How Much Does Special Handling Cost?

Find out how much special handling costs with each major carrier, and whether or not it's worth it
Special Handling

If you’re shipping fragile items, your package will likely require special handing. However, you might find yourself asking whether or not the cost of special handling is worth it. The fact of the matter is, the three major carriers (USPS, UPS, and FedEx) each offer special handling services for fragile items. The process varies for each of the carriers, as well as the cost. However, the common thread for each carrier is that shippers pay for it on top of postage.

Special Handling With USPS, UPS, and FedEx

We’ve laid out the cost of special handing services for each carrier below.

USPS

Special handling with the US Postal Service costs $11.15 per package. You can either pay for this service at the Post Office, or you can order special handling stickers from the USPS online store for free. However, USPS is very strict about shippers paying for special handling services if these stickers appear on packages. If you slap on a special handling sticker and don’t pay the applicable $11.15 fee at the Post Office, USPS will charge you for it once the package is delivered via their Automated Package Verification system.

UPS

UPS charges $10.85 per package for special handling, which they refer to as “additional handling.” Shippers can either select this option . Also, UPS reserves the right to determine whether or not packages require additional handling in the first place, and to charge the shipper for it.

FedEx

FedEx also refers to special handling as “additional handling.” However, they approaches it a bit differently than USPS or UPS does. Instead of a flat fee for all packages, the cost varies on the type of service a shipper chooses. For dimension-based services, FedEx charges $15 per package for additional handling. For weight-based services, they charge $24 per package. Lastly, for packaging-specific services, they charge $13 per shipment.

If you’d like more info, see FedEx’s full list of surcharges for their different services.

A DIY Alternative: Provide Your Own “Fragile” Label and Purchase Insurance

Instead of purchasing special handling with the major carriers, we’ve got another “DIY” approach that might save you some money in the long run. Our suggestion here is to purchase your own “fragile” stickers from a source such as Labelmaster, and slap them on your fragile packages yourself. Lucky for you, there’s a wide variety of fragile stickers that you can browse through on Labelmaster’s website.

Once you’ve provided your own fragile label, the next step is to protect your packages with shipping insurance. This process accomplishes two things. Firstly, it alerts any workers who handle your package of the need to be careful when they handle it. Secondly, if anything does happen to your contents, you cover yourself by shelling out a couple of bucks for shipping insurance. This is the best way to protect yourself, in our opinion, and the total cost here comes out to much less than special handling fees with any of the major carriers.

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