Ever taken a vacation to Puerto Rico, Palau, or the US Virgin Islands? If you answered yes, then you’ve spent quality time in some of the beautiful US Territories! We’re officially jealous. People often ask us what the cheapest ways to ship to the US Territories are, since they’ve typically dealt with high postage prices and excruciatingly long delivery times in the past. Fortunately, we’re here to give you the cheat code. Figuring out the cheapest way to ship to US Territories all comes down to using the correct shipping carrier. We’ll give you a hint: it’s not UPS or FedEx.
USPS is the Best Carrier to Ship to US Territories
USPS for the win! The truth is, UPS and FedEx treat shipping to the US Territories basically like shipping to another country, and they tack on insanely high surcharges on their services. People using UPS and FedEx can try to save money with their more cost-effective services, but those delivery times take much longer than usual (sometimes up to a couple of weeks!). However, USPS treats shipping to the US Territories the same as all domestic mailing and shipping services. The Postal Service already have a large, established network in the territories, so they don’t need to charge heavy fees like FedEx or UPS in order to deliver parcels. Therefore, you’ll always get the best mix of affordable rates and delivery times by shipping with USPS to the US Territories!
It’s important to note that some US Territories fall into different USPS Zones. Some belong to Zone 8, while others belong to Zone 9. Shipping to territories in Zone 9 will be more expensive than shipping to Zone 8. Below is a list of which territories belong to which zones.
- American Samoa
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
- Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
- US Virgin Islands
- Wake Atoll
- Republic of the Marshall Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Republic of Palau
When to Use FedEx or UPS to Ship to US Territories
Although you should always try to use USPS to ship to US Territories, you may run into a situation where you need to use UPS or FedEx. We’ve laid a couple of scenarios out for you below.
UPS is Better for Shipping Heavy Packages
Unfortunately, USPS imposes a maximum weight limit of 70 pounds per package. UPS, on the other hand, allows you to ship packages weighing up to 150 pounds. If you find yourself needing to ship a package over 70 pounds to US Territories, UPS will be a more cost-effective choice than FedEx. However, you should keep in mind that even UPS’ cheapest service to the US Territories will be way more expensive (and much slower) than shipping with USPS.
Use FedEx for Emergency or Overnight Delivery
If you ever need to ship a parcel to any of the US Territories right away, you should use FedEx for overnight or emergency delivery. However, be prepared to shell out some serious dough. FedEx is already the priciest of the three major shipping carriers, and their emergency/overnight services to the US Territories will certainly not come cheap.
Shipping Software Makes Shipping to US Territories Even Cheaper
Ready for the cheat code? It’s WAY cheaper to buy postage online with shipping software than it is to buy directly from any of the shipping carriers. When you use shipping software, you’ll be able to access USPS Commercial Pricing rates, which represents the best postage discounts USPS has to offer. You’ll save a ton of money as a result!
Some shipping software solutions out there like Pirate Ship even let you ship a “secret” USPS mail class called Priority Mail Cubic. Priority Mail Cubic is absolutely the cheapest and fastest way to send parcels weighing up to 20 pounds with USPS. Similar to all Priority Mail services, delivery only takes 1-3 days to the US Territories, and all shipments are automatically insured up to $100. If you’re looking to save money whenever you ship to the US Territories, Priority Mail Cubic is hands down the way to go!
What about Customs Forms?
All US Territories require you to fill out customs forms for parcels. The two exceptions are shipping to the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. However, keep in mind that most shipping software solutions automatically generate customs forms for you! Talk about a time saver.