Can I Ship a Suitcase?

Learn how easy it is to ship a suitcase and which carrier offers the cheapest rates for different luggage sizes
ship a suitcase
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Have you ever wondered if you could lighten your travel load by shipping your suitcase to your destination? Believe it or not, you can in fact send a suitcase anywhere you like…and doing so is more common than you might think. Depending on the size of your suitcase, USPS and UPS both offer viable, cost-effective options. So, the next time you take a trip, try shipping your suitcase a few days before you leave instead of carrying it with you. That way, you can smile to yourself when you see other travelers hauling their luggage around and fighting for coveted space in those overhead compartments!

Table of Contents

You Don’t Need to Pack Your Suitcase in a Box Unless You Want To

First thing first: you don’t need packaging to ship luggage! The suitcase exterior itself already serves as packaging for the contents inside. As for the process of measuring and weighing your suitcase, treat it just like you would any other package: measure the length, width, and height, and then weigh it. Once you’ve done that, plug all of that information into the shipping software you use to purchase and print your shipping labels. Pretty simple, wouldn’t you say?

Pro Tip: Just because you don’t need packaging doesn’t mean you’re exempt from following industry-standard shipping procedures. For instance, consider whether or not your luggage contains any hazardous materials before you buy your label. Also, comb through your contents to make sure you’re not sending any items that either USPS or UPS prohibits.

You can see the items that USPS and UPS prohibit in the following links:

USPS Offers the Cheapest Rates to Ship a Suitcase (though You Might Get Slower Service)

If your suitcase is small enough, USPS will offer the cheapest shipping rates out of all three major carriers in the United States. Most suitcases that USPS will allow you to ship will qualify for Priority Mail service, but don’t commit just yet! The cheapest USPS service for shipping a suitcase will be USPS Ground Advantage.

USPS Ground Advantage is one of the most competitive shipping services the US Postal Service offers and beats Priority Mail prices in most cases. The thing is, it’s also one of the slowest services that USPS offers. USPS advertises estimated delivery timeframes for Ground Advantage to be between 2-5 business days…but in our experience, some packages can even take up to a week to arrive. Shippers should also note that the maximum weight per Ground Advantage package is 70 pounds, like Priority Mail.

All in all, you might save the most money with Ground Advantage, but you get what you pay for, and you might run into some spotty service.

For Larger Suitcases, Ship with UPS

For larger suitcases that are outside the maximum dimensions that USPS allows for, your next best bet is to ship with UPS. UPS allows for larger packages than USPS and also allows for a higher maximum weight threshold of up to 150 pounds per shipment.

On top of allowing for larger size and weight limits, UPS also offers faster Ground service than USPS does. Instead of typical delivery timeframes of 2-8 business days, UPS delivers Ground packages between 1-5 business days. Sometimes they even deliver Ground packages overnight, if the destination is close enough to the shipping origin! So, if you’d like a more reliable service, it may be worth it to pay the extra money to ship UPS Ground no matter the size of your suitcase.

Learn about the differences between UPS Ground and USPS Ground.

Sending a Suitcase Will Likely Incur Surcharges

The major carriers consider suitcases irregular packages, which means they will tack on surcharges on top of the base cost of postage to ship them. For instance, USPS will charge non-standard fees in addition to postage for shipments whose dimensions are greater than certain lengths. The breakdown of different non-standard fees that USPS imposes is as follows:

  • $4 if any length of your package exceeds 22 inches but is less than 30 inches
  • $15 if any length of your package exceeds 30 inches
  • $15 for packages greater than 2 cubic feet in volume
  • $1.50 for missing or incorrect dimensions that result in any of the above non-standard surcharges; think of this like an “overdraft” fee that USPS charges for imposing any of these non-standard fees

Similarly, UPS will also add surcharges to larger shipments like suitcases. UPS imposes an “Additional Handling” surcharge for shipments where a package’s longest side is greater than 48 inches. Unfortunately, some larger suitcases have dimensions longer than 48 inches. The UPS Additional Handling surcharge is around $11, and you’ll have to pay that on top of whichever service you choose.

Insurance Claims and Suitcase Shipments

Unfortunately, since the major carriers consider suitcases as external packaging, a suitcase itself isn’t eligible for an insurance claim. Only the items inside the suitcase are eligible for a claim. That means that if the total value of the items inside is $400, and the suitcase is worth $100, you won’t be able to file a claim for the $100 of the suitcase’s value if it gets damaged during transit.

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One Comment

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  1. Margaret

    This is great information, Thanks!!


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