If you’re a parcel shipper, chances are you’ve heard of the USPS Dimensional Weight increase that will take effect on June 23rd this year. Most shipping software solutions have gone out of their way to make their customers aware of it. However, in case you haven’t heard of the upcoming USPS dimensional weight change (or simply don’t understand what’s going on), we’re here to shed some light on it and how it may affect you!
What is Dimensional Weight?
Dimensional Weight refers to the amount of physical space a package takes up on a delivery truck, regardless of the actual weight of the package itself. The Postal Service uses dimensional weight to charge customers if their package takes up more space on USPS’ delivery trucks than is necessary. The space inside USPS’ delivery trucks is prime real estate, and these charges help the Postal Service make up for the extra money they could have made by fitting more, smaller packages into their trucks.
USPS uses a special formula to calculate the dimensional weight of your package, and if the dimensional weight exceeds the actual weight, you end up paying the dimensional weight pricing to ship your package.
To determine dimensional weight, USPS multiplies the Height x Width x Length of your package. Then, they take that number and divide it by 166 to calculate the dimensional weight. In the past, USPS has used 194 as the divisor, which resulted in a lower dimensional weight for packages. Starting on June 23rd, a lower divisor will result in higher dimensional weights. Makes sense, yeah?
A Quick Example
Let’s go through a quick example to see how dimensional weight charges could affect you.
If your box is 13x13x13″, then the total volume would be 13 x 13 x 13 = 2197 cubic inches. 2197 / 166 = 13.23 lbs. USPS always rounds up, so for this package, the dimensional weight comes out to 14 pounds. That means if your package’s actual weight is less than 14 pounds, USPS will charge you at the 14 pound rate to ship it. Yowza!
You May Not Be Affected By the Dimensional Weight Increase At All
Keep in mind that dimensional weight only affects packages that are bigger than one cubic foot—or 1728 inches—all the way around (12x12x12″ or any other combos that multiply to 1728 or greater). So, if your package’s dimensions multiply to below 1728 cubic inches, you’ve got nothing to worry about!
Dimensional Weight Will Now Apply to All USPS Zones
Another change taking effect on top of the increase has to do with the USPS zones that dimensional weight will apply to. In the past, the Postal Service only applied dimensional weight charges to Priority Mail packages going to USPS Zones 5-9. However, starting on June 23rd, USPS will apply dimensional weight charges to all of the USPS Zones for packages in each of the following mail classes:
- Priority Mail
- Priority Mail Express
- Retail Ground/Parcel Select Ground
Just something to keep in mind if you’re shipping packages in any one of these USPS mail classes!
What You Can Do To Prevent Being Charged Extra
You can protect yourself from dimensional weight charges in a couple of simple ways. We’ve listed those out below.
Use Online Shipping Software
When you buy postage online with shipping software, you’ll get access to special USPS discounts such as Commercial Pricing. The Postal Service typically reserves these discounts for large commercial shippers, but shipping software solutions pass those savings onto you! You’ll save the most money on buying postage that way, and these deep discounts can offset dimensional weight increases.
Optimize Your Package Dimensions
Another way to protect yourself if is to make sure your package dimensions are as efficient as they can be. Plain and simple, smaller packages mean less likelihood that you’ll get hit with dimensional weight charges. In some cases such as USPS Priority Mail Cubic, smaller packaging also makes for much cheaper postage!
When you optimize your package dimensions, you’ll also reduce your cost of packaging and all packing material, which can add up if you’re shipping lots of packages. Lastly, you’ll be doing the environment a solid by reducing your box’s carbon emissions, and the environment needs all the help it can get!