How to Package and Ship Signs

Learn how to properly package signs for shipment and why you may incur surcharges on top of your postage cost
ship signs
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Signs are everywhere around us, and we’re not just talking about the fortune-telling, spiritual kind. You can find all kinds of signs on walls, outside of coffee shops and clothing stores, and even hanging above your buddy’s headboard. With eCommerce platforms out there like Etsy, artists can become online sellers and create handmade signs for customers…and that requires shipping knowledge. Signs can be a tricky thing to package and ship, but lucky for you, this article covers all the basics you need to get started. Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents

Properly Packaging Signs for Shipment

First thing first: let’s talk about the packaging. When shipping a sign, you don’t want to use a poly mailer or anything flimsy. Instead, you’ll want to use a brand-new, corrugated cardboard box, and getting the right size is crucial. You don’t want to use too small of a box, or else your sign won’t fit (obviously). On the other hand, you also shouldn’t use a box that leaves too much room inside. You don’t want your sign to move around in the box at all if you can help it; if it does, there’s a chance it may break, or at the very least, take some damage.

The key is to find a brand-new, corrugated cardboard box that leaves a few inches of space between your sign and the walls of the box. Creating this amount of space will give you plenty of room to include enough cushioning materials around your sign, which we’re about to talk about next.

If you’re in the market for some cardboard boxes, ULINE has the widest variety of cardboard boxes of all sizes.

Consider Packing Material Like Bubble Wrap, Air Pillows, and Styrofoam Lining

When it comes to packaging a sign the right way, you can never use too much packing material. In this case, bubble wrap that you wrap around your sign and tape tight is a great option bet. The more you can use, the better! When you’ve got your sign completely covered in bubble wrap, you can also fill in the empty space inside the box with packing peanuts, air pillows, or styrofoam lining. Nothing is foolproof, of course, but this combination of packing materials will help prevent the sign from breaking or getting destroyed during its journey to your customer.

Pro Tip: When you’re browsing through boxes on the ULINE website, be sure to check out their packing materials, too! They’ve got it all, including different sizes of bubble wrap that will be perfect for cushioning and protecting your sign.

Flat Cardboard Boxes May Incur Surcharges as Irregular Packages

Here’s a big mistake that a lot of inexperienced shippers make: don’t package your sign inside a super thin box! The industry calls these types of packages “cardboard sandwiches,” and every carrier classifies these as irregular packages. Therefore, every carrier will likely hit you with surcharges when sending these types of packages. In our experience, you’re better off using a bigger cardboard box and filling it up with packing material, as we outlined in the above section. This way, you won’t incur any unexpected surcharges after you purchase your postage.

USPS Will Offer the Cheapest Rates for Shipping Signs

If your sign is a smaller size (like the one pictured above), then USPS will offer the best mix of affordable rates and quick delivery. USPS is the premier shipping carrier for lightweight, smaller parcels, and the rates they offer will always be cheaper than other competitors for those types of packages. Since most homemade, hand-crafted signs fall into that category, USPS will likely be your shipping carrier of choice for sending one.

Of course, if you’re shipping a large sign that won’t qualify for USPS rates, either UPS or FedEx will be your best option. Both UPS and FedEx also allow for a heavier maximum weight (150 pounds per package versus 70 pounds with USPS)…but the rates will undoubtedly be more expensive than what USPS offers. You could also potentially look into freight carriers who specialize in delivering oversized shipments on semi-trucks.

Protect Your Package with Shipping Insurance

When shipping with USPS, chances are you’ll have some built-in protection right off the bat. When you buy postage online through third-party postage providers, all Priority Mail packages come with $100 of built-in insurance. While this is a fair amount of protection, it’s not enough if your sign happens to be worth more than $100. If this is the case for you, we suggest protecting your package with shipping insurance.

Shipping insurance costs about a buck per every $1 of value that you declare when buying your labels, and while these costs can add up for shipments of higher value, it’s still completely worth it if anything happens to your package. At the end of the day, insurance covers you with full reimbursement if your box goes missing, or if your sign arrives damaged inside of your packaging. These things, unfortunately, do happen, so in our opinion, you’re always better off being safe than sorry.

Offset Any Surcharges with Discounts From Shipping Software

Anyone who has ever shipped an item shaped like a sign is no stranger to the realities of high postage costs. The truth is, sometimes you can’t avoid sending a cardboard sandwich or simply sending a box that’s larger than you anticipated…and that results in higher-than-normal prices for shipping labels. Since this is the case, saving the most money on postage is absolutely critical…and that’s where online shipping software comes into play.

When you use shipping software to buy postage online, you give yourself access to special levels of discounts that the Postal Service reserves for huge commercial shippers. This special tier of savings with USPS is known as USPS Commercial Pricing. In some cases, these discounts can save you up to 89% off of what you’d pay to ship the exact same package at the Post Office…plus, you won’t ever have to go there in the first place!

On top of the savings, shipping software gives you the ability to print postage at home and skip those super long lines that no one likes waiting in. You can even schedule pickups for your packages, so you don’t ever have to leave your home or office if you don’t want to. We’ll spell it out for you simply: by using shipping software, you save yourself both time and money. Since we’re on the topic of signs…if that’s not a sign, we don’t know what is!


Looking for the right shipping software for you?

To get the deepest discounts on USPS shipping labels, check out our guide:

Choose the Best Shipping Software

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