One of the things that shippers love most about USPS is the free boxes and envelopes that are available on the USPS website and at local Post Offices across the United States. That said, the availability of these free USPS supplies leads to a common misconception that the two other major carriers—UPS and FedEx—offer free packaging in the same way that USPS does.
UPS & FedEx Don’t Offer Free Packaging Unless You Pay for a Shipping Service
Unfortunately, shippers don’t get access to free packaging with UPS and FedEx. Simply put, you can’t walk into your local UPS Store or FedEx Office and take a bunch of envelopes or boxes without paying for them (you can actually do this with USPS!). However, packaging is often included in the services that both these carriers offer. For instance, if you take your items to your local FedEx Office or UPS Store without any packaging, both carriers will include a box or envelope in your total shipping cost.
The Only Carrier to Truly Offer Free Boxes and Envelopes is the U.S. Postal Service
As we stated above, USPS is the only carrier in the United States to truly offer free packaging. While you can get Priority Mail boxes and envelopes for free online and at your local Post Office, you must pay for the corresponding service marked on the box or envelope if you intend to ship it.
For example, if you’re using a Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box, USPS requires you to purchase the corresponding shipping label for that Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box. This also applies to other Priority Mail Flat Rate services, as well as non-flat rate Priority Mail boxes and envelopes.
To learn more about using the postage that matches your corresponding USPS packaging, check out our guide USPS Branded Boxes: Paying for the Right Postage.