USPS will charge you for the corresponding flat rate service. While this is true in 99% of cases, this one particular situation is the exception. In case you don’t believe us, check out the following direct quote from the USPS domestic mail manual:

“If [a Flat Rate Envelope] or [Flat Rate Box] is presented at the office of mailing and the customer has manipulated or reconstructed it, the container is accepted using weight and zone — not the Flat Rate price.”

In layman’s terms, that means you can ship weight-based Priority Mail instead of whatever flat rate service is on your box or envelope.

What If My Post Office Doesn’t Accept My Package?

If your Post Office doesn’t accept your package, then you should present proof, or ask to speak to the Postmaster. A great place to start would be to pull up a copy of the domestic mail manual that we’ve linked to above.

The key here is that flat rate envelopes must seal with the self-adhesive in order for them to truly be flat rate. Once you change it by expanding it and taping it up, USPS no longer considers them flat rate. So, if you change your flat rate packaging in a similar way that the picture above shows, USPS should only accept the package at weight-based rates.

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