How Can I Ship a Wheelchair?

Learn which of the three major carriers to use when shipping a wheelchair and how to access special discounts through online shipping software providers
how can I ship a wheelchair?
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The major carriers don’t prohibit wheelchair shipments, as long as you place them inside a corrugated cardboard box that’s fully sealed and taped up. That said, even once you fold your wheelchair and put it in corrugated cardboard packaging, it might be too big to send with the Postal Service. USPS has smaller per-package size limits than UPS and FedEx, and most wheelchair shipments won’t meet those limits. Here’s what you need to know about sending a wheelchair, and how to save the most money doing it.

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Your Wheelchair May Not Fit the Size & Weight Limits for USPS

As we said in the introduction paragraph, USPS has smaller size and weight limits per package than UPS and FedEx do.

The maximum size USPS allows is a combined Length + Girth of 130 inches for USPS Ground Advantage shipments, and 108 inches for all other services.

Comparatively, UPS allows a package to have a Length + Girth of up to 165 inches for each service it offers. This makes UPS the premier choice for sending larger boxes such as wheelchair shipments.

What is the Girth of a Package?

Girth is a calculated dimension that carriers use to determine how much space a box will take up on its trucks. Along with how to calculate the girth of a package, you can read about size limits from USPS and UPS here:

Why Choose UPS Over FedEx for Wheelchair Shipments?

UPS allows for larger boxes than USPS, which means you’ll likely need to ship with them when sending a wheelchair. You’ll want to choose UPS over FedEx because the services that UPS offers are more affordable than FedEx, especially when you lock in discounts with shipping software…which we’ll get into at the bottom of this article.

Pro Tip: As in the case of shipping crutches and canes, your package may incur surcharges for exceeding certain lengths (UPS applies a “Large Package” surcharge on top of your postage costs if the length of your box exceeds 96 inches). FedEx also applies surcharges to large packages, so when you take UPS surcharges into account, UPS is still cheaper than FedEx!

For Battery-Powered Wheelchairs, Ground Services are Your Only Option

If you’re sending an electric wheelchair powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, you must ship with UPS Ground (or USPS Ground Advantage, if your box is small enough for USPS).

Lithium-ion batteries require special shipping procedures, such as affixing special limited quantity labels to the side of your box, and shipping strictly with ground-based services. That means all other services outside UPS Ground are prohibited for electric wheelchairs, including Next Day Air, 2nd Day Air, 3-Day Select, and Express shipments.

Learn more about how to pack and ship lithium-ion batteries.

If Your Wheelchair is Too Big for Shipping Carriers, Consider Freight Shipping

Even though your wheelchair can fit inside a cardboard box, some larger ones may still be too big for UPS to take on. In this case, you’ll want to send your box via freight shipping services rather than parcel shipping services.

FedEx and UPS offer freight shipping services, while USPS doesn’t. In our experience, FedEx is easier to use for freight shipments, as they provide full tracking for less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments on their website in an easy-to-understand way. Tracking your freight shipment with FedEx is just as simple as tracking a regular shipment; all you need to do is type in your tracking number and you’ll see updates through every step of your shipment’s journey!

To learn more about freight options with FedEx, visit the FedEx Freight landing page.

Save Money on Your Boxed Wheelchair by Buying Postage with Shipping Software

Boxed wheelchair shipments can be costly to send due to their size and weight…and if you go to your local Post Office or UPS Store, you’ll end up paying way more for postage than you need to. Instead, save the most money by buying discounted postage through online shipping providers.

When you use shipping software, you can access all the same services you’ll get at the UPS Store and the Post Office, but for a fraction of the price. In some cases, buying labels with shipping software can save you up to 89% off what you’d pay to ship the same box at retail rates!

On top of the savings you enjoy, buying labels with shipping software also allows you to schedule pickups, where a UPS worker will come right to your home or office to pick up your box and scan it into the carrier’s network. The ability to schedule pickups is highly convenient for shippers sending large boxes like shipments of wheelchairs, since there’s no need to transport them to the UPS Store once you affix your label.

Note: Shipping software providers don’t offer freight services—only parcel shipping services. For freight shipments, you’ll need to ship directly with FedEx or UPS.

Looking for the right shipping software for you?

To access specially discounted USPS and UPS labels, see our guide:

Choose the Best Shipping Software

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